Impromptu Thanksgiving Makeover!

For the first time in my life, I didn’t go home for Thanksgiving this year. Instead, Max and I both went to his much-adored hometown of Buffalo, the kooky city that I credit, in part, with making him the nutball that he is today.

About two days before we left, Max floated the idea of giving his childhood bedroom a “quick and easy” makeover while we were going to be there. Trying not to act too excited, I accepted the assignment with grace and class, as I had rehearsed many times whilst daydreaming about this moment. And then I assembled my emergency DIY-superhero traveling toolkit.

I have a lot of tools and bits and bobs I’ve accumulated over the past couple of years, but this is the stuff I see as essential when embarking on a quick-n-dirty DIY job. From left to right: all my assorted drill bits, two types of pliers, lightweight quick-drying spackling compound, the best screwdriver ever with a million different heads, coarse-grit sandpaper, E-Z anchors, my drill, and two spackle knives.

I need to give a serious shout-out to those E-Z anchors, by the way. They are the shit. I only really like the metal ones (they also come in plastic, but I’ve had mixed results with those), but they hold a ton of weight and are just all-around phenomenally easy to use and strong and awesome. Basically you just screw the big metal piece into the wall, then screw a screw into the metal piece. Done! No drilling, nothing. These things are seriously lifesavers for crumbly plaster walls and basically hold my entire apartment together and I trust them with my life.


Max is perhaps the most nostalgic, sentimental person I know, so the suggestion of even touching or moving a single thing in his largely unchanged shrine to angsty adolescence is more than a little out of character. But a combination of getting older, maturing, and—I like to think—living with the controlling lunatic nightmare that is myself, has changed his taste a little, and I think he was ready to appreciate his former bedroom as a thing preserved more in memory and photographs than something that needs to actually exist in real life. It also helps that we stay in this room when we visit, and a twin bed pretty much sucks when occupied by two boys and a 12 pound muppet named Linus.

Additionally, Max’s wonderful mother, Sue, wanted to use the space as a comfortable guest bedroom for the 49 (give or take a few) weeks a year when we’re not staying in it, but not every guest wants to be transported back to Max’s worldview circa 2000-2006.

Twin bed: check. Beaded floor pillows: check. Beaded floor lamp: check. Beaded table lamp: check. Second beaded floor lamp (out of frame): check. Tapestry thing: check. Tiny plastic busts of famous composers: check. Martha Stewart Living casually laying on the floor like it’s an accident: CHECK.

Even though I’ll admit to hating staying in this room, there’s something so adorable about these pictures that I feel a little nostalgic, myself. All those magazine boxes on the shelves are full of Martha Stewart Livings, the little woven basket next to it is full of knitting supplies, and the bottom shelf is occupied by about a dozen Harry Potter books—American and Canadian editions. I mean, come on. 

Up above, this weird candelabra chandelier number from IKEA hung from the ceiling, as well as an artsy photo wall of mostly naked people. There are SUNGLASSES HANGING FROM THAT CHANDELIER THING, PEOPLE. 2006 Max is so weird and cute.

The less cute side of this makeover is this wall of graffiti that Max had all of his friends contribute to with Sharpie over the years. Mostly, it is composed of penises, vaginas, things that look vaguely like penises and vaginas, angsty lines of poetry, drug references, and penises. There are also some penises.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Ani DiFranco lyrics GLITTER PUFFY-PAINTED to the closet moldings, and more glitter puffy paint ON THE CEILING that has something to do with eggs and some dude named Ernie?

Interestingly, Max has never been into drugs.

I always thought that my parents allowed us to be pretty free-spirited when it came to our rooms: we got to pick all our own furniture, paint colors, layouts, and how big of a mess we lived in. But Max’s parents kind of took this to the next level and basically let tiny crazy angsty Max run wild and this is what happened. Take heed, people.

All I can say after sanding glitter puffy paint off a ceiling is that if I ever have children who try to pull shit like that, I will drown them.

As you can see in the above floor plan, this room is really tiny, which made our single-day-makeover plan seem pretty feasible on the surface. In the morning, we cleared out the entire room, then went to do a little shopping. Then I got dropped at the house to commence with the painting, while Max and his mom went to buy a mattress and a few other things we’d need to finish the space. It was some crazy Trading Spaces madness, which is how I like things. Once I get in to projects like this, I’m the sort of person who will basically forego food, sleep, water, and bathroom breaks until it’s done. I get into a zone, push through pain, and annoy every single person around me with demands that they work harder.

Imagine me as a werewolf. Then imagine that a big DIY project is a full moon. It’s like that.

So here is the paint arsenal, in case you’re curious. I started off by prepping the walls, which basically meant scraping old sticky-tack, sanding glitter puffy paint, and spackling about a thousand nail holes. In some areas, the plaster was in really rough shape, which normally I’d get all anal about and repair properly with joint compound and mesh tape and whatnot, but I had to learn to let go and just paint over everything. It was oddly liberating, and matte paint has a way of making uneven fucked up plaster look kind of awesome, anyway.

PSA: never write on your walls with Sharpie. Just don’t do it. If you do, someday your boyfriend will have to come in, paint over all of it with shellac-based primer, which is both expensive and very smelly. He will have to do it twice, all the while losing brain cells and going crazy. Sharpie bleeds through, like, ALL PAINT IN THE WORLD EVER in the most amazing/annoying way, so it really all has to be sealed in with a serious primer. The good thing about the shellac primer is that it dries REALLY fast, but it smells terrible and is super thin, so you have to be extra careful of drips and off-spray.

Max wanted a really dark black/navy color for the walls, and after seeing it both on the outside of Chezerbey and at Anna’s house, I demanded that we use Benjamin Moore’s “Soot.” We used the Aura paint in matte, which is pricey but is basically like painting with velvet and covers completely and easily in two coats. For the ceiling, we just used standard off-the-rack flat white ceiling paint, and for the trim we used off-the-rack white in pearl finish. Usually I do trim in semi-gloss, but I’ve been leaning more toward something a bit less shiny and pearl is a really beautiful, slightly more subtle alternative. All of this action happened so fast, I literally have ZERO process pictures…but really, we all just want to get to the afters, right?

BOOM. Hello super dark, super cozy, super awesome tiny bedroom that I totally love. With cute dog.

So obviously this isn’t really my normal taste, but I really do love this room. It was so much fun to wake up in on that first morning, and I actually didn’t want to leave Buffalo because I loved sleeping in it so much. Maybe it makes me want a black bedroom?

I’m sorry for the low-quality pictures, by the way. The one thing I didn’t pack in my emergency DIY-superhero traveling toolkit was a decent camera, so unfortunately I had to document with my iPhone. This room gets basically no natural light, so a very dark space combined with very dark paint combined with an iPhone camera makes for some subpar photos. Sorry!

Part of the fun of creating this room was reusing things that were already around in the house, including this lamp, the bedside table, the rug, the bed, the flag, and that amazing vintage Hudson Bay blanket. The bed belonged to Max’s mom’s parents (also known as Max’s grandparents), and I believe was a wedding gift in the late 40s-early 50s. It’s mahogany colonial-revival, which is usually not my thing, but I love it for this space. It was sitting in the attic, broken in a few joints, but I was able to repair the whole thing in about half an hour with some J-B Wood Weld, which is an amazing epoxy that cures really quickly and is SUPER strong and awesome. Max’s mom was really excited to see the bed all put back together and looking amazing, which was really fun for me. Aside from repairing the bed, we also got new pieces of 1 x 4 cut at Home Depot to replace the old slats (we got ten new slats for under the mattress, which was perfect).

Also, the flag is pretty amazing. Normally, I’m not a fan of using American flags in home decor, but this flag is old (it only has 48 stars!) and has just the right amount of wear to be super cool and perfectly vintage without straying into hit-you-over-the-head-patriotic territory. It’s being held up by E-Z anchors. Duh.

The vintage Hudson Bay blanket is also from Max’s mom’s parents, and it totally makes the room. I mean, of course it does. I’m a huge sucker for a point blanket.

One of the other projects I really loved in this room was the curtain, which I just made out of a canvas drop-cloth that was inexplicably sitting in the trunk of my car. I hung the curtain rod (this cheap-o one from Target) about 7″ from the ceiling, and made the curtain all the way to the floor, using iron-on hem tape for the side and top (I used existing hems for the side facing the room and the bottom). The iron-on tape worked surprisingly well, and the canvas was a perfect warm neutral color and texture to balance out the bright whites in the room and was also FREE. Free is always good. The curtain rod is hanging with E-Z anchors.

Another HUGE, HUGE improvement in this room was finding and re-hanging the closet door! The closet just had a curtain hanging on a tension rod before, but Max and I managed to find the original door hiding in the attic (it had been removed at some point, I have no idea why), harvest a black porcelain knob from another outcast door in the basement, and hang and repaint the thing like it never left the room. Love me an old door with a couple fresh coats of paint.

Again, normally I’d get a bit more detail-crazy and strip all the old hardware, but there was no time for that. Instead, I just coated everything with a fresh coat of white, and guess what? Nobody died, which makes me question my entire worldview, basically. Sometimes its OK to just take the easy route. Huh.

Along the wall between the entry door and the closet, I hung three plain cheap brass hooks (also held up by—you guessed it!—E-Z anchors), which might be my favorite thing about this room, oddly. Hooks are perfect for small spaces, and we used them for everything from bags to shirts to our jeans at the end of the day. The hooks keep clutter off the small amount of floor space, and the little bits of brass make a really nice complement to the deep blue paint color. And the E-Z anchors mean they have no trouble holding a ton of weight.

One thing we didn’t do anything about was the floor (except scrub it). It’s the only original wood floor in the house, which I think is oak but was painted a rusty red at some point. About half of the old paint has worn off and the wood is in really rough shape, which I’m pretty sure means it needs to just be painted white? I’m looking at you, Christmas break…

OK, I take it back about the dumb hooks because my favorite thing about the room is definitely this amazing art deco pendant light that we picked up at The Antique Man. It was kind of a steal at $75 and is just…so beautiful. There’s no electrical in the ceiling in this room, so I converted it into a plug-in fixture, which is pretty easy to do with the teeniest, tiniest bit of electrical know-how or advice from that old guy at the hardware store who knows what’s up. Basically you can just cut the end of an extension cord off, wire it into the original socket, and it’s a plug-in light. One of the electrical outlets in the room is circuited to a light switch, so we just ran the cord down to the outlet as neatly as possible and now it turns on and off like a real light and everything. This room was in dire need of a good main light source (with no real natural light, a few little lamps just don’t cut it sometimes!), and I can’t really think of a better-looking solution than this sexy vintage 20s thang.

So where did the money go in this space? Here’s how it broke down:

Mattress/comforter/duvet/sheets/pillows: $676
Bed repair/new slats: $56
Paint/paint supplies: $215
Light Fixture/new wire: $78
Curtain Rod: $10
Hooks: $15

TOTAL: $1,050

Realistically, we probably spent about $50 or so more than that on various supplies and little things that aren’t springing to mind, but in any case—an entire top-to-bottom  room makeover for right around $1,000 including a new mattress? Not bad.

As Mekko clearly demonstrates, this room is super comfortable and a great place for guests (and us!) to stay. Aside from getting to enjoy the final product, I can honestly say that this was one of the most fun, satisfying vacations I’ve ever had, which is pretty much all you need to know to understand that I’m sick in the head and need professional help and guidance.

A big thanks to Max’s mom for letting us have our way with this space. I hope you love it, Sue!

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. 11.30.12
    Jamie B. said:

    Omg. Who are these people who just have vintage Hudson’s Bay blankets LYING AROUND? I demand they be related to me!

    Your room makeover before and afters are basically my favourite.

  2. 11.30.12
    Karen Kuo said:

    you are amazing. it took me the entire thanksgiving break to clean up eames chairs. you put together a whole room. seriously amazing.

    • 11.30.12
      Daniel said:

      Cleaning up those Eames chairs is tough, though! Also, I bet you didn’t, like, accidentally starve yourself the day before Thanksgiving because you couldn’t stop working, so there’s that?

  3. 11.30.12
    kory said:

    I love it! so much awesome stuff just laying around… also mekko is so cute ^_^
    the floors just need to be sanded and protected with something. I hate it when they are rough like that, they feel dirty no matter how much you clean them, ughhh

    • 11.30.12
      Daniel said:

      Yes, the floors either need to be refinished or painted…unfortunately I’m sure the old paint is lead-based, and I don’t know what precautions need to be taken to sand that off. I really like painted floors, though…not all wood is sacred!

  4. 11.30.12

    AH-MAZING! I couldn’t wait to get to the bottom of the post. It looks fabulous, so suited for that neck of the woods, too! You are a miracle worker! And Max’s parents are RAD!

  5. 11.30.12

    Yet another Hudson blanket comes across my radar this week. It really must be a sign that I must acquire one!

    This room truly is a transformation. It looks perfect! One question from my sentimental/hoarder self… What happened to all of Max’s old stuff? Keep or trash?

    • 11.30.12
      Daniel said:

      The vast majority of it was moved to the attic, but he did get rid of a decent amount of things. All the books stayed, some of the weirder “accessories” got pitched.

  6. 11.30.12

    Goddamn you are amazing!

    This is gorgeous. I demand you get your own show where you do emergency makeovers. I can’t wait to see where you end up Daniel. You have so much talent!

    • 11.30.12
      Daniel said:

      Aw, thanks Ana! Although you haven’t heard this voice…it was not made for TV, haha.

  7. 11.30.12
    Louise said:

    I adore the traditional bed + Benjamin Moore Soot + Point blanket combination :D

    And now, back to studying for a math test ><

  8. 11.30.12
    Leo said:

    LOVE me a point blanket, but I think you missed “harry potter references” on that graffiti wall, haha.

    Well done.

  9. 11.30.12
    joy said:

    Wow i feel so unproductive during my break! lovely work. you’re changing my world view on dark walls.

  10. 11.30.12
    Nancy said:

    Love it, but where’s the other pup?

    Thanks for the tip on the EZ anchors.

    • 11.30.12
      Daniel said:

      Linus photobombed one picture, but it didn’t make the cut! He’s only really photogenic when he’s sleeping, anyway…otherwise he’s a blurry white fuzz with eyes.

  11. 11.30.12
    Jocelyn said:

    Hey! I live in Buffalo. Welcome to our fair city and thanks for making it nicer, one room at a time :D

  12. 11.30.12
    Leena said:

    WOW! Amazing! Seriously!

  13. 11.30.12
    erin said:

    beautiful job! one question on the EZ anchors: the Home Depot description says you need to use them in studs. do you always find a stud before using them, or do they still hold all of that weight without?

    • 11.30.12
      Daniel said:

      Hmm…I just looked at the HD page and I don’t see where it says that (it says the primary use is “medium duty fastening into drywall or wood”)! They’re really made to go into drywall or plaster and act with similar strength to what a stud would provide for items up to around 50 pounds or so. In my experience, they work great!

    • 12.1.12
      erin said:

      cool, I must have misread. thanks so much for the tip!

  14. 11.30.12
    Erin said:

    Love the color combination! Which shade did you use for the white?

    • 11.30.12
      Daniel said:

      It’s just called “White”—pre-mixed, off-the-shelf can.

  15. 11.30.12
    nella said:

    I had a feeling you did something good over Thanksgiving. Perfect in every way.

  16. 11.30.12
    miriam said:

    So, you can use the EZ Anchors in old plaster walls and you just screw them in? I want to believe…but I’m afraid.

    • 11.30.12
      Daniel said:

      do not fear, my child.

    • 11.30.12
      Jill said:

      I have the same misgivings, too. I am so paranoid about my (expensively refinished, but beautiful) plaster walls. I must learn to trust ye, O Wise Daniel Kanter.

  17. 11.30.12
    Jon said:

    Love love love!

  18. 11.30.12
    susan said:

    Oh my god. What would it take to get you to come to my house?

  19. 11.30.12
    Steph said:

    Dying of laughter at this post! You did an amazing job on that room! Max’s former room kills me. Beaded floor pillows: check!

    • 11.30.12
      Daniel said:

      He was so into beaded things. I think he secretly still kind of is… :)

  20. 11.30.12

    Amazing transformation! You guys really did an awesome job! One thing I’ve ALWAYS wondered about though, is it common for parents to leave their kids bedrooms the way they were even after the kids move out?

    It’s like that in aaaaall the movies, but (and maybe this is just my Scandinavian shoebox-living point of view) it seems like a waste of space? I mean for the parents who still live there, couldn’t they use the space?

    • 11.30.12
      Gaidig said:

      My mother has left my room as it was vis-a-vis paint color and everything I left, except that she is storing a ton of stuff in there. It’s practically her new warehouse. I do think that leaving a grown child’s room the way it was has very much to do with the size of the house in the first place. If you house was big enough for everything you needed while the child was living there, then you just have an extra room you don’t need once the child leaves. But if everything was jammed into too little space, then once the child leaves, you expand into that space.

    • 11.30.12
      Jenny said:

      Not all parents keep their kid’s bedroom enshrined. As soon as I moved out, my dad turned my bedroom into his dark red western-themed den, complete with cowboy paintings and covered wagon lamp. However, when you close the door, my 1987 poster of Patrick Swayze from Dirty Dancing is still there and a small orange plaque that has a little picture of Jesus on it, the one where he sits on a rock surrounded by children and lambs, and reads “Jenny’s Room”. I guess as long as my name is on the door, it’s still my room, even with a 22 revolver hanging on the wall for display purposes.

    • 11.30.12
      Daniel said:

      Ha! That’s a good question, I don’t honestly know! I think often parents will start to store stuff in their kids rooms, or put exercise equipment in it, or something, at least for a few years. After that, I think it’s fairly common for kids rooms to be converted to offices or less childish/personal guest bedrooms. I think Gaidig is totally right, though—it’s really about the size of the house to begin with more than anything else.

      I should note, those “before” pictures were actually taken in 2006 or 2007, right around the time Max went to college. The room looked similar to that when we started, but it had also become a little bit of a storage/catch-all space.

      (my room is still more or less the same, but my older brother’s room is becoming a guest room!)

  21. 11.30.12
    Alicia said:

    You are amazing.

  22. 11.30.12

    It might not be your style, but it’s mine, and I love it!! Max’s mom must be freaking out with joy. It looks so, so good.

    And now I feel less proud of my impromptu Thanksgiving sofa reupholstery, ha!

    • 11.30.12
      Daniel said:

      I had a feeling you’d be into this, Tamera. Like I actually thought it while it was going on. I’m glad you approve!! :)

      Dude, that sofa upholstery is badass. I’m still so impressed.

  23. 11.30.12
    Erin said:

    What a fucking transformation. You win. Everybody wins!

  24. 11.30.12
    Gaidig said:

    It looks gorgeous!
    Not only that, but I find it a very encouraging story of how it’s possible for a BF’s tastes to change and mature. I know its difficult to get rid of all of that nostalgia, but there comes a time to grow up and move forward. Now to figure out how to get *my* BF to grow up and let me change some of his atrocious decorating decisions from ten years ago.

    • 11.30.12
      Kibby said:

      I’m with you!
      My BF’s house looks like a lovechild of the 80s and 90s barfed all over it. Ugh.

      And, Daniel, yet another awesomely gorgeous transformation! Love the pendant light and the point blanket! And I can’t believe you got everything done in a DAY?! I can’t even get my closet cleaned in one week! You are seriously amazing!

    • 11.30.12
      Daniel said:

      I think I’ve mastered the art of slow and steady pressure over time, dropping hints, making him think he came up with ideas, and when all else fails, just demanding that I get my way because I’m a bossy jerk.

      Anyway, it takes patience, cunning, and guile, but it’s totally possible. The catch is that Max actually does have really good taste—it’s different than mine, but I think he’s figured out how to express it better over time. He was just a baby when he created that crazytown room!

  25. 11.30.12

    Yeah! This is awesome! I’m glad you were able to find that door and make it look good again. Max’s mom’s cool attic sounds like an amazing place for old finds.

    I want to know what happened to all Max’s old stuff, I would’ve gotten stuck at trying to go through it all and never would have even made it to scraping puff paint.

    • 11.30.12
      Daniel said:

      A lot of it got moved to the attic, and some stuff went out to the curb. Luckily it’s such a small room that there wasn’t even THAT much stuff in it, even if it looks a little crowded. I wasn’t really involved in that side of it, though…we just moved everything out together, and then Max went through it all while I was stuck in the room! It disappeared like magic!

  26. 11.30.12
    Molly said:

    For your next sharpie fiasco, I suggest a Magic Eraser. They take sharpie off paint like its pencil (though sometimes the gloss of the paint comes with it when you aren’t careful)

    • 11.30.12
      Nancy said:

      Can you imagine how many magic erasers he would have gone through in that room? lol

    • 11.30.12
      Daniel said:

      Oh, believe you me, I am a HUGE fan of Magic Erasers! But it would have been totally insane for this amount of space, trust. WAY WAY easier to just paint over all of it with a good primer than go through a million magic erasers and spend hours scrubbing.

      (I’ve also had good results just scrubbing sharpie with rubbing alcohol!)

  27. 11.30.12
    Margaret said:

    This looks awesome! Ok, now I need some free advice – I am thinking about purchasing a new Hudson’s Bay 6-point… but the Pendleton version is over $100 cheaper. Anyone know why? Or have an opinion on the difference? Plz and thanks!

    • 11.30.12
      Daniel said:

      I’d guess that it’s because the Hudson Bay Company brand is really thought of as the “classic,” whereas the Pendleton is a US company that produces a similar product inspired by the Hudson Bay blanket. I *believe* Hudson Bay was the original manufacturer dating back to the late 18th century, but that might not be true. The “point blanket” design was traded with American Indians (or Canadian aboriginals) for beaver pelts, and though there might have been other companies making similar blankets, Hudson Bay has the provenance behind it. Pendleton only started making them relatively recently and they aren’t the known manufacturer, so I’d guess that’s part of the price discrepancy. It might also have to do with where they’re manufactured, shipping costs, stuff like that.

      I have the Pendleton blanket myself, and I LOVE it and the quality is amazing. I love Pendleton as a company, too.

    • 11.30.12
      Margaret said:

      Daniel – thx! I googled around and also read that Hudson Bay is def the older company. Pendleton’s been around the block too (but like, 100 years fewer). The biggest difference I’ve found is that Pendleton is made in the USA whereas Hudson is made in the UK. All other aspects seem to be the same – 100% virgin wool, etc. Pendleton has also designed many of its blankets “in close consultation w/ Native Americans,” and is family owned, and is awesome, so I’m gonna go with that one :) Thanks again for the feedback!

      PS love yr blog, you are super talented and a hilarious writer to boot. keep up the great work!

  28. 11.30.12
    Shannnnon said:

    Somewhere on that wall of graffiti, was a drawing of me declaring “I think I’m fat” or something like that…hahah

    I always opposed his yellow walls & graffiti, oh Max. :p

    AND, I would totally have a black room, if only I didn’t already live in a dungeon…

    Great jorb! :)

    • 11.30.12
      Daniel said:

      I’m glad you approve, Shannon! Tim, Russell, and Ana’s cohorts were not quite as thrilled about the change. haha.

      And you might be surprised…the dark walls are really relaxing and nice, and are a good way to embrace a small space. If it’s already a cave, play it up! Might not be the best to work in, though…but it’s awesome for hanging out/sleeping.

    • 11.30.12
      Max said:

      Shannon- you were on top of a scale that said 10 pounds and you said, “I’m so fat!”

      I actually thought about you while we were painting the walls because I knew you hated them so much! Haha.

  29. 11.30.12
    Heidi said:

    What an awesome post! I’ve helped my parents get our old (me and my brother) bedrooms redecorated as well. Nothing screens 80’s more, than a woodland duck-themed border! Great job on the redo! xo

  30. 11.30.12
    Emily said:

    Do the EZ Anchors work just as well in drywall?

    • 11.30.12
      Daniel said:

      Yep! That’s what they’re for! They’re great.

  31. 11.30.12
    Chris said:

    Once again,killing me with awesome.

  32. 11.30.12
    Sarah S said:

    Wow! You guys are AMAAAAZING! Love it! Man, I hope my son grows up to be as awesome and comes home to make over my rooms. (And/or find such an awesome partner :)

  33. 11.30.12
    Laura said:

    Impressed! Not only with how great it looks, but how it was completed in one day!

  34. 11.30.12
    Jill said:

    So, so good, Daniel! I love it. Especially the ‘we reused a bunch of sentimental objects’ part — that bed is really pretty and elegant. Glad you had a productive Thanksgiving, and I’m a little jealous that you got to see your hard work and effort pay off immediately.

    Me? We got to spend Thanksgiving weekend pulling about seven thousand carpet tacks / staples / nails out of my staircase. UGH. Most. boring. project. ever. I need a quick project like this to inspire and motivate me!


  35. 11.30.12
    Chelsea said:

    This makes me want to pick up a can of ‘soot’. I love dark matte colors in small spaces. Makes me want to redo my old bedroom at my mom’s house. It still has purple painted floors, purple trim and lime green walls from when it was my room and plenty of sharpie graffiti from when I went to college and my younger brother moved in there. Bravo! what a great project!

  36. 11.30.12
    Kathryn said:

    Gorgeous! Seriously making me rethink our guest room color.

  37. 11.30.12
    ellen said:

    The room looks great. Amazing that you did it in a weekend. I like the dark color, I must admit though that my instinct would have been to paint it white-given that it has very little ambient light. I’m curious to know why you went with such a dark color? Did you figure you would just play on the coziness of the space?

    • 11.30.12
      Daniel said:

      Pretty much, yeah. You KNOW I’m a fan of white paint, but the room is SO little that I don’t think white paint would have really made it feel any larger, or even brighter——at this size, with the amount of natural light, it was more enticing to embrace the cave-like quality of the room and just play it up, and address the lighting problem by installing a nice overhead light for the moments when you’d really want to see instead of just relaxing in bed or sleeping. This way, instead of feeling like a tiny room that’s trying to appear larger, it just is what it is——very small and very cozy!

      It also works well with the plaster walls, which are in really rough shape. Matte paint is good for the kind of thing, but I think the blue-black really makes the damage look kind of cool instead of something we’d otherwise just be trying to mask or downplay.

    • 3.30.13
      JP said:

      What a great choice – I couldn’t agree more! The dark colour makes the space feel cozy and a little moody. And I can’t help but love a Canadian historical icon juxtaposed with the US Flag :)

  38. 11.30.12
    Christina said:

    Okay electrical/old house question.

    There are three or four small appliances (food processor, toaster, mini chopper) that won’t turn on in my house. It’s as if it won’t plug in. Kettle, blender, etc work fine.
    Is there something that can be done? I’ve tried on every outlet in the damn place.
    I have no clue what could be wrong. But I wouldn’t mind y’know. Processing some food.

    Have you ever heard of this/advice?

    • 11.30.12
      Daniel said:

      Hm. I guess the obvious question is…are you sure these small appliances even work at all? But you’ve probably thought of that.

      I really have NO idea! I’m in NO way an expert on old houses or old electrical work or anything, really. I’d hire an electrician!

  39. 11.30.12
    amelia said:

    Totally amazed by what you can do in werewolf mode!! I looove a small dark room
    Question about the light – how does it look with the cord running along the ceiling / wall? Did you do anything to try to disguise it? I have a similar situation in my bedroom and want to install a pendant light but am not sure if the exposed cord is an ok look vs. shelling out the cash to get the ceiling properly wired

    • 11.30.12
      Daniel said:

      I mean, obviously getting a light box installed in the ceiling is always going to look better, so it just depends on what you want to spend! You could always wire it like we did, then decide later to add a real box, too.

      We used clips like these to secure the cable along the ceiling, down the wall, and then down the side of the doorframe molding, which looks OK. By itself it’s not the most beautiful thing ever, but in the context of the whole room, it looks fine. Where the cable transitioned from the ceiling to the wall, I just painted that section of the cord with the wall color so that it blends in. The trick is to just try to run the cord down natural corners and edges in the room, keep it taught with clips, and paint to camouflage!

    • 12.4.12
      Nina said:

      You can also buy paintable raceway, which hides the wire completely. Somehow it bothers me less to look at painted raceway running down a wall than wire.

      Love your blog. I signed up at Apt Therapy solely to vote for you in the small cool contest. So you, like, owe me. :0)

  40. 11.30.12
    melissa said:

    Oh good lord. I hate you. It’s perfect!

  41. 11.30.12
    Tracy said:

    I think refinishing the floors would be best if they are oak. Oak floors are lovely. Use a chemical stripper, then wear a really good mask when sanding and you’ll be fine. Polyurethane the heck out of it and it will wear for years and be easy to keep clean.

    And Daniel – this is my first time commenting, but I’ve been reading you since your desk made the blog rounds way back when… I want to thank you, very sincerely, for your blog. You share yourself as well as your wonderful talent, and I love that.

    • 11.30.12
      Daniel said:

      Aw, thank you Tracy! That’s such a nice comment.

  42. 11.30.12
    Tracy said:

    On second thought, don’t do the wood floors without professional level equipment. I just found this:

    • 11.30.12
      Daniel said:

      Yeah, that’s kind of what I’m afraid of…it really wouldn’t be that hard to refinish the floor with some strippers and a hand sander since the room is so little, but the lead thing seems…not smart. I don’t even get worked up about that stuff normally, but this isn’t just chipping some old paint off some molding or something…

      I might do some more research, I guess——maybe with the right equipment and chemical strippers before the sanding, it would be OK. Oak floors ARE pretty, for sure, but this one is in bad shape, has been painted, carpeted over, and water damaged…I’m sure it could clean up nice with enough work, but it could also look GORGEOUS painted, be easy to clean, and allow us to avoid all the hazards that would come with refinishing.

  43. 11.30.12

    Looks amazing and that it took longer than Thanksgiving break to do.

  44. 11.30.12
    Lacey said:

    Love. First of all, your voice when you write is fantastic – I’m always sucked in right away. You seriously worked wonders on Max’s room! What a fantastic job. I do love the dark walls – don’t know if I could have it in my own bedroom for all the time, but a guest bedroom is perfect for it. And I’m obsessed with the Hudson Bays blanket. I want one!

  45. 11.30.12

    Very awesome, Daniel. The after reminds me of my boyfriend’s room, except if it were, you know… clean. :) Can’t go wrong with black paint & four points!

    • 11.30.12
      Daniel said:

      Too funny! Winning combo!

  46. 11.30.12
    nicolezh said:

    Amazing- what a beautyfull bedroom. Mekko looks priceless on that vintage blanket. Where is Linus? I miss the litte grumpy old man…

  47. 11.30.12

    Fantastic work, Daniel! I just about died when I saw the sunglasses hanging from the chandelier. I did a lot of sunglasses displaying back in the day. Really, really great transformation!

    • 11.30.12
      Daniel said:

      Thanks, Christiana! Max is glad to hear he’s not alone :)

  48. 11.30.12
    Nicole. said:

    These photos have finally cured my hesitancy with black walls. Killer!

  49. 11.30.12
    LP said:

    you are amazing. a genius, really. if you ever have your own tv show, I will buy a tv for the sole purpose of watching said show. marry me? (a girl can dream…)

  50. 11.30.12
    Jimmy said:

    I think its cool that Max’s parents let you both stay in the same room. I’m straight and this thanksgiving I went home to my parents and after a year of dating my girl friend we still had to sleep in separate rooms lol.

    • 11.30.12
      Daniel said:

      Ya know, you’re right, it is cool! It’s always been a non-issue with Max’s mom, even before we lived together officially. We’re lucky.

    • 12.2.12
      Tuesday M. said:

      You know what’s weird? I’m bisexual, and when I was dating my boyfriend my family wouldn’t let us sleep together, but now that I’m with my girlfriend they let us. Maybe they’re just afraid of pregnancies lol.

  51. 11.30.12
    Stef said:

    I’m somehow oddly into this massive American flag idea lately – glad to see it put to such great use. Also, as a former navy/black bedroom person, I love your paint choice. Most importantly though, does Max KNIT?! As if you two weren’t already interesting enough.

    • 11.30.12
      Daniel said:

      Max DOES knit! Nothing crazy, just a few scarves, but he finds it relaxing (which I, in turn, find very adorable.).

    • 12.3.12
      Stef said:

      I knit, so I get really excited when I hear about other young people who knit.

  52. 11.30.12
    milex said:

    prettty awsome

  53. 11.30.12
    Jenn said:

    Aw. I loves yer beau. That’s some lovely expression for his teen/youth self. Truly lovely. |

    And you, as usual, made magic.

    Nice team, you are.

  54. 12.1.12
    Kim said:

    Wow, wow and WOW! How much do I love this post? I’ve been reading your blog for months but this is my first comment. I had to write and tell you how much I love reading you. You have a great voice and I often laugh out loud when reading your posts as I did tonight. Not a problem except that I’m often reading while I’m trying to get my baby down to sleep and my snorting is not conducive to his sleeping. ;) I love how matter of fact you are about getting everything out of the room and starting fresh with just the empty box. I think I get overwhelmed trying to make changes in our apartment because I get so annoyed trying to work around all The Stuff. I’m inspired to commit a day focusing on one room and starting by just emptying it out. One question on this post – Is there any other furniture in the room now like a dresser or chair? I realize there may not be room. Just curious. Love love love your blog!

    • 12.1.12
      Daniel said:

      I definitely think starting by clearing EVERYTHING out of a space (going through them one by one, and then only putting back what you REALLY want/need) is a great way to approach things!

      There isn’t any other furniture in the room…it’s SO small, the bed really takes up the majority of the space, and there are two doors…there just isn’t room for anything except a side table next to the bed. I think that’s OK for a guest room, though…there’s a closet to hang stuff and store a suitcase, and the hooks on the wall are surprisingly helpful. It would be nice if there could be a chair, I guess, but it’s not really necessary.

      Thank you for the kind words about the blog!!

  55. 12.1.12
    Par said:

    It’s so fun when I see a new entry on your blog because there’s nothing I don’t like about your decorating style. It’s time to start hiring yourself out to non-related people to re-design their rooms …

  56. 12.1.12
    Par said:

    And your dog is so pretty! I love good, caring pet owners. Yay to Max’s folks to welcome your pets as well.

  57. 12.1.12

    I’m a little late to this party, but damn – looks great!

    (I too have fantasized about doing such things to the various guest rooms I have stayed in. Kudos for being a man of action!)

  58. 12.1.12
    Heather said:

    ERNIE! This is a wonderful reference to Shel Silverstein’s masterpiece (IMHO), Uncle Shelby’s ABZ book. It is made of genius and is the definintion of subversive. Now I can go back to reading the rest of the post, but I had to say first how happy that made me.

  59. 12.1.12
    Furpants said:

    I love your DIY travelling toolkit. The room looks great, excellent choices as always. I wish you would pack up the tools along with Max and the dogs and come have a go at my guest studio!

  60. 12.1.12
    laura said:

    the room looks great, i love it.

    you can redo the floors safely.

    ive done my fair share of lead abatement in my apartment, and if you are very careful and take every neccessary precaution you can do it safely.

  61. 12.2.12
    Tuesday M. said:

    Every post you make inspires me to redo the hell out of my place…You rock! And Max is a trooper for letting go of his little memory box and letting you pretty it up :)

  62. 12.2.12
    Mathilde said:

    You can come and stay at my house anytime!

  63. 12.2.12
    ebony said:

    ok, one more E-Z Anchor question … how exactly did you use them to hang the flag? i have a moroccan wedding blanke that in my mind is sort of “like” a flag that i for the life of me haven’t been able to figure out hanging. does the flag have grommets that you hung it by, or did you deal with the fabric directly? (mine has no grommets.)
    p.s. absolutely LOVE keeping up with your projects! if only i were so handy…

    • 12.2.12
      Daniel said:

      Yes, the flag has a grommet in each corner, so I just screwed the anchor into the wall, then screwed the screw into the anchor, but not quite all the way so that the grommet could hook onto the screw. For the blanket…you might be able to just hang it on two nails in either corner? They’d be inconspicuous when the blanket is hung and shouldn’t damage it if you ever remove the nails? I’m not sure :(

  64. 12.2.12
    judy said:

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your site, love the room you just transformed, what talent! Keep it up!

  65. 12.2.12
    Cat said:

    I have to admit, I got a little nervous the other day when it hit me that so many of the 614 sqf of your apartment have already been improved and featured on the blog. What can possibly be next?, I thought. Now I know. And I give thanks that there are so many square feet in the US, heck, the world. I shall rest assured. Darn, you are talented!

  66. 12.2.12
    Sarah Minnick said:

    So- I was showing the after pictures to my daughter Sophie (8) as she has wanted a black room for sometime, and she decidedly likes the before room much better! Just thought Max should know…

    • 12.3.12
      Daniel said:

      Ha! I am sure Max will be proud!

  67. 12.3.12
    Emmaclaire said:

    Which drill model is that? I am trying to put together a wedding registry of actually useful things and have been debating between a few different dewalt drill models. We’ve never had a drill before but we want a good drill that is versatile for a range of minor to moderate DIY projects we hope to tackle.

    Oh and what brand is the screwdriver with all the heads you love so much? Any other ideas for a home-improvement section to a gift registry?

    • 12.3.12
      Daniel said:

      Unfortunately, DeWalt doesn’t make this model drill anymore! It’s probably pretty similar to this one. It’s been good, though——I like DeWalt!

      The screwdriver is a brand called Boxer! It has 39 different heads, and you can use the bits in a power drill, too! I’m sure there are plenty of brands that make something like that, though.

      I guess it just depends on what kind of home improvement is going on! A jigsaw is a pretty useful, versatile tool, and they’re pretty inexpensive. Palm sanders, circular saws, miter saws, a giftcard for a few gallons of paint, a good staple gun?

  68. 12.3.12
    Lauren said:

    Question: How many man hours did this take? I ask because this post (and other design-oriented sites) always make these projects appear that painting/flipping a room takes less than a day. My hubby and I redid a room right before Thanksgiving. And, in an old house with plaster walls and wobbly lines, I’ve found that a room never gets painted in a day (molding takes FOREVER). But, maybe we’re missing some shortcutting tricks?

    • 12.3.12
      Daniel said:

      I don’t know exact hours, sorry! The vast majority of the work was completed in a day (including shopping and stuff…I don’t think I started painting until the afternoon!). I did all the painting myself (Max lacks the patience to do a good job…), and all of it was done within that day except for the closet door, which we didn’t find until a day or two later. The biggest shortcut tips I have are using higher quality paint—better coverage in fewer coats—and NO PAINTER’S TAPE. Taping takes FOREVER and I think is a huge waste of time…things will look much better with just a decent brush and a steady hand. For molding, my best advice is a decent brush—I like 2″ angled brushes for that. But yeah, it just takes a long time. Nature of the beast.

      That said, this isn’t the most thorough paint job ever—I didn’t really try to do any real plaster repair beyond little nail holes and stuff. For example, the area of wall that the doorknob hit for years and years is totally wrecked, but for time’s sake we just painted right over it. If I had repaired it properly, it would have been a two-day job at least, since i would have had to wait for joint compound to dry and all that.

    • 12.3.12
      Lauren said:

      Ugh, no, I will just hang my head in shame, then. Maybe it’s the tenacity – we no longer go the whole day. We go in spurts over a number of days: two hours here, one hour there, etc. God, I’m old.

  69. 12.3.12
    JoanE said:

    That room is gorg! Love your blog”¦.addictive!

  70. 12.3.12
    Ines said:

    Beautiful make over. Love your makeovers. I had a draw wall like that once (in my bathroom/cloakroom) where I had all of my mates leaving small notes and drawings. Mostly penises:-P Grown over that really quickly. Fortunately we had a pipe burst and plumber popping in so eventually had to re paint over as landlord didn’t approve our dirty notes and penises. Lucky me as my other half was dead against it.

  71. 12.3.12
    kmkat said:

    Coupla things:

    1. Love the makeover! New room looks so warm and comfy and relaxing.
    B. When I clicked over and saw the first photo, I thought I was at You could totally submit your photo!
    iii. We have a king Hudson’s Bay blanket (8 points!) but no longer have a kingsize bed :( I loved seeing yours, complete with dog.

  72. 12.3.12
    Julie said:

    Rats! I missed running into you again. Antique Man is right around the corner from my old house! Next time you are in town I’m going to kidnap you and get you to help me with a few projects around my house! (I also have a spare bedroom painted with BM Soot btw.)

  73. 12.5.12
    maybug said:

    you are going to be really famous someday soon. i think it’s great.

  74. 12.6.12
    Amandelin said:

    Cannot endorse the black bedroom thing strongly enough! I recently painted the bed-wall in my bedroom black and did some tone-on-tone bird silhouettes to mimic that gorgeous but super pricey and high-contrast swoopy bird wallpaper that’s been everywhere. The other walls are white, because I have two tiny tiny windows that get no direct sunlight, but that one black wall just throws this perfect sexy moodiness into the whole room and I am a wee bit obsessed with it, maybe. (

    Also, I adore this room makeover. Love love the simple rustic vintage elements, love the black walls, love the freshly painted door. Would question painting the floor white though, I think. Might be too crisp/light on that plane? And possibly make the bed stand out too sharply?

    But I’m not sure I have a better suggestion for what color to paint it. Maybe a stenciled pattern? Though it would have to be very carefully chosen, lest it get too fussy. I don’t know, I should stop typing. I love white-painted wood floors. I love them more than almost all the other floors.

  75. 12.8.12
    Maria said:

    LOVE the room! I love this blog and especially the pooches so I don’t mean to be a party pooper at the this party but the flag is hanging backwards. The stars should always be on the left side.

  76. 12.8.12
    Meredeth said:

    The space really looks beautiful! So inspirational! And the dog is just darling, too!

    – xgirl0

  77. 12.10.12
    kelly w said:

    I’m so glad you posted this before I got my Hang-It-All last week. I bought EZ Anchors and they worked a treat! THANK YOU!!!

  78. 12.10.12
    Jill said:

    Not gonna lie. I did partake in the Sharpie wall. But I was very hesitant and not sure how I felt about it hahaha. 2006 Max was adorable.

    This room. Looks BEAUTIFUL. You’re a wizard. (Harry Potter US AND Canadian editions ahhahaha Max rules)

  79. 12.13.12
    ky said:

    Where is that canvas bag from!

  80. 12.14.12

    It is excited to present their readership with a new series of articles, Career Profiles that i like to discuss more about this in my blog thanks for sharing.Thanks.

  81. 12.16.12

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this room…and everything that you do, But was surprised that Maria was the only one to comment on the flag hanging backwards (I don’t care myself which way it hangs in “decor”…but I was a Boyscout and I know better).

  82. 3.2.13
    mae said:

    LOVE the transformation! Just wondering, can the EZ anchors be used on cemented walls or just drywalls? :( sorry about the stupid question :|

    • 3.4.13
      Daniel said:

      I think the EZ Anchors are just for drywall and maybe wood? I can’t remember! There are a lot of different anchors for different wall materials and weights…I would go to the hardware store, explain what you’re doing, and they should be able to tell you what you need and how to use them. :)

    • 4.2.13
      mae said:

      LOL yeah, I researched it after I posted that… Thanks a lot! Your site made me want to spruce up my rented space as well :D