The First Floor of Bluestone Cottage

I don’t really think of myself as a criminal—maybe the odd speeding ticket now and then, that one time run-in with the police in a national park when I was a teenager, that other time run-in with the police in Washington Square Park as a freshman in college—but all things considered, I’d say my record is pretty clean. That is until a couple of days ago, when I found out I am a habitual trespasser. I put it in the present tense because I have both been trespassing for over a month and, apparently, will continue to trespass.

Evidently, once a house is classified as condemned by the city, entering the premises becomes illegal. This makes a lot of sense, I guess, but I guess I never really thought about it too hard. I especially never really thought about it too hard when the person entering the property also happens to be the owner, which is the funny position I find myself in now. That’s right: I am not technically allowed to enter the cottage, despite the fact that it’s in my name. I’ve been assured that the condemnation can be lifted as soon as the building permit is approved (hopefully today or early next week), but until then, I’ll be routinely breaking the law.

Don’t tell anyone.

The first time I trespassed, allegedly, was the day I set up an appointment to walk through the house with the listing agent. It was a Thursday. We were supposed to meet at the house at 2. I stood around outside until about 2:10, at which point I gave him a call. He picked up. He sounded sleepy.

“Oh yeah,” he told me, “so, the house is condemned. It’s really in bad shape. Feel free to just walk through it, and call me back later if you’re still interested, but it didn’t really seem worth it for me to come over since there isn’t really that much to see.”

“So, you’re not coming? At all?”

“No, no, that’s right, I’m not. Sorry to have misled you. It just doesn’t seem worth it.”

“OK, this is off to a good start. Is there a way for me to get inside?” I guess I expected a hide-a-key.

“Oh, yeah, so if you go up to the front door, and just push on it, you can walk in.”

“So, the door is wide open?”

“Well, there’s a door, but the lock doesn’t work. So yeah, take a walk around, feel free to call me later if you’re still interested.”

It later turned out he lived in California. He was in California. No shit he wasn’t coming. He was in California. Long story. Not worth it.

So that’s pretty much how the first viewing went. Me and Max, walking through this empty vacant condemned house, which was wide open to anyone who decided to walk up to the door and come up with the novel idea of pushing on it. Cool.

To my credit, I was more or less cool with this. To Max’s credit, he was scared shitless and just wanted to leave the whole time. Yin, meet yang.

So this is what we saw on the first floor.


When you walk through the front door, you’re inside this funny little room with the weird cutout niches in the wall. We’ll call it the niche room. It’s a weird space—the whole interior of the house is a little over 15 feet wide, and this room is only 8 feet deep. Everything was apparently carpeted at some point (the tack strips are all still in the floor). The floor is in really rough shape, but hopefully nothing some refinishing can’t take care of! I think they’re fir, but it’s sort of hard to tell.


Here’s the other side of the room. The baseboard radiators have been removed from both this side of the room and the side facing the front, leaving only the aluminum part that mounts to the baseboard that the cover attaches to. It’s OK—it’ll all get scrapped and a brand new heat system will take the place of this mostly-missing one.

That sliver on the right of this photo is the last of those casement windows in the front! There are three large windows that open out to the front yard, which is going to be so nice someday! They let a ton of light in, which is great since the key to making this house feel bright is mostly going to be the light that comes in from the front and the back.

You might be wondering why there are so many enormous holes in the wall? I might be wondering the same thing? I really don’t know. Apparently the previous tenants just totally trashed the house (and then, once evicted, trashed it more and stole half the copper), but to me that doesn’t totally explain the holes? Was it just”¦fun to be kicking huge holes in the wall?

The holes honestly make things a little easier, since I could see more what was going on during the walk-through. That’s the exterior sheathing you’re seeing beyond the drywall, and outside of that is the clapboard, meaning there is ZERO insulation in this place. It’s also helpful to see so much of the sheathing, since it’s actually in very good shape and doesn’t show signs of water/insect damage. Anyway, all of the drywall (walls & ceiling) are going to get demo’d out and replaced. There’s really no sense in salvaging what’s here, and having everything open will make running new electric and plumbing soooooo much faster and easer. I’m a jerk about saving original plaster walls whenever possible, but I don’t think there are even any left in this house. Drywall is no big deal to tear out, so I’m hoping for a pretty fast demo.


Past the niche room, there’s another room. We’ll call it the garbage room. Same sort of deal: it spans the whole width of the house, but this one is about 11.5 feet deep. My big plan is to remove the wall between the rooms (it’s not load-bearing), which will create the new living room. Since that will leave a very large room (sort of too large for this house, in my opinion), I think that should give me enough space to comfortably carve out space for laundry, a little closet space (there’s very little storage space in the house), and a half-bath. I’m still playing around with schemes to make all of this work in a way that makes sense and doesn’t feel awkward. I have a little bit of time before I really dive into the interior to figure it out.


As the name implies, this room has a lot of garbage in it. Evidently people were throwing trash through the broken window. Whilst in the thick of having mono at the beginning of the month, I stupidly took myself over to the house, boarded up this window, cleaned up all the trash, and then felt like I was going to die and took myself home and slept for four hours. Mono really threw a kink in the beginning of this renovation, but what are you going to do? Sometimes the timing is bad, and sometimes the timing is really bad.

The major ceiling sag situation above the window is right below the downstairs bathroom, so I’m sure there was some impressive leaking happening there to cause that. I’m hoping the damage is mostly cosmetic and won’t have affected anything structurally, but it’s one of those things where I sort of need to hope for the best and expect the worst. Even the worst shouldn’t be such a big deal”¦might just have to sister in a couple new joists or something.


Here’s the other side of the room! More destruction! I guess whoever removed a bunch of the copper pipes also decided to stack all of the baseboard radiator covers here, which is sort of considerate. It makes my scrapyard run slightly easier, maybe?

You might be noticing by now that the ceilings seem awfully lowwww. That’s because they are! When I first looked through the windows of this place I assumed the ceilings had been dropped at some point, but nope! They’re about 7.5 feet high, which somehow sort of works in this house, in a weird way. I swear, it’ll really just feel quaint and adorable and not like a basement when all is said and done. BELIEVE ME. I can work those low ceilings. I actually like them here.


Moving right along”¦the dining room!

I love this room. Seriously love it. Look how cute those tiny casement windows are. They are SO cute. The cutest, you could even say.

Like, so, so cute.


Oh, and did you notice? TIN CEILING. In a house that’s had a lot of original detail stripped over the years, I love seeing this ceiling in here. The pattern is so pretty, and it has this nice egg-and-dart detail around the perimeter. Who wouldn’t want that in their fancy dining room? Aside from the peeling paint, it’s in really good condition and should restore nicely.


My favorite part of the dining room, though, is the staircase! It’s SUCH a cute staircase. Yes, there is carpeting clinging to the first couple of risers. Yes, it is very filthy and gross right now. BUT! The rest of that curved bottom step is hanging around somewhere, so I’ll put that back, and then there will only be about 8,000 other things to do to make it so nice! With some paint and refinishing, it’s going to look like a million bucks.

But seriously, the newel post is super cute and the square spindles are super cute and that casement window is so cute and everything about it basically is very cute except the obvious filth and not-cuteness. You’ll see. You’ll see.


Oh, there’s the missing tread! On the floor in the bottom of this picture. Told you it was somewhere.

The dining room is currently pretty open to the kitchen, which I guess is nice? It sort of seems like half-wall was an attempt to do a bar area, but not executed super well”¦I’m not honestly sure what will happen with that yet. I’m also not very confident that the openings are going to be properly framed, since this wall is definitely load-bearing and that looks like a very not-pro renovation job. But we’ll see when we open it up.

Oh! And there’s a brick chimney behind that pillar thing. I’m not one of those people who always thinks exposing brick is a good plan, but I think it might be nice in this house! Bring in a little character and stuff.


OK, so, the kitchen! Things, uh, don’t improve much in the kitchen. The kitchen is pretty bad.

BUT. The kitchen is about 9 x 15, which is a great size (especially when you think about the size of the house!), and the layout kind of makes itself what with those two sweet casement windows almost-symmetrically placed with space for a stove right in the middle, am I right? This could be SUCH a good kitchen. I’m really a fan of this kitchen. Also, I still have my old kitchen fridge, so that’ll probably go in here (there’s nothing wrong with it), and the cast iron sink we took out of the upstairs kitchen, which is REALLY adorable and will look so cute and save some money, besides.

So basically the kitchen renovation is free is what I’m saying.

It’s so weird looking at these pictures”¦for some reason I just sort of never noticed how there are like a million paint colors happening in this house? It’s probably the intense smell of animal urine distracting me when I’m actually in it. Anyway, I sort of dig the color of that baseboard. Just saying.


It’s *possible* that there’s been a grapevine growing through this window for a while, allowing some moisture to get into this corner of the kitchen. Maybe. Hard to say.


On the opposite side of the kitchen is an exterior door and another window. The door is missing a mullion and is really damaged”¦I’m not sure if it’ll be salvageable or easier/better to just find a suitable replacement.


The most upsetting part of the kitchen is the basement access, which is literally a large hole in the floor. When not in use it can be covered by a large, heavy piece of plywood with 2x4s screwed into the bottom. Yikes. Horrors. I think it’s like this because the kitchen is an addition, so originally this stairwell would have been right outside the back of the house.

Honestly, if this were to all get redone, a clever trap door situation might be kind of cool, but unfortunately there’s no way for it to pass building inspection without a banister built around the opening, and that would effectively eat up about half of the kitchen. So that’s not going to work. The plan right now is to install new basement stairs that will run underneath the existing stairwell, and seal this over completely.

I’ll spare you a tour of the basement.

Sooooo, actually looking at and writing about these photos is making me feel mildly insane about this whole thing, just FYI. Like I’m still sane because I do have the wherewithal to look at these photos and feel crazy. That’s how it works, right?

But hear me out: believe it or not, there’s something almost easier about this house than my own house. First of all, it’s smaller, but there’s also less to try to save and restore. All of the walls can come out, which makes new electrical and plumbing fairly easy to run (electricians and plumbers generally bill time + materials, and nothing is a bigger time-suck than trying to fish things through finished plaster walls), then everything can be insulated and put back together. And because this house is so modest and quaint, it sort of demands a sweet and simple renovation—nothing flashy or too fancy materials-wise, which definitely helps keep costs down.


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. 9.26.14
    Jack said:

    Looks great, I’d add some more niches to the niche room and paint it a grosser blue, but otherwise keep as is right?

    • 9.26.14
      april said:

      Hilarious! :)

    • 9.26.14
      Daniel said:

      Good plan!

    • 10.1.14
      Kelly in MA said:

      I’m showing my geek here but my first thought after I read your comment was to paint it tardis blue. It s one of those little houses that is bigger on the inside…

  2. 9.26.14
    Niki said:

    …wow. The before & after comparison of this place is going to be intense.

  3. 9.26.14
    april said:

    That kitchen is going to be the best, sweetest, coziest kitchen EVER! Has a very English house vibe to it. I know the trend nowadays is open concept everything but I HATE open kitchens-I want to keep my kitchen doings to myself, thanks, plus where else can I hide from guests and children? I love it, love this house, love this whole project.

    • 9.26.14
      Britt said:


    • 9.26.14
      Daniel said:

      I sort of agree! I think open concept works in the right houses/spaces, but not in old houses. I feel like the trendy thing to do would be to keep that half-wall and make it a bar you can sit at, but I’m sort of inclined to just close it up! I might have to get more of a feel for the space when it’s a little more gutted and the other wall in the front is out.

    • 9.27.14
      Cate said:

      I so agree!

    • 9.27.14
      Lucas said:

      Daniel: So excited to follow along with this. I think the scale of that kitchen is perfect and would totally advocate for closing the trendy “pass through”. Below is a link to an airbnb listing with a similar (smaller, squarer) kitchen that integrates a casual eating area/hang out zone. I think this could really work in your space. Also, fewer cabinets = fewer costs. This is my friend’s place and I just told him about your blog and he’s hooked!

    • 9.30.14
      Christine said:

      The last house we rented was this weird mash-up of an early 1900s cottage with a midcentury addition on front. The kitchen was original to the house and had a very similar set up with a pass-through window, but cabinetry in the dining/living room had been built in around it (and in the kitchen) and it had open shelves instead of just a big hole. It was a nice way to have the kitchen sort of open but not because of the shelves being in use.

      Generally it was useful for watching babies and/or dogs while I cooked.

  4. 9.26.14
    Samma said:

    It’s crazy with potential! Love the tin ceiling so much, and you’ll have a great time with it. I’m seeing stained glass in that staircase window? Did you already say what the approx square footage is? So excited to see this come together!

    • 9.26.14
      Daniel said:

      Nope, no stained glass! A lot of broken glass”¦and maybe glass with stains”¦but no stained glass. :)

      The house is 1,328 square feet!

  5. 9.26.14
    K said:

    It’s going to be AMAZING. Can’t wait!

  6. 9.26.14
    Martha said:

    Yup, you’ve got this. I love the the tin ceiling, did you see what the Pioneer Woman did to her tin ceilings in the Building with the stripping and everything? SWOON. The kitchen is lovely, I can just imagine a family there with children running in and out of the back garden. It is a nice size for the house, our bigger farmhouse doesn’t even have a kitchen that big!

    • 9.26.14
      Daniel said:

      Wow, I’m googling around for it now! I haven’t found a post of the tiles back up in place, but the ones from right after they were powder coated are amazing! It’s good to know that they can be taken down without damage”¦I had visions of trying to remove the ceiling and just tearing the panels in half! It would be so much easier to deal with stripping with them down, and give the opportunity to run new electrical. Hmmm. Hmmmmmmmm.

    • 9.27.14
      Cate said:

      Hmmmm ours seem brittle and break easily but maybe we are doing it wrong. Electricians had zero problem running wires w out disturbing the tin. You have to get it right the first time though because there is no closing up a hole once it’s there. We do have one off center fixture that was there before us . I am thinking we will put in a hanging light on a cord and swag it with a hook through the beam that is in the way so the fixture will be centered .

  7. 9.26.14
    Susan said:

    Omg, “intense smell of animal urine.” You are 100% insane, not mildly, and I can’t wait to see how incredible this place looks when you’re done.

  8. 9.26.14

    Wow, wow, wow! Well I know it looks like a deathtrap, but I think it is going to be wonderful. It has gorgeous light, and with its great bones and your instinctive style I think it will end up looking very warm and homey. Don’t go crazy (someone has clearly already done that for you). You’ll renovate this house and it will be AWESOME.

  9. 9.26.14
    Tricia said:

    This is one of those posts that makes me wish Max had a blog where he shared his perspective on things. :)

    So many posts this week!!!! Love it!

    • 9.26.14
      Judy said:

      Tricia, what a great idea. I’m always guessing what Max is thinking, does he like or not like, is he good with Daniel’s decisions? Would be fun to hear his opinions.

    • 9.26.14
      Kate F said:

      And here’s where we pour one out for the sadly dormant Max! Come back to us!

    • 9.26.14
      Daniel said:

      Ha! Well, he does write for a blog—Design*Sponge—so maybe he’ll get into it there at some point!

      Speaking for him, I’ll say that he’s supportive of the whole endeavor, but also wants nothing do with with it. This is Daniel’s Project, and that’s OK. He’s not really into the renovation stuff at all, in this house or our own. Maybe it’s better that way. :)

  10. 9.26.14
    Danielle said:

    You’ll do great! I’m so excited for what you’ll bring to this home!

  11. 9.26.14
    Courtney said:

    I am loving your blog!! I can see how this house will look amazing when you are done with it. : )
    Looking forward to the journey!

  12. 9.26.14
    Anne said:

    I’m sure it’ll be adorable when it’s done!

    So, I follow your Instagram account and saw a photo of the porch entry being ripped apart. What’s the story there?

    • 9.26.14
      Daniel said:

      Oof, well, replacing the front door turned into replacing the entire framing around the door and the sidelights, since none of it was framed in properly to begin with. Not a huge deal, really, but pretty intense looking! I’ll get into all of it next week, promise!

  13. 9.26.14
    Jen said:

    Your secret is safe with me! hehe

    I’ll have to conjure up these images of the cottage next time I’m feeling overwhelmed about my own house and imagining how it’s all going to crumble to the ground if I don’t refurbish everything stat.

    I’m weird, but I always feel like homes (especially old homes) are like living things that deserve love and care…probably because of the love and care that went into them when they were built. I’m so thrilled to know this house will be getting the attention it deserves.

  14. 9.26.14
    Erin L said:

    I squealed over those ceiling tiles when I saw your initial post about this house. I live in a rental, I hate the popcorn ceilings downstairs, and I wish there were a reversible way to put up ceiling tiles like that without the landlady ever finding out, and then just removing them and taking them with me when I left. I don’t know why more houses here in Dallas don’t have awesome ceiling tiles.

  15. 9.26.14
    Erin L said:

    Aaand I must be barely awake and just scrolled back up and saw that it is actually a tin ceiling. I’m already considering a faux backsplash from Lowes to go over the one in the rental where I live. Has anyone ever heard of a faux ceiling?

  16. 9.26.14
    Rachel said:

    “Oh, yeah, so if you go up to the front door, and just push on it, you can walk in.”

    hahahaha best quote ever.

    You are 100% insane and I’m SO excited about it!!! Also, low ceilings are totally cottage-appropriate. It’s going to be SO cozy and adorable.

  17. 9.26.14
    Tia said:

    Can’t wait to see this house start to come together. There are some great bones in there! It’s going to be super super cute when you’re done.

  18. 9.26.14
    Bostonian said:

    Only you can look at this and see beauty:)

  19. 9.26.14
    Fiona said:

    I’m waivering between very gutsy and completely insane.

    We have a very scary basement in our 100 year old house. The scariness comes mostly from the totally crumbling plaster walls. We have a stone foundation. We are in the process of scrapping down all the walls to get rid of any loose plaster. We are then having foam insulation sprayed all over the walls and covered with another spray of some concrete based fire retardant. It will end up light grey and non-scary. It’s not cheap but will really help with heating costs and will help to seal up all the walls.

    Wonder would it help with resale if you were able to make the basement presentable ( at least for storage). My husband points out that it made no difference when we bought this house but some people aren’t blinding by 4 foot pocket doors and amazing old trim!

    • 10.1.14
      Daniel said:

      Wow, your basement sounds like it’s going to be NICE! My basement will never be that nice, haha. Dark and dungeon-like forever!

      The basement is really tiny (most of the house is crawlspace), but I’ll definitely clean it up and make it OK. Not really planning to spend any more money down there than absolutely necessary, but cleaning it up will help for sure.

  20. 9.26.14
    Sarah said:

    Coming out of the woodwork here (kinda like that grapevine) to say damn if I don’t love your optimism.

    Signed, a person who has been trying to finish the trim in her house for three damn years.

  21. 9.26.14
    Ashlee said:

    I’m newish to your blog & really excited to see how this will all play out! Love your writing style. And your style, in general. Thanks for taking us along!

  22. 9.26.14
    Kristen said:

    This place is going to be great! It will be easier, I agree, for the simple reason that you will not be living there while trying to renovate at the same time. Bring on the demo!

  23. 9.26.14
    andee said:

    I am so crazy excited about this project!!! It is going to be incredible when you are done! Our first house had a basement access like that… in the bathroom. There were no stairs either, just a ladder. Creepy!! But it is a good memory now.

  24. 9.26.14
    Sara said:

    I’m so excited to see what you do with this house!! The kitchen area has so much potential and that tin ceiling is going to be amazing. I can really picture the whole place just being so adorable and cozy. That basement though… that’s some scary stuff! ha ha! You are brave!

  25. 9.26.14
    karen said:

    Yes, you are crazy and it’s going to be fun to watch!

    Like someone else mentioned, I would LOVE to hear Max’s version of the first walk through y’all did. I can only imagine what was going through his head. It probably went something along the lines of “NOPE.”

    • 9.26.14
      Dusa said: too. Nope..nope..nope…all the nopes.
      It’s gonna be a piece of cake, dude. You got this!

    • 9.26.14
      Judy said:

      My thinking was that very likely Max’s comment was in that vein: “Nope” :[

      Will we ever know?

  26. 9.26.14
    Molly said:

    OMG! Do you wish you could just take a hose to everything? That’s what I immediately wanted to do when I saw these pictures. :) I am SO excited to see what you do, though. I love this!

    • 9.26.14
      Joanne said:

      My initial thought was too bad you can’t power wash the interior! That being said, I know it will be just beautiful when completed!

  27. 9.26.14
    Mtlmaison said:

    Oh my god. Thank you so much for posting these photos…you have saved me hundreds of thousands of dollars! After seeing the adorable exterior photos, I emailed my boyfriend and was all, “Why don’t we just buy a run-down house in Kingston and renovate it?! It’s so cute/cheap/manageable/fun/quick.”

    This reality is intense, but I can’t wait to see what you do with it. Best blog ever.

    • 9.26.14
      Daniel said:

      Hundreds of thousands—bite your tongue!! If this house costs that much, well, I’m in trouble!

  28. 9.26.14
    Christiane said:

    Holy crap, that’s a lot of work! But it will be amazing.
    My parents bought a house and property in similar shape and everyone thaught they were insane. But the house is beautyful today and the garden is amazing and it all was more than worth it. I’m looking so forward to read about your project!

  29. 9.26.14

    You’re a madman and I don’t know how you’re going to stay sane between this and your own home and your apartment and your dogs and Max.
    But I’m loving every word of it.
    You’re making me insanely jealous but I think I’m getting close to convincing my husband that we need to move to Kingston and nurse a sad old home back to health too.
    There’s the pesky business of needing jobs, but who cares?

  30. 9.26.14
    Marlena said:

    Speechless. Can’t wait to follow along!

  31. 9.26.14
    Charell said:

    The tin ceiling is really your saving grace at least as far as this tour goes. When I stare at that photo long enough, I can imagine a beautiful cottage, but then I scroll down to the kitchen basement hole and I weep. I can’t wait to see your progress.

    • 9.26.14
      Daniel said:

      I kind of do the same thing, Charell!

  32. 9.26.14
    Lisa said:

    I can TOTALLY see cuteness here. Funny, the house presents a vision so much more compelling than what’s there. Or else your words do.

    That said, until you start with the cute, you could perhaps make a few extra bucks by renting the place out as a location for television? Criminal Minds maybe? You might have to put the garbage back. Oh, snap, no, the prop guys will bring some fake stuff:).

  33. 9.26.14
    Sarah said:

    I’ve never doubted you in all my years reading this blog. I’m so excited to see the finished product (and learn a lot from your process)! That being said, I’m on Team Max. I am way too much of a fraidy cat to tour a house that is clearly haunted and/or Jason’s summer home. Just the photo of those basement stairs gives me the willies! You are truly fearless. And buying a house from that guy is just a testament to that. It’s going to turn out gorgeous.

    • 9.26.14
      Daniel said:

      Yeah, admittedly, figuring out that the huge piece of plywood on the kitchen floor was the basement entrance, and then opening it, and then going down there with just my iPhone flashlight was”¦super scary. But you gotta check that electrical! :)

  34. 9.26.14
    gretaclark said:

    I love this cute little thing. Really want the best for her. I think that she will get it!

  35. 9.26.14
    Trish said:

    That is the basement from the Blair Witch Project. I bet Max didn’t go in the basement. Other than that horror, though, I see the potential and I’m so excited to see how you transform the place!

    • 9.26.14
      Sherry said:

      Haha YES! I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought “horror movie” when I saw it. It’s cool, but in a creepy kind of way.

    • 9.26.14
      Daniel said:

      Max DEFINITELY did not go in the basement! I sort of don’t think he’ll ever go in the basement.

  36. 9.26.14
    Jennifer S. said:

    That staircase will look awesome when you’re done with it! I think the whole house will, but especially those stairs. But that basement, man! Scary! There is no way in hell I could have forced myself to go down there.

  37. 9.26.14
    threadbndr said:

    There’s an abandoned house that I drive by on my home every day that I totally would love to rehab. Maybe when I retire, I’ll take on a project like this because there’s nothing better than bringing a house back to life.

    Looking forward to seeing what’s up those stairs LOL.

  38. 9.26.14
    VBVB said:

    Love it. That basement is going to give me nightmares, though!

  39. 9.26.14
    Jenny said:

    You’re insane. I love it!

  40. 9.26.14
    Moxie said:

    I think I just had a mild panic attack. I definitely saw the picture of the basement stairs and said out loud, “Do not go down there.” All of that aside, I absolutely can’t wait to see what you do with it. Because seriously, that tin ceiling! I’ve always wanted one. They are so cool looking. It’s going to be all around adorable when you’re done with it.

  41. 9.26.14
    Amanda said:

    My bf renovates houses, and they’ve all had what I lovingly call “the pit of despair.” So, the fact that yours has one too means that things can only get better.

  42. 9.26.14
    nadine said:

    I think I threw up a little bit. But I have faith. Your ready for this.

  43. 9.26.14

    I don’t think you are insane @ all. Ambitious & driven, but not insane. Of course you are going to be putting LOADS of blood/sweat/tears into this house, but I agree with your initial plans for the exterior/downstairs. You will have NO PROBLEM selling if you can follow through as planned.
    I’d be foaming at the mouth to lay waste to the brush outside & secure the house from further exposure to the elements.
    I love the narrowness of the house. I spend a lot of time in Toronto, and really enjoy the narrow brick houses that are shot thru with light from front to back.
    I have low-ish ceilings on the 1st floor of my 20’s cottag-ey house in Buffalo (8+feet) and it works because of the amount of light. Cozy.
    i AM curious how you plan to get the animal pee smell out, though. That’d be the only feature that’d give me pause.
    Best of luck & keep on posting FREQUENTLY.

  44. 9.26.14
    Megan said:

    I think that this is my favorite post EVER! I love reading about the work you’re doing on your home, am excited to hear more about the new house, but mostly I just LOVE reading anything you write! You always make me laugh out loud! Love your spirit. Keep being your bad self! :)

  45. 9.26.14

    I just love sensing a kindred spirit. After a couple hurricanes knocked me out of my apartment(s), there was nothing available in my area. I finally found a place in the midst of renovation, and it was pretty scary itself. I couldn’t understand why everyone I brought to see it thought I was crazy! But I could SEE it, ya know?

    I’m out of that place and into an old house in the same neighborhood that needed much less work, but I still think it’s funny because people comment on that part of my personality a lot. “You can just SEE it.” Yeah, I can. I can look past all sorts of funk (and did, when I was house hunting) and still see what a thing *can* be.

    I can’t wait to see this come together.

  46. 9.26.14
    SLG said:

    I’m really looking forward to your sweet-and-simple nothing-too-flashy choices in that kitchen. So many renovations these days are all “OMG bring on the bling!” when it comes to choosing counters, hardware, floors, etc. and that always feels forced to me. Unfussy stuff FTW.

    • 9.26.14
      Daniel said:

      Yes! In general, I really hate expensive kitchens. And usually the people who do expensive kitchens just rip them out every 10-15 years. It’s so crazy! If I ever get around to renovating the kitchen in my own house, I expect to never renovate it again. Until the day. I. Die.

    • 9.26.14
      SLG said:

      Indeed. Put in sensible stuff that lasts, then just use it to make good food and have your friends over and enjoy your life. For the rest of your life.

    • 10.1.14
      Tommy said:

      My extremely wealthy neighbors put in one of those kitchens that cost more than a college education- brazilian rosewood, mahogany, carerra marble that came with it’s own italian artisan, flown over to install it perfectly, and all that crap. 6 MONTHS later they had a feng shui expert over for dinner and he told them the kitchen was completely wrong for the chi and they ripped the whole thing out and did it again. We dumpster dove that shit so hard.

  47. 9.26.14
    Adrienne said:

    I am pretty much ready to move in. =)

  48. 9.26.14
    kim said:

    You need no more affirmations, but know that I’m gleeful with anticipation. I’m also horrified. It’s truly the best combination ever!!!

    • 9.26.14
      aimee said:

      yes! this is exactly my reaction too

  49. 9.26.14
    Paige said:

    love it! I can totally see the finished house. Can’t wait to go through this process with you :-)

  50. 9.26.14
    Meg said:

    I can’t wait to see the transformation! I’m diggin’ the grape vine that *possibly* grew into the window… Very outdoorsy-chic.

  51. 9.26.14
    Pbkmaine said:

    Perhaps Max should start a blog called “Manhattan Unrest” and give his counterpoint to your point. I am very interested in his take. Sort of like being curious to know what Laura thought of George W’s doings. At any rate, this will make for many good blog posts, and reading you is always a pleasure.

    • 9.26.14
      Daniel said:

      Manhattan Unrest! I love that!! Hahaha.

      But am I George Bush in this scenario?? Because I am NOT cool with that. :)

    • 9.28.14
      Kimberly said:

      Manhatten Unrest, love it!

  52. 9.26.14

    Wow! That’s a whole lot of work. I can’t wait to see what you do. It’s going to be great. And all those posts I get to look forward to. Cheers

  53. 9.26.14
    Danielle said:

    Go Team Bluestone Cottage! You can do it!!

  54. 9.26.14
    Meghan said:

    My reactions through this post was just “Ooooohhhh” over and over in descending tones with some “oh god, oh dear god” smattered between. I guess this is no problem for someone who overlooks the exploding man in his bathtub.


    • 10.1.14
      Daniel said:

      Well, HOPEFULLY once everything is new and the floors are sanded and cleaned with an enzyme cleaner, the smell will be gone. I don’t think it’s SO horrible that it isn’t fixable!

  55. 9.26.14
    Hilsy said:

    I love being creeped out.

    • 9.26.14
      bella said:

      I was thinking the same thing. Come on, we can handle it. =)

    • 10.1.14
      Daniel said:

      Someday! Right now it’s impossible to take photos because there’s no light!!

  56. 9.26.14
    Amy L said:

    Daniel, are you SURE that the wall between the front blue room and the garbage room is not load-bearing? From your exterior photos, the blue room is an enclosed porch and so the wall between the two rooms is essentially the front wall of the house. Even if load-bearing, that doesn’t necessarily preclude opening it up, but it would require a beam and with such low ceilings, the beam would have to be pocketed up into the ceiling, so there may be a few more challenges and expense than you realize there.

    And yes, you are insane, but I happen to share your particular flavor of insanity, so no criticism from this corner ;-)
    (I always tell folks that I only fall in love with houses that need me. ie. ones that are absolutely decrepit)

    • 9.26.14
      Ryan said:

      I was thinking the same thing about the niche room. especially since there are so many windows on the front – maybe that’s what’s up with the niches. They used to be windows and were boarded up to be awkward dust collecting shelves?

      The basement entry in the kitchen doesn’t actually scare me much. I almost bought a house that had basement access like that and it just had a large trap door over it. Perhaps NY law varies, but WA state was totally willing to sell it to me without any fancy guard rail around it. The door was structurally safe to walk over. In fact if you google “trap door basement stairs” you can see lots of well done trap door basement access examples, some where the trap door is in the middle of the kitchen. If the basement is only suitable for the heating system I’d say the effort and expense of building new stairs (and loosing potential closet space under existing staircase) isn’t worth it.

    • 10.1.14
      Daniel said:

      Thank you, guys! Nope, I’m not sure about the wall. Multiple contractors have looked at it and said it isn’t load-bearing, but I think we’ll know more when we open things up a little. If we have to put in a beam, that’s just what we’ll have to do!

      And thank you for the tip about the basement stairs! I’ll speak with the building department about what is permissible before making any final decisions. If I can leave the current set-up in place, I’d MUCH rather do that and save the money!

  57. 9.26.14
    Sara L. said:

    Ha! Fantastic post. I would have been the ‘fraidy cat along with Max, since I am apparently the only non-larcenous member of my entire family. We have a family motto, and it is “It doesn’t say ‘Absolutely’ No Trespassing!” And yes, that staircase is super cute! And disgusting! I can see you have a vision, though, which will go far. My husband and I renovated a house in Germany, and it looked similarly dispiriting when we first saw it. Like, nothing in the kitchen but some exposed plumbing and three different layers of peeling flooring. I could see it all perfectly in my head, though, and it worked out. Eventually! At least you don’t have to learn construction terms in a second language.

  58. 9.26.14
    Lisa said:

    I can’t even tell you how excited I am to watch this cottage project take shape! It’s going to be amazing. Yes, you are clearly insane… but in all the best ways. I can practically smell the house from here, but I have total faith in your ability to pull this off. Carry on, crazy man! :)

  59. 9.26.14
    Rachel said:

    Not gonna lie, the kitchen scares me. The rest of the house I’m totally behind and can even picture your renovations! But I think it’s the mix of a massive hole, gross smears on the wall, creepy vine through the window and all the water damage that has me a little scared. The tin ceiling is going to be super fab though!

  60. 9.26.14
    Leanna said:

    I love your blog so much that sometimes I want to start a fictional spin-off / parody of it. My spin-off of this post would use the same pictures, but the title would be, “And that’s when we found the body.”

    • 9.26.14
      Jeanna said:

      OMG, too funny!

    • 10.2.14
      threadbndr said:

      Nope, the body was in the big house LOL.

      I vote for pictures of the basement!

  61. 9.26.14
    aimee said:

    You are insane. But I love it, and I can see it. The staircase is lovely. The kitchen, with those windows and that light, looking out to the garden? I can really see it.

    Kitchen dungeon hole is giving me nightmares tho.

  62. 9.26.14
    Carolyn said:

    I think you might be onto something with your “possible grapevine through the window” theory. Possibly.

    I am loving the Bluestone Cottage! Can’t wait for second floor walk-through! But uhhhh kinda glad you spared us the basement. Maybe wait until there’s an “after” for comparison.

  63. 9.26.14
    Shauna said:

    If you are ripping everything out…it really won’t be that bad of a job. And you don’t have to live in the place while you do said ripping so it’ll go even easier/quicker. The place will look awesome when you’re done!

  64. 9.26.14
    Cate said:

    TIN CEILINGS. It’s all pretty scary looking, but you can tell that there are such good bones. Once you get the heating taken care of and can get drywall up, it’s going to look SO much better.

    This is definitely going to be the future home of some adorable little family that has, like, an independent mason jar-making business or something.

  65. 9.26.14
    Stef said:

    I *adore* that you are somewhat casual about the amount of work this place needs. I mean, let’s be clear, we all know it needs a shit ton of work, but you can see past The Garbage Room and Kitchen Basement Pit and imagine what this place can be. It has endless potential. I seriously considered buying an old place in Detroit before we moved to Wyoming ( and toured a few dozen places with missing plumbing, big ole’ holes in the wall like your front room, amazing details that’d been ripped out and sold to an architectural salvage place.. and somehow none of it felt very scary because its so easy to see that the potential is FAR greater than the issues. What I’m saying is, I’m super thrilled to be reading this. I had to give up on my restoration dream, so I’ll just live vicariously through you.

    Those low ceilings though, man, that’s the one drawback I see. My husband is 6’5″ and we just moved from a place with 7’3″ish ceilings and could both reach up and lay our hand flat on the ceiling. Never again. Ours place was full of 70s paneling and acoustic ceiling tiles though, so obviously your teeny cottage ceilings will be adorable whereas ours just… sucked.

    • 10.1.14
      Daniel said:

      Thank you, Stef!!

      Your husband is Michael Jordan size! I’m only 5’7″, so it’s hard for me to even fathom being that tall. He would probably be uncomfortable in this house, but hey—houses aren’t one size fits all! Maybe I’ll sell it to a hobbit! :)

  66. 9.26.14
    Laura said:

    Save the basement tour for a Halloween post!!

    • 9.28.14
      Sana said:

      haha! great idea! :)

  67. 9.26.14

    This reminds me so much of my house when we bought it. Godspeed to you!

  68. 9.26.14
    JC said:

    Ying meet yang. hah! I would love to hang out with the two of you sometime. This house looks amazing, and a terrifying amount of work. I totally and completely think that the exposed brick in the kitchen would add some amazing texture, especially with all that wood on the stair. I’m not sure it would work because it’s small but i picture dark wood for some reason.
    I’m stoked for this it’s gonna be great!

  69. 9.26.14
    cate said:

    Maybe the holes in the wall were test patches to find plumbing to steal. The tin ceiling meeting the stair hall in that way is strange. I’m dying to see a floor plan. Possible the house was old and small and two rooms deep, with a porch, extension, and replacement stair added later? If the house reeks of animal urine, depending on where it’s located, it may be necessary to replace the floors and part of the wall (which you’re replacing anyway). Pricey to add in a whole new heating system, plumbing, electric — I thought you said your budget was $10,000 but maybe I misread. In any case, the renovation will certainly be dramatic. You trying out for a new TV show?

    • 10.1.14
      Daniel said:

      It’s really hard to say what’s happened to this house over time—honestly, I think it might have originally started as a very small carriage house (like just the current dining room space) or something and been expanded multiple times, maybe last in the 20s or so. I think getting the walls down will help me figure out what happened with this place over the years!

      OH, and the budget is definitely not 10K. It was an all-cash deal, so both my mother and I put up 10K just to buy it. I’m hoping to keep renovations under 50.

  70. 9.26.14

    Make sure Apartment Therapy runs the before and afters once you do your amazingness on it so their readers can say they like the before better! (:

  71. 9.26.14
    Celia said:

    Just found this site and I’m living vicariously through you. You are a brave man. I see the potential in that kitchen. Praying nothing scary comes out of the basement. Please wear a serious breathing mask when you do all the crazy demo! You are really doing your neighbors a wonderful favor by fixing this place up.

  72. 9.26.14
    Beth W. said:

    I love this little cottage and am so glad you have the bravery / insanity to take it on.

    I will admit though, reading “EASY” made me giggle a bit as that’s what I say to my husband after I’ve described the 25 steps needed to do whatever project is next on my list. He just smiles and pats my hands with encouragement.

  73. 9.26.14
    Devyn said:

    Wow Daniel…. Scary and exciting at once. I applaud your desire to bring up the neighborhood by fixing up what most would consider a tear-down. There is much charm to be had in the place, and I know you will find ways to bring it out. I think the kitchen will be totally cozy and I can already envision what it will be like. Looking forward to the second floor tour. :)

  74. 9.26.14
    Kate F said:

    I don’t know about crazy–I can totally see how this will likely go, and how ADORABLE it will be when it’s done. You’re so right about not needing to salvage walls–that was by far our biggest nightmare, as you know (and in fact I learned once we had the plasterer in that we could have saved a shocking amount had we let the electrician cut a bit more away; it’s easily fixed, sigh). Opening everything up at once will probably be the biggest way this differs/is easier than your house. Working room by room obviously makes sense when you’re living in a place (and there’s a lot to salvage), but here you’ll be able to demo in a couple of days and then the trades will be able to PLOW through.

    That dining room. The paneling by the stairs, the ceiling, the windows–I can already see the “after” and it is killer. And the kitchen will be so charming, too. This is all so exciting! I can’t wait to watch you kick ass.

  75. 9.26.14
    Keely said:

    Those basement stairs!! Jesus H. What a horror show. Moving them under the other stairs seems like the best idea.

    Aside from its general filth and dankness, this place is really cute! I like the low ceilings, it’ll be cozy, and if there’s enough light everything will be fine.

  76. 9.26.14
    Sharon said:

    You can ONLY go UP from here, right?

  77. 9.26.14
    Jeanna said:

    Oh my gosh, you had me laughing with your description of you and Max entering the abode. I could see it all, too funny! I’m really excited for you and this little house. I think it will be so charming, like a little doll house when you are done with it. I love the tin ceiling tiles, and the banister and staircase landing are going to be so darn cute. I LOVE that you have that wonderful old sink to reuse! Love those things. And it looks like it gets lots of light! It should be a happy little place. My brain did stall for a minute there when I saw the scary hole to the basement, but………. you got this :)

  78. 9.26.14
    marie said:

    This little house is going to look so good! My days are always better when I see you have posted something new.
    Maybe it is stupid, but could you arrange the trap door in the floor to open towards the inside of the kitchen and not the wall? This way, the door would also act as a banister and you would “just” have to add some kind of banister on the side of the entrance of the kitchen for safety.

    • 10.1.14
      Daniel said:

      Thanks, Marie! I’m trying to figure out now if something like that is an option. I’d love to avoid the expense of rebuilding the stairs!

  79. 9.26.14
    debbie in toronto said:

    Jesus…I’m still trying to stop my eyes from seeing that basement staircase….thanks for sparing us the basement…really.

    I completely agree that this in it’s crazy way will be tons easier than ‘the big house’…you can just rip everything out of this one…and start from scratch…unless of course you want to save those “amazing” light fixtures and that cinderblock by the back door…

    it’s going to be adorable…truly.

  80. 9.26.14

    I love your optimism! it makes looking at that scary basement less… scary.

  81. 9.26.14
    Karoline said:

    I kind of love how they continued the random color selection of the exterior on the inside…

    You’re definitely insane, but the very best kind of insane! :) And yes! the house is (going to be) super cute!

  82. 9.26.14
    Staci said:

    I have visited your site before, but have never professed my love for you (this blog, not in a creepy-stalkery kind of way), until you shared this post. I seriously thought that the hubs and I were the only people crazy enough to take an abused house like yours and breathe some life into it. Yes, this is a big project, but you have the vision and the mad skills to pull it off! I can’t wait to see the process.

    And as for your life of crime, consider yourself like a modern-day Robin-Hood. You trespass to IMPROVE. :)

  83. 9.26.14
    missnicoleo said:

    no time to read through the comments, so maybe someone already suggested this, but can you create a trap door with a side and back that will act as a sturdy banister on 2 sides, with the wall as a third “banister”

  84. 9.26.14
    Erica W. said:

    I would really like to see the basement.

    • 9.26.14
      Judy said:

      Me too, the basement.

  85. 9.26.14
    Jennifer said:

    Too bad about the need for a banister if you did a trap door entrance to the basement. I think it would be awesome to have a secret trap door going to a scary basement.

    Good luck with all of the demo!

  86. 9.26.14
    Patrick said:

    Max, you may want to double check that the wall in between the front room and the living room is in fact NOT a bearing wall. It would seem likely that it IS a load bearing wall as it is most likely in line with the exterior wall of your upstairs. Just based on the photos you posted, it looks like the front of the house was potentially a porch of some kind in its original incarnation. I may be wrong, but can never be too cautious when it comes to structure; this is coming from an Architect who has renovated his own house and dealt with similar issues. Good luck! It looks like a great project with good bones.

    • 10.1.14
      Daniel said:

      Oh, don’t worry! Nothing is coming out until we’re sure! If it does turn out to be load-bearing, we’ll deal with it properly.

  87. 9.26.14
    LD said:

    Insane? Yes!!! Good luck kid!!! And… the trapdoor idea for the basement. You can so make that work.

  88. 9.26.14
    Melissa Bauman said:

    holy shit. you are going to slay this cottage and i cannot wait!!!!

  89. 9.26.14
    Christie said:

    What is it with you and weird squares? First the painted ones in the neverending hallway in your apartment, and now these niches. Tell the truth: random quadrilaterals are a selling point for you, aren’t they?

    • 10.1.14
      Daniel said:


  90. 9.26.14
    Kelly said:

    It’s uber gross now but I see SO MUCH potential! I can’t wait to see you work your magic and make it awesome.

  91. 9.26.14
    Kaitlyn said:

    So scary and so exciting! I can’t wait to see what you are going to do. And I’m so glad you have been posting more! Such a treat.

  92. 9.26.14
    Lisa and Tate said:

    Man this is good stuff! Love it and cannot wait until you show more.

  93. 9.26.14
    S@sha said:

    I’m jealous. If I could buy a house like that for $19,000 I’d be all over it. Unfortunately, here in Southern California that house would cost $250,000, unless you could pay all cash and then you might get it for the bargain price of $205,000. But luckily I can live vicariously through you. I hope it goes quickly and you post a lot!

  94. 9.26.14
    Alla said:

    Absolutely terrifying!

    When is a good time for me to come by and help with demo?

    • 10.1.14
      Daniel said:

      In a couple of weeks! :)

  95. 9.26.14
    Lena said:

    I can’t wait to see what you do about screens in the casement windows, as I have those too and have been hemming and hawing over how to address it best. Because the windows need to be opened and pushed out from inside, all of the solutions I’ve come up with have seemed a bit tricky or fussy, so I have been screen-less for some time now. Which would be okay except letting animals out and insects in seems worth avoiding.

    I’ve also been without doorknobs for something like, oh, four years. Uhk. When I fixed up the place, removed all the painted over hardware and repainted all the interior doors, I learned a big lesson because I did a very bad job of keeping all the nobs and their many special screws organized. Because of the various gaping holes left where the vintage/antique knobs and lock hardware should go, it’s not as easy as just choosing and screwing in any new knob. It’s left me so stuck. :( Do you think you would putty over and suck it up and put new knobs in? Or search for the right hardware? I know it’s hard without seeing…but I would really be interested to know what you think.

    I emailed you that David Sedaris article recently, about overhead lighting…hope you enjoyed. ;)

    • 10.1.14
      Daniel said:

      Thanks, Lena!

      Yeah, casement windows and screens are just kind of fussy”¦I don’t know if there’s a way around it! In this house, the casement winnows have removable screens that go on the inside, but they need to be taken out and put back to open/close the windows.

      I’m not totally sure I understand the question about the doors, but I’d try to just put the old hardware back, if you can! Is it not possible to just keep trying combinations until you figure out what can go where? I think it would be a shame to replace it all with new, but I guess it also depends on if you like the old stuff and if it’s worth saving?

  96. 9.26.14
    Denise said:

    OH MY GOD! This is almost more exciting than your own home! Can’t wait to see what you do since you are totally BRILLIANT!

  97. 9.26.14

    My respect and pride for what you’re about to tackle is boundless! Places need more people like you: people who bring something with potential back to life for the better of a community. The house may look gross now (and any sane person would feel insane looking at these pictures), but it’s mostly just unfinished disaray and a lot of dirt/mold. Nothing that hard work can’t clean up and your talent can’t transform. It’s going to be awesome!

  98. 9.26.14
    Anna said:

    You certainly have your work cut out for you but I cannot wait to see what you do with the space. A lot of potential (love the stairs and dining room ceiling), and you have great taste, so I’m sure it will be beautiful when you’re done. :)

  99. 9.26.14
    Bonnie said:

    Not that you need my advice on getting rid of odor, but in case you do want a cheap, natural solution that works very well, here is what has worked for me:

    Remove all the trash and drywall that you intend to remove. Then sweep and Shop Vac everywhere. Take a mop with a removable sponge head and spray the head with vinegar (3 squirts from a spray bottle), Then put as much baking soda on the mop head as it can handle. Rub on remaining walls (if you still have any drywall). Rinse mop head, squeeze out as much water as possible, then start again with the vinegar and baking soda. I do this over and over again until the water runs clear. I have found the same method works on hardwood floors too.

    It may seem very backward to clean so deeply after you demo but before the reconstruction starts, but its important to find out if you can get rid of that odor or if you have to rip out more than you planed.

    Best of luck!

    • 10.1.14
      Daniel said:

      Thank you, Bonnie! That was more or less my plan (except maybe, like, dumping the vinegar instead of spritzing, haha), and maybe following up with an enzyme cleaner specifically for pet urine. I have hope!

  100. 9.26.14
    John said:

    Okay, you can’t just say that you’re going to spare us the tour of the basement. A&E cancelled Hoarders, so there is a dearth of gross home entertainment options currently available. What’s down there? If there’s a stack of soiled mattresses or a collection of empty pickle jars, the public needs to know!

    This house looks like it’s going to turn out amazing. You’ll definitely get your money back and then some. The only part that I kind of dislike is the ceiling in the stairway area. What is the clearance there?

  101. 9.27.14
    jenn said:

    Oh Duckie,

    I love your blog. And this newest adventure is epic. I wish you the best, and look forward to each of your updates. Your Matt and my fella have plenty in common, I do all the work, deal with the crazy stress, and he there theres me and is generally supportive. It is kind of an amazing quality in a partner.

  102. 9.27.14
    Diane said:

    I looked away for 5 minutes. And there’s another HOUSE.

  103. 9.27.14
    Kati said:

    Not scared for you at all. 3/4 of the “terribleness” is in the walls – so when they go, everything will be much better looking. And since the house is so small, all the “real” work – like plumbing and heating sistem, will be manageable.

    On the other hand, I can’t believe a house can be built without insulation. This is a shed!

    • 10.1.14
      Daniel said:

      Oh, lots of houses don’t have insulation! I don’t think insulation went into widespread use until the 1950s or so! What’s stranger to me is that the walls can’t be *that* old”¦someone basically already seems to have gutted the house not to terribly long ago, and it’s weird to me that they didn’t insulate at that time!

  104. 9.27.14
    Thel said:


  105. 9.27.14
    Jannike said:

    Can’t wait to see the second floor pix! I would l close up the kitchen bar / wall and the basement trap door. Then you can have a table for 2 in the kitchen. I know that you will make everything beautiful and I look forward to seeing the transformation.

  106. 9.27.14
    Jen said:

    I can see how beautiful it will be–really!! I canNOT WAIT to see what you do.

  107. 9.27.14
    PhillyLass said:

    I’m so so so happy this poor house found you. There’s so much potential here and most people would be too afraid to take it on. I can’t wait to see what miracles you work with this property. And what a great gift for the eventual buyer to have a record of its restoration by way of this blog.

  108. 9.27.14
    Susan H said:

    This cottage will be amazing when you have completed the renovations. Turn the process into a book! I’d buy it.

  109. 9.27.14

    Saw this yesterday morning and never got a lick of time to respond to it, until now.

    This will be a very interesting project and I’m very curious to see where you go with this as I have NO doubt in your abilities and this could lead to something special when all said and done.

    Totally agree, right now, it looks rather skanky and depressing, but with potential, and when done, it’ll be a VERY attractive house, and at just over 1300SqFt, it’s not a bad sized house, albeit on two floors combined, but with a little rejiggering, it could be made to utilize the space even better.

    Good luck!

  110. 9.27.14
    Andy said:

    This is exciting – and yeah, not living there must be really liberating – both in terms of being able to work and walk away from the mess, and in being able to try out crazy ideas because you don’t have to live with them forever. I’m excited to watch.

    And – regarding the brick chimney: Get that thing out of there. Any new heating system you put in can vent out the side of the building, and there’s no fireplace, so you can remove it, free up some square footage, and have an easier to install and better insulated roof.

  111. 9.27.14
    Ellesworth said:

    My reaction to this whole thing is that this house is crying out to be saved and you have swept in like a white knight. I cannot wait to see this place take shape! :)

  112. 9.27.14
    Jo said:

    I have died and gone to Manhattan Nest heaven. Just imagining picking up and moving across the country because I bought this house when you finished it and how awesome it would be. It’s going to be so awesome. So awesome!

  113. 9.27.14
    Lori said:

    OMG, that kitchen is gonna be amaaaaazing. I have no trouble visualizing it at all!

    I can really see why you bought the place. It really does have a ton of potential.

    And call me a weirdo, but I totally want to see the basement!

  114. 9.27.14
    Melissa said:

    You are amazing. The cottage is amazing. Please do video segments on the restoration. Your talented voice is screaming for a tv series. Working title: This Old Gay Chalet. if you’re camera shy, at least consider sponsorship by your readers, whether it be time or money. If you feel weird about it, readers could vote on a project, and the money could go to a Girl/Boy Scouts or local community outreach program to help. Kingston is so lucky to have you. Can’t wait for the next update!

  115. 9.27.14
    cate said:

    Maybe someone thought there were drugs and guns and money hidden in the walls? Were they cooking meth in that kitchen? Kinda funny there’s a tile situation above the stove similar to the one above your bathtub. Of course, obviously, not for the same reason.

    On a practical note, after the demo, get any critters out of there and fix any leaks first before you do anything else. Also, insulate.

  116. 9.28.14
    bean said:

    Since I lived through the 1970s and 1980s (about the last time I think that house was updated), I would guess that the niches on opposing walls were for statuary–possibly religious icons given the dark blue background walls. The holes in the wall remind me of the holes in the wall of the corpse bathroom–for example, there may have been bullet holes and the police may have been recovering bullets. If possible, you could try and research the house to see what (if any) crimes or “incidents” happened there.

    I’m glad that mom is helping to finance your business start-up (I am guessing that this is your business start-up–that you will get into flipping houses in addition to your interior design). This is a very good house to start with, and I agree that it is best that Max is just being supportive and letting you make up your own mind. The only thing I would do differently is find out what clientele is likely to look at that house when you are done, and then design around the clientele (rather than around the pretty cottage I currently have in my head).

    Oh, and the hubs says that what you think isn’t a load-bearing wall looks like a load-bearing wall from the photos. He also thinks you might not be allowed to move the entrance to the basement (for reasons that went right over my head–he teaches architecture in addition to other things, so I’m inclined to think it’s at least worth being very cautious with). He thought you might ask the permit-granting people if it would be okay to have a flat entrance to the basement if, when you open the flat entrance (not necessarily a trap door, but perhaps a panel that raises to vertical and becomes a partition to keep people from falling into the opening), a handrail extends automatically and locks into place (or the panel that raises includes a handrail). It’s legal where we live, but maybe not in NY.

  117. 9.28.14
    Kaylin said:

    Seriously, I LOVE that you are renovating older homes. It is so so so good for the neighborhood and community. Also, waaaaay better than constantly building new homes (wasteful!) – we have plenty sitting abandoned for years that people could live in! To have an abandoned home like this in a neighborhood can be a major deal breaker for everyone living there. It is also so sad to see such a sweet little house in disrepair when it used to be a great house and can be again! Anyway, best of luck. All you do is amazing and I am sure this will be amazing too. xoxoxo. P.S. Oh and can you please tell Max he is also amazing for supporting you in all this!

  118. 9.28.14
    Jeffrey said:

    old house = lead paint + asbestos. Use caution and care during your new adventure.

  119. 9.28.14
    Pam Miller said:

    I love what you are doing!! Could this building have been a garage? The exterior sheathing seen through the holes in the walls reminds me of garage construction as well as the width and depth of the house.

    • 10.1.14
      Daniel said:

      It wouldn’t surprise me at all if this house was originally a small carriage house for one of the adjacent properties that just saw several additions over the years! I think that’s a very good possibility.

  120. 9.28.14
    hello said:

    Where there’s no tin ceiling, here and now is a great place to fully embrace exposed beams: paint it all out in white, uplight it, etc…!

  121. 9.28.14
    M.E. said:

    That photo of the stairs to the basement is all sorts of Blair Witch Project! So glad you will cover it up forever!

  122. 9.28.14
    Sheran said:

    Daniel, I think I am in love. Your posts make my day!!!

  123. 9.29.14
    Diane said:

    It’s going to be AWESOME….

  124. 9.29.14
    Georgina said:

    It breaks my heart to see the state some people let lovely houses get into. You can see enough of the little details left in this place that it was probably beautiful once. What a shame it’s been left to crumble.
    You can definitely make it a beautiful, cute, cosy little home again and I can’t wait to see what you do with it!

  125. 9.29.14
    Heather said:

    Oh, yes! Can’t wait to see the transformation. The hole in the kitchen floor brings back all sorts of memories for me. When we first bought our house in New Orleans, the only way to enter was to crawl underneath the shotgun and pop up through a large hole in the kitchen floor. Classy.

  126. 9.29.14
    LLCoolBills said:

    Congrats. The potential in this place is incredible! Don’t give up on the basement! It could have great wine cellar potential – like the restaurant Il Buco in NYC:

    Alternately, this pizza joint in Istanbul did an amazing thing with their wine cellar — a groovy dumbwaiter (no pun intended) and a see through floor (comes in at around 1min 30).

    (the pizza is incredible there by the way!)

  127. 9.29.14
    Patience said:

    I’m very late to comment, but I have to say how excited I am to see what you do to this house. I’m sure it will be gorgeous when you’re finished!

  128. 9.29.14
    Dulcie said:

    Oh, this brings back so many memories. My 1885 Victorian was about this bad, including a hole in the floor WITHOUT STAIRS that led to the basement. You are young and energetic…go for it and enjoy! This place will be amazing. BTW, we put an outside entrance in for the basement, thus eliminating the hole in the kitchen floor. Made dinner parties much less interesting, but a lot safer.

  129. 9.29.14
    Sinead said:

    Oh Lord … now I’m in a bind! I’ve just bought a city cottage in Limerick, Ireland and want to see what you do before I start my house but I’m not sure there will be enough time to wait (on my side) … the Lord giveth with one hand and taketh away with another :) Wishing you the best of luck with the renovation. It will be beautiful. Thanks in advance!

  130. 9.29.14

    One word. Awesome.

    I can see what you see, and it’s pretty spectacular. The original details the home has that you’ll be able to maintain, along with the updates that you have in mind, should make for quite a nice place when all is said and done. The layout makes sense, the “bones” are there, and the stuff you’ve already identified as issues don’t seem overwhelming.

    I’d pay particular attention to the sill, watch for any moisture that’s from wood on dirt contact (because that leads to bugs), and fix any sags/sponge/obvious bounce early and you’ll be good to go.

    Although, this is coming from the same guy who has tried unsuccessfully for nearly two years to convince his wife that we simply need to buy a 50 acre Victorian farmhouse that has no plumbing, no driveway, and is surely haunted.

    • 9.30.14
      Hanna said:

      That Victorian is amazing. Very Amityville Horror/Bates Motel rolled into one, but still awesome.

    • 9.30.14
      SLG said:

      All I’m gonna say is, if you do it, please blog about it. That striped paneling! Also, there might be bodies on some of that furniture, hidden under those weird drapes.

    • 10.1.14
      Daniel said:

      Holy wow! That place is amazing!!

  131. 9.30.14
    Eli Caroline said:

    I am in love with that kitchen. Also, the basement gives me all kinds of nightmares. HA!

  132. 9.30.14
    Ange said:

    Super excited to follow you fix up this little house.

  133. 9.30.14
    Alicia said:

    Wow! This little house has so much potential!
    Though, I must admit, I don’t know if I’d personally be up to the challenge of bringing the house back to life, but I’m so glad you’re braver than I am. I would get stuck staring at the ceiling, where it meets the staircase, for days and days on a loop, trying to figure out how to make it flow. I think that one little area would defeat me. I’m so excited to see what you’ll end up doing with it; if you’ll leave as it is or do some kind of a cutout above the bottom of the stairs???
    I did have a thought about the fireplace (beam) in the dining room, next to the cutout bar. I was thinking about how those beams can be such a pain to design around and how if you made the wall flush against it (enclosing the bar) that it might look better. But then I thought you’d lose all that space… And then it came to me: why not make the wall flush, but do a built in China cabinet to utilized to space! One of those French door type of cabinets, so all the little panes of glass tie into the windows! Plus, built in storage will be ideal in a small space like this! Ok, I’m clearly exited about it, hopefully you’ll think it’s neat too :-)

    • 10.1.14
      Daniel said:

      So funny, I’ve been thinking about doing something like that! It could be pretty great!

  134. 9.30.14
    Jillian said:

    I’m a couple weeks late (I was on holiday in England and France!). But I’m so excited for this new adventure of yours and cannot wait to follow along and see the transformation of this new place. It seems like this cottage is a little more whimsical than your other places; I can’t wait to see how this space changes!

  135. 9.30.14
    Hanna said:

    While home-renovation-blog reading there have been a few times where I have just sat and stared at something for a while and then thought “you just have to have faith.” I totally have faith in you. :D You are going to do a fantastic job and I can’t wait to see it!

    And if you were in Massachusetts I would totally bring you a beer or three every day. Lots and lots of beer. And moral support. Moral support and beer.

  136. 9.30.14
    Melissa said:

    I’m so happy you’re posting more often and renovating the Bluestone Cottage! I rent in Brooklyn but am obsessed with real estate and renovations and am living vicariously through you. Love your taste and writing.

  137. 9.30.14
    Megan said:

    Wow, that tin ceiling and the upstairs staircase are really beautiful and will clean up really nice. I’m so excited to see what you do with the space!

  138. 10.1.14

    I can’t wait to see this future lovely cottage behing redone! It has the bones to be great and gorgeous!
    And now, because of you, I’m looking for really cheap real estate to redo… Unfortunately, in Paris, where I live, cheap real estate is definitely not a thing !!!

  139. 10.1.14
    Ali said:

    Long time reader, first time commenter: I am so excited for this little cottage project! I’ve also nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award! You can see the details here:
    Thanks for your work, and keep it coming!

    • 10.1.14
      Daniel said:

      Thanks, Ali! :)

  140. 10.1.14
    Debbie said:

    I am completely confident that you are the right person to breathe some new life into this cozy little home. Can’t wait to watch it come together!

  141. 10.1.14
    Lisa and Tate said:

    Need. More. P L E A S E.

  142. 10.2.14
    Amanda said:

    I just want to help, this house needs some love! Can’t wait to see it come along, it’s going to be a gem!