Dear Kitchen: It Gets Better.

Welcome to the longest kitchen remodel ever. Sit back. Relax. Have a drink. Have a Xanax. Here is a nurse to induce your coma, and maybe when you wake up in a year, I’ll have made some headway.

Is that even what I’m doing? Remodeling? Redecorating? Remecorating? Oh hey, Merriam-Webster.

This is what I do. I walk into the kitchen. I pull out a measuring tape. I measure a piece of countertop, or a cabinet, or walls, or distances to outlets. Then I step back, shut one eye, put my hand on my chin, and stare at something like I’m thinking. Then I realize I’m just using “measuring” as an excuse to stand around and have fret sessions over the fact that I want to tear my entire kitchen apart. This happens probably 1-4 times a day.

But we’ve already improved the kitchen’s functionality so much by adding all that cabinet space and counter space, and we just haven’t had the time recently to implement some of the other kick-ass changes I have planned for down the line in here. I know it’s going to go slow, but I really just want it to go right. I plan to live here for a long time, and I want to love my kitchen. I have these delusions that, if my kitchen is better—more orderly, easier to keep clean, bright and happy—that I might be better, too. Also, I might be more into cooking. The fancier I can feel, the more into it I will be.

I’m really growing to like the little dining area that’s occupying the space by the window and stretches the entire width of the room. It’s a small space, about 7.5′ x 4.5′, but it’s cozy and I’m so glad that it’s just big enough for a Stendig Calendar. We’ve actually started eating at the kitchen table, and I have to admit it’s pretty nice and civilized. It only took us nine months, too! This feels on-par with my Bar Mitzvah in terms of feeling like an adult.

Max bought those two prints from this Etsy shop, and we just put them in some IKEA RIBBA frames. We might need to put something else here eventually because these seem kind of awkwardly tall, but for now they’re nice.

And I finally finished painting the moldings! It still needs some touch-up on the inside of the frame, but the salvaged 120 year old moldings look super amazing all white. Yeah! I painted all that old wood! I am saying this while I’m in an Apartment Therapy competition! I am going to get shot!

In the other corner, I finally got around to moving the security gate thing back towards the window (the frame is about 6 inches deep, and it was mounted way at the front), which gave me a few inches to hang an IKEA ENJE shade which is re-cut and reused my old apartment. The shade is pretty translucent, so it doesn’t block the light and you can definitely still see the security gate behind it, but it softens it a lot. It’s nice, I swear. Well, as nice as it can really be with a massive metal accordion door.

In our house, there is constant bickering about lighting: Max likes no overhead light but instead just a delicate spattering of gentle lamplight, whereas I wonder if I’m going blind when I walk into a room he’s been in. The best thing ever, as far as I’m concerned, is the Patrick Townsend String Light from Areaware, which I bought on It’s kind of amazing, right? It’s on a dimmer, so Max can brood in the dark or whatever it is he does, and I can actually see what I’m eating. It’s such a great light source and is really beautiful lit up, but unfortunately exceedingly difficult to photograph. I feel like I have failed it.

It’s come a long way since I moved in, this little space. Damn it used to be so ugly.

In other news, I got around to putting a cover panel at the end of the base cabinet of the new kitchen built-in, which covers the huge gaping hole that was there before. Progress! I still need to put a bead of caulk down the side to make it legit.

I also installed these 6″ pine boards on the “completed” walls in the room, and now I can’t decide to paint them or not? I’m going to see how everything comes together and then decide.

And because I know how much it was killing everyone, I painted the buzzer! I just used the same wall paint, and probably did about 5 super thin coats so I wouldn’t gum anything up. It still works just as well and looks so much better. And check it out! I finally fulfilled one of my lifelong dreams to buy a label maker! I’m not really a huge fan of the new snazzy LED-screen print-out do-hickeys, but I love those “old-fashioned” ones that embosses each individual letter on that weird plastic tape stuff. I want to label everything in my life.

In other news: see this look? The one that Mekko is giving you? It’s concern. It’s sadness. It’s her saying, “please, tell me everything will be okay.”

You know why?

Here’s why. I am getting my ass spanked in the Apartment Therapy Homie Awards. My bare, white, pale naked ass is just getting the fuck pummeled out of it. Last week was nominations, when we came in first (WHAT WHAT THANKS ERRYBODY!), but this week is the finals…and just look at that. Take it all in.

This is a problem, because I WANT TO WIN. My inner competitive side will mourn for probably entire minutes if I lose this thing. And is that what you want? You want to cause me pain? Oh, I see how it is.

Voting ends THIS FRIDAY, so we need to up our efforts. Letter-writing campaign! Posters! Call your congressman! Send a letter to the President of the internet! Oh, it’s not that hard?

Plan B: go vote, you. Seriously, get your gorgeous self over to Apartment Therapy and vote for me. Maybe you need to register an account to vote? Easy, just click here!

So go on. Make me a winner. I’ll never know without the beautiful affirmation of a golden Homie Award.

Mekko wants to be happy. Make her happy. GO VOTE.

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. 3.8.12

    You are hilarious. The kitchen looks great, going to order one of those string lights STAT, I already voted for you (totally thought you were going to sweep it…..keep the faith!), and I think those pine baseboards are warming up the room, in a good way.

    Also, I have to ask, is that your trash can in the dining area? :)

    • 3.8.12
      Daniel said:

      No, it’s the dog food container! It’ll move eventually, I have a plan!

      Thank you!

  2. 3.8.12

    Can’t believe the difference in there! It’s amazing to see a renter make a space better. Most peeps assume that we just doss and trash the place, but at the end of the day these are our homes. Speaking of Hom(ies) I’m totally canvassing for you over here in Blighty. My blog might not see much traffic, but that it does see will have your name all over it. Heck, I might even put in a redirect to the nominations… :o)

    Mrs E

  3. 3.8.12
    TieDye64 said:

    Using your precious pup for such shameless purposes! *sigh* Your kitchen is looking so good and OF COURSE I voted for you in The Homies. You guys have great taste and have done a bang up job.

  4. 3.8.12

    You’re doing such a great job, I can even forgive you adding a dog picture to every post. Only my very favorite bloggers get that pass.

  5. 3.8.12
    Ella said:

    I like that wooden trim. And all the pale 50’s colours. Cozy.

  6. 3.8.12
    Amanda said:

    I absolutely adore what you’ve done with the dining nook. LOVE. The table and chairs look amazing in that space, and I’m drooling over the brass base of your table. And, of course, I voted for you. :)

  7. 3.8.12

    It’s beautiful! I’m inspired… I don’t even know how to look at a space like your “before” and end up with your “after.” I voted. The dog face helped.

  8. 3.8.12
    Amelie said:

    Done and done! Though I don’t know why we even have to vote… They should just hand you that damn trophy, don’t they know you have the best blog AND the best dog?

    Democracy is so overrated.

    • 3.8.12
      Simone said:

      You are so right, I live in the Netherlands and see democracy going down the drain on a daily basis. Thank God we at least have a very very professional queen.

  9. 3.8.12

    Okay for one, you are AD free, which makes me think you should get bonus points. RIGHT!? Com’on.

  10. 3.8.12
    sherry said:

    First, everything you do looks amazing! Second, I voted. I actually re-registered after not having posted on AT website for like 4 years to vote which was huge for me not because it took like 2 minutes of my time but because I swore I would never post/vote have much to do with that site again. I was so tired of the mean spirited comments towards people whose blogs/work I enjoyed. You just know they let that stuff happen to stir up drama, and up their page views! But I caved and broke my personal rule because your blog is worth it. You deserve to win and if you don’t there is no justice in the world! Bower Power? Come on! Manhattan Nest for the win!

  11. 3.8.12
    Jill said:

    You! And this kitchen! And that adorable puppyface! Everything looks beautiful, Daniel — so, so nice. I love that you put the string light in your kitchen. This almost inspires me to finish my own damn kitchen renovation.

    Also, though I’ve already cast my vote for you in the Homies, everyone else: do what he says! Go vote for Manhattan Nest!

  12. 3.8.12

    Dude! Ok! I voted! Jeez!

    Actually, as a resident alien, it’s kind of nice when I get to vote on something.

    Loving the dining nook, and I’m on Team Max for lighting. Don’t feel bad though, my hsuband is definitely Team Daniel, and just doesn’t seem to notice/care how HARSH our overhead lights are.

  13. 3.8.12
    Crystal said:

    Seriously, it looks fantastic! I’m in complete dining nook envy here. And I voted for you.

  14. 3.8.12
    Jill said:

    Okay, I had to comment again. I must hate myself, but I read through all the comments on that AT post about your desk DIY. And while most of those weirdos are totally delusional, I think this might be one of my favorite blog comments of all time, ever:

    “Oh please. Stop acting like he skinned your pet cat to make a jaunty little hat. He turned rubbish into gold.”

    Jaunty little hat. Hahahahaha.

    • 3.8.12
      Daniel said:

      I know, I loved that one too.

  15. 3.8.12
    Alison said:

    Holy awesome! It’s so pretty now!!!! Your moldings have inspired me, I need to make mine like yours. Also, don’t fret, you gotta feel so good about how good your kitchen is looking.

    P.S. I think those etsy prints are perfect in that corner, not too tall at a ll. Keep ’em there!

    P.P.S. That Mekko dog is too cute!

  16. 3.8.12

    That punch label on the door intercom is so 65 Vine!

  17. 3.8.12

    The little improvements to the kitchen look great! I have to say, your blog is awesome. It is so hard to find a funny, not corny, home improvement/decor blog that I can relate to in any way since I may never own a sprawling 3 br house on a piece of land in Kalamazoo, middle America. Not to mention some of the crazy renos these bloggers do that I salivate over, but could never afford- even if it was a budget reno for them. Ten points for renos involving other people’s trash! Great find on the moldings.
    I am off to vote-away for you in the Homies, goodluck!

  18. 3.8.12
    Bliss said:


    I visit Apartment Therapy occasionally for ideas and such, and like Sherry said the mean spirited comments can be draining. I have no qualms about saying something is “meh” but never go as far to rip people to shreds as I sometimes see! Egads! lol…

    Anyway, you’re blog is by far my favorite! I’m 24 and know how difficult it can be to really get settled and furnished with pieces that are affordable but won’t drop my bare, black, not-so-pale behind on the floor from being so cheap and rickety! Lol, not to knock what anyone else is doing, but I understand the struggle man, I truly do. I’m about to move from home and into my own two bedroom next month and am ready to tackle some DIY projects. Your blog proves we busted and broke youngins can hang with the big dogs! In fact it would even be awesome if AT added another category for collegeish aged designers.

    Hope you come out on top!

    ~ Bliss

  19. 3.8.12
    Melissa said:

    I think i might be in love with you. Seriously though, you have turned your apartment into a home and i love every nook and cranny of it. Amazing job.. I hope someday i will have a place as lovely as yours :)

    • 3.8.12
      Melissa said:

      Oh, and i totally voted for you.

  20. 3.8.12
    bekah said:

    I really need you to put the Eames with the black base in the middle of the other two.

    • 3.8.12
      Daniel said:

      I really need to get new bases for my shells. All these H-bases are bringing me down.

  21. 3.8.12


    i want a string light so bad it hurts.

  22. 3.8.12

    I would donate our votes to you if it would make a difference. It’s like we’re Ron Paul and you’re Santorum and…nevermind, bad analogy.

  23. 3.8.12
    Heather said:

    Glad to see you pulled ahead in the polls when I just voted. You are the shiznit and deserve to win!

  24. 3.8.12
    amelia said:

    voted for you!
    had been thinking of painting my bathroom black / dark but couldn’t find inspiration photos in a space realistically similar to mine (only these expansive uber-modern, uber-expensive ones). until yours. doing it!

  25. 3.8.12
    Valerie said:

    I broke my “don’t visit AT ever again” rule for you, I hope you’re happy! Seriously though, your kitchen looks a zillion times better than it used to! Can you paint that security grate? I have these disgusting metal (and rusty) wall heaters all over my house that I took down (and choked on 60 years of dust & grime & general nastiness) and spray painted white. It’s like they no longer exist and I’m living in a magical land of sparkles. Maybe the grate would blend even more if you painted it? The molding looks much better painted, btw.

    • 3.8.12
      Daniel said:

      I’ve thought a lot about it, but I’m not sure how much it would really help, and because it’s an accordion, I feel like painting would be nearly impossible because I’d have to do like 8,000 coats to get all the unpainted segments (depending on how open or closed it is, does that make sense?). What really makes it stand out is that that it’s this big, completely opaque thing in front of a fairly bright window, and that’s not going to change. Now that the shade is covering it, though, it at least doesn’t look a silvery/rusty mess? It really is a huge improvement in person!

      Someday maybe I’ll weld myself a new one and just pitch this thing. But that’s likely to be pretty far down the line.

      My radiators, though, that’s another story. I’d love to spray those!!!

    • 3.8.12
      Lena said:

      I think it does look a lot better, even on the photo! And who even notices that security thingy if you can loot at that awesome molding instead:-)

    • 3.9.12
      Valerie said:

      I can see how it would be a problem to paint it, now. It really does look much better with the shade over it… I remember when you first posted pictures of the kitchen and I thought you were going to have a hard time hiding that thing, but it looks much much better. You’ve given me hope; if you can turn around that kitchen and bathroom, maybe my horrific kitchen and bathroom have a chance too…

  26. 3.8.12
    brianne said:

    2 funny things and one piece of bad news. #1: My boyfriend and I have the same lighting argument ALL THE TIME. I am the max. #2: I posted about that same etsy shop today, weird. Now for the bad news: Katie bower announced last night in a heart wrenching video that she’s pregnant, so you have that to contend with in the AT voting :( Good thing I already voted!

    • 3.8.12
      Daniel said:

      I’m pregnant too!!!

      I’m not, but that’s wonderful for them and I wish them all the best, sincerely.

      I still want to win.

    • 3.8.12
      Jill said:

      I will vote for your unborn baby.

  27. 3.8.12
    James said:

    Vote # 1051

  28. 3.8.12
    Care said:

    Kitchen is looking good!
    My vote’s in!! Fingers crossed for you!

  29. 3.8.12
    Gaidig said:

    Its looking great! I really think that the painted trim and the blind are a huge improvement. Now you can think of that accordion grate as interesting texture in the shadow play. I also really like your art with the dining area.

    I recommend that you paint the pine base that you installed. While there is something to be said for the warmth and the echo of the frames in the corner, I think that because your other trim is painted, it will look more finished and polished if you paint it.

    • 3.8.12
      Daniel said:

      Yeah, we’ll see. There will be other pine elements in the room, so it wouldn’t look quite so out of place. I don’t mind the idea of it being kind of self-consciously modern, since obviously it’s not original, I just might have to see it all together. In any case, it needs to be “finished” somehow, whether that’s with paint or polyurethane is the question, but it’ll definitely look better than it does now either way!

  30. 3.8.12
    Kim said:

    I stumbled upon your blog through various linkages and absolutely love everything you do! Totally signed up just to vote. Good luck!

  31. 3.8.12
    sorrywrongnumber said:

    I can’t vote for you because of your sewer mouth. Go visit My Favorite and My Best blogger as she’s a potty mouth also.

    • 3.8.12
      Daniel said:

      Thank you! You are too fucking kind.

  32. 3.8.12

    Favorite comment by far:

    Yeah! I painted all that old wood! I am saying this while I’m in an Apartment Therapy competition! I am going to get shot!

    So ridiculously true. Already voted for you. When you win can you please use your power to get IKEA to bring ENJE back? WTF, IKEA?!

    • 3.8.12
      Daniel said:

      It is back! It works differently though, on a spring mechanism rather than a pull-chain. I’m actually planning to do a post that addresses this important issue, as I wrestled with the new shades for FAR too long trying to get them to work before resorting to yet another ikea “hack,” this time featuring old IKEA parts!

      The fabric is still the same though, so that’s nice. They really do filter light beautifully.

  33. 3.8.12
    Wendy said:

    Ok – you’ve finally done it – pushed me over the edge to re-do my place even though its been lived in by husband for last 10 years and even if I can’t finish it in one weekend.

    The masking tape goes up tonight on all the baseboards – its time to turn the bachelor pad into a nice apt.

    ps – voted for you already

  34. 3.8.12

    I am also an old-fashioned labeler. Everything unable to run is labeled with my dymo.
    I really like your kitchen, particularly the new prints and the dining area.
    But please, paint the cover panel! I mean, you even painted the buzzer and I guess, you should have some black paint remaining…

  35. 3.8.12
    Simone said:

    I love you, tried to vote (with my Ipod, maybe that’s the problem) got hopelessly caught and lost in the website I ended up in (and had never heard of, I only read ad-free blogs haha). Since you prefer men and we’re both spoken for I gave up (I’m sorry to say). Still hope you win though.

  36. 3.8.12
    Simone said:

    P.s. I really like the dotted artwork. (Shouldn’t a GO button be red by the way?)

  37. 3.8.12
    Simone said:

    Ok I am ill at the moment so I have the time to be non-superficial I like the pattern the grid makes on your shades. And just wondering, do you really eat that much lemons, or do you use them for decoration?

    • 3.8.12
      Daniel said:

      Hahaha, trust, I am NOT the kind to buy fruit for decoration. There aren’t THAT many lemons in that bowl (it’s mostly clementines on the bottom, the lemons are just sitting on top), but we do tend to use them a lot when cooking stuff. Sometimes in water. I don’t know, I guess I like citrus?

    • 3.8.12
      Simone said:

      Citron presse in summer is delicious (in France ofcourse). My childeren (8 & 5) actually discus together how they do not like saladdressing with oil and lemon.

    • 3.8.12
      Lena said:

      Try putting lemon wedges & fresh mint in water- delicious! I always do that in summer, when we have plenty of fresh mint in the garden.
      Also, it looks really pretty in a beautiful carafe.
      I always need to have lemons ready for cooking too- use them for so many things.

  38. 3.8.12
    Amanda said:

    VOTED! Done and done.

  39. 3.8.12
    John said:

    Awesome job and as always great post. Hope you win.

  40. 3.8.12
    Stef said:

    Already voted. Promise.

  41. 3.8.12
    Erica W. said:

    I vote for painting the baseboard the same color as the trim (I already voted on AT for you). I also suggest putting the dog face at the top of every post — or possibly as your banner image — at least until the AT thing is over, possibly forever. Maybe write “vote for Manhattan-Nest” in tiny little subliminal print under her photo. Who could see that face and resist??

  42. 3.8.12
    Sped said:

    Just voted (#1113). “Joined” AT just to do that. I’m sick of all the negativity there too, but they did lead me to your blog back when you did your desk, aka “home office”. You got my vote because I love to read what you’re doing and your how-to’s. That you’re ad-free is a bonus. But really, I did it to thank you for your writing.

  43. 3.8.12
    AC said:

    Tell Mekko it’s all okay, and that I voted for her person’s blog, and shall continue to do so weekly.

  44. 3.8.12
    Leah said:

    voting complete.

  45. 3.8.12
    LP said:

    OH MEKKO…I voted for your sweet face

  46. 3.8.12
    Logan said:

    I like the way you wrapped the toekick with the base board, and that security gate is badass. Leave it!

  47. 3.8.12
    Amy said:

    Nooo! Why are you not winning?! Who is this Bower girl?

  48. 3.9.12
    runswithscissors said:

    WTH they already ended the contest (hours to go yet until 3pm) and I’m still campaigning. grrr
    Was it because they found out you’re not really preggers?

    • 3.9.12
      Daniel said:

      I think they had a glitch in the system that accidentally ended voting at 3 a.m. instead of 3 p.m. Hopefully they’ll fix it ASAP!!!

  49. 3.9.12
    nicolezh said:

    Ahhh, I wanted to force my partner to join AT to vote…
    Hope they fix it over at AT- Good luck from Zurich!

  50. 3.9.12
    Simone said:

    Vote no. 1280.

  51. 3.9.12
    Simone said:

    P.S. It’s fixed.

  52. 3.9.12
    Amy said:

    I’m confused. Are you still being beaten by a mommy blog?

  53. 3.9.12
    nicole said:

    no votes till you show us that hallway!

    • 3.9.12
      Daniel said:

      No hallway post til you show me those votes!

  54. 3.9.12
    bfish said:

    Great improvements to your kitchen! I’ve never NOT painted old molding/trim; screw the haters! IMO Max’s two prints are not too tall for the space — they work very well with the scale of the big window.

  55. 3.10.12
    Asia said:

    I hope your dog makes it into many more posts. I love your blog especially because you swear, get’s your point across and a fuckin piss myself. My favorite post was the one about staining your threshold piece of wood.

  56. 3.10.12
    Kristy said:

    Daniel I’ve been coveting that string light for ages but I need to know a. is it hardwired or plug? b. does it come with all the bulbs? c. what do you do if a bulb blows? Love your blog so much, you make me howl. You should have come first!!

    • 3.11.12
      Daniel said:

      It’s a plug-in (with a dimmer on the cord), although it would be very easy to hardware if you wanted to just snip off the plug. It does come with all the bulbs, and a handy diagram for the size/wattage of each one (and where they go on the string) should one blow. I haven’t had to replace any yet, but I think they’re available through the manufacturer (areaware) or in most hardware stores! All except the red one should be pretty standard and not too difficult to find!

    • 3.25.12
      Kristy said:

      Awesome thank you!!

  57. 3.12.12
    cammie said:


    Where did you get your label maker? I desperately want an old fashioned one, but I’m not sure where to go (other than steal my grandpa’s).

    • 3.27.12
      Alison said:

      I have one that makes very similar looking labels from wal-mart. it’s 9$ if you’re the type of person who goes there (which I am, sorry)

  58. 3.20.12
    sarah said:

    how did you install the light string in the ceiling like that ? Where does the dimmer part come out ?

    I just bought one of these as well ! Love it

    vancouver BC

  59. 3.27.12
    Alison said:

    slow on the uptake maybe…but did you buy the cabinets all on their own? or with the base and you just used the cabinet part? I looked on the website and didn’t see the cabinets but maybe it’s an in store thing?

    by the way I love the martha print on your wall! Muhaha, have you read Just Desserts from like the 90’s? I shouldn’t admit to reading it but it was AWESOME. unauthorized biography.