The Doors are Open!



When our house was divided into two units in the days of yore, one of the more unfortunate-looking alterations was blocking off these two doors right inside the entryway. The one in the top photo leads to the front parlor (accessible through a door in the dining room), and the one in the second photo leads to the big living room (accessible through another door in the back of the entryway. You can see how this looks on the floor plan here.). Luckily, the original doors were right on the other side of the plywood, but unfortunately they were both locked! It kind of begs the question of why the additional plywood barrier was really necessary at all, but then again, old houses come with a lot of questions about why things were done the way they were done.

My best guess is that blocking the doors this way was an attempt to further insulate the downstairs apartment from heat loss and sound, particularly if the owners chose not to heat the entryway, since it wasn’t part of anyone’s living space. You can kind of tell in the pictures that instead of just nailing the plywood up and calling it a day, whoever did this also took the time to smear a bunch of wood putty over all the nail holes and surrounding the entire edge of plywood, creating an impenetrable seal that made it more or less impossible to rip the plywood down from the front without totally messing up the surrounding moldings. Fun!

I thought we’d rip this plywood down on, like, day 1 in the house, but that didn’t happen. It didn’t happen on days 2 or 3 or 4 or 5, either, and after living this way for a few weeks, I just hit my limit of having ugly plywood sheets erected in my entryway. There’s only so much a person can take!


Like most old houses, ours came with a big heavy box of keys. Almost none of the keys are labelled, so I have no idea what most of them do or if they even match any existing locks, but I was hopeful that one of the 5 skeleton keys would have to fit the locked doors.

Nope. Of course not.

We went down to the local locksmith shop, and after re-trying all of our keys, he moved on to a huge handful of skeleton keys he brought with him. No dice. Naturally.

Instead, he had to go back to the shop and make us a custom key. I would take a picture, but of course now I’ve misplaced it among our renovation disaster. We don’t really have any reason to ever lock these doors, but I hope I can find it somewhere, since we spent like $80 on all this drama and I want my souvenir.

ANYWAY. Locksmiths are magicians. He got the doors open. There was much rejoicing.


At some point, I started to wonder what was in that 6-ish inch space between the plywood and the door. Maybe there would be hidden jewels! Stacks of money! A family of borrowers!

There was none of these things. Instead, there was a big panel of weird fiberboard sheathing stuff, similar to homasote. Then with that out of the way, there were also pieces of wood running horizontally behind the plywood, nailed into the door frame. The horizontal boards were then wood-glued and nailed to the plywood, and all of the edges had received a generous coating of caulk, just for good measure.

So thorough. So impressive. So annoying.

I had thought that with the doors open, I’d be able to just knock down the plywood by running at it and throwing my body against it until it came tumbling down, a strategy I learned from handsome men encountering locked doors on TV. But with all these added reinforcements, that seemed like a recipe for a couple broken ribs, so the shrimpy nervous Jew side of me re-evaluated.


I started by removing all of the visible nails that I could from the doorframe with a pry bar.


Since the plywood still wouldn’t budge, even with the nails gone (shocker!), I broke out my jigsaw and just started cutting out sections of the wood, all haphazard and sloppy-like.


Then I started kicking out sections, like the man-beast that I have become.

I went so H-A-M on this plywood, you guys. So very H-A-M.


This action shot doesn’t begin to portray how badass I was in this moment.

Nothing can portray how badass I was. You just have to believe.


Here I am, vogueing, you know, as you do. I realize now that this post would be so much more primal and saucy if I had been naked behind that piece of plywood.



Before long, the doors were open! There was light! There was air circulation! There were new ways to get from room to room! SO. EXCITING. OMFG.

Pausing for a second, this view is the exact reason why I have no real interest in altering the existing layout of our house. I love the amount of symmetry and order that the original layout has——the way that these doors are directly across from each other (the angle of the photo makes them look a little off, but they aren’t), which is repeated with the other door to the big living room and the dining room, and the doors from the parlor to the dining room to the kitchen. A lot of people (both here on the blog and in real life) keep suggesting that I do things like widen the entry into the front parlor or open up the wall between the front room and the dining room, but that would completely throw off the proportions and sense of order that I think make the interior layout of this house really special. Designing a house this way doesn’t just happen by accident, and I think it would be an enormous mistake to start futzing with things like that.

I tried explaining this to Linus, who clearly doesn’t care.


We get it, Mekko, you’re a beauty queen. We’re trying to talk about doors, here.

Now we just have to take the vestibule wall down! I can’t believe we closed on the house almost 2 months ago and it’s still there! The deal I made with myself is that I’d do that as SOON as the kitchen is done (celebratory demo is kind of like champagne, yes?), which means its days are verrrrrry numbered.


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. 7.25.13
    Iris Vank said:


  2. 7.25.13
    Jaimie said:

    My new-to-me house isn’t quite as old as yours (53 years) but I can definitely relate to the questions about why things are done the way they are done. Sometimes the why is obvious (ahem, LAZY) and other times it’s just confusing. I try to remind myself of how things will be in a couple years (and a ton of work) to comfort me while confronting said things. And also knowing that I can get my husband to unclog the drains.

  3. 7.25.13
    Shelbey said:

    can i move into your awesome wallpapered rooms? i can?! awesome, thank you. *frantically packs suitcase and gets in car to drive cross country to new york because that wallpaper is lovely and i’m obsessed with it and if you ever take it down you can mail it to me, kthxbye.*

    • 7.25.13
      Daniel said:

      Ha, I wish I could!! It’s actually not wallpaper, though——it’s paint! It’s pretty much all in TERRIBLE shape, but I’m thinking about trying to preserve a wall of it somewhere. If not, I’ll take some good pictures of it and preserve it in some way.

    • 7.25.13
      Sana said:

      Or you could leave just a (well preserved) piece of a wall and then frame it!

    • 7.25.13
      Sana said:

      What I meant is: of the paint. You mentioned in the post you are leaving the walls :)

    • 7.27.13
      S said:

      If you got a really good photo of it, you could probably clean it up in photoshop and then have it printed on good quality paper or even as wallpaper.

    • 7.27.13
      Shelbey said:

      paint?! how intriguing! must have been even more gorgeous back in the day day when it was brand new. so many congrats on the new/old home and i’m beyond thrilled to read along as i do my own renos. commiserating commence!

  4. 7.25.13
    frances said:

    every little step is an improvement and must give you so much satisfaction. there’ll be more opportunities for nude photos (?). and in the midst of all the turmoil mekko and linus are so calm and relaxed…..such great dogs! you’re damned awesome for a skinny jewish guy!!!!!!!

  5. 7.25.13
    Shelbey said:

    p.s. so many congratulations on opening ‘dem doors. super fantasitc!

  6. 7.25.13
    Mark said:

    Hi Daniel, your house is an absolute stunner- cant believe what progress you have made already. From what I have seen of your work so far, you guys are going to bring that house back to life. Ps, can’t wait to see what to hallway looks like when that wooden wall comes down! Enjoy every minute!

  7. 7.25.13
    Robyn said:

    Will you please please please write a post on refinishing all your old doors? I just bought a house and have to refinish the doors (which have been PAINTED shut.. why?) and would love a tutorial because yours are the best. seriously.

    • 7.25.13
      Daniel said:

      Oh man, I don’t know if you want my advice! I’ll probably just paint all of mine, except probably the front doors. Mine don’t have so many layers of paint, and I think there are something like 25 of them…no way am I stripping all those down!

  8. 7.25.13
    Mariane said:

    Again, the house is breathing better now! I love the symetry of this. Mekko really is a beauty queen, and I am not really a dog lady but somehow, I want to smell her paws!!(why?!) You now have to regal us with a naked demo picture of you, you just placed the seed in our head dude!!

    • 7.27.13
      Christa said:

      Dog feet all smell like Fritos. Seriously, it’s a thing.

    • 7.27.13
      Daniel said:

      I know!! Frito feet! Mekko’s especially…very corn chip-y.

  9. 7.25.13
    Lil said:

    I’m like you with regards to old houses, I’m not big on the knocking down walls to open them up and make them all “modern”. I love me a good old fashioned house with real rooms.

    • 7.30.13
      LaDonna said:

      I completely agree with your about not modernizing old homes by removing walls. Part of the charm of older homes is the separate rooms. Plus separate rooms can be more efficient for heating/cooling.

  10. 7.25.13
    Paul said:

    The marble behind the keys in the third picture looks beautiful. What is it?

  11. 7.25.13
    Laura said:

    Completely agree with you about not altering the original layout. I think people are often too quick to succumb to the urge to make modifications to suit modern tastes (such as more open floor plans), rather than embracing the old.

  12. 7.25.13
    mph said:

    Though it would theroughly be entertaining, voguing naked, holding a jagged piece of wood may result in splinters in tender parts?

    Love your posts! So excited to be able to see the transformation of this old house from the start. It’s like a TV series. I’m staying tune for the next episode.

  13. 7.25.13
    Anna said:

    Ew, people keep suggesting that you open the layout? But the whole point of having beautiful old homes like this is all the different ROOMS with a million doors leading to each other! I love the layout of this house.

  14. 7.25.13

    I bet a heavenly “aaaaahh” sang out rejoicing when the plywood came down.

  15. 7.25.13
    Liz said:

    First, your blog is my favorite. Second, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the demo of this entryway & the results are STUNNING. Where I live there are many beautiful old homes converted into apartments & I’ve lived in one myself. I’ve seen some pretty sorry partitioning done by landlords, but your plywood/caulk/nails/crap jobs TAKE THE CAKE.

    I love the character you see in your house and how you’re slowly bringing that out into the open!

  16. 7.25.13
    Sherry said:

    I am just going to assume you were listening to the doors while doing this as well? Looks awesome and I am with you, leave the doors where they are!

    Have to say I am disappointed tho. Not in you, but in the previous owner. Like if you are going to go through all the trouble to plywood/caulk up that door so well, you should have at least painted that scene from beetlejuice with the sand and the two headed sandworms on the other side, amirite or what?! How perfect would this have been:

  17. 7.25.13

    I am glad you are keeping the original layout. If someone wants a more modern open floor plan, then why buy an old house? I have fond memories of hide and seek in the eight hundred rooms that made up my grandmother’s house.

  18. 7.25.13
    ALLIE said:

    Dear Daniel,

    I sorta kinda wish that you would stop sleeping & eating and whatever else you do so that you could demo, and design and blog ALL DAY EVERYDAY. Im sure you’re not aware of this but it’s oh so very painful for me to wait for your blog posts! They really bring me such happiness! You’re so funny & talented and I’m absolutely obsessed with following your progress (not in like a creepy stalked way… i swear).

    You are fabulous.

    Your old friend from APT 9A, UES

    • 7.25.13
      Allie said:

      A different Allie

    • 7.25.13
      Daniel said:

      Aw, thanks Allie!! Do you still live there??

    • 7.30.13
      ALLIE said:

      Sadly no! Both my roommate and I moved out after only a year & headed back to Boston our home town! We still miss apartment 19 though. And will forever be indebted to you for your response to our SOS-OH-EM-GEE-WE-TRIED-TO-BE-DANIEL-AND-CHANGE-LIGHT-FIXTURES-AND-CUT-A-BUNCH-OF-WIRES-AND-NOW-HAVE-NO-POWER email we sent last year.

      & also I used ALL of your tutorials on my new apartment in Beacon Hill though!

      You’re THE BEST!

    • 7.30.13
      Daniel said:

      Oh yay, I’m so glad!!

      Good ole apartment 19…sigh. I’m glad I don’t live there anymore, but it was a nice place. I still love that you found my note and I’m glad you stuck around on the site! Heart, warmed.

  19. 7.25.13
    Ann said:

    What I don’t understand is how someone who did all of this dividing stuff could have just stuck the nails in the doorframe. I get that they probably wanted to make them the most solid they could, but man. I’d be worrying my butt off about not damaging the wood, just in case someday it needs to be an open space again. I mean, it’s quite expensive to replace the doors! Also, I like how they connect to the moldings, so I’d want them to stay forever, because they’re pretty! I don’t know, I think it takes guts. Or is just stupid. Probably the latter.

    • 7.25.13
      Daniel said:

      I totally understand what you’re saying, but the wood will be fine! A little patching compound and paint, and nobody will ever be able to tell there were a bunch of nails in there. After all, it’s WAYYYY better than the alternative of ripping the doors out entirely and drywalling over the whole thing and all of that. I really don’t begrudge the previous owners at all for this kind of stuff——I’m just thankful they kept all the alterations so (relatively) easy to reverse.

  20. 7.25.13
    Kiira said:

    I am so in love with that house. And Mekko, too.

  21. 7.25.13
    Amanda said:

    This blog makes me so happy!!! Thankyouthankyouthankyou!!!!

  22. 7.25.13
    jsh said:

    The symmetry of the house is, indeed, planned. The matched door openings, with doors will provide great natural airflow during the summer, and can be closed for the winter. Pro tip: open downstairs windows that are shaded, and upstairs windows that are in the sun, and downstairs windows in the shade to vent the hot air. Like this:

  23. 7.25.13
    Marita said:

    Daniel, I just had to come by and tell you that you are a design/demo/style inspiration to me. WHOA, big stuff. No, but really. I decided the other day to stop just lurking on all of my favourite blogs, and tell the people whose blogs I adore how much I love reading them.

    I get so excited when you have a new post go up, and when you have a new tutorial, and I am so ridiculously psyched to see everything you guys do with this house. You have given me SO much in the way of inspiration and ideas for designing my own space. There are so many posts that I think of and reference as I’m designing my new home, so thanks for all your time and ideas. Example: because of you I now have the Nate Berkus rug for target in my kitchen, and it looks awesome.

    You should totally find that skeleton key, and once you no longer need it, put it in a shadow frame like people do with their first dollar bill earned and display it in the front hall. That would be so sweet.

    Anyways, thank you again, and keep on writing! Love it all!

    • 7.25.13
      Daniel said:

      Aw, what a nice comment, Marita! Thank you! I’m so glad you like the blog and it’s been helpful in some way. :)

    • 7.25.13
      Marita said:

      No probs :) I also realized, as I was doing the dishes, that I believe it was Max who originally posted about the Nate Berkus rug on Design Sponge. Ha. Compliment fail. Oh well, whatevs, I saw it in your living room, and it’s fabulousness there was what sold me on it :P

  24. 7.25.13
    Melissa S said:

    Oh wow it looks SO much better already! I feel like I’m breathing more air just looking at the after photos. I’m pretty excited about seeing how everything looks once that nasty wall is gone. Good work so far! Thank you for sharing your progress.

  25. 7.25.13

    I love that giant window in the last picture.

    You’re undertaking a monumental task, these posts are amazing.

  26. 7.25.13
    Hannah said:

    My house envy is making my house lust so much worse. GORGEOUS

  27. 7.25.13
    CM said:

    That image of the doors open, with the dog, and the portrait at the end, could be framed. It’s so friggin beautiful! I guess that’s a way for you to preserve a piece of the faux wallpaper–no??

  28. 7.25.13
    ellen said:

    What is the history behind that giant window (the one that Ana loves)? I’ve never seen one like it. Do you think it was original to the house? It’s wonderful.

    • 7.25.13
      Daniel said:

      I love that window, too! There are actually two of them side-by-side, you can see them here!

      I think the windows are definitely original to this room, but I’m not sure that this room is completely original to the house. Based on the fireplace, the radiators, and a couple of other things, I think it *may* have been a late 19th-century addition, but I really don’t know! We definitely still have a long ways to go in our research about the house, and we may never really find out. The windows are really amazing, though. They need new sash cords (which should be fun, I bet the lead sash weights are enormous!), but otherwise are in great shape! So excited to restore them when we get to this room.

  29. 7.25.13
    Jack said:

    Dogs aren’t usually ones for symmetry. Try explaining insulation, dogs usually get a kick out of that.

  30. 7.25.13
    Karoline said:

    I catch myself going “Yay, house update!!” everytime you post a new entry these days. That house must be so happy that you guys moved in! And, as always, your writing is killing me – your blog is one of the few that I actually READ, because it is so well written. Love it!

  31. 7.25.13
    Sara said:

    It’s crazy to me the things previous owners do/did to their homes! And I’m so happy for you that you get to take this hot mess of a house to it’s former glory. You are so inspiring – I love your energy and humor as you tackle each caulk-y surprise! Seriously, you could write a book about your adventures in beautifying your old home. :)

  32. 7.25.13
    Sterling said:

    What a fantastic change! It must have felt great, finally being able to see through that corridor. You’ve truly got a diamond in the rough with this house. Can’t wait for the next installment!

  33. 7.25.13
    Elizabeth said:

    Lots of people say this in a more eloquent way, so I’ll leave that to them. I’ll just say:
    I fucking love this fucking awesome blog, kid. LOVE IT.

    • 7.25.13
      Daniel said:

      Ha! I think that’s the most eloquent way, Elizabeth. Thank you :)

  34. 7.25.13
    Patty said:

    Have you checked to see if the top of the newel post comes off. I’ve been told the original house plans are sometimes inside the post. Wishing you the best of luck on your adventure.

    • 7.25.13
      Daniel said:

      It does not appear to come off, no. You got me all excited!! That would have been the coolest thing EVER.

  35. 7.25.13
    Heather said:

    Hi Daniel,
    I mirror many of the sentiments of your other admirers – I was so happy to learn that you have purchased this amazing canvas to work your magic on and eagerly look forward to new posts!
    I might be able to help a bit re: the mystery of the sealed doors, etc. If this house was last a two family residence, then it would have been required by code to have a fire rated separation between the two apartments. Basically if a fire were to break out in either of the living spaces, the other tenant would have safe(r) passage out thru the rated corridor. I assume that is why you are encountering caulk and insulation and all those other fun surprises. Also, your battle w/ the drop ceiling, all those wires you had to deal with? Installation determined by code.
    Obviously the previous owners had no taste what so ever, but at least they attempted to be safety conscious?
    Not helpful you say? ;)
    Just trying to make sure less of your time is spent wondering ‘why…WHY!!’ so you can focus your energies on more of these great before and afters!

    • 7.25.13
      Daniel said:

      Thank you, Heather! I didn’t even think about that, but you’re probably completely right. Huh!

    • 7.26.13
      Gaidig said:

      I completely agree with Heather, although the huge gap over the wall at the top of the stairs makes me think they didn’t entirely follow code.
      I do also want to reiterate her comment that suspended ceilings are generally suspended by wires in commercial applications. I’m pretty sure that the wall mold isn’t anywhere near strong enough to hold them. It’s more of a decorative edge. So some of these strange things are actually more correct installations!

  36. 7.25.13

    Mekko!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I miss photos of that beautiful face! Awww puppers!! Oh and hey- the doors look HOT ♡

  37. 7.25.13
    Stef said:

    ugh I want to sponsor your blog in the hopes that it enables you to post more often.

    Unrelated, it makes me rage-y when people suggest changing perfectly charming original elements in old homes. Gorgeous old doorways/windows and adorable old basket weave tile is amazing and should be preserved where possible. If you want an “open floor plan” and “upgrades” and “granite and stainless steel” that is necessary for all the “entertaining” you do before you show everyone your “craft room” and “man cave”, then go on House Hunters and find some new construction in a subdivision.

  38. 7.25.13
    Kiki said:

    gah!! Those windows go all the way to the floor! SO amazing. And where is that marble at?? Is it a stair? A threshold? A Crate&Barrel cheese tray? I’m so curious :) Graet work!!

  39. 7.25.13
    HNM said:

    I can just image you after that door was unlocked… “what? this isn’t just coming down?! what?! f*** it. I’m getting the jig saw”
    At least that’s what you sound like in my brain.

    Soon I will get to move out of my icky subdivision house into something with more character than plain oatmeal. Then I will demo and fix and replace and use wood putty. Gawd I can’t wait.

    You’re awesome. Thanks for all the smiles that I get every time I read a new post.

  40. 7.25.13

    Your place has INCREDIBLE bones! I’m dying over the walls. So freakin’ vintage fabulous.

  41. 7.25.13
    Trish said:

    In love with those windows. Totally ready for a naked shot behind plywood sometime soon!

    LOVE. LOVE. LOVE your blog.

    Thank you so much for writing your blog and for bringing us along on this remodel!



  42. 7.25.13
    Jacquie said:

    I am absolutely in love with this whole project- every single word, picture, agh! So gorgeous.

    I also am a big fan of the paint. Someone at some point in time lived in the house and had amazing taste. I’m glad you are clearly bringing back that tradition!

    I’m really looking forward to reading about this house as it comes along!

  43. 7.25.13

    Sweet! Looks great.

    Long term, do you plan on keeping the parquet in the living room? I kinda dig it, but it’d be cool for the planks to run through. Do people do that? Is it feasible?

    • 7.25.13
      Daniel said:

      Oh, DEFINITELY not keeping that floor!! It’s just 50s/60s vinyl tile, not nice at all!

      Debating whether to go down to the original pine subfloor and paint or refinish, or install new flooring over top. It’ll depend on a few factors (cost, time, how hard it would be to remove what’s there), but yeah…that floor in the pictures is gone!

    • 7.29.13
      Christopher said:

      Hi Daniel,
      I love your blog, I read it before you bought your house and now look forward to each Monday’s update even more. I took on the same sort of project you did buying a house that had been cute, but then had went downhill cut up into a triplex, owned by a series of absentee landlords, before eventually becoming condemned (only reason I could afford the neighbourhood!). I got it when I was 28, that was 8 years ago. My friends (mostly down-town condo dwelling high-rise types) thought I was nuts and have offered all kinds of well meaning ideas on why I should take down every wall possible. I say ignore them, hold your ground and embrace the house for the way it was built. Most of the time these original builders knew what they were doing. (Though I admit to making a couple very small changes reflecting ‘what-were-they-thinking’). Lastly about flooring – I went back to the original pine though I may change that in the future. My floors had layer after layer of plywood, VCT, vinyl, etc cheap flooring. I pulled every thing back to the wide-plank pine, filled the holes stained them with dark cherry stain and a coat of poly It was way cheaper though more labor than new flooring on top. Tne pine is soft and marks, so maybe someday I’ll put narrow strip-hardwood Oak on top of them (like would have happened originally if the original builders had more cash), but for now the pine was cheap, people like it and it feels so much more like it belongs than if I’d put something else on top to hide the previous sins.

  44. 7.25.13
    Southern Gal (@sogalitno) said:

    oh my …. big breath of air thru those rooms! the house looks three times bigger already!

    waiting with bated breathe for the front entryway reveal!!!

  45. 7.25.13
    bfish said:

    Many of your posts have amused me –as well as informed me — but something about “so the shrimpy nervous Jew side of me re-evaluated” just really cracked me up. Your plywood Ninja pose topped off this whole exchange. I’ve been enjoying your home improvements and adventures in Brooklyn since you moved there but this new (to you) house upstate has really enlivened your blog!

    This is the first comment I’ve made on your house purchase but am following it avidly and eagerly awaiting new posts. Just want to say — you found a really beautiful old house with a ton of charm and potential and had the wisdom to do whatever it took to make it yours. You and Max have a tremendous amount of foresight to be able to envision what this house offers (after you work your asses off of course); speaking as an old person and old house lover I think that is pretty unusual. I hope it goes without saying that I also think it’s very admirable. Thank you so much for so generously sharing your work and your ideas. You have the power to influence members of your audience to take the leap of faith that you have and buy a “they don’t build ’em like that anymore” house knowing that there will be many surprises, pleasant and unpleasant.

  46. 7.26.13
    LP said:

    I love seeing Mekko and Linus in their new natural habitat! you know it’s their world, the rest of us just live in it

  47. 7.26.13
    Susan said:

    Your design vision for your homes and the energy you have for DIY is amazing. Your writing never fails to be clever and funny. And yet, on top of all that you know about The Borrowers! One little sentence and I’m off an away remembering safety pins as grappling hooks, wooden spools for stools, dressers made of match boxes. Growing up I wished for the kind of house that you just knew had little tiny people doing little tiny DIY between the walls and behind the base boards — you’re living the dream!

  48. 7.26.13
    Sherry in BC said:

    I have just discovered your blog. Your are making an amazing transformation. I totally agree with you about keeping the original layout. I have an old Craftsman, in much need of renos and I just love the long spacious hallway that goes through the centre of the house. Many people have suggested I tear down walls to make it open plan but you know what….I love the hallway….believe it or not I let my son practise his volleyball moves in there. We just closed the doors and let him play. The place is still standing and it has such a great welcoming vibe…..I am really looking forward to following your progress.

  49. 7.26.13
    Erica W. said:

    Wow — what a big difference. I’m with you 100% on not rearranging the layout of the rooms. Those Victorians knew what they were doing for airflow and the harmonious movement of people through space for maximum aesthetic effect. I can almost feel the house letting out a sigh to say “thank you” to you!

    Do you think that someone worked at Caulkers Warehouse or something? It looks like they’ve even caulked up the spindles on the stairs. A lot of time and effort went into caulk-a-rama.

    I’m loving your reno posts!

  50. 7.26.13
    Thel said:

    Daniel, you’re not an interior designer, you’re an intuitive designer.

    You do what you do because you know it shouldn’t be any other way.

    But when you’ve finished this house, I’m really hoping that ‘shrimpy nervous Jew side’ of you will re-evaluate, and that you’ll write a novel.

    You’re a wordsmith, through and through. You should make the most of this particular talent, it’s not as common as you might think.

  51. 7.26.13

    So wonderful! This house has become so YOU already, and I can’t wait for each new post not only to see what you have done but also to read your delightful commentary.

  52. 7.26.13
    Celeste said:

    This is so fantabulous. I keep trying to convince my husband to look into homes that need “just a bit” of work… since there’s so much I want to try. :3 Sadly, no dice. Yet.

  53. 7.26.13
    PhillyLass said:

    Love it! Quick question, if I may. You mentioned that that’s paint and not wallpaper on the walls, which completely blows my mind. It must have been done with a stencil(?) Was stenciling a thing in the Victorian era? Or do you think that was done later? I don’t know what to make of it. Can’t wait to see what you do next!!!

    • 7.26.13
      Daniel said:

      Yes, I think the walls were painted either with a stencil, a stamp, or some kind of roller with a pattern embossed on it. It’s pretty intense!

      I think stenciling is a very old painting technique (at least a few centuries), but these patterns are DEFINITELY not Victorian! I’m guessing they were all done in the 1960s.

    • 7.26.13
      Ewa said:

      This type of painting was pretty common in Poland too and you can still see it in many old homes, particularly in the countryside. I once saw a couple of French tourists in raptures at my local decorating shop in Krakow, when they realised you can still buy the rubber rollers. The old lady behind the counter couldn’t believe her luck that she had finally found someone who wanted to buy them…

    • 7.27.13
      Judi said:

      Those rollers with paint patterns are available on Etsy. I dug up a few of them when we were debating whether to do something funky with one of the walls in the downstairs half-bath (we didn’t).

      I love, love, LOVE the way the house looks now that you can see the original layout. The symmetry is fabulous. I wouldn’t open up a damned thing. I think once the entryway wall comes down it will fix a whole bunch of ancillary issues other people are having with the space.

      Wow, look at me acting like I own your house. Sorry!

  54. 7.26.13
    Julia said:

    Your writing about this house is amazing (and hilarious). What a great thing to read if you are having a bad day! May your endurance for destruction and cleaning never waver :)

  55. 7.26.13
    Mona said:

    I agree with a few f the people who comment about your writing style – you are so gifted, you could pen a book! A DIY book deal – gritty and realistic, like DIY books should be!

    The windows and architectural details in that hose are so gorgeous! You bought a hidden gem and I know it will be a dream home for you guys once you’re done with it!

    I’d frame those keys, they’re pretty cool!

  56. 7.26.13
    Layne said:

    Well done! Right from the beginning of this post I pictured you just kicking down the plywood!

  57. 7.26.13
    Dusa said:

    “Primal” and “saucy” are two words that are very funny together in a sentence. And, that window was made for Miss Mekko to display herself.

  58. 7.26.13
    Another Alli said:

    You make me giggle. The house is going to be very cool. I actually like the keys. I live in a new house, and I love the old locks and keys on the doors from old houses. I think they would make a really neat sentimental display of some sort, and they are so personal to the house. Nothing big, just a sweet touch. Ok, so you obviously know what you are doing and do not need any suggestions, i just like the keys, so keep up the excellent work.

  59. 7.26.13

    Those base boards into the door frame are spectacular, the doors themselves so amazing. So jealous of the amazing bones this house has and I thoroughly support you keeping the layout. It’s elegant. Ahhhh and those huge windows in the dinning room, again amazing! You made an amazing choice getting the place ! Keep it all the work ! So great, an inspiration

  60. 7.26.13
    kmkat said:

    Badass, indeed! If it makes you feel better, I totally had you pictured throwing yourself at those plywood sheets, too.

  61. 7.27.13
    Elissa said:

    Daniel, thanks so much for sharing your new home with us. It’s wonderful to watch you peel back the layers week by week. She is going to be one beautiful, elegant lady in your hands.

  62. 7.27.13
    CindyE said:

    So much to love about this house! I love to see old houses saved and your doing a great job. So wonderful to open these doors – it seems much more relaxed and elegant already! When you take down that vestibule – OMG – it is going to blow all our minds!

  63. 7.27.13
    Elaine in Laguna said:

    Love it! Great job, Super Badass! Glad you’re keeping the original layout and not going open plan. That’s what’s best for this old grand dame. You mentioned there are 25 doors- that makes sense for this size house. I’d be tempted to strip off all the old paint of one interior door just to see what it looked like underneath! But can see how the thought of stripping 25 more would be overwhelming when there are so many other projects to tackle with this house. Will you try to strip the front doors before your Thanksgiving gathering? PS I love those old keys!

  64. 7.27.13
    Amanda said:

    Well done, lads. It’s all looking GOOD!

  65. 7.27.13
    Leo said:

    GAH. DANIEL. I was so surprised to see your face in Dwell this month! You’ve come so far since the Wordpress days clearly”¦

    (and as I read on I see [Anna D16] is here as well”¦)

    it’s cool that you got that sick portrait though.

    oh, and the demo is excellent as always”¦;)

    • 7.27.13
      Daniel said:

      Ahhhh! It’s out?? I need to go find a copy!!

  66. 7.27.13
    Christa said:

    Fabulous as always.

  67. 7.27.13
    JC said:

    Oooh, nakedness behind that plywood would have been totally hot(ter)! I still LOVE what you guys are doing with this amazing house. I also absolutely adore the layout and symmetry. :D

  68. 7.28.13
    Lewis said:

    Thank you for letting us all live vicariously through your glamorous renovation experiences.

  69. 7.28.13
    Emma said:

    What the flying hell – – I go to Portugal for two months to dig holes in the ground and when there is finally internet again in my life, the world is suddenly a ridiculous and measurable amount better because YOU GOT A HOUSE!! I am so happy about this development in The Matter of All Things Important that I can barely contain myself. Yay! Double yay! Crazy-amazing-to-the-Nth-degree yay!

  70. 7.28.13
    Felicia said:

    Too many people are so quick to take out wall or two, or three… I totally agree with you that old houses have a lovely sense of symmetry. Open floor plans are totally overrated in my book.

  71. 7.29.13
    rachel said:

    Just wanted to let you know that we, the commenters on this post, will be coming for a visit. We will be forming car pools and picking up riders as we head east from California and should be there by the weekend. 

    We would like, please, to meet Mekko and Linus right away. And you and Max, of course…..but the dogs first, okay? Then we’d really like a look at that paint-not-wallpaper. It’s not that we don’t trust  your design judgement implicitly and you’ve repeatedly said that it is in rough shape but it just looks so amazing in the pics, we’d feel better if we could just have a look at it ourselves. If you have time to take the wall down in the vestibule before we arrive, that would be great. Otherwise, the sightline through the two newly opened doors already makes our collective hearts go pitty-pat when viewed on our screens, so seeing them in person should amply justify the road trip.

    See you Saturday. We’ll bring breakfast.

  72. 7.29.13

    Ok. Yep. Officially a fan of your blog now. Way to go.

  73. 8.4.13
    Sandy said:

    Wow, what a difference. Looks great. With the old homes I have renovated I just restored the front rooms (reinstating ceiling roses, cornices, fireplaces etc and made modern improvements to the rear of the house. You have a beautiful building – so wonderful to see its original proportions returning.

  74. 8.9.13
    Athena said:

    I stumbled upon your site looking for ideas on jazzing up an Ikea bed frame and I became addicted. I’m confused about it, but I’m ok with it I think. But, now that I’m here I must completely agree with you on the symmetry of the doors in older homes. I love it completely. I love there being all these little distinct rooms and nooks and crannies. I grew up in an old Craftsman foursquare house. I own an old Georgian house now. Open floor plans feel so… exposed. And awkward.. am I in the kitchen or the den or the dining room or the living room? Am I allowed to eat here or do I need to take two steps thataway first? AND there is so much more room for creative design ideas, each room is its own and you don’t necessarily have to tie it in with the style of another room. Anyway yeah, the house has beautiful bones and details. I can’t wait to watch what you do with it. That wasn’t supposed to sound creepy. Sorry.

    • 8.12.13
      Daniel said:

      Thank you, Athena! I completely agree. Thanks for coming along for the ride! :)

  75. 8.29.13
    jencam said:

    I am loving the sunshine from the gloriously large windows!

  76. 9.17.13
    Wilma said:

    You are a homeowner and DIY-er. Maybe you need to buy a ladder? Old Town Home suggests this one (ps, they also have a great tutorial on fixing plaster and doing tons of other stuff in super old houses, though I know you already have lots of experience):

    The entry already looks so much better! Can’t wait to see the grey colour you choose!

    • 9.17.13
      Daniel said:

      I have that ladder! I just haven’t used it for this yet because it’s so heavy to move around. It got lots of use in the kitchen, though! For the tall parts I haven’t gotten to yet, I’m sure I’ll be using it. :)

  77. 9.23.13
    Kelly said:


    About the age of your house, and those front windows: Everything so far says 1850-1860 era to me. The trim around the doors is classic for the era. The newel post and relatively narrow staircase indicate it too. Your front windows onto the porch, I believe, are original to the era, and are considered “step-through” windows (unfortunately, I know that’s not the right term, I can’t think of the correct one right now). Those type of windows were very popular in the South, for ventilation and easy access to verandas and porches. Also, the big closet upstairs, with the smaller closet, may have been a dressing area, and access to the front room. From your photos, it doesn’t look as if there was a door into the front room, but there may have been. I really enjoy your writing and your work; what you’re doing for this house is priceless.

    • 9.24.13
      Daniel said:

      Thank you, Kelly! I think you’re probably right about the 1850/60s estimate, with later additions! I’d love to know when some of the stuff was added…I think the kitchen addition on the back of the house came pre-1900, and the bathrooms came some time after the kitchen…I don’t know! It seems like there were a lot of changes over a 40-50 year period, but maybe indoor plumbing will do that. :)