Credenza + Small Cool

I think it’s pretty clear at this point that I’m not the sort of person to get super uptight about modifying a piece of furniture to fit my needs. Remember my desk? Remember my chair? The way I see it, if it’s your furniture, do your thing and don’t let anyone stop you. Stain it. Paint it. Chop it up and use it for kindling. See if I give a shit.

I don’t give a shit. I’m full of controversy. Just chock-fucking-full of it.

Take my credenza. Yes, I call it a credenza because I’m fancy. Some people call these bureaus? Buffets? They’re not as fancy as I am, evidently. Ignore the horrible red paint situation and the weird temporary collection of crap I threw on top.

I got this thing for $90 in a thrift store, and spent about 10 minutes cleaning it up and trying to disguise some of the scratches and gauges in the wood veneer with Minwax touch-up pens. It’s never been my favorite thing, but it’s well-made and good-looking enough, holds a ton of stuff (including all of our electronic bits and bobs, it’s like a space station behind those tambour doors), and is perfectly sized for that space next to the fireplace.

Still, I found myself daydreaming about finding something better at some point, but nicer credenzas can get really expensive and they’re a total pain in the ass to move. So, given that the kind of credenzas I really want aren’t exactly falling from the sky in my price range, my crazy brain thought to itself hey, you can fix this. 

The problem mostly had to do with the legs. For starters, it always felt too high given that we use it to hold a TV and as a buffet or bar when we have parties. Also, the back leg had broken during my move from Manhattan. Oh, and too many goddamn tapered mid-century wooden legs happening in this room.

So what’d I go and do? I hacked that shit off. I think I saved the legs because I’m a hoarder and they’re small. But the point is, they’re no longer on this piece of furniture.


How’d I do that?


Also, IKEA.

Now, for a while IKEA made this snazzy chrome underframe for their KARLSTAD series of sofas and armchairs, but now I can’t find them on their US website? WTF, IKEA? Why dost thou giveth, only to taketh away? Surely there’s some logical explanation for this.

I chose the underframe made for the chaise lounge, since it was the closest in size to my credenza. Obviously it wasn’t going to be an exact match, but I figured—hey, this is IKEA. Everything comes in pieces.

Sorry for these laughably illegible “process” shots, apparently I was playing fast and loose that day and just not giving a shit about anything, including how I would later blog about this. My b.

After cutting the pieces down with my chop saw (this could potentially just be done with a hacksaw, but it wouldn’t be nearly so fast-paced and exciting, which is how I like to roll), I drilled a couple new holes in each corner brace for the screws and just attached the whole thing to the bottom of the cabinet.


Oh what’s that now? Look at that credenza. Take it in.

Lowering the whole thing has really made all the difference with making it feel like an integrated part of the room and scaled properly with that big fireplace right next door. Also, because I was in the mood to really customize the crap out of it, I made the back legs a full 3/4″ shorter than the front to account for the slope in our floor (120 year old building, y’all), and now it actually sits level, like a proper credenza should. It’s a credenza miracle.

Don’t think I didn’t see you eyeing my jacks, you sick sonofabitch. Vintage George Nelson Jacks bookends. Very fake, I think. eBay. I’d been eyeing these babes forever and finally found a pair that weren’t a million dollars. God, my life is thrilling.


Apartment Therapy is currently hosting a little something called the Small Cool Contest. And you know I entered my ass in that. 

Now, I know the Homie Awards wound is still fresh and all. So why am I exposing myself to more potential momentary anguish and quickly dissipating heartbreak? What am I, some kind of masochist freak?

No I am not. But unlike the Homie’s, Small Cool pays. It pays fucking $5,000; that’s how much it pays.

Please give it to me. I will tile my kitchen for your reading enjoyment and also fix my windows and show you how? And more! Please? I’m not too big on talking about *personal finances*, but let’s just say that a few recent changes in circumstances have made that money look really good right about now. Pity me.

Right now it’s the semi-finals round, and if we can make it to the top of my category (“Little”), we’ll move into the finals. Winning the finals is where the money magic happens, duh.

SO PLEASE, GO OVER TO APARTMENT THERAPY AND FAVORITE ME. There are new pictures of the apartment (taken by Max!) , including lots of things I haven’t talked about on the blog yet!

You might have to make an account. Do it, you’ll feel better, as explained by this formula I made up on Twitter: More Money = More Projects = More Blogging = Happier YOU. Live it, love it, learn it.



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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Leave a Comment


  1. 4.25.12
    katie said:

    i will never pass on an opportunity to vote for someone’s “amazing bones”. giggle.

  2. 4.25.12
    jbhat said:

    This makes me so happy! It’s an incrediblenza!


  3. 4.25.12

    I was scared, I was really scared. I was afraid you were going to paint it or put chevrons or a bird on it.

    I voted and commented. Fingers crossed for you!

  4. 4.25.12
    Monica said:

    Um. Your realdenza looks sooo good. What a brilliant idea. Best of luck with the Small Cool. You wuzz robbed last time and should be handed this on a frickin silver platter.

    • 4.26.12
      Janet said:


  5. 4.25.12
    Benita said:

    Love it!

  6. 4.25.12
    mia said:

    love it …. just voted for you ;)

  7. 4.25.12
    querencia said:

    voting. mainly fueled by endorphins released by the pic of mekko. Was starting to skim just looking for her.

  8. 4.25.12
    Cynthia said:

    Voted. But only because I am in love with you like Mekko is in love with a nap and a good chew toy.

  9. 4.25.12
    LeeAnn said:

    Only for you, because I think you are awesome. I hate having to register to vote (only online, not in real life government), but I did it for you. Yours is the best anyways! Good luck!

  10. 4.25.12

    Voted! And yeah, I was looking at the jacks bookends, what of it?

  11. 4.25.12
    ModFruGal said:

    Very clever, you! Love the hack and REALLY love how we need to go to AT to see those never before seen tidbits… like the hallway! My vote has been cast…good luck!

  12. 4.25.12
    Julie said:

    love your posts when you hack something. and i voted yesterday! best of luck, daniel!

  13. 4.25.12

    i voted! good luck!

  14. 4.25.12

    Just voted for you! Good luck and hope you win so we can see more projects in the future! ;)

  15. 4.25.12
    Guada said:

    i did it. I hate to register to anything, but your promise of using the money to let us see more of your projects did the trick. Good luck!

  16. 4.25.12

    Just voted for you! I’m in there but in the Small division. Good luck! Also, I love that you have Mekko in your photos.

  17. 4.25.12
    susan said:

    Anything for you Daniel! So far you’re ahead; let’s hope it stays that way!

  18. 4.25.12
    Lena said:

    Looks so much better! Love, love, love it!

  19. 4.25.12
    Ann said:

    Voted. Good Luck.
    Yikes, I forgot how the living room looked! Great job on the credenza.

  20. 4.25.12

    Oh, you are always the genius! Love what you did to the credenza; so snazzy.

    We were afraid you’d enter! :) You knocked us off the top, but we certainly don’t mind losing to your home. Our pittie, Jack, may be more upset than us, but Mekko makes my heart break with joy. Good luck!

    • 4.25.12
      Daniel said:

      I know, I’m sorry I’m a ruthless monster!!! Your place looks great, by the way. I feel like our category has so many strong entries!

  21. 4.25.12
    Shauna said:

    I hate having to sign up for things. But I did. Just for you(r dog). Did my civic duty and voted. :) And I love your place. And I laughed out loud when I read “Don’t think I didn’t see you eyeing my jacks, you sick sonofabitch” because I was doing exactly that.

  22. 4.25.12
    Gaidig said:

    I loved the original legs, but I love what you did to it too. Considering that the original legs were broken, and it used to be the wrong height for the way you use it, this is a great solution.

    P.S. Voted. Also, you’ve been holding out on us. I spied some new stuff in the AT pics.

  23. 4.25.12
    eliza said:

    you got my favorite! (i even signed up for apartment therapy, that’s how special you are to me).

    love the credenza-mod, it seems so subtle, but it helps so much!

  24. 4.25.12
    Krissy said:

    Heck yeah, those new legs look amaaaze. Nice switch up to the sea of MCM. ;)

    And voted for you! So glad you aren’t in my category. ;) hah. Though there’s not nearly as much at stake in the International category… just bragging rights, I guess.

  25. 4.25.12
    Ryann said:

    I am constantly amazed by how ballzy you are. We certainly need more ballz when it comes to furniture hacking/apartment updating, and you, sir, are an inspiration.

    Of course you get our vote. My doggie has a girl cush on Mekko anyway so there was no doubt about it.

    If your blog were a band, we would be the groupies.

  26. 4.25.12
    Furpants said:

    I voted for you but don’t get your hopes up because one of those ‘turn-my-tract-home-into-a-Moroccan-opium-den’ type of blogs will probably win. Truly good taste is rare, and it rarely triumphs in a general vote scenario.

    What circumstances have changed? I mean, you don’t have to say of course, but you did mention it so I was wondering.

    • 4.25.12
      Daniel said:

      We’ve actually been going through some very scary (and pricey) medical things with Mekko, unfortunately. I’ll probably share some more details at some point, but right now we’re basically waiting on more information to get a sense of the severity of the situation. For now, suffice to say it’s been a very rough week or so, but hopefully things will get better.

    • 4.26.12
      Furpants said:

      oh i’m so so sorry, i know how that can be. i hope she’s all better soon. you’ll make other money but you’ll only ever have one mekko.

    • 4.26.12
      Janet said:

      Tell us your paypal account name and we’ll all send a few dollars – won’t we everybody? Poor mekko, hope it’s nothing serious :(

    • 4.26.12
      Daniel said:

      Oh no, that’s not necessary and I don’t think I’d ever be comfortable soliciting direct donations from my readers! Mekko will receive the same care whether or not we win a contest—she comes first, no compromising!

    • 4.27.12
      bekah said:

      Dr Faustus VonFluffypants and Pecker Tiburis Jones send their love to Mekko.


  27. 4.25.12

    I love this. Partly because you’re hilarious. Partly because I get enough guilt from my mother about moving 1,000 miles away from her — I don’t need added guilt because I want to change my furniture around.

  28. 4.25.12
    Amanda said:

    I voted for you as soon as I saw your entry. God I hope you win. The entry below yours in the Little category should be titled “Look At All My Insanely Expensive Furniture” which makes me kind of sick.

  29. 4.25.12
    Kevin said:

    Good lad. That’s a pretty vast improvement. I feel like a lot of vintage credenza’s are for want of new legs. At least I grumble a lot about furniture legs when I’m trolling around town.

  30. 4.25.12
    runswithscissors said:

    What an improvement! Style and function rolled into one, who knew?
    And YEAH, WTF IKEA. I have just decided to get me an IKEA Karlstad and had seen that awesome chrome underframe on another site but alas. However I am patient and will wait until they come to their senses, bring home Karl anyway and revel in the glory of my new sofa which will replace the current Jabba-the-Hutt-took-a-crap-in-the-living-room brown leather number.
    I am also willing you to the top of Small Cool with mind tricks. The rug is so perfect in the haaaaaaaaaaalllllllllllwaaaaaaaaaaay.
    Laughed all the way throught this post. Thanks!

  31. 4.25.12
    Juliska said:

    OK, I even reset my long-forgotten AT password so I could vote for you (and Max and Mekko). I’ve been thinking that your place was perfect for Small Cool contest, so I’m glad you finally took the leap. Now, about that long and winding art gallery — more pics, please. I figured you’d either have to start hanging things on the hallway walls, or put down turf to make a dog-run for Mekko.

    I agree with some of the other comments — you’ve been holding out on us! But in a good cause, obviously. I wish you all the best with the contest.

    • 4.25.12
      Daniel said:

      !!! DOG RUN !!!

      Now why didn’t I think of that?

  32. 4.25.12
    Marissa said:

    It looks SO MUCH BETTER! How do you think of these things??

    I will vote for you. Also, as a loyal follower, might I encourage you to put a few ads on your site? I know a lot of people get sanctimonious about ads on blogs, but why not make money for what you create? You don’t have to advertise Walmart! I actually love when blogs have hand-selected ads from local artists, cool Etsy folks… it introduces me to small businesses with very cool products, and it also provides compensation for bloggers who give me awesome free ideas and inspiration! Win win. Honestly, it can be done without the blogger becoming a slave or sell-out to their advertisers. Plus, this could become your part-time job and you could write more which would make your followers oh so happy! Hope you consider it. Here’s a great post that says it more eloquently than I did:

    • 4.25.12
      Daniel said:

      Thanks, Marissa. I’m glad to hear your perspective on the advertising question. To be totally honest, I used to have a very strong anti-ad stance, mostly just as a personal decision because I wanted this blog to be solely for FUN and I didn’t want it to turn into something that felt like work, and I liked having this little area on the internet that was free from advertising—we live in a world where we’re just bombarded everyday by advertising, and I find that irritating (whether it’s blogs or other websites or just walking down the street).

      That said, I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the exact situation you’ve laid out—some small, personally chosen advertisements from folks I can really stand behind. I certainly don’t have a problem promoting things I like via links in my posts (in fact, I like to!), and advertising for things like that seems very similar conceptually. Obviously, the money thing is also HUGE for us. Even just a couple hundred extra dollars a month would totally change things here…and while of course a little extra money used to sound like a nice but not necessary idea, adding a dog to the equation has really put a financial strain on us (suffice to say we’ve had our share of unforeseen medical issues over the last three months), making the whole advertising idea more and more appealing. It’s helpful to hear that it’s not totally off-putting if I do go that route, so thank you for your comment.

    • 4.25.12
      I Voted! said:

      I don’t think any of us want to relive Homiegate 2012, where you were so unjustly robbed of that Homie award, Daniel. You got my vote and I see you are in the lead! If there is any justice in the world you won’t be overlooked this time.

      Regarding advertising, I just want to let you know that I, for one, would be very pleased to know that the hard work you put into this blog was providing you some sort of financial compensation. People want to see you prosper and if it means a few ads in the side bar, I doubt I’d even notice them. But if advertising meant you could quit that part-time job and write a few more posts, I know what I (a loyal reader) would prefer!!

    • 4.27.12
      Milly said:

      I totally agree! I check almost every day to see if you have updated your blog. I love to read your posts so why shouldn’t you be compensated for your hard work?

      I totally voted in the hopes that you win and I get to read a lot more about what you are doing in your home. Cabinet updates perhaps?

      Good luck, I hope you win! And hopefully Mekko will feel much better!

    • 4.26.12
      Janet said:

      Do it for Mekko!

    • 4.28.12
      AnnW said:

      I think most of your readers would not mind some really neat ads. Please check The Art of Doing Stuff for her explanations to potential advertisers. It is really well explained. Also, you need the money for the rescue pup. If it really bothers you, you can just do it until you graduate and get a really good job. We get a lot of enjoyment from you. Some bloggers have a donation box from Paypal. I’d be happy to give a few dollars for Mekko. If you got a dollar from every reader that would make a big difference. Also, maybe you could hire a dog walker for Mekko with the extra. Ann W.

  33. 4.25.12


  34. 4.25.12
    kowhai said:

    love it – have voted and hope u win :P

  35. 4.25.12
    Raven1025 said:

    Just an FYI, if you want the chrome frame and legs for a piece like your credenza, IKEA makes them for their Besta series (a media storage/TV stand/etc line) and those have levelers on them so you can adjust each leg to accommodate uneven floors without hacking them off. Which is useful if you do want to move the piece of furniture and the slope is different.
    Of course, this doesn’t help if you are wanting the frame for a Karlstad sofa, but for customizing furniture it might!
    Best of luck with the pooch! I have been there, with the pricey vet bills, and it is a scary place for so many reasons. I am rooting for her!

  36. 4.25.12

    The credenza looks great now! And I’ve voted for you.

  37. 4.26.12
    Janet said:

    you….you….YOU! You are the man. FANTASTIC looking diy. The enfilade – sorry credenza – was great looking to start with but the hack brought it up 10 notches at least. I am going to unashamedly copy your idea.
    Vote for Daniel I say !

  38. 4.26.12
    Janet said:

    Voting in the finals takes place on May 1st and 2nd so MARK YOUR CALENDAR… you’ll hate yourself if you don’t :)

  39. 4.26.12
    Judith said:

    Hi Daniel, I went on the Apartment Therapy page and noticed that your entry isn’t on the overview-page anymore. You can only find it by direct link. It was there yesterday, so maybe check with them what that’s all about?

    • 4.26.12
      Daniel said:

      Hmmmm, it’s still showing up for me? Thanks for letting me know, I’ll keep an eye out!

  40. 4.26.12
    Simone said:

    I am totally with you with whole, chopping, paining thing. I buy stuff to paint/ modify and my family comment on ‘nice wood’ or ‘what a waste’! hmm a waste would be leaving something ugly/ useless in limited space!

    Awesome work!

  41. 4.26.12
    Cristina said:

    Favorited! I really think you deserve it. And here’s one more vote for making this blog financially profitable. It doesn’t mean you have to sell out at all. I am sure whichever way you chose to do it, it’ll be tasteful.

  42. 4.26.12
    lqp said:

    Voted! I just wish the contest allowed you more than 5 photos – the ones you picked are good but they don’t capture all the awesomeness you’ve put into your place.

    As the owner of a suddenly very sick (and therefore expensive) pet myself, I hope Mekko makes a full and rapid recovery.

  43. 4.26.12
    Care said:

    You have been favorited! Good luck!!

  44. 4.26.12
    Eli Caroline said:

    You’re right. I was totally eyeing those jacks.

  45. 4.26.12

    My, my, aren’t we oozing with sarcasm today? ;) J/K,I voted for ya… your apartment is my sole inspiration to grow a pair & make the changes I’ve been too scared to make…hope you win and hope you cheer up!!

  46. 4.26.12
    Jenn said:

    Aww damm! I didn’t know you were entered in that and I already promised my vote to another rad small space with another adorable pit bull. Yellow Brick Home. I think Mekko and Jack would make great friends.

  47. 4.26.12
    kory said:

    OMG that hallway is hilariously shaped! Now you can (finally!!!) upload your new floorplan. :)
    You have my vote, of course!

  48. 4.26.12
    Christie said:

    Favorited (and rightfully so). Man, you are kicking ass in the “Little” division and taking names across the board. Go you!

  49. 4.26.12
    Pippa said:

    This looks awesome! I’ll definitely be voting ;)

  50. 4.27.12
    Bebe said:

    Love the blog and love your apartment. I know that you have talked about your hall before but seeing the sketch of your apartment layout brought it all home. That is a crazy hall. What were they thinking?

  51. 4.27.12
    Lisette said:

    You have my vote!! You are the meanest, coolest, funniest DIY hacker I have ever followed religiously, and once again, after seeing the credenza remake, I am in lurv with the result!

    Best of luck with the context – you deserve to win for so many reasons – and hope Mekko is better soon!

  52. 4.27.12

    You’re crazy amazing, how do you do it?

    Totally favorites the crap out of your place.

  53. 4.27.12
    julie said:

    ok I voted. now please blog more

  54. 4.27.12
    d r e w said:

    love it! what a great IKEA hack.

    oh, and i was the 1200th favorite on AT.

  55. 4.27.12

    I love it, love it, love it!

    I love the look of chrome with old wooden furniture and use it in my home :)

  56. 4.27.12
    whitney said:

    Love it! Already “favorited” you on AT. I would love to know what that artwork is above the credenza. It is lovely. Any details?

    • 4.27.12
      Daniel said:

      It’s an Alexander Calder litho that my mom and I found in a thrift store (best score EVER) about 10 years ago. She’s nice so she let me have it (a.k.a I took it and didn’t ask questions, and she didn’t try to stop me?). It’s called Color Bars and I think was made in the early 70s.

  57. 4.27.12
    Rae said:

    I was just over at AT and was admiring the cool art you have in your hallway and living room (above the couch and the fire place). Can you let me know where its from / where I can buy similar pieces?

    • 4.27.12
      Daniel said:

      The art in the hallway (which I know is almost impossible to make out in those photos!) is a series of photo montages that my boyfriend Max made in college.

      Both the painting above the couch and on the mantle are by Mary Livoni.

  58. 4.27.12
    Erica said:

    I signed up and voted just for you. You are endlessly entertaining, and while I never sign up for things and vote, I just had to this time!

    Great work on the credenza, it looks much better!

  59. 4.27.12
    LP said:

    I admire your beautiful floors! I rent a slopey house. It leads to a lot of picture straightening.

    • 4.29.12
      Daniel said:

      Our place is so slopey…top floor of an 1890 apartment building. I have to straighten everything in photos and in real life!

  60. 4.27.12
    Gregg said:

    Holy moley you are tied for first place at this exact moment. I’m tempted to join AT with another e-mail to make sure you get the win.

  61. 4.27.12
    bekah said:

    Thank you for rearranging the Eames chairs :)

  62. 4.28.12
    molly said:

    i voted for you because of i am always blown away by how much care you take in your design. and because of the awesome photos of your family.

    it looks like you’re already well on your way to an ipad! good luck!

  63. 4.28.12
    Rita said:

    Hey Daniel,
    Just voted for you…you are genius! (and very funny) Good Luck.

  64. 4.28.12

    The credenza is awesome!!!!

  65. 4.28.12
    Lori said:

    Wow Daniel, who knew your hallway was so long, lol. But I see you have a gallery thing going on which I love:) By the way do you have a chair there so you can take a break before you finish walking the rest of the hallway? hehehe. Love your place!

    • 4.29.12
      Daniel said:

      Haha! We practically need that! The chair is mostly there because some of the wires are broken, and I need to go do some spot-welds to repair it. I’ve had it since last summer…I am so slow.

  66. 4.28.12
    AnnW said:

    GENIUS! sorry for shouting. I really don’t like Mid Century Modern because I grew up around then. But, you have raised it to another level with that chrome frame. IKEA should give you a special award for that. I am going to Pin your hack. Can you imagine the possibilities? You Have to win this time. I will try to get my whole family to vote. And my friends. AnnW

  67. 4.29.12
    eileen marie said:

    Knock it off w/ the gratuitous Mekko shots to win us over! Okay, fine. It worked. Voting now -you deserve it. Oh, and the credenza looks great. Love tapered legs, but am truly impressed w/ your hack!

  68. 4.29.12
    Emily said:

    Voted. I hope you win!

  69. 4.29.12
    Furpants said:

    I think you should throw down with a Mekko post to gain more sympathy votes. Discuss her medical issues in heart-wrenching detail, with that “Arms of an Angel” song playing softly… do it for Mekko! And for me, because that would be some hilariously horrifying shit.

    • 4.29.12
      Mom said:


  70. 4.29.12
    Adriane said:

    I’ve voted! And I’ve posted it on my blog to vote too…because you’re my favourite blogger ever. Because of you I build my own upholstered bed out of a stack of wood and screws from home depot. THANK YOU.

  71. 4.30.12
    Jessica said:

    Ha, I have a beat-up old midcentury credenza too, only it came with a (gold-tone) frame that looks pretty much like yours does in the “after”. The funny part is that I hated it and ripped it off! Anyone who wants one, call me … I got your gold-tone midcentury credenza frame right here. A little spray paint and you can be just as cool as Daniel.

    I voted for you on AT, you have inspired me to do things with my furniture and condo that I never imagined I could do.

  72. 5.12.12

    you’re hilarious! I voted for ya. Hope you win Daniel! We all need 5 grand to play with.

  73. 3.6.13
    Jemma said:

    YES! It has a 1950s Gordon Russell look about it now. You are a genius. (A brave one!)