Thanksgiving + Ferm Winner + Discount!


Even though Max and I campaigned hard to get everyone to come to Kingston for Thanksgiving this year (which, admittedly, might have been a little crazy given the current state of the house!), that didn’t happen. Instead, we all ended up convening at my parents’ house in northern Virginia, which, come Monday, will belong to someone else.


When I tell people that my parents just sold the home we grew up in, they tend to get this look of deep sympathy and sadness, as if somebody died. But it isn’t really like that. More than anything, it’s just sort of disorienting seeing the house so undone. It’s weird to walk into empty rooms that I’m used to seeing full of furniture and things. It’s weird to open closets or cabinets that have always been packed with stuff, or to be unable to locate a tube of toothpaste. Not sad, just…odd.

I don’t think I’ll miss this house—the actual bricks and mortar structure of it, that is. Like so many other similar houses in this area, it was built in the 90s in that strangely conservative style that I’ll never totally understand the mass appeal of (I think it was described by the builder as “French Colonial”). As we were the first occupants, the house was a blank canvas when we moved in—nothing to fix or undo. As I slowly understand more and more of the unique challenges that old houses present, I’ll admit that there’s something sort of nice about that——a complete set of double-glazed windows, modern electrical and heating systems, walls that can be simply painted without being entirely reconstructed first, that sort of thing——but I still can’t say it’s something I’d choose for myself.

Still, I’m thankful for this house. There isn’t really anything I can say that’s more cliché than this, but I’m thankful for the memories my family made here. I’m thankful for the bedroom that my parents let me fill with whatever would fit (unless it was a TV). I’m thankful for the backyard where we buried deceased pets, and for the long summers that I spent gardening carefully around their graves. I’m thankful that this was a place where we were encouraged to become the sorts of people we wanted to become, and I’m thankful that this was a place where we could comfortably, safely, and confidently bring home the people we love.

My parents are headed to a cool, super modern new condo right in the heart of Washington, DC, and I’m so excited for them. They’ve lived in this area for about 30 years at this point, but they’ve never actually lived in the city, and I think it’ll be a great change for them. So I’m thankful for that, too. I’m thankful that they have the good sense to move on, downsize, and let somebody else enjoy this place now. It’s time.


I’m thankful for so much this year that I guess I should just say that I’m thankful that I have too many things to be thankful for to list them here. If you’re reading this post, though, you’re on that list! Thank you for being here, and I hope you have a terrific Thanksgiving (and if you’re not in the States, I hope you just have a great day!).


ALSO——judging from the oodles of entries to the giveaway, I guess I’m not alone in loving Ferm Living Shop! Even though there could only be one winner (congratulations, Shauna!), we can all enjoy this handy discount code. Yay!

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. 11.28.13
    Phoebe said:

    When I was in college, my parents ended up moving to another house, which is actually bigger than the one I grew up in. Why they didn’t have the sense to downsize like your parents, I don’t know. They never use the 2nd floor because my brother and I no longer live in the state. I am happy, though, that a nice family is currently enjoying the house I grew up in. Have a great Thanksgiving, Daniel!

  2. 11.28.13
    JJB said:

    Daniel, I’m thankful for you and your outstanding blog.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    • 11.29.13
      Gillianne said:

      Ditto! You brighten a lot of days with this blog. How wonderful for you all that your parents allowed you to be yourselves and to bring loved ones home to meet the clan with confidence. Wise people. (I lived in and around DC for decades, and it was grand, but I’m happy to be settled in low-key and all-around cozier environs in New England now.)

  3. 11.28.13
    Nancy50 said:

    I live in one of those houses too – built in 1987 – but I’m guessing across the river from where you grew up. We are collecting rooms that we never use – oldest son lives in Chicago now and the guest room that my parents always stayed in is not needed anymore :'( – but we still have one son to get off to college so I guess we’ll stay put for a bit. Hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

  4. 11.28.13

    The people are what makes the house a home. When the people move, you just get to create memories in a new home.

  5. 11.28.13

    I’m not in the states but sometimes wish I was because the holidays are so much BIGGER in the states. :) Happy Thanksgiving and much love and happiness to you, Max, the pooches and all your families thru the holidays.

  6. 11.28.13
    Mari said:

    Happy thanksgiving lads!
    And congrats Shauna, you lucky lucky girl!

  7. 11.28.13
    Robin said:

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and I enjoyed this post because we live in the area, too and we sold our house and we are downsizing, too! We opted not to host a big gathering this year which was AMAZING. Our kids went off to spend time with their significant others’ families and we went to Mortons for a steak dinner. I am telling you – I am so relaxed which is a miracle in the midst of this big change. Odd indeed. I am so ready to get into our new modern condo and let another family enjoy this (c. 1987) home!
    I love your blog all year round!

    • 11.29.13
      nancy50 said:

      Morton’s Steakhouse for Thanksgiving sounds heavenly!

  8. 11.28.13

    The other day I saw Kingston on TV and was like “hey! Daniel lives there!”. My family looked at me inquisitively and asked who that was. Sheepishly I told them about your blog. To them, it sounded like I knew you in person…and I guess that’s a testament to your writing. This post was beautifully written. All your posts are beautifully written. You have a way with words, sir.

    I was going to shoot you a fan email today, but I guess I’ll just put it up on your wall instead. This year has been kind of weird for me…but through it all, I’ve been thankful for your writing and creativity. You’re kind of the blogger (and general human being) that I’d like to be. Happy Thanksgiving to you, Max, your furry kids, and everyone else in your world.


    • 12.2.13
      Daniel said:

      Aw, well shucks, Stephen! Much too kind. This year has been super weird for me, too——in good ways and bad——and even though I am SO FAR from having it all figured out (or even some of it figured out), I’m so appreciative of the people who stop in and enjoy this blog, and even more so of the people who take the time to say so. I’ve really, truly appreciated your kind comments over the past several months, and I hope things settle down (for ALL of us!) soon!! Hope your Thanksgiving was great. xo

    • 12.7.13

      Hopefully the good has outweighed the bad for you. Mine is roughly 50/50, but I’ve been hanging in there with the belief that people who have it all figured out are often boring (…don’t tell me if you disagree, I cling to this hope!! haha).
      But thanks, Daniel :) You’re a nice dude.

  9. 11.28.13
    Sheryl McEwan said:

    I am a friend of your mom’s and I just wanted to tell you how inspiring your blog is to me. I am now looking at a 102 year old farm house to buy and just praying that I have the strength to tackle the jobs I know will need to be done……and not put too much money into this huge money pit. Wish I had a friend to do this project with me. ANY TAKERS?? Laborers needed…beer supplied.

    • 12.2.13
      Daniel said:

      That’s so exciting, Sheryl! I don’t know if you have any history with renovating old houses (I didn’t until a few months ago!), but I CAN say that the learning curve is incredibly steep but very gratifying. I don’t think I can be of much help on the labor front, but if you want to chat or have questions, you know where to find me!

      (also, the blogging thing really helps! If you end up buying it, you should start one!!)

  10. 11.28.13
    LD said:

    Happy Thanksgiving!!! I feel like a stalker, I so look forward to your updates. Congrats to Mom and Dad on downsizing. We will be there sooner than we think but the kids always come home!!! I think we make the house almost too welcoming because they always come back.

  11. 11.29.13
    gardenbre said:

    happy thanksgiving daniel and max + mekko & linus. my parents are downsizing next month and I haven’t had real feelings about the house being sold either and I was glad about that. we had our thanksgiving in october but have family in the states celebrating today too. thanks for another lovely post :)

  12. 11.29.13
    cebec said:

    My parents have just done the same thing (albeit in Australia) – moving from our family home of 25yrs into the city for the first time and it has been a total revelation for us too. I had exactly the same feeling, a weird absence of sentimentality about the house itself, mainly because I knew everything I like most about going home would move to the new house. I hope your parents love the city just as much as my parents are loving their new place!

    • 12.2.13
      Daniel said:

      Exactly! Glad I’m not alone. I actually think it’ll be way MORE fun to go “home” to their new place…I think they’ll be happier and less stressed, and we’ll be able to walk out the door and actually DO STUFF since they’ll be in such a lively neighborhood, which is a far cry from our quiet suburban street. I’m glad to hear that your parents have been happy with the move——I know my mom is keeping tabs on these comments (hi mom!), and I think yours is probably a big comfort to her!

  13. 11.29.13
    Thel said:

    Daniel, thanks for being you!

    Gratitude really is the key to life, because it means you can be grateful for what you have – and what you had – and if you are, then you don’t have regrets about moving on and dealing with change, and you can focus on the present and what you have now.

  14. 11.29.13
    Jack said:

    Architectural good taste must run in your blood Daniel.

  15. 11.29.13
    susan said:

    When my parents sold their house, the one my brother and I grew up in, they were concerned we’d be upset. Naw. We told them, home for us was always going to be where they were, not the house itself.

  16. 11.29.13
    emelie said:

    Happy Thanksgiving, Daniel and Max!

    Here we’re about to celebrate the 1st (Sunday) of Advent, with lit candles and Advent stars in everyone’s windows… Ginger snaps, saffron buns and glögg – google it and you’ll know!

    On the subject of moving houses…having recently moved from one of the southernmost countries – Australia – to one of the northernmost countries – Sweden… I was certain I had something really meaningful to share… However – how’s Mekko? That’s all I would like to know!

    Oh dear – just noticed – something went wrong. Please delete the previous, weird half message..!

    • 12.2.13
      Daniel said:

      Ha! Mekko is just fine!! Crazy, like always, but fine. Clearly it’s been too long since the dogs made a cameo…

      (Australia to Sweden!! It’s like you’re living my fantasies? LOVE them both. Hope Sweden is treating you well!!)

  17. 11.29.13

    DC has some great areas, wonderful that your parents will be taking advantage of what downtown has to offer.

    We’re also thankful for your old home dedication and desire to restore.

  18. 11.30.13
    ileana said:

    A lovely post. I really enjoyed the writing and photos and it brightened my afternoon. Thank you for your inspiration.

  19. 11.30.13
    Claudia said:

    Happy Thanksgiving from a Virginian! My grandfather lived in McLean for ages in an old farm house that a subdivision was built around. I miss that kooky house and all its weirdnesses. I love DC (I’m from Richmond and my mother STILL lives in the house I grew up in) and hope your parents enjoying living in the middle of so much energy and life. DC is such a great city.

    • 12.2.13
      Daniel said:

      Thank you, Claudia! I’m so curious about where your grandfather’s house was!! It wasn’t Evan’s Farm, was it?

    • 12.5.13
      Claudia said:

      Don’t think so. He lived on Southridge Drive. The house was on a rise with a steep driveway and the original front door became the back yard and wasn’t ever used when I was little. All the other houses around it are typical ’60’s split-levels. His was a white clapboard house built long before that. It’s impossible to see via Google maps (I’ve tried) because bushes/trees block the view.

    • 12.5.13
      Claudia said:

      I can’t help myself – I looked it up in the assessment database. Built originally in 1920. All the other houses were built in 1962. If you’re ever up that way, go to 6934 Southridge Drive off Great Falls st. :)

  20. 12.3.13
    Kasia said:


    I’m not sure how I stumbled upon your amazing blog last year, but I’m glad I did. I ENJOY reading your entries. You know when you read blogs of other ppl that you like, and then you keep reading and it’s the same shit rehashed every few days just in a different format, it gets tiring and annoying and then you stop liking the blog? Well, not yours. You also have a gift of writing. I’ve certainly enjoyed seeing your home progress as well. Keep up the good work!


    • 12.3.13
      Daniel said:

      Well gosh, thank you Kasia! And welcome! :)

  21. 12.4.13
    oh Holland said:

    My heart does a little flutter when I check into ManNest and see a new post. Thank you Daniel for those happy bursts.

    {Switching gears} The top photos in this blog post made me think of your emerging little black and gold room:

  22. 12.4.13
    threadbndr said:

    Glad you guys had a happy turkey day. (Glad you decided to put off hosting this year; doing a big meal in the middle of a construction zone is the PITS – W and I made that mistake the year we bought our house and it was …… not good. When your new FIL gets brained by a piece of falling paneling, it’s VERY not good.)

    I was wondering, though, what’s the word on the guttering/roof situation?

    And I’m going to spend next weekend reconfiguring my kitchen cabinets to make room for a dishwasher. I’m eyeing the floor and some of those tiles you used in the Kingston kitchen…… We’ll see.

  23. 12.4.13
    jenny said:

    “I’m thankful that this was a place where we could comfortably, safely, and confidently bring home the people we love.”

    beautiful + well said! cheers to you.

  24. 12.4.13

    First, your kitchen is fucking amazing and if you weren’t so far away I would try to convince you to marry me and we would buy old crappy houses together and make them glorious again. Not trying to push out Max, but what’s not to want about a 31 year old woman with four kids and a handy husband?!? :)

    So anywho, I am painting my cabinets with the same paint you used on your kitchen cabinets and I have painted a sample spot to make sure it’s the shit. It looks friggin amazing and I can’t wait to finish. But, I was wondering how long it took your paint to completely cure and harden. I painted a dresser with the paint and it’s still a little tacky. It’s been at least a week since I painted the dresser….

    Love your blog and all of your pottymouthedness. I honestly just look at some pics on peoples’ blogs. Yours is the only one I read all of the writing as also!

    • 12.6.13
      Daniel said:

      Thank you!!

      I’d say it took the paint a couple of weeks to FULLY cure on the cabinets…latex paint generally only takes a few hours to dry but I think that’s about how long it takes to really harden up and be able to withstand dings and wear without scratching/peeling. DEFINITELY best to use a good primer beforehand, though. I like the BIN products and have found both latex, oil, and shellac-based to be great depending on the application. Hope that helps a bit?

  25. 12.5.13
    karen said:

    My parents did the big move about a year ago…I was actually a little sad about saying goodbye to the house I grew up in, but as I’m nearly 40, it was definitely time for them to downsize. They’re in a brand new house with very little upkeep – much better suited to their life and they are LOVING it. I wish the same for your parents!

    Hope things are ok on the roof/gutters front. Looking forward to an update!

  26. 12.9.13

    I also grew up in NoVA, and my parents still have the same house (near Dulles Airport), but only live in it half time; they winter down in South Carolina. While there is something comforting about knowing my old bedroom is still set up and waiting, I actually look forward to the day they decide to sell the house and live full-time in their cozy beach cottage. I hate that they spend so much time traveling on busy highways just to maintain a house that has outgrown them.

    Best of luck to your parents on moving to DC! I wish I could afford to do the same, but living a few miles away in Old Town Alexandria is almost as good.

    • 12.9.13
      Daniel said:

      Thanks, Carrie! I love Old Town!! I’d prefer to live there than where my parents are moving, honestly, but I think being in DC will be a really good change for them. Old Town is so charming, though.

  27. 12.9.13
    Jo said:

    So happy you have heat :)

  28. 12.17.13
    Michelle said:

    I discovered your blog earlier this year and have enjoyed reading it. You have a great “voice” and it sounds like you are just sitting down and talking to your readers, love it.

    Please visit DC often, come say Hi, are your parents living in one of the new developments downtown maybe (City Center)?
    Michelle (in Bloomingdale in DC)

    • 12.18.13
      Daniel said:

      Thank you, Michelle! And welcome!

      My parents are moving to City Center, yes! Their condo is still under construction but they’re renting one of the completed units right now. I hear it’s going to be very cool!