The Bathroom

Full disclosure: this post has been a long time coming. A LONG time. I usually don’t hold out for too much time between doing projects and mustering the energy to post about them, but for some reason I lost all enthusiasm for posting about my bathroom back when I gave it the first round of love way back in the summer. I think I needed some emotional distance with this room before I could discuss it openly? Maybe it’s because there are still several things I need to deal with in there, so it still doesn’t feel finished?

Who am I kidding, nothing is ever finished. Ever. I will futz forever. Don’t tell Max.

In actuality, the bathroom was basically the first thing I tackled when I moved into this apartment. It’s a difficult room to photograph and, like most rental bathrooms, the amount of things I can easily and realistically change in there are few. Luckily, the more permanent fixtures are fairly plain an inoffensive, so I’m not overly fixated on wanting to change things that I can’t. I’m happy with how far it’s come thus far though, and maybe finally posting about it will light a necessary fire under my ass to get going on tying up some of the loose ends I’ve been avoiding.

I know, I have shocked and appalled you with my entirely unexpected and unprecedented decision to paint the walls black. I’ll give you a moment to collect yourself.

When I moved into this apartment, the bathroom was no exception to the horrible paint choices that the rest of the place endured sometime around the late 1990s, nor the subsequent 15 give-or-take years in which the tenants evidently owned multiple cats and gave up cleaning. The walls were painted a shade of lavender, one of those colors that’s supposed to be cheery and whimsical but only succeeds in making you feel like you’re taking a shit in a nursing home filled with broken dreams and unrealized ambitions. If I took shits. I don’t. I’m bionic.

Functionally, the biggest problem was a complete lack of storage, as there is no sink cabinet and the medicine cabinet was sized to accommodate only about three aspirin tablets and a travel-sized tube of toothpaste. Now, I wouldn’t say we’re overly vain or maintain complicated beauty regimens—I would classify our gorgeousness more as a natural occurrence than the product of extraordinary effort, if you must know. However, in the service of maintaining Max’s fancy hairdo and our general hygiene, we needed a bit more space to put the things that make achieving this goal possible. Out of necessity, I actually mounted those shelves (harvested from the bedroom) as a temporary measure until we could find something more permanent.

I toyed with the idea of some combination of vintage cabinet/mirror/shelving, but we really wanted to get this done and ultimately, for a bathroom, I can’t think of very much I’d really want out in the open. Enter the deliciously massive and endlessly reflective (the insides of both of those doors are mirrored, as is the back of the unit) GODMORGON medicine cabinet from IKEA. It is huge, it is wonderful, it holds everything. I will not show you the inside because I am ashamed that it is completely full.

Yes, in fact it does drive me crazy that the cabinet is not centered over the little stupid soap dish and toothbrush holder things. Yes, it does drive me crazy that those stupid things are not centered over the sink. I hope we can all get past it.

I will never get past it.

If you’re super observant, you’ll notice that the new medicine cabinet also covers the only outlet in the room, so I just cut a small  hole in back so we can still plug all our do-dads in and anything that needs to charge can just be stored completely out of sight.

The old light was that super basic fixture that all NYC landlords favor for everything. Ignore the fact that it looks like the ceiling once caught fire around it. I’m sure there’s a perfectly logical and benign explanation, like that the ceiling once caught fire around it.

I have to say, I’m pretty annoyingly smug about the new light fixture, which cost all of about $10 and 15 minutes to make. It’s just some leftover red cloth-wrapped cord I had from my bedside FRÄCK hack lights, a basic ceramic socket, and a plain ceiling canopy that I spray-painted high-gloss black (but left the little nuts brass). The bulb is a big round frosted 100 W incandescent, and that’s it! I also changed out the light switch for a dimmer, and the light this thing gives off is really nice and deceptively flattering, and instantly made the room cozier.

Not unlike the other doors in my apartment, the bathroom door had seen its share of use and abuse over the years, leaving both the door and the frame scarred from old shoddy hinge repairs and replacements. The door actually didn’t even close all the way, so I had to take the whole thing down and shave down the bottom. While I was at it, I used Morgan from The Brick House’s genius suggestion to use paint stir-sticks to fill in all the old hinge holes. Of course it worked, because it came from Morgan and she is made of magic.

I went back and forth on what kind of hinges to use, but ultimately just went with the same size that was already there (so I wouldn’t have to do more chiseling or thinking) in an oil-rubbed bronze finish. New brass hardware seemed too flashy and since the size of the hinge was already different than the other bedroom door, I just decided to keep things as inconspicuous as possible.

OMG, this picture terrifies me. Can you believe this is actually pretty flattering? Yeah, things were bad. Real bad. Let’s break it down.

Horrible grimy door/trim. Rusty nasty pipe. That fucking window. The black part at the top was insulating foam that somebody stuck in because the window is too gunked up from paint and grime to open or close, and I guess it got stuck open at the top. Note that the top pane of glass is inexplicably painted. More on that in a second. The only good thing here is the screen print on the wall, which our friend Shannon made and gave to us. It’s been moved into the bedroom now, don’t worry.

Even though there’s a towel bar in the room, it’s directly across from the shower, weirdly close to the side of the toilet, and hovers over the toilet paper roll, which is really odd when there’s actually towels hanging on it. Since I prefer to just hang my towels on hooks anyway because I am lazy like that, I mounted them to the door instead, which is significantly less awkward.

Aside from removing the foam and persuading the window to close, I still haven’t touched the window and instead hung an IKEA ENJE shade in front of it (reused and re-cut from my last apartment) so that I could more effectively ignore its heinousness. So far, I have done this well for a full 8 months, but I’m excited to try my hand at some window restoration and see if I can get the thing gliding open and closed like it’s not 120 years old. Out of the 6 windows in our apartment, this is one of two that are original (or super old, at least), and I want to take special care and attention with making them feel less betrayed by the world. In any case, stripping the paint off the glass will at least bring more light into the room.

How is the light with the dark paint, you ask? I KNOW these pictures aren’t very convincing (partly a function of the actual weather outside), but the dark paint definitely does not make the room feel small or dungeon-like, even though it’s on the walls and the ceiling! I promise! There’s still quite a lot of white going on with the wall tiles, and I think the dark walls actually make the walls recede, which makes the room feel more spacious and taller. Or something like that.

If you are dating Max (which, if you are, and you are not me, just know that I will find you and destroy everything you hold dear), you quickly learn that the boy sees penises in many everyday objects, which has begun to taint how I view the world. Not that I necessarily see penises in everyday objects, but that I now wonder if Max would. So it was with great care that I finally felt comfortable in purchasing these particular hooks for the bathroom door, specifically because they did not look like penises.

Luckily, when Max saw them, the first thing he said was that he liked them. Then he told me they looked like penises.


Vintage paint-by-numbers tickle me, too. I sprayed them with a coat of matte varnish to prevent them from peeling in the moisture, which seems to be working perfectly.

I like my crappy sun faded amateur thrift store art. Deal.

I hate my supposedly lucky money tree plant thing. We’ve been together for about three years and it seems to thrive on neglect and bad vibes, because I do not like it and would very much like it to just die so I can replace it with another plant that I do like. Occasionally I’ll give in to guilt and give it a little water. I have some kind of caretaker complex I’m really trying to work through.

There are a few things I still want to deal with in here, including that I think we really need an extra-long shower curtain, mostly because they’re fancy and luxurious, but also because the super-tall medicine cabinet just feels weird towering over the standard curtain like that. It’s like it makes both things look ridiculous. I also really need to scrape and replace all the caulk, because no matter how much I clean it, it is still poorly applied and gross. And fix up that janky window. And find a good bathmat that we can both agree on, which I am anticipating will be one of the harder decision-making processes I’ve ever negotiated. Wish me luck.


Walls/Ceiling- Benjamin Moore “Graphite,” Matte, Aura Bath & Spa formula, $40
Trim- Benjamin Moore “Super White,” Semi-gloss, already owned
Door- Benjamin Moore “Onyx,” Pearl finish, already owned
Medicine Cabinet: IKEA GODMORGON, $180
Window: IKEA ENJE shade, already owned
Hooks: Vintage, $10
Light Fixture: DIY, $10
Shower Curtain: Target, $10
Trashcan: Simple Human, already owned
Bathmat: IKEA SIGNE, $4 (did they stop making these? wtf.)
Plastic Deer Figurine- Vintage, $1
Paint By Numbers horses- Vintage, $10
Woman Portrait- Vintage, already owned
Plant- Fiery Depths of Hell, already owned

TOTAL: $265-ish.

OH YEAH. So you might already know that the Apartment Therapy Homie Awards are going on right now, but if you don’t, I just told you! I don’t honestly, truly, seriously care about my blog competing in any competition (especially against a few good friends!), but I saw that I’ve been nominated (thanks dudes!) and now I am shamelessly giving in to temptation to campaign ruthlessly for votes. Because there is nothing better than winning. NOTHING. GIVE ME PRIZES AND ACCOLADES. VOTE.

Think of all the fun things in the world. Now put them on the internet. Now make them into a single website about home design. Now turn that website into a blog. If that blog is called Manhattan Nest, you are a superior kind of human being and also my friend. VOTE.

So let’s win this mo’fo’ this year. You and me. Me and you. Mostly me. A little bit you, if you vote for me. No one likes to be on the wrong side of history. VOTE.

Do it for Mekko. She wants you to.



About Daniel Kanter

Hi, I'm Daniel, and I love houses! I'm a serial renovator, DIY-er, and dog-cuddler based in Kingston, New York. Follow along as I bring my 1865 Greek Revival back to life and tackle my 30s to varying degrees of success. Welcome!

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  1. 2.29.12
    Kat said:

    Love what you did with the bathroom! It looks great, especially the black walls and ceiling.

  2. 2.29.12
    Jacinta said:

    AH-maze-ing. That is all.

  3. 2.29.12
    Amanda said:

    The bathroom looks amazing! I love love love the black walls.

    Just to be fair, I had every intention in the world of voting for you until I saw my blog up on that damn list and then I turned all vote-crazy and had to vote for myself. Sorry. I have no hope in hell of winning, but I just didn’t want my poor little blog to be on the very very bottom of the list so, you know, I had to. But I’m very very excited to see how close you are to winning!

  4. 2.29.12

    Your dog melts my heart a little every time. Thanks for posting a picture of her in pretty much every post. Seriously, I love it. (and I hope you guys are getting more of the fun parts of a new dog and fewer of the rough, settling in parts!)

    • 2.29.12
      Daniel said:

      Thank you, we are!! She’s been an amazingly easy dog—not destructive, no big behavioral problems, sweet as can be and all about playing and cuddling. A few accidents here and there, but that’s totally to be expected. She’s a great dog!

      Your doggies are ADORABLE!

    • 3.1.12

      Aw, thanks! I have such a soft spot for pit bulls. If you want to write more about your dog, I wouldn’t object :)

  5. 2.29.12
    Jess said:

    Wow. Just WOW. It looks amazing. I’m always surprised at what a difference a coat of paint can make.
    That pipe was scary. How did you not run away screaming when you first saw it?

  6. 2.29.12
    lisa said:

    whoooooooaaaaa. i love this. like really truly, going to copy you, l-o-v-e this. the black walls definitely don’t look like the world in closing in on you (as far as i can tell). and it makes your art and other items pop. and it’s so clean. and it hides that the room is a crazy shape. and. and. i love it. i also agree that a luxurious extra long shower curtain would be a great addition and would help balance out your gigantic medicine cabinet. :)

  7. 2.29.12
    Martha said:

    The bathroom looks great! I have one suggestion and one question.

    Suggestion first: Marimekko shower curtains are extra long, compared to US curtains, because they are made to Finland’s standard length. You might consider looking for one or, if you want white, for some kind of white Finn/euro-sized curtain.

    Question: I’m considering painting two (now a light brown/beige) doors in my living room black but I’m not allowed to paint the trim (an unknown not-white white) and my walls are BM Simply White. I’m encouraged because I see you have left your trim white w/ a black door. Is there a standard you’re aware of for trim and door colors or does it just come down to personal design preferences?

    • 2.29.12
      Daniel said:

      Interesting! Many US shower curtains actually come in an XL length, too, but I’m curious how the lengths compare. I’ll look into it!

      Re: paint—yes, I think it’s really personal preference and what looks right in your space. My walls and trim are white and doors are black throughout the apartment, which, to me, keeps our huuuge moldings (and lots of them) from looking super busy. I think that’s fairly standard, although I have seen examples of the trim being painted the door color and looking incredible.

    • 3.1.12
      Ryan said:

      I am slowly painting my house (currently 1 room a year) and really want to paint the doors not-white. HOWEVER, every photo I see of awesome dark and shiny doors are of white rooms with blue/black/colored doors. The two rooms I’ve painted so far are both medium/dark grey tones so I’m terrified that my colored doors will look STUPID.

      I need to just do one and live with it and see how it looks.

      I love the dark walls in the bathroom – now that I’ve been living in my crappy plastic tile needs reno bathroom for almost 5 years I think I need to do something dramatic, even if it’s “temporary”. I picked a color today (BM nightfall) and maybe I’ll have time to get the paint up before summer comes!

      – I voted for you because I think you deserve it this year. I wish I was so pulled together at your age…I mean my age.

  8. 2.29.12
    Ann said:

    This looks fantastic!!
    Old rental bathrooms are so difficult. I still have to re-caulk our tub, re-grouting the floor was the last project- not fun but so worth it.
    Good luck with the window.

    I voted for you :)

  9. 2.29.12
    Alison said:

    Woah, this is awesome, you are the bathroom bawse. Love the black walls, love the red corded light, love the artwork.

    I didn’t notice the mirrored cabinet being off until you mentioned it. Now I see it and, yes that would drive me nuts too. I agree with Lisa, extra long shower curtain will help balance that cabinet and make all feel right in your bathroom world.

    Totally voted for you.

  10. 2.29.12

    I love a big ass bulb. And a dark wall. And a nice cord. Looking killer!


    SHAMELESS motherfucka. Pimping Mekko for votes. Oh, you and Chezerby are in for it now. Tomorrow. I’m bringing it.

    • 2.29.12
      Daniel said:

      SO SHAMELESS. I will do anything to win. Watch your back.

      Bring it. Just be gentle when you destroy me.

  11. 2.29.12
    Mom said:

    You are shameless but I love it. Great job on the Bathroom. Please tell me that dear Mekko is not laying in an unmade bed and ON your F’in pillows!!!!?? EWWWW.
    Now everyone go VOTE!!!
    Yes, you have to Login and create an account, big deal, nothing ever happens to that info, I promise. Don’t be a Lazy ASS go VOTE.

    • 2.29.12
      Daniel said:

      You heard my mama, people! Don’t be an ass!

      Dear Mekko lays wherever she wants! She gets a bath every week and we change our pillow cases all the time, so whatever. She can have it. She’s too cute.

  12. 2.29.12
    Charlotte said:

    Daniel, I have been wanting to paint a bathroom black ever since you first did it in your last rental place, and now I think the time. has. come. My only concern is that the black will highlight the frankly devastating ugliness of our guest bathroom tiles (we redid our master bath and didn’t have enough cash to redo the guest one too…there are some beige marbled 80s tiles in there and I’m not sure they should be the focus of anything…) Anywho, looks absolutely fantastic and of course I’ll be voting for you.

  13. 2.29.12
    Ariana said:

    I adore it all. Mekko most.

  14. 2.29.12
    Beth said:

    I love it all, but I think the light is my favorite. Such a good idea that I never would’ve thought of!

  15. 2.29.12

    You are the ONE person that I would trust with 100% confidence to do things to my house. You do everything the right way. And you know that is a huge compliment coming from me, since I mostly think everyone has terrible taste.

    • 2.29.12
      Daniel said:

      That IS a huge compliment coming from you, I’m flattered! Thank you, friend. xoxo

  16. 2.29.12
    Libby said:

    wow, i love this! way to make a really shitty bathroom into something fabulous. also, your blog is one of my favorites and i’ll be happy to vote for you! it is one of the few home blogs that i enjoy the writing just as much as the visual eye candy.

  17. 2.29.12
    victoria said:

    I was all like, where’s the pit bull – and then phew! – there she was.

  18. 2.29.12
    Milly said:

    Wow! What a difference! Your choices seem simple but always manage to transform a regular room into a sassy classy space!

    I did have a question about the actual painting process. Did you have to prep the areas prior to painting? Like the heating pole, did that have to be scraped prior to actually applying paint?

    Either way thanks for posting and I am heading over to Apartment Therapy and creating an account to vote! No laziness here…

    • 2.29.12
      Daniel said:

      The paint on the pole wasn’t really chipping or flaking (if it was, I would have scraped off the loose pieces), it was just really rusted and gross, and if I recall correctly I just painted it with latex paint and hoped for the best! It’s held up well (these after pictures were just taken), so I think it just hadn’t been done in a longggg time. In retrospect I PROBABLY should have started with a coat of good primer, but I’m fairly certain I didn’t do that.

  19. 2.29.12
    Anne said:

    Love it. Great job.

    Question: is the towel bar tiled in, or is it just sort of stuck on, on top of the tile? Seems like it could be removed.

    • 2.29.12
      Daniel said:

      Yeah, it’s tiled in…basically the only way to remove it would be to pry it off, then patch the holes behind it and try to replace the two tiles that are cut out with new ones. We actually end up using the towel bar fairly often to hang up the bathmat when it’s not in use, but I REALLY wish I could rip off the toothbrush holder/soapdish things under the medicine cabinet! Oh well.

  20. 2.29.12
    Jamie B. said:

    Ugh (that’s a good ugh), I can’t get over how much better the black walls make your old tile and grout look. Almost white! I need to get off my ass and do this in my bathroom.

  21. 2.29.12
    Shauna said:

    My gawd I would like you to come be one of my tenants. And you could pay your rent via making the unit awesome. And letting me play with your puppy. :)

    • 2.29.12
      Daniel said:

      My gawd I wish my landlord felt the way you do! My secret dream is that he will see this place, and then give me one of the better units in the building (there are some COOL apartments in REALLY rough shape) for lower rent and let me deduct any and all improvements. HAHAHA.

    • 3.1.12
      Tania said:

      Ask Daniel, you never know. We negotiated two weeks free rent in exchange for painting our whole apartment and our landlord was thrilled with the result.

      I have (eek) been a landlord in the past… if my tenant could show me examples of their work and if it was good, I’d approve it. But it’d have to be top notch which your work is!

    • 3.1.12
      Daniel said:

      Yeah, it really just depends on the situation. I initially did talk to them about reimbursing for paint, to test the waters. They were into the idea, until I actually started deducting money from the rent and submitting receipts. Apparently my $35-40 Benjamin Moore cans of paint were just taking advantage so he begrudgingly agreed to reimburse me $20 per can after some negotiation. Two weeks free rent?! NOT HAPPENING.

      These landlords are REALLY hands-off. They don’t seem to mind at all that people make changes to their apartments or don’t leave them in good shape, and they don’t rent the apartments in very good working condition (obviously aesthetically they’re bad, but we had things like broken electrical outlets and faulty light switches that I noted at the walk-through and then ended up just fixing myself because I didn’t hear anything from them. 9 months later, I still haven’t! My friends downstairs have had a broken window (!!!) that they inherited from the last tenants, who moved out 5 years ago… stuff like that.). I think as long as they don’t have to deal with anything, they’re happy, and as long as I can just do what I want, I’m happy. It’s definitely not something I’d advocate for every rental or every landlord, but here…it’s just how it works.

    • 3.2.12
      Tania said:

      Things must be different in the US. I think the tenants might have more rights over here (Australia) re repairs etc.

      In other news – you’re winning by over 100 votes!!!!

    • 3.2.12
      Daniel said:

      I know! WTF?

      Yeah, I don’t know how Australian tenant rights laws are, but the issue here is really just that the landlords don’t abide by the laws that do exist here. It’s definitely not an across-the-board issue, it’s just how my landlords are. They DEFINITELY should have fixed stuff like my outlets (and painted the unit, for that matter), they just didn’t. I’m really okay with it though, because it means I don’t have to worry about my improvements.

  22. 2.29.12
    runswithscissors said:

    Vote. Check. In fact it was cast when I nominated you and wow look at how well you’re doing! If only I had about 100 more email addys.
    Your bathroom is fabulous and almost identical to mine lol except I have ugly quarry tile on floor and covered my baby blue plastic tiles with white beadboard. But yeah, very similar. Love the rug.
    I know how you feel about plants that won’t die. I’m considering a staghorn fern (wall-mounted). Should look nice against the black wall.
    Also, I do the same with my hinge issues (the paint stir sitck fix) also cram toothpicks into too-large-for-screws holes and break off the excess.
    Kisses for DOG DOG DOG and I really hope you WIN WIN WIN

    • 2.29.12
      Daniel said:

      You nominated me? Awww, thank you!

      Sounds like YOU need a blog! You sound crafty and stylish and I like it.

    • 2.29.12
      runswithscissors said:

      Yep yep I’m a fan and it was my pleasure. Your blog is my fave, the humour, your vision & creativity, you dive right in to make the stuff you want, and you make the stuff you love work.
      I get bored with the others and their too cutsie crafts, and scrapbook formats. I love how you don’t just re-post others ideas and magazine pics.

      You certainly have a knack for “the tell”.

      I’m too critical of myself to even attempt a blog (plus having just mastered “the microwave machine” the internets are a bit too mind boggling) but thanks tons for the compliment!

    • 2.29.12
      Daniel said:

      Well, shucks, thank you so much for the kind words, I really appreciate it!

      I have the best (best best best) readers around—it’s really amazing. Thank you for being one of them!

  23. 2.29.12
    Furpants said:

    You get my vote because of this: “…one of those colors that’s supposed to be cheery and whimsical but only succeeds in making you feel like you’re taking a shit in a nursing home filled with broken dreams and unrealized ambitions…”

    Quite possibly the funniest thing I have ever read EVER. Dying laughing.

    OK, the bathroom looks tres dope, the pipe painted 2 tone is what put it over the edge of legendary for me. Yes, I agree, the shower curtain would look better higher/longer. Removing caulk in a bathroom — I did it and am glad, it was easier than I thought it would be. I used a wallpaper scraper and it worked awesomely. (I sometimes think of starting a blog where I describe how I use whatever item is closest at hand because I am too lazy to go and find/buy the correct tool.)

  24. 2.29.12
    Jill said:

    Can I move in and live in the bathroom?

  25. 2.29.12

    I love the after, but is it bad that I’m actually jealous of your “before” photos? Our rental bathroom is SO awful (think dirty pink, ivory and grey tiles seriously in need of a regrout). This makes me wish I could revamp it so bad!

    • 2.29.12
      Daniel said:

      Yeah, I’m REALLY lucky that at least the tile is white and in decent condition. It could have been WAY worse, for sure!

      Depending on how ballsy you are, maybe you could look into painting the tile? I think there are special products out there specifically for that…and I’ve heard grouting is surprisingly easy!

  26. 2.29.12
    Jenn said:

    Yay! New story! It looks crisp and snazzy! LOVE the dear and horsie prints. And of course the latest on puppy-girl. I too already voted and agreed with RunsWithScissors before the noms went up. I wish AT would break out the categories a tad more. There’s so much more to so many blogs that just the categories they choose.

    • 2.29.12
      runswithscissors said:

      *Waves to Jenn! I saw your post on AT before they deleted that whole comment thread, what’s up with that? I agree… toooooooo many nominations, for the first category in particular. I’ll never muck through them all and don’t really want to lol.

  27. 2.29.12
    jeannette said:

    i have linked to you, with thanks.

  28. 2.29.12
    Sarah said:

    You did such a good job = instant bathroom shame for me.

  29. 2.29.12
    Monica said:

    I can’t believe that you pimped Mekko for votes. Completely shameless and so totally unnecessary. Love the bathroom and the deer.

  30. 2.29.12
    Chris said:

    Spot on. Anna @ D16 nailed it.

    Also, more Mekko!!

  31. 2.29.12

    *YOINK* That’s me stealing your bathroom. It looks scrumptious.

  32. 2.29.12
    Alexis said:

    I’m in a very similar relationship with a plant, but mine has been going on since 2003. Sheesh… over ten years. Brilliant post, you’ve earned my vote over at AT.

  33. 2.29.12
    Alexis said:

    sorry, obviously maths was not my strong subject.

  34. 2.29.12
    Erica W. said:

    You’ve got my vote — the pleading dog eyes are a big motivator. That face!

    • 2.29.12
      Daniel said:


  35. 2.29.12
    Jill said:

    Yay, black bathroom club! I especially like the ceiling painted black, which surprises me a little. The skylight in my black bathroom still isn’t painted and every morning I look up at it, wondering what I should do. Hmm.

    By the way, you should totally go for the extra-long shower curtain (I love the cheap white cotton waffle weave one I have), and if you can, a curved shower curtain bar. It’s a little hotel-dorky, but damned if I don’t pat myself on the back for that every time I take a shower. Plus, they have matte black shower bars for cheap at Overstock. Just a thought!

    Okay, now I’m off to go vote.

  36. 2.29.12
    Ellen said:

    The room looks fantastic and your dog is *so* cute! I have this bath mat — it might work in your space

  37. 2.29.12
    Anonymous said:

    Sadly the IKEA Signe rugs are being discontinued… so stock up while you can! The bathroom looks great!

  38. 2.29.12

    Of course I voted. Your posts are so humanistic and fun for the wee voyeur in us all.

    P.S. Love the black walls in the bathroom. I ache to do that but the flooring in my bathroom is linoleum covered in little fishes? So it might be wasted energy. I had to beg to paint WHITE over piss-yellow walls in my bedroom. So cool that you’re able to do a decent amount of work in your apartment. How much of your renovation though is “easier to apologize for forgiveness than ask for permission?”

    • 2.29.12
      Daniel said:

      It definitely depends on your landlord/rental situation (and, I guess, the move-in condition of your apartment), but I ask permission for NOTHING. My lease gives a fair amount of flexibility with many things, and given the general condition of my apartment when I rented it and the building in general, I am basically objectively improving their unit that has not been very well maintained over the years. I have incredibly distant landlords, which is GREAT for me but would probably suck if I ever actually asked to have anything fixed for me.

      I think things are different if you live in a place where the landlord has taken great care to maintain his/her units, and you want to make permanent changes based on personal taste rather than functionality. Certain stuff, though, I think ANY tenant should be able to do, like PAINT! There’s nothing permanent about paint (unless it’s, like, over woodwork or something).

  39. 2.29.12
    Michelle said:

    That black wall looks awesome and hides the piping well. The ugly shots proves how much work goes into a reno and makes the afters really shine. I’ve almost finished turning my retro purple bathroom into a grey and white modernity and the door looks worse than your before – I swear!
    Great job and good luck on the homies comp :)

  40. 2.29.12
    Care said:

    I created an account and voted – no lazy ass here!

    I LOVE your bathroom! I am such a sucker for black and white, and you did that bathroom proud!
    Can’t wait to see what’s next!!

  41. 2.29.12
    Maggie said:

    Love it! As with everything you do. All ready voted for you, I would vote again if I could, you are my most favouritist fave. You are the best and deserve all the glory!!
    Now my dad would tell me to stop blowing smoke up your arse (is that just an Australian expression?) but I truly mean it.

  42. 2.29.12

    blog dogs rule, bailey would like to play with mekko some day

    • 2.29.12
      Daniel said:


      I would kidnap Bailey. He is 3,000 shades of precious.

  43. 2.29.12
    Kate said:

    I love the black walls, and especially the horse art. Not that I like horses, but you get it. I was thinking of actually doing the opposite, with black on the bottom half of my bathroom, but I’m terrified of painting, which you clearly are not.

    i voted.

    also, is it “meh-kko” or “meeeee-kko?” she is SO cute. I may or may not be following your instagrams just for her.

    • 2.29.12
      Daniel said:

      Painting is easy, and you basically can’t screw it up! Takes a little (LITTLE!) practice to get the hang of it, but what’s the worst that could happen? YOU CAN DO IT.

      Thank you! We pronounce it like “echo”!

  44. 2.29.12
    Lee said:

    Great work! I’m curious about the medicine cabinet. Was the previous one installed “into” the wall or just mounted? I have a small medicine cabinet with a mirror and due to me being rather tall I can’t see my entire head in the mirror. So sad I know : ( I’d love to tear the current cabinet out and replace with something like the Godmorgon, but I’d be left with a big hole in the wall. Wondering how you dealt with this.

    • 3.1.12
      Daniel said:

      My cabinet was actually made to be recessed into the wall but was just mounted by a couple screws instead, so I didn’t have any hole to deal with. In this case, though, because you’d probably replacing with something so much larger, I’d probably just go the lazy route and hang the new cabinet over the old hole…the new cabinet has a backing and you’d never be able to see it, unless you’re drastically changing the position/orientation of the cabinet or something.

  45. 3.1.12
    bronia said:

    I voted…i just had to after that photo of Mekko…how could I say no to that look?!

  46. 3.1.12
    nicolezh said:

    Amazing transformation- you turned a shabby place into a beautyfull urban bathroom!
    It is really funny that you are writing about this transformation right now, as I also painted and redid the bathroom. I sticked to plain old white (my partner insists on white walls allover the pad. I am ok with that as I can go crazy with anything else in our home…).
    When I was a kid, painting was something my parents never did on their own as they allways hired someone- so it took me a long time to understand that painting is something that can be done easily without a professionial and your can even have fun with it. I painted the bathroom with my sister, lots of 80ies and 90ies euro dance, cats that wanted to “help” – with spreading the paint allover the pad- and fun drinks!
    I also considered that IKEA mirror cabinet, but I didn’t dare to order it as the descriptions says that you need two people to hang it. I am a looser when it comes to hanging and fixing stuff to walls( too many tools involved), so is it really that hard to get this cabinet hanging?

    • 3.1.12
      Daniel said:

      It’s not hard at all! It basically hangs on two screws in the top inside corners, similar to the kitchen cabinets but without a suspension rail behind it. It is HEAVY though (aside from being a bit of an awkward size), so that’s probably why they recommend two people…Max and I definitely worked together to get it hung. Only thing you have to worry about is getting good anchors for your wall material. We have drywall in the bathroom, so I got some BIG (I forget what size…3/4″?) toggle anchors. There are a couple good anchor options (usually rated for the amount of weight they can hold if they’re in a package), and any decent hardware store should be able to tell you good ones to buy and show you how to install them (that, or just buy them and youtube it later!).

  47. 3.1.12
    Janie said:

    Ok – so by now you clearly realise (from all above comments) that you are well loved by us intermenet stalkers.
    I just voted for you, and it wasn’t because your mom told me too. Nor was it because of the insanely delicious face of Mekko (who I’m sure would lurrrvve my little Aussie schnauzer, Harvey), but because you so deserve it. I love what you do – I especially love, love the way you write. As do hundreds of others (as evidenced by votes). Hope you win, you clever thing.

    • 3.1.12
      Daniel said:

      Oh, thank you Janie!

  48. 3.1.12
    Elli said:

    Good that you promoted yourself, that way I found my way to your fabulous blog too!:)

    What an awesome job you’ve done with that bathroom, I’m impressed. And I have to say, where you started from was exceptionally ugly :D

  49. 3.1.12
    Gracie said:

    Love it, and I agree the black does it make it recede, you inspire me!

  50. 3.1.12
    JanS said:

    I will vote for you on condition that you never ever actually use that toothbrush holder (let’s not go into details, but it is simply TOO close to the toilet).

    • 3.1.12
      Daniel said:

      Ugh, NEVER! Our toothbrushes don’t actually fit in the holes anyway, but yeah…yucky.

  51. 3.1.12
    Laura said:

    Love it! I also live in an old NYC apartment, and have ancient white (yellowing) tiles in my bathroom. I painted the walls dark navy to make the white tiles look whiter. The black paint has the same effect in your bathroom. I LOVE how you painted the bottom of the pole white and top black to match the division between tile and paint. What a great detail! I may go back and do the same in mine. For the bathmat… how about red, same as the red cord for the lamp?
    Can’t wait to see the next project!

  52. 3.1.12
    K said:

    Daaaamn, that is one rockin’ bathroom. Well done, dude. Well done. I bow down. (And now I shall put my money where my mouth is and vooote.)

  53. 3.1.12
    Amanda said:

    Love! And I totally agree with Max re: the peen hooks (though they do look great in the space). Guys aren’t the only ones with perverse minds, you know!

  54. 3.1.12
    Michelle said:

    I love the light fixture! I have an Ikea pendant lamp with a plug in cord that I’ve been trying to figure out how to convert and use in place of the horrible standard ceiling light in my dining room. Can you go into more details about the process you went through when you changed out your light? If I can figure this one out, I’ll be replacing all of the ceiling lights in my apt.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • 3.1.12
      Daniel said:

      There are many resources on the internet (here’s a pretty good one!)that can explain much more cogently than I can in a comment how to properly change a light, but rest assured—EASY EASY. If you’re doing something like I did, you just buy all the pieces separately: socket, cord, canopy kit. All that stuff is easy to find either online or at a hardware store. The canopy kit will have all the parts you need to attach it to a standard electrical box in your ceiling.

      It’s SUPER SIMPLE to convert a plug-in to hardwired—just snip the plug off with a pair of scissors and expose the wires within the plastic casing, and attach like you would any hardwired light!

  55. 3.1.12
    Trish said:

    Ummm, you’re so awesome it’s stupid. SICK!

  56. 3.1.12
    SFT said:

    Amazing transformation! I know from my 120-year-old house that it can be really hard to love things like door hinges and windows that have been unloved for so long. I really admire the care and attention you give to those restorative projects. Well done!

  57. 3.1.12
    Lisa said:

    This is one of the best before/after pics I have seen. You have an amazing vision. I would’ve looked at the bathroom and ran as fast as I could. Thanks for the inspiration!

  58. 3.1.12
    Elaine said:

    Hi! I had to come and check you out when I was directed to the Homies by another blog that was also nominated. I thought ‘who is this manhatten nest?’ when I saw you with the top votes and I”m glad I clicked over! Any blog post that has me laugh out loud multiple times is a sure win for my reader. Glad to have stumbled into your little piece of blogland. New follower alert! :)

  59. 3.1.12
    Lena said:

    It looks awesome!
    One question, in your old bathroom you did something very similar, also painting the walls black & you also had white tiles ect. However, you didn’t paint the ceiling. Is there a reason why you decided to do it differently this time? Is there something why you think black painted ceiling works better here and white better in the old one? Or, if you had to redo the old bathroom would you now paint the ceiling black too?

    • 3.1.12
      Daniel said:

      Yes, there actually was a logic (or at least and instinct?) behind this…whether or not I can explain it is the question! In this bathroom, the tiles are white-white, but the old bathroom had kind of beige-y (I don’t even know how to describe the color…) tiles on the walls, then those crazy patterned floors, and was TINY. Like, the tiniest bathroom I have ever been in, ever. I think I felt at the time (and still do, I think), that because the wall tiles were kind of dingy, and the room was SO small, the room couldn’t really handle a black-black treatment. I loved the way the walls could relate to the color in that weird floor, but I think the ceiling could have just been too much, and it just would have ended up feeling dark. People worry about black making every space look super dark and cave-like, which couldn’t be further from the truth, but I think there are certain instances where it can end up that way, and this felt like one of them. Keeping the ceiling a crisp white (along with the tub, vanity, toilet, shower curtain, towels, door and moldings) helped keep enough bright white elements in the room that the tile (which actually covered the most surface space) didn’t end up carrying very much visual weight because it primarily read as black/white/pattern (on the floor).

      I have no idea if any of that makes any sense. I don’t really know anything about anything, it just didn’t feel right there and it felt right here! I stand by both decisions, though.

  60. 3.2.12
    Maria said:

    I just love color, it’s amazing, and the light wow …and your post really made me laugh, such a sense of humor…inspiring ideas for our bathroom which is a vile beige color with flaking paint everywhere but a little too daring for the kids bathroom, but I’ll still show them the photos…who knows

  61. 3.2.12
    Lena said:

    Thank you! It kind of makes sense. I was just curious if there was a reason or if the first time you were just more cautious or something.

  62. 3.2.12
    Katherine said:

    Well that does it. Just yesterday, I didn’t know this blog existed. Wandered here from the Homies and fell hard for your writing. So happy to have found my way here! Thank you for doing what you do.

  63. 3.2.12

    Daniel, I love what you did with your bathroom! We just moved into our new place and this is exactly how I was planning to paint it. My bathroom looks very similar to yours. Seeing your work encourages me to go ahead with my plan to paint the walls above the tiles black.

  64. 3.2.12
    Beth said:

    I’m actually planning something super similar for our new bathroom! We wanted to go halfway up with subway tiles, and then paint the top half + ceiling black. We’re undecided what we should do with the floor though. What would you pick for yours, if you could redo the floor tile? I love black hex tiles, but would that be TOO much black? It’s a pretty small bathroom as well.

    • 3.3.12
      Daniel said:

      It’s super hard to make that call without actually seeing the space and knowing your taste, but I think black floors + black walls could work for sure. (check this out for all the convincing you need!)

      I’d love if I could get some natural material down there, like stone or maybe even cork, although I don’t know how it holds up in bathrooms. Or little hex tiles, or pennyrounds.

      All I really want though is some incredible Kismet Tile.

  65. 3.2.12

    Wow, this bathroom upgrade blows my mindhole. You are so talented! I thank my lucky stars that I found you via AT’s Homies, thank goodness so many others think you are rad or I might not have found you. I’ve been reading your blog from start to finish while I should be working.

    ps – I love your dog, she is fabulous and I would let her lay on my pillows, too.

  66. 3.2.12
    Daniel said:

    I just wanted to take a moment and tell you your writing cracks me up and that I am a first time visitor as I saw your blog listed on Apartment Therapy.

    I just painted my bathroom black a few weeks ago too, well at least one wall as an accent. I used chalkboard paint, not because I would ever draw in it with chalk (that wouldn’t work well with moisture), but the very flat finish is amazing and it seems to still be pretty durable. I agree, black makes the wall recede. I have my lights on a dimmer so I don’t blind myself in the middle of the night, but when I turn on the dimmed light it feels as if there is no wall at all, the mirror, shelves etc. are just floating in space. Very cool effect, especially when you are barely awake anyway.

    Good luck with that window and finding a bath mat.

  67. 3.2.12
    ruth said:

    Just voted for ya….and by the way you’re in the lead!

  68. 3.2.12
    jules said:

    omg i just found your blog via apartment therapy’s ‘the homies’ and this post on your bathroom is both hilarious and beautiful. i love the dark walls and white tiles/everything else. how brave!

  69. 3.2.12
    Chandra said:

    Hi! I’m new to your blog by way of the Homies. :-D i love your bathroom remodel. I have a suggestion for your super long shower curtain. Here in Atlanta, we have a store called Big Lots. They sell sheer white window scarves 54″ x 210″ for $10. Yes, $10! Not sure if sheer white is how u want to go, but they’re made of nylon, so they’d dry super fast…..

  70. 3.2.12

    You brilliant man, you. You rock the black SO WELL. You. will. win. I betcha!

  71. 3.3.12
    Louise said:

    Definitely, definitely voted the instant I saw your blog being nominated ^^ Congrats on leading by over 100 votes :3

  72. 3.3.12
    Akucua said:

    I am pretty convinced that just because I have never met you doesn’t mean we aren’t secretly related. First of all, Mekko, really?! She looks exactly like my pup (sans color), I sell pendants just like yours (great work BTW), I just painted my bathroom black, AND I am starting an online DIY house blog. Seriously,great minds think alike eh ;)

    Anyway, I thought maybe a cool idea for your bathroom would be to have a removable panel ceiling. You could have it attach to the same place as the pendant and just mount the pendant on it. Since you would need to use something like cedar because of moisture, the wood wouldnt be that heavy, so just a center and corner supports should be fine. Dang, that isn’t exactly the easiest idea to convey but I am sure you get the point :) Think really cool wooden spa bath mat on the ceiling!

  73. 3.3.12
    LifeInPhilly said:

    I just became your biggest fan.

  74. 3.3.12
    Carol said:

    Excellent job with this makeover! I have almost the identical bathroom and painted it a soft black a few years ago. I absolutely love the way black works so well in both your and my bathrooms, giving the room a wonderful glow. Thanks for sharing your hard work and creativity!

  75. 3.3.12
    Lakshmi said:

    Love your blog!
    Quick question not related to bathrooms: I am new to NY and am looking for good places to buy houseplants, preferably on the UES. Any suggestions?
    Thank you!

  76. 3.3.12
    furpants said:

    I was just wondering if having black walls in your bathroom ever leads to embarrassing grooming oversights like a little strip of 2 inch long unshaved whiskers or a missed pimple? Not that you would ever get pimples, and maybe you are still too young to shave…

  77. 3.3.12
    Mom said:

    You all understand that if we want Daniel to be the winner of the HOMIES award you have to vote again in the finals, like NOW. Let’s go readers!!!
    Manhattan-Nest is the best and you know it. So Vote it.

  78. 3.3.12
    Wes said:

    I just found your blog (from apartmenttherapy) and I am IN LOVE!

  79. 3.4.12
    monogirl said:

    That is a great idea to paint the steam pipe the same color as the wall and tile. It really makes it disappear!

  80. 3.4.12
    jeannette said:

    i did vote for you in the finals, but i did not vote for you in the prelims. i’m a big fan, but others make it a discipline to post daily. it requires professional dedication as well as ironman stamina and i will always vote for the workies. xxx to miss mekko, she works hard for the money.

    • 3.4.12
      Daniel said:

      …thank you? I do appreciate your vote, but I’d be lying if I didn’t feel a little hurt by the suggestion that I’m not disciplined or dedicated because I don’t post on my blog everyday. I think it’s just a different style of blogging—I like my posts long and detailed and thought-out. I think it’s easy to forget that each post you see on this blog takes a lot of work and a lot of time—from actually doing whatever I’m writing about, to documenting it with photos, to editing those photos, to writing the actual post. I’ve never placed a premium on quantity above quality, nor do I intend to. NOT that I’m saying other blogs necessarily do, but I do think the content of those daily posts is very different from what I do here. I also doubt you’ll find many who post daily who aren’t also covered in paid ads or participating in giveaways and product promotions. There’s nothing wrong with commercializing and monetizing a successful site, but that also turns it into a job. I do not receive any money from this blog, have no ads, have never been perked for a product promo or anything like that. It’s purely in the spirit of fun, and sharing, and making something that I find interesting and want to challenge myself to write about (trust, it’s not easy to write entertaining posts about painting rooms or hanging cabinets). Not to mention that I am in school full-time, have a part-time job, a dog, a relationship, and a whole lot of other aspects of my life that have nothing to do with maintaining this site.

      I know you are a regular and friendly commenter, so I’m not angry, I just don’t think what you’re saying is quite fair. Again, thank you for your vote.

    • 3.6.12

      I’m always floored by how incredibly dedicated you are with the exhaustive physical labor involved with the projects that you take on to beautify your living environment while simultaneously trying to better the functionality of a particular room! If that isn’t enough, your writing style is extensive, humorous, engaging and very entertaining (DIY has never been narrated quite like you.)

      Couple this with great photography—sometimes each step along the way (your photos actually look good too, most people either take terrible photos or reuse photos from online to illustrate their content. All of these efforts conspire to define “professional dedication as well as ironman stamina”

      Quality over quantity has my vote and Mamma Biscuit seconds that!

    • 3.9.12
      Brianna said:

      Here here! Quality over quantity every time.

  81. 3.5.12
    Ann said:

    I voted for you in BOTH rounds because (as I’ve said before) I LOVE your writing and seeing all the great projects you’re working on. Good Luck.

  82. 3.5.12
    Florian said:

    In German there is a word for that lavender shade: Schlüpferfarben – the colour of petit-bourgeois underwear. It looks so much nicer in black! Sooo much nicer! Stunning!

    A bit rough around the edges though, mabe you ought to rethink your masking tape stance? Have you ever considered blasting or sanding all that paint off your doors and windows, since you are so thorough with the hardware boiling and stuff?

    To calm your nerves about bathroom safety: there is a perfectly logical and benign explanation to the effect around your old lamp. The black residue is simply dust, transported there by way of the warm air currents produced by the heat of the lamp. No actual fire involved.

  83. 3.5.12
    Maisie said:

    Wow! What a gorgeous bathroom!! How come I just found this inspiring blog.. took me way too long.
    Simply had to vote if a dog called Mekko asks me to :D
    As a finnish person I find the name simply adorable :)

  84. 3.5.12
    Tanya said:

    I voted. Your Bog > Mommy Design Blog

  85. 3.6.12
    Kathleen said:

    I have not been able to get this light treatment out of my head since you posted. I guess that means I’m obsessed. Great job, Daniel. I love it all.

  86. 3.6.12
    Minna said:

    Might I suggest a teak bath mat? I have one, and I love it. It’s simple, warm looking, and oh so sanitary. You can find them lots of places, but here’s a site with a bunch for inspiration:

    They can be had from various other outlets for well under the prices listed on this site.

  87. 3.6.12

    The black walls, door and split riser pipe is fantastic! I can’t believe the walls used to be lavender!! LOL GREAT JOB and more over, thanks for posting a photo of Mekko at the end—she looks so adogable!
    The Biscuits!

  88. 3.6.12
    Keren said:

    I love the idea of dark walls in a bathroom. Not only does a bold backsplash make a small room appear larger – the color also hides DIRT AND DUST. My pristine white bathroom is basically impossible to keep clean!

  89. 3.6.12
    rj said:


  90. 3.6.12
    KBurns said:

    I just found your blog via the Homies on Apartment Therapy and I have done basically no work today because of it. Thank you for your funny, informative and inspiring posts! I am a renter in San Francisco and have been in my place for about a year. I absolutely love it but I’m terrified to add things like much needed shelving and paint. Have you addressed this topic on your blog? I guess I’m curious about how you got most of your deposit back from your last place even though you made alterations. I feel like I’m missing out on this whole world of improving rentals as a tenant and I so want to be a part of it!

    • 3.7.12
      KBurns said:

      Just read the earlier comments where you discussed this.

  91. 3.7.12

    Your bathroom is just stunning! You really have such a great eye. I love how the $1 Deer makes such an impact. Also congratulations on the much deserved nomination at Apartment Therapy.

  92. 3.7.12
    Janet said:

    Love, love love, great post. Have voted. For you of course :)

  93. 3.7.12
    Viktoriya said:

    Wow, it looks great, very clean and modern. Great job, Super D!! :) Hope you win on AT.

  94. 3.7.12
    Laura said:

    Signed up for an account on Apartment Therapy for the sole purpose of voting for this amazing blog!

  95. 3.7.12

    Well I’m totally inspired by this. Again. I’ve decided to borrow (read ‘steal’) elements of this in my bathroom, although I’m going with agressive pops of hot pink. I’m going with ‘Goth Flamingo’.
    I hope it comes together as yours did, and I hope that fugly window gets sorted! Also…saw a sorta sneaky peek of your hallway over on Max’s blog. What’s going on there? Got rid of those awful square things?

    Mrs E

  96. 3.7.12
    Caitlin said:

    Well, here’s my story.

    Ever since I found your blog (maybe two weeks ago?), I have been reading like some sort of gossipy-novel I would read in middle school. After I read your entire first page of posts, I decided I just HAD to start from the beginning and have been reading absolutely every word you have ever written on this wonderful blog. It has consumed probably way too much of my free time. (or time I should have spent doing work)

    Needless to say, I LOVE THE STUFF YOU DO. It has been so inspiring to read and it all makes me so eager to get a real apartment of my own to start playing with.

    (Also, I go to Pratt!! I’m an architecture major, so I don’t think I’ve ever met Max, but its still kinda cool to know we were once roaming the same halls. :)

    • 3.8.12
      Daniel said:

      Awww, thank you so much! I’m glad you like it! Even if you don’t know Max (he was Art History), I’m suuuurrrreee you know people in common. Pratt’s a small place!

    • 3.8.12
      Caitlin said:

      Also, I was walking around Manhattan today with class and saw in about a gazillion parks wire chairs that are so similar to yours! There were white ones, black ones, and even green ones.

      I’m so tempted to go at night and steal a few…

  97. 3.7.12
    Mom said:

    Really??? Really??? You are just going to sit back and let Bower Power win this because you don’t make another posting? Get on it. I have only told every person that I am even tangentially connected to get on the site and vote for Manhattan Nest.

  98. 3.9.12
    Brianna said:

    Bajezussss. You are hilarious! I cannot get enough of your writing and quirky humor. THEY’RE BRASSY AND CLASSY!

  99. 3.9.12

    wow… the black is amazing… i feel extra tempted to do the same in my almost-NYC 100+ year old building (Jersey City, not too too far away). our landlord let us replace the floors, toilet, sink, light fixtures, mirror, and paint the clawfoot tub. we painted the tub with black appliance paint (looks SO chic, and shiny!) so i think maybe painting 1 wall black (or maybe all if we are brave enough!) could be so fun…

    my mom is making a shower curtain with white sheer curtains (mimicking this super expensive one from anthro: our tub is black though… so the curtain will make the bathroom a bit girly, and i think the black paint will balance it with a masculine touch…


    thanks for some great inspiration!

  100. 5.3.12
    Mariah said:

    In response to your writing: “I also really need to scrape and replace all the caulk, because no matter how much I clean it, it is still poorly applied and gross.”

    Can you please do a tutorial on this? Pretty please! :) With a cherry on top?

  101. 7.20.12
    FRANC said:

    Que buenas ideas, para poner en orden una casa, me encantan….son verdaderamente MAGNIFICAS IDEAS…..

    • 7.22.12
      Daniel said: