Safe Haven: The Bedroom!


One of the weirder things about our home renovation is that we came here with very little stuff. There was some spill-over from the apartment——a few little things I’d been saving——but by and large, we’re starting fresh. We’re furnishing very slowly, as we find pieces that we both like and fit our budget of wildly cheap/free, and we’re also going to be getting a few pieces of furniture from my parents, who are downsizing from my childhood home to a new condo in a few months. We have to wait on that stuff, but I’m really excited to have it. My family has always been weirdos about passing hand-me-down furniture around  across impractical distances, so I’m glad that tradition is continuing in my generation.

Prior to moving in, we decided to treat ourselves to a little weekend getaway at the White House On Wye because we knew we had a lot of work to do once we completed the initial move. I had certain ideas about what the first few months in the new house would be like. I reasoned that a camping trip beforehand, instead of waiting until afterwards would be more beneficial to us, because at least we would be relaxed and go in with a clear mind. Considering it would be a luxury to have no furniture while we were busy painting and stripping wallpaper and all that, it was better there would be less stuff to work around.  Basically, we’d work until our whole bodies ached, and then we’d collapse onto an air-mattress made for camping, which would be serving triple-duty as a bed, a sofa, and a dining table, since we’d have none of these things. It would be like an extended camping trip anyways!

We bought the air mattress on our first night, but soon realized that my plan had several flaws. The first was that camping is not fun, and camping in a house is probably less fun than real camping because you aren’t supposed to be filthy and uncomfortable in a house. The bigger issue was that renovating——while gratifying——is also hard. It’s physically demanding and draining work, and by the end of the day (or, more accurately, the middle of the night), you really just want to escape a little bit and go somewhere that isn’t in chaos. Somewhere that’s actually pretty clean and comfortable and looks kind of OK? It took about one night on the air mattress for me to go from trying to be really hardcore about this whole thing to just wanting a few small luxuries to counterbalance the world of crazy we’d just opened for ourselves. So, aside from the kitchen, we decided that the bedroom really needed to be a priority. Not getting it done and fully decorated and looking perfect, of course, but enough that we could close it off at the end of the day and feel good about things.


So here we go! Sorry the picture is terrible. Very much a work in progress, but there’s a bed and side tables and lamps and even a rug! I’m sure this room will change a lot over time (as in, the only thing I really want in here in the longterm is the bed!), but it feels good right now.


We found the bed in an antiques store in Saugerties (which is a town a little bit north of us) called Newberry Antiques. I have a serious soft spot for an Art Deco piece of furniture here and there, and I was blown away by the condition of this bed as soon as I saw it, since these pieces often have tons of chipped or missing veneer. I figured it would be a bajillion dollars, but it was priced at $250, which I got dropped to $200 (never hurts to ask!), and I was sold!

When buying vintage beds, it’s important to MEASURE. I’m not sure exactly when mattress sizes were standardized, but often vintage/antique beds are weird sizes and need to be altered to fit modern mattresses, but luckily this one was a standard full size! Bed frames always look weirdly tiny without an actual mattress in them, so don’t just eyeball it. If you don’t have a measuring tape, antique stores always have one on hand for you, and often even thrift stores do, too! Often the matching side rails are hiding somewhere else in the store, and it’s easy to cut slats to hold the mattress up——we just used about a dozen 1 x 4 pieces of cheap pine, and the whole thing is very solid.

The other thing to remember is that vintage beds were made before the time of these crazy 22″-thick pillow-top enormous mattresses you can buy these days, so don’t go trying to put something like that on an old bed. It will look ridiculous. I don’t like mattresses like that, anyway (my back seems to prefer very cheap, firm mattresses), but with vintage beds, you want a mattress that’s about 10″ thick, give or take a couple inches. PSA, over.


The duvet cover is from IKEA. I like it! The side table came with us from the apartment (I’d still love to find a better top for it), and the lamp is vintage from a junk shop. The cord situation is a little annoying, but the outlet placement in this room is strange. Hopefully we can have a couple more receptacles installed down the line.


The rug is from the Nate Berkus collection at Target, and it comes Mekko-approved. It’s not really the right rug for this space, but that’s OK. It makes it feel like a real room, and that’s the goal!

When the kitchen is done (so close!), we’ll probably turn our attention to this room, but for real this time. We have a thrifted dresser sitting in the garage waiting for me to repair and refinish it, and all the walls need to be stripped and painted. As you can see in the pictures, there’s some serious flaking/peeling going on (that’s what happens with there’s like 3 layers of wallpaper and a million layers of paint separating from old plaster walls that weren’t heated for two winters!), but we’ll get to it! One thing at a time.

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. 8.12.13
    lynne said:

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while and have really enjoyed it. Love that you have your new home and are fixing it up. I like that you share what I feel are real experiences-sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t. Your ideas are good, and I feel like I could maybe do some of the things you’ve done. Thanks for sharing with us.

  2. 8.12.13
    Jack said:

    Wow! I don’t know what I was expecting but this looks really great!

  3. 8.12.13
    Kate said:

    That bed is so amazing! I can’t believe your luck! I totally understand your desire for a safe haven when the rest of your house is full of reno grunge. I think this is a fantastic start to a “real” update soon!

  4. 8.12.13
    sherry said:

    We did the same thing! I remember eating chinese and watching TV all on our bed the first week at our home. Outside of the bathroom it was the only room we were really in when not working on the house.

    That bed is amazing. My uncle has a similar one, but it’s 80’s art deco revival water bed and yeah he’s still rocking that.

    Loving the progress on your place!

    • 8.12.13
      Daniel said:

      “80s art deco revival water bed” <-- pics, pls.

  5. 8.12.13
    katie said:

    Just thought I’d share.. H+M now sells online, which means you can get their home line, and i just got the nicest pale grey linen duvet cover from there for like $60 using a coupon code.

    • 8.12.13
      Daniel said:

      Yes, I just found out about that! I love a lot of the stuff…might have to order something soon!!

  6. 8.12.13
    Gretchen said:

    I love that bed! Also, my grandfather was from Saugerties. He was nice, just like your new bed.

  7. 8.12.13
    Lauren said:

    I love that your budget is free or wildly cheap. That’s mine most of the time! I’m enjoying the updates :)

  8. 8.12.13
    Sera said:

    You know, I never comment because I’m way too shy, but I’m always squee-ing with joy about new MN-posts!
    Usually, I get massive thrift envy when I see other people’s great finds (THAT BED!!) but you darling boys totally deserve all the best thrift karma in the world (OMG THAT BED!!!). Truely, what you do with the house is amazing and your posts about sharing that process may be one of the best things on the internet nowadays. Not only what you do is oh-so-fangirl-worthy, but also the way you write.
    In one word: Moooooooore! Please :)

    • 8.12.13
      Daniel said:

      Well gosh, thank you, Sera!

  9. 8.12.13
    CM said:

    I’m totally with you… everytime I move (which has been a bajillion times over the past couple of years!) I fix up the bedroom first. There’s nothing like knocking out in a nice, cozy, aesthetically pleasing bed after hauling boxes and dealing with a complete chaotic mess of shit…

    xx /

  10. 8.12.13
    pfm said:

    So is this Bedroom 1 on your floor plan? Clearly, I’m paying way too much attention to your reno!

    • 8.12.13
      Daniel said:

      Yes! Sorry, I should have mentioned that!

  11. 8.12.13
    Allyson said:

    Looking forward to seeing what/how you fix up those walls! I have a similar peely gross situation going on in my bathroom… from what I can tell by picking at the walls, there’s at least 6 or 7 coats of paint on top of plaster. Womp.

  12. 8.12.13
    Jen said:

    That bed is gorgeous and I canNOT believe the price! And I can see how it will work with your mid-century modern-esque aesthetic. Can’t wait to see more!!

  13. 8.12.13
    nancy50 said:

    My parents had a bed exactly like that when I was little (I’m 56 shhhh!) On weekends I would jump in bed with them at some ungodly hour and they would beg me to let them sleep a little longer – that inlaid on the bed used to keep me intrigued for at least a short while — I would trace it with my finger. They of course had a matching dresser, because we were classy like that ;) – keep up the great work!

    PS: I grew up in Albany – maybe it is my parents bed – wouldn’t that be cool! Glad it found a good home :)

    • 8.12.13
      Daniel said:

      That would be bananas! There WAS a matching dresser and a vanity in the store, too.

  14. 8.12.13

    That bed! It’s so important to have a haven, as soon as you mentioned air-mattresses I started twitching. We slept on one for six weeks, I think I’d rather sleep in dirt before even touching one again!

  15. 8.12.13
    Minnie said:

    LOVE the bed! And also thanks for modeling the duvet I have been thinking about buying.

  16. 8.12.13
    Christa said:

    Looking good, Mekko. The bedroom too! Ya know, I’ve got some paint ideas for the dresser. Just sayin’.

    • 8.12.13
      Daniel said:

      But you haven’t seen it yet! (what are your ideas? I’m still undecided!! Paint? Refinish/stain/seal?)

    • 8.18.13
      Angie said:

      Maybe paint since you have so many woods already in your fab bed? But I know there are some for which the more woods, the merrier.

  17. 8.12.13
    Christa said:

    I really can’t presume to tell you, you do come up with the best solutions. But if I had to prep some thrift store furniture in a hurry, I’d look at Venice blue, with Pool blue inside (or maybe Pudding). I’m telling you, you gotta check out Montana Gold. You will like it.

  18. 8.12.13

    You can have rugs! And dogs! I am jealous. I tried to have a life that included both rugs and dogs but the rugs did not survive. The dogs did bad things to the rugs. But they were ugly anyway.

  19. 8.12.13
    Rosie said:

    Love love the bed, I remember my grandmother always had different art deco dressers… I kind of like the room like that – minimal…

  20. 8.13.13
    Ann said:

    Dang, Daniel!! Now I finally need to comment. The day after I leave for a long vacation in Sweden, you have to drop the bombshell about the house! Yes, of course, there are computers in Sweden, but I was hanging out with friends and family. No hard feelings that I ignored you for awhile? I realize I’ve come late to the party, but I spent most of yesterday catching up with everything, including the comments, so now I can say with authority: WOW! Good for you and Max to take the leap, both the engagement and the house. I’m impressed with how much you’ve done already and how great it looks. The prospect of many more chapters in your saga is good news since I very much like your style of writing, in addition to all the very useful information.

    • 8.13.13
      Daniel said:

      Thanks, Ann! Sweden!! Hope you had a fabulous time!

  21. 8.13.13
    Tara said:

    First off, everytime we move we wind up sleeping on air mattresses for a while. When we moved out here to Hawaii, we slept on them for nearly a month & a half. HATE air mattresses.

    Second, your thrown together room looks amazing! I keep trying to redo our room. I’ve bought 2 duvet covers but nothing has come together for me.

  22. 8.13.13
    Judy said:

    Wish I knew how to “throw things together” like you do. Bedroom is fab!

  23. 8.13.13
    Melissa Arnold said:

    I so agree that when you at least have a semblance of a bedroom that is not a pile of dirty rags in a corner of chaos that it makes such a difference in your mental attitude/stability. After a hot, scrubby shower it is absolute heaven to be able to slide into clean sheets on a real bed with a real night stand to hold a real drink!! Humanity can be found in many situations! Your house is really coming along! Congratulations!

  24. 8.13.13
    Monica said:

    After two mostly internet free weeks on vacation and an additional week at home with no internet I am really happy to finally catch up. So much fabulous stuff to read and look at. That and a gorgeous dog.

  25. 8.13.13

    My Goodness me you chaps have been super busy!

    Great to see you in a new home as ‘owners’ and that you are getting stuck in with renovations straight away.

    Looking forward to seeing things progress and at this rate your home will be finished well before mine and I’ve lived in mine for 5 1/2 years already! x

  26. 8.13.13
    Lena said:

    So excited to see the Art deco bed! I love Art Deco and also Art nouveau (not the really kitchy stuff, more like Josef Hoffmann) and there don’t seem to be so many examples of Art Deco mixed with mcm and modern pieces, so I am so excited where you end up! Am I right in feeling that the house will end up a little bit more ecclectic than the apartment? And if yes, is that because its bigger or because you have other resources than in the city?

  27. 8.13.13
    Thel said:

    So clean and quiet. I love stepping over the wood floor and then on the rug . . . that always gives me a nice feeling.

  28. 8.13.13

    A couple years ago I was vacationing in a rental house on Cape Cod, and because it rained all week I quickly mowed through all the reading materials I had brought. I say this to preface why I have read “Under the Tuscan Sun” — the quite beautifully written book the movie was based on — which I found on a shelf in the rental in desperation. Anyway, I saved this quote because it captured the exhausting parts of a renovation project so beautifully:

    “Every day we haul and scrub. We are becoming as parched as the hills around us. We have bought cleaning supplies, a new stove and fridge. With sawhorses and two planks we set up a kitchen counter. Although we must bring hot water from the bathroom in a plastic laundry pan, we have a surprisingly manageable kitchen… After long work, we eat everything in sight then tumble like field hands into bed.”

    Comfy bed = critical.

  29. 8.13.13
    Kathy said:

    A bedroom – even more than a kitchen in my mind – really makes a house feel like home. My hubs and I could personally live without a kitchen, we’re like super-old hippy college kids. BUT…a bedroom – esp. during a major reno – absolute top of the list. Do you have a TV and DVR player in there? I would. Excited to see you peel that paint in there too.

  30. 8.13.13
    Julie F. said:

    It’s a beautiful santuary. There’s an elegance to this room that feels calm and inviting. Starting a new house is like starting a new life, and for me a safe room is one of those important things you have to secure as soon as possible. I love it, congrats!

  31. 8.13.13
    priscilla said:

    I am a huge fan of Art Deco furniture mixed with modern (because it is the original “modern” furniture).
    Thanks for shopping in our cute little village of Saugerties.

  32. 8.13.13
    Lorissa said:

    You’re right – there has to be one area of sanity in all the chaos. Glad you’re getting some rest. Love the bed! You’re doing an amazing job on the house, and it is really transforming beautifully. I love your resourcefulness – thank you for sharing your process!

  33. 8.13.13
    Bobby M said:

    New to your blog and LOVING it! This is my first comment but I felt I had to tell you that my friend has the EXACT same bed, but also with the matching dresser (with mirror), make-up vanity (with large mirror), wardrobe closet and cedar lined chest! It’s a lotta deco! But amazing that the set is still complete.

    Love your design ideas (on a budget) and your dedication and hard work to a deserving house! Can’t wait to see all the future projects (the kitchen transformation is amazing so far!)

    Keep up the great work on my favorite new blog!!

  34. 8.13.13
    emelie said:

    Hi! Mekko approval is of course important, as it should be. Apart from companion, family member etc – what is she? Am.bulldog something,something…? She’s beautiful! Reminds me of my own girl…More pics of her, please!
    And yes – we do have computers in Sweden. FYI. (I love the bed by the way – $200?!!)

    • 8.16.13
      Daniel said:

      Thanks, Emelie! I post pictures of the dogs a lot (they photobomb everything!), but I’ll always try to include more! We don’t know about Mekko’s breed…we always just say she’s a Pit Bull, but she could definitely be some kind of American Bulldog/Pit/Boxer/something cross! You can read about her adoption here, if you’re so inclined. :)

    • 8.18.13
      emelie said:

      Thanks for the adoption link, Daniel! I’m teary-eyed now…I can totally relate to the whole story; I found my Boxer girl as a six-months puppy at “The Lost Dogs Home” in Melbourne, Au., so appreciative of these great places. She got all the other puppies out of the way, said “Pick me!” which of course I did, as I had already fallen in love with her (and her white socks!)… She was with me for ten years.
      Similar personality and temperament, it seems – you’ve got a lot of fun and wonderful moments ahead of you all! That we can love them so much?

  35. 8.13.13
    Cal said:

    I love reading your blog, you do all the things I want to do but never find the time.

    Anyway, I love the wooden panels underneath the windows in the bedroom, I think they look so cool. Do you know what kind of wood they are and might they be worth stripping and staining?

    Your new house has so many neat features, the big living room with the floor to ceiling windows….. to die for!

    Best of luck


    • 8.13.13
      Daniel said:

      Thanks, Cal! I don’t know what type of wood it is, but I’d much rather just leave it painted! I prefer painted moldings, and I think it’s actually more authentic to the era of our house.

  36. 8.13.13
    Anna T said:

    I know it’s not something you want to live with for longer than a little while, but I kinda love the way the walls look with the paint and paper cracking and peeling off. HAHA.

    Also, I was super proud of myself for seeing that Nate Berkus rug in Target and coveting it before either your or Anna D bought it! I am sad I didn’t buy it right away but I just didn’t have the funds… I really want the big one for my living room.

    • 8.13.13
      Anna T said:

      OK, maybe I even want two of them.

  37. 8.13.13
    phyllis lambert said:

    Oh what a beautiful bed (it is just like mine) that I refinished some years ago. Love your posts and how creative you are. I’m in my sixties and bravo to you.

  38. 8.13.13
    LP said:

    Mekko is such a beautiful dog! she has such soulful eyes. I bet she’s glad she doesn’t have to sleep on an air mattress any more!

    • 8.13.13
      Daniel said:

      Actually, she loves the air mattress!! We moved it into another room and she totally claimed it. It’s “Mekko’s bed” now.

    • 8.18.13
      Angie said:

      Oh good, I was wondering how you both fit into a full size bed with your dogs, tee hee. I have cats, not dogs, and we have a king just so the both of us and all the cats can get in bed at night. :D

  39. 8.14.13
    Kimberlin said:

    The bed looks great, it really fits in the color of the room. Anyway, Mekko is an adorable dog, feels like she loves her new mattress now. HA HA.

  40. 8.14.13
    Melina said:

    What a great bed! I love the window and radiator, too. When we first moved into our home (we also rented and had v little furniture before we bought our house) we went to buy a futon on the first day which would be our bed/sofa. I think my body aged about 20 years that night!
    We recently removed similar painted-over, very old wallpaper from our bedroom, and most of the room didn’t need a steamer or scraper, it just peeled right off. Extremely pleasing. I can’t wait to see the finished bedroom and kitchen!!!

    • 8.14.13
      Cal said:

      It can be fun to put a couple of the thicker peices of stripped off wallpaper into water and soak them. If you can tease apart the layers, you get an interesting history of the wallpapers used on the room. My grandmother’s house in maine, and 1840’s cape renovated about 1900 had 8 layers of wallpaper on the dining room wall, we had a grand tour of wallpaper fashions of the late 19th and early 20th canturies.

  41. 8.14.13

    I totally understand this mentality. We just bought a flat, and our bedroom used to be their boys room, so we’re taling ocean blue walls, blue carpet, football (soccer) motifs everywhere….Given the chaos of the rest of the space it’s important to be able to relax before starting the whole crazy affair again….. We ddon’t have a cute dog though…I’m sure that helps with the unwinding!

    Mrs E

  42. 8.14.13

    Excellent. You guys deserve and NEED a safe haven!

    When we moved to this big house from our teeny condo, we DID move all of our furniture here. But the funny thing is, whenever a friend comes over, they always say, when are you moving your furniture? Um, this IS our furniture. What looked nice, comforting and full in that condo looks like we’re missing just about everything in this house!

    It’s already been so fun starting furniture from scratch.

  43. 8.14.13

    I know it may be temporary, but love the blue and white! And the bed is amazing. Just FYI for anyone else looking at antique beds, I bought a ridiculously tall mattress at Original Mattrress Factory for my antique bed, but to offset the height they have a low profile box springs that worked perfectly.

  44. 8.14.13
    Chebrutta said:

    Sleeping is uber important. Bedroom looks good!

    I feel sort of nostalgic, though – that bed is a dead ringer for the one my grandma had. Sniffle for Grandma cookies and the inevitable hand slap for taking too many cookies.

  45. 8.14.13
    Patty said:

    I hear u on the sanity during reno We lived in our basement for three months while the kitchen was gutted and an addition added. The only way we kept our sanity was that the bedrooms and bathrooms were intact.

  46. 8.14.13
    Sarah D Luna said:

    Wait… what happened to all the chairs? Eames and Eames-like?

    • 8.15.13
      Daniel said:

      They’re downstairs in the dining room! It’s a very sad place right now, but I’ll probably do a post about it soon! (Hollow-core door table, 3 mismatched eames chairs.)

  47. 8.15.13

    Love that IKEA duvet!

    Must be nice to have a little escape from the chaos.

  48. 8.16.13
    Elaine in Laguna said:

    That bed! I had that beautiful bed for many many years! Your family trades furniture around long distances? Well, my neighborhood does that, too. Only very short distances. So I had that wonderful Art Deco bed until a very recent bed purchase. The deco bed went to the next neighbor in need. I’m glad you have a safe/soft place for yourselves after long days of renovating. Sweet Dreams!

  49. 8.16.13
    Joann said:

    Daniel, really appreciate this lesson on how to go about using what’s out there and good from the “wildly cheap/free” domain. This type of starting from scratch is something people often face in their lives. It’s great to learn what to look for in the basics, where to buy new and where and what to re-appropriate and how to begin weaving a most attractive design theme and space. Thus evading prospects of forced living with budget dictated hodge-podge.

    • 8.18.13
      Angie said:

      Yes, and many people live on a budget their whole lives! :D

  50. 8.30.13

    Hey Daniel! I have that exact same bed! (I got mine off of Craigslist for less than $100. Woot!) Tell me, do you use a box spring with your mattress? My old mattress was the newfangled kind that rose up like a towering inferno of pillowtop over the footboard, which was NOT a good look. I considered nixing the boxspring, but I’d prefer to leave decisions like that to people I read on the Internet {cheeky grin}

    • 8.30.13
      Daniel said:

      No box spring! I just cut 1 x 4 slats for the rails (about 12 of them, evenly spaced) and the mattress goes directly on that. You could probably buy pre-assembled slats at IKEA that would work, too!

    • 8.30.13

      Excellent! I’m off to throw out my box spring.