Small Projects: Huge Fabulous Antique Armoire Edition

You know what I have to learn and then re-learn and re-learn over and over again? The joy of a small project. That’s what.

Quick. Immediately satisfying. Simple. Cheap. Those kinds of projects. I love them! Specifically, I love to over-think them, then get quickly overwhelmed by them, and then abandon them before I’ve even begun because I haven’t mentally worked out all the kinks. See? What’s not to enjoy?

This used to be easier before I bought my house. The whole house is one enormous project, composed of many different big, expensive, time-consuming, difficult projects. This will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future, which is OK. I bought the thing. I asked for it! I even had some notion of what I was getting into, and I did it anyway. But that doesn’t mean it’s not at times exhausting and frustrating, I think in part because you end up spending so much time and money and energy on things that at least feel much more in service to the house than to yourself living in the house. Something like that?

To illustrate, let’s consider my windows. As with the rest of the house, they are very old. All of them need work, and the work is time-consuming and a pain in the ass, and when it’s all over…there’s a window. The same window that there once was, just in better condition and hopefully better prepared to stay in one piece for the next century. It still goes up and down as before, and still provides light as before. Congrats, house! You have a restored window. Boy do I feel…like I just spent a ton of effort on something that has not made a notable difference in how I live in this house. Awesome, let’s do it 36 more times, and we’ll spread it out over many years to prolong the fun!

My house has a lot of windows, literally and figuratively. It’s part of what I love about it. It’s part of what I hate about it.

SO ANYWAY, as much as I love my home, sometimes part of me might just long for the days when I lived in places owned by other people. Then, my projects were so much more about making myself more comfy and satisfied in my living space—which is, actually, fun and exciting and ultimately the goal of this whole entire endeavor, I recognize. But for me, those smaller projects will never feel like a priority when compared to the mountain of house-things I should be working on at any given time, so I have to be extra-conscious to make time for them every now and then. Turns out enjoying living in your house instead of just working on it all the time can, actually, make the work feel more worthwhile. Huh. It’s almost like…enjoyment…feels good? And…working on something you enjoy is…fun? Big revelations here today, folks.

So let’s think back to the summer, when I bought this big armoire and then we never spoke of it again.

Here’s what I did. I bought the big thing. Then I brought it home. Then I moved all my clothes out of the chest of drawers that had been occupying that wall, put them in a smaller set of drawers, and crammed that smaller set of drawers into my closet and moved the other one to another room to collect dust. Then I moved the big thing into place, wiped it off, took a couple pictures of it for my internet friends, and…

There is no “and” because that’s the whole story. It sat empty for the next six months while I occasionally thought about all these elaborate things I would do to build out the interior without compromising the integrity of the piece (it is, after all, an antique and I don’t want to fuck it up!). I wanted it to hold a TV, but also have storage for…something…which might involve drawers and cubbies and shelves and maybe some fancy twee labels. I’d have to construct a thing out of plywood to the exact dimensions of the interior so that it could nestle right inside, which obviously I’d have to plan, build, dry fit, remove, patch, paint, install, secure…it would have to be attractive and sturdy and hold all the things I needed it to, once I figured out what those things were, which really was the first project…

Enough. End the madness. The goal was not to have an enormous empty armoire in my room indefinitely, no matter how good-looking it is. The goal was to bring this thing into my life and, in turn, see my life improved by its presence. Sometimes (all the time) I need to stop and really think about how to simplify something, because my impulse is often to over-complicate it to the point that it becomes some big thing when all I really wanted was a goddamn TV in my bedroom because TV is my favorite thing and bed is my favorite place and the two in combination just feels so right.

Here is what I did. Try to keep up.

I went to Lowe’s and bought four of these little super-simple shelving verticals. Next to them, there are little packs of shelving clips, so I bought one of those. Then I went to a different aisle and picked up 3 pine stair treads, because they were long enough, a full inch thick, and had a nice bullnose edge.

You’ve seen this kind of shelving, btw. I didn’t, like, discover anything. They’re in every old person’s house in America. For a long time I’ve considered them kind of flimsy and crappy and, I don’t know, something everyone in the 1960s decided was a good idea, like cigarettes.

You know what? IT WAS A GOOD IDEA. Not cigarettes, the other thing. I submit that this shelving is actually rather beautifully designed in its simplicity of use and install, and clearly stands the test of time given how many I have un-installed from closets and stuff over the years. Ain’t a damn thing wrong with it.

(I could have probably scrounged up the wood for the shelves from the basement or the garage, but then again maybe I couldn’t have, and I’d have to break out the router for the bullnose edge, and there is something nice about the shelves all matching and not being some weird cobbled-together solution to save myself $30, and omg why am I even still thinking about this IT DOES NOT MATTER.)

Then I went home and I did something else. I installed all that shit. It took maybe an hour. I wiped down the inside of the armoire. I took out the existing clothing rod. I screwed in the verticals, like three screws per strip because the side panels are thin and flimsy so you can only screw into the thicker stiles and rails. I snapped in the clips. I cut my shelves to size (which, FYI, they would have done at the store for me if I asked/had the patience to find an employee). I drilled a hole in the back for cords to come through because we can only be so precious about stuff and nobody will ever see it.

Want to know something kind of funny? When I went to install the shelving tracks, there were already little holes on the inside of the cabinet that lined up perfectly with my screw holes! Because somebody ALREADY FIGURED THIS OUT. And screwed into the armoire, and not only did I buy it despite its compromised-by-modern-conveniences condition, it took me 6 months to notice and I don’t care even a little bit about it and anyone who’s worth a damn in the future won’t either, because it so doesn’t matter.

I’m getting worked up.

I put the shelves in. They fit.

Then I put the TV in. It’s a 40″ Insignia. It came from Best Buy. It was $200. It’s not the most amazing TV but it’s 100% sufficient and fuck if I’m gonna repack it and take it back to the store because it’s not amazing. It’s FINE and that is the attitude I’m trying to insert more into my life. IT’S. FINE. A great many things are fine being just fine. My mediocre TV is one of those things.

After the TV went in, I put in linens. I love linens. I do. I love sheets and blankets and duvet covers and seeing them neatly stacked in here makes me feel all kinds of domestic and adult about my shit. It’s that subtle difference between hoarding and collecting. Collectors store their shit well. Put it on a t-shirt.

The next day, high on my victory, I felt motivated to make the few little repairs that this piece needed. There were a few little pieces of trim that had broken off but been thoughtfully stored away in that bottom drawer, so I broke out the wood glue and the brad nailer and put them back.

I replaced the knobs on the drawer—one had snapped off in transit, and I was holding out until I found the perfect set of replacements (the original style of knob isn’t especially hard to find, except of course when you’re looking for them), but decided on this day to just replace them with the next best thing I had around. Amazingly, now I can use the drawer AND the gorgeous-even-though-they-aren’t-really-correct knobs look cute and who cares if I never replace them.

Then I wiped down the whole thing with the dregs of a can of Restore-a-Finish, which ran out before I got to the least-visible side and this, too, does not matter.

Someday I’ll have a little more Restore-a-Finish, and a couple of hours to stain and poly the shelves, and maybe the right set of knobs or even a better TV. But I’m kind of not worried about it.

Otherwise, I guess some other things have changed since last time I took photos of the bedroom? Nothing major. I move stuff around a lot. But I finally got a queen mattress for my queen bed! After spending a ton of time researching and comparing all the newfangled mattress companies, I had a nice night’s sleep at an Airbnb and found the mattress they were using for $200 on Amazon. It’s cheap and it’s firm. You can fill in that joke.

The big black and white art used to hang in the house I grew up in! It’s actually 1/2 of a diptych, but I only have a couple of walls big enough to accommodate the whole thing so in the meantime I just hung up one side here. Some people love it and some people hate it and that makes me sort of happy. It’s signed “Reizner 1975.” This is the wall I’d like to eventually add a mantel back to, since it appears one was removed at some point.

I dunno, I moved my lounge chair to another room and moved in my cutie little rocker. Nobody sits in bedroom chairs; they exist exclusively to collect laundry and fill awkward corners.

Mekko is still the cutest. Naked man is still naked.


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. 2.6.18
    Chris said:

    Looks great Daniel!
    So glad you are back and getting into doing things again. (and sharing with us.)

  2. 2.6.18
    Rachel said:

    “Nobody sits in bedroom chairs; they exist exclusively to collect laundry and fill awkward corners.” Hahaha… TRUTH.

    Dude, you are so funny and I missed your posts so much!! I’m so happy for you and this immensely satisfying and PERFECTLY FINE project! You enjoy the heck out of watching TV in bed!!

    I feel like I really relate to this right now–I mean I’ve achieved like 0.001% of what you have in terms of general home improvement, but I had this screen door project I’ve been planning since last spring… first I had to half-assedly search for months for the perfect vintage wooden screen door (that was solid on the bottom so I could put in a mail slot–surprisingly difficult to find), and then give up and custom-order one online from California, and then spend several more months simultaneously hemming and hawing over what kind of latch hardware to use and whether I should change it to an in-swing, and putting a million coats of primer and paint on it and sanding it lovingly between each coat… and then finally one day a week and a half ago the old shitty vinyl door’s hinges finally gave up their last three screws on a windy day and my fiance was like “WE NEED TO HANG THE NEW DOOR,” and I’m bad at using power tools and also buying custom doors that are thick enough, so the hole for the mail slot is a little wonky (from the inside only, THANK GOD) and also instead of using two screws facing each other at each corner of the mail slot plate we had to use little brass bolts with little nuts on the inside, which is sort of ghetto but also honestly sort of cute, and more importantly NO ONE IS EVER GOING TO NOTICE ANY OF THESE THINGS AND IT IS ALREADY 1000X BETTER THAN THE OLD DOOR SITUATION AND I’M HAPPY. You know?!?

    • 2.6.18
      Daniel said:

      Oh guuuurrrrllll, I KNOW! I feel like I’ve had a lot of house-related goals delayed or slowwwweeeddd wayyyyyy dowwwwnnnnn because I start by wanting to make something better, and “better” quickly becomes “best” and then all of a sudden if it’s not perfect it’s not worth doing! Breaking through that is hard!! Congrats on the screen door! It sounds beautiful!

    • 2.7.18
      LJ said:

      I just came here to say ditto! It’s like you wrote out exactly what goes through my head for every “simple” (or complex) project ever. Wanted to let you know you’re not alone, and thanks for showing me the same!

  3. 2.6.18
    April said:

    Bravo, Daniel. Getting shit done and shit-high kick!!!

  4. 2.6.18
    Alma said:

    Great post, Daniel. You won’t regret the Insignia purchase. I just gave one away. It was 13 years old and working, well, fine. Everything looks wonderful, charming and cozy. But, the best part of the post is Mekko.

    • 2.6.18
      Daniel said:

      Good to know! And thank you! :)

  5. 2.6.18
    Gunter said:

    As a wise and venerable man once said “Your ideas are intriguing to me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.” (it may have been from the Simpsons, don’t judge me, just shuddup give me some flowers to sell at the airport…)

    Last winter’s project was making the unroom between rooms into a library, with built in bookshelves (which may or may not have a secret hidey spot for secret hidey spot sorta things). It was fun, and if I am permitted to say, turned out kinda nice. People see it and say “hey, you didn’t used to have books on that wall, did you?” I am quite proud.

    This winter I was found crawling under the house where every rodent in the county goes to die, then finding the septic tank (after some unmentionable efforts under the house), pumping, digging out drain fields by hand, pressure washing out lines, filling in many many holes in yard which now looks all ready for the halloween graveyard decorations. All for people to come over and say “Wow! this is amazing! we can poop inside like people! instead of being given a little shovel and our own corner of the forest to make our own! nice.” (said nobody, ever, I hope).

    ah, I am glad you are back, no pressure, just glad.

    • 2.6.18
      Daniel said:

      Hahahaha! Yay for pooping inside like people!! I’m so spoiled by municipal water and sewer, oh man.

  6. 2.6.18
    Anne Boleyn said:

    ❤️ You make me happy when skies are grey… and also when they’re sunny.

  7. 2.6.18
    Chrissy said:

    I have a whole sofa in my room that no one sits on but my stuffed Niffler. The sofa is an antique that would probably rip if you sat on it but it’s beautiful to look at.

    That cabinet is still amazing!

  8. 2.6.18
    Jeannine said:

    OMG so many lolz for me in this post.

    Also, I can totally relate in almost every single way to every single thing you said here. I too am fixing up an old house, although unlike you Daniel, I almost never get anything accomplished (big or small) and NONE of the rooms in my house are done. They are all in some state of construction-ness, and I have been living here for FIVE YEARS. OMG. It’s almost inconceivably ridiculous.

    Oh and when I first bought my house an old house contractor who was helping me with some things was like, hey Jeannine if I were you I would just work on a few windows at a time…. but I was all like What? No way! Because I didn’t know myself very well back then (ahhhh… not as well as I do now!) and I insisted on removing all the original window sashes so I could restore them all at once and we boarded up all the windows and hey guess what? All of the window sashes are still sitting in the basement. I lived for quite some time (I won’t tell you how long) in a cave… and only VERY slowly and painfully have I hung a few new storm windows in some rooms to not live in a cave anymore and most of my windows are still boarded up. For closer to six years now.

    There, you’re welcome!

    • 2.6.18
      Daniel said:

      YUP, I totally get it! I’ve been in my house almost 5 years too, and coming up on that milestone has me feeling sort of amazed and scared of how much of the house is still not done (or even habitable, really) and how much there is to go…but then again, our own progress always feels terrible when we try to compare to other people. Someday I’ll have a kitchen again, and someday you’ll have windows again, and we’ll both forget how much it sucked to not have those things, and hopefully we’ll both be a little more strategic about things the next time around, haha!

    • 2.12.18
      carswell said:

      LOL – you’re not going to want to hear this but I’ve been in my house for just shy of 20 years and it isn’t done yet. The master bedroom is now the only room without baseboard and window trim – and likely to remain that way for a bit yet.

      I’ve been in my house long enough that some things have been done twice now…

    • 2.8.18
      SecondBassoon said:

      When my bff and I bought our old and neglected house last summer, my mom said, “Now you will never lack for something to spend your money and your time on” and man oh man was she right.

      Things that we think are going to be relatively simple, like picking out a mailbox, turn out to be surprisingly complex (nope, no standard wall-mount mailbox will work due to funky tutor-tot door surround, no mailboxes that fit the space will hold more than a letter envelope and we’re magazine gals, custom mailboxes are shockingly expensive, etc.) and things we figure will be a bit tricky but no big deal turn out to be $$$$ (or even $$$$$, hi new roof, you do look great).

      And the windows. The windows! I feel your pain. Our house has 14 windows (all original, all of which I will fight tooth and nail to keep) which initially seemed like a generous but not overlarge number. Then I started scraping one down to remove the horrible sprayed-on texture and five-to-seven coats of paint underneath and four days later I was still working on that first window. (We’ve since gotten it down to about 20 hours per window.) We’ve lived there six months and only one window is done. We have no interior doors because we took them all down to remove more horrible spray-on texture but have made zero progress since (we got used to no doors pretty much immediately but using the bathroom can be disconcerting for guests). We ripped out the flooring in the entry because there was mold and haven’t replaced it. And so on.

      But even though the place is very much a work in progress, it’s wonderful and I love it. I look around I see all the effort we’ve put into the place and it makes my heart lift. Old houses: WORTH IT.

    • 2.12.18
      carswell said:

      The mailbox thing makes me laugh. After many years of living with a makeshift and “temporary” box on the post by my driveway I finally found one I was willing to live with. Simple, the right size and shape. It wasn’t the mailbox of my dreams – that one would only have been appropriate for a covered porch – but the one I got was good enough.

      Not three months my neighbourhood lost its house to house delivery and now I have to pick up my mail down the street at a community box – and my lovely black metal mailbox sits empty day after day….

  9. 2.6.18
    Lori said:

    Lord, Daniel, I feel like you’re speaking my language lately, both with this post and the last one (which I meant to comment on but then got sucked into the comments and got all verklempt and also motivated to tackle some shit I’d been putting off that was tying my anxiety octopus into knots, and then I never actually made it back around to commenting. But thank you for that post.).

    I have the same situation happening with a sideboard that needs some work and which is currently hoarding all my canned goods. You’re right, I need to stop waiting for the time to make it perfect and just make the damn thing functional and move on with my life!

    Also, you make me smile and Mekko is still the prettiest.

  10. 2.6.18
    Barbara H. said:

    I love it all. Hurrah for getting small things done. You inspired me to spend 15 minutes in my bathroom taking care of some things – putting the tension rod back up in my created tub shower space, taking down a cute metal shelf thing that really did nothing useful and unscrewing the shower rod pole holders that have been replaced by the curved shower rod. They will be used to hold the wall shower curtain permanently in place – but not today. Thanks!

    • 2.6.18
      Daniel said:

      Aw, I love that! Yay!

  11. 2.6.18
    Debbie in Toronto said:

    Daniel , I love the cabinet, the fact that you want a tv in your bedroom (because that IS the best place to watch) and I love the linens, all of it ( well the knobs aren’t my favorite) but what I love the most is that you don’t care about the small shit ….just do you.

    Writing this from my new house in the country,buried in the snow.

    Take care bud.

  12. 2.6.18
    Lydia said:

    I absolutely love reading your thoughts. I so very often feel that I have thought them out myself, in my own house and life. I makes me smile so hard to know I’m not the only one.

  13. 2.6.18
    Gaia said:

    This blue chair … it’s been a while you have it and it will be my forever crush.
    Bedrooms have never enough of akward corners ….

  14. 2.6.18
    nella said:

    It works, is sturdy and attractive. What more can one ask?

  15. 2.6.18
    Rick said:

    Welcome back sir!

  16. 2.6.18
    Deb from Maryland said:

    I am so there – [but for me, those smaller projects will never feel like a priority when compared to the mountain of house-things I should be working on at any given time] Thank you for peering into my head and straightening out the jumble. I went right to my bedroom and pulled out a picture (that I love to look at) from out of the closet and hung it. Even if I haven’t had time to find the “right” frame for it yet. It’s fine. ;)

    • 2.6.18
      Daniel said:

      Aww, awesome! :) :)

  17. 2.6.18
    Marie said:

    Daniel, I so missed your posts !! And saying that with no pressure ! I love that you only speak of things you love, that you never shy away from telling the difficulties. As Lori in the comments I meant to write after your last post. I mean, the more we’ll talk about depression, the more it’ll be taken seriously and most importantly the more we will not be feeling alone… Small projects for the win – I love your armoire. Just make stuff for you. You inspire me to do my shit on my own in the crappy house I bought : I love every broken pieces of it. <3 Mekko of course, she is the BEST !

    • 2.6.18
      Daniel said:

      <3 <3 <3

  18. 2.6.18
    Katherine said:

    Beautiful, beautiful, as always. Everything you touch turns to gold! Missed you, Daniel, so glad you have found your way back to the blog BUT let me also say I 100% understand why you needed a break and would not ever hold it against you if/when you need another break in the future. You do you and we will be here to hold you up and support you, no matter what. I relate to you so much, and my anxious mind feels at home here, so thanks for making this a safe and sacred space for all of us.
    PS if the second diptych needs a home, I’ll gladly hang it on my wall in Austin! What a lovely piece, who on earth could hate that?!

    • 2.6.18
      Daniel said:

      Thank you so much, Katherine! xoxoxo

      (my grandmother always hated it! and various people have told me it’s “too 80s” and I’m like “IT SAYS 1975 HELLO.”)

    • 2.6.18
      pericolosa said:

      1975? I would have said 1968. I love it.
      It rivals the wallpaper my mother put behind the headboard as an accent wall in the master bedroom of our house when I was small. That was a psycho-delic op-art black and white small checks in a circular swirling pattern, rather like Fornasetti’s Egocentrismo but without the sun and moon faces. You dig?

    • 2.7.18
      Daniel said:

      Oh I DIG. Yes.

  19. 2.6.18
    Mariane said:

    Better is the enemy of good. This is something I need to remind myself all the time, I have an eye for details (I’m jeweller) and ruined some fine pieces trying to make them just a bit better. I know it’s not the case here, but thought you might want to meditate on that one!
    Your armoire is splendid, far from being just fine.
    Since you posted on auctions this summer I have been hooked, score many treasures, thanks!

    • 2.6.18
      Daniel said:

      Oh yes, I totally hear you! And there’s pretty much no feeling worse than accidentally ruining something when all you really wanted to do was fix it!! So been there. There are several beautiful things I can think of that would still be in one piece if I’d just left them the hell alone. Sigh!

      Now I’m all curious what you got at auctions! I’ve been keeping my distance because $ but I miss it!!

  20. 2.6.18
    Sara L. said:

    I do this same thing, i.e. wait to start a project because EVERYTHING MUST BE PERFECT and thus nothing ever gets done, and I need to stop. You are so right, enjoying your space is as important as everything else, and if that little thing you do can make you enjoy your space more, why not do it? Ugh. Inertia sucks.

    One thing though, I hope you don’t get rid of your old dresser! Love that thing. I have been looking for something similar, but no luck so far.

    Anyway, your bedroom looks great! And I love that big black and white painting, very cool.

    • 2.6.18
      Daniel said:

      I’m keeping it! I think! This house is funny—I feel like the amount of furniture that can/should be in it is what you’d put in a house half this size, but there are so many doors and windows and radiators that you actually can’t fit THAT much! I mean, without looking crazy, which has been my “strategy” for a couple of spaces that are just awaiting renovation and storing things in the meantime. At some point I’m going to have to make some difficult decisions choosing between larger furniture items competing for the same walls, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it, haha!

  21. 2.6.18
    Gayle said:

    Thank you for this post! I know what to do now with my old Eastlake china cabinet that my dad cut the shelves out of 50 years ago to make racks for his smokehouse out of them(!). Functional, good but not perfect for the win. And I am SO happy you’re back. Thank you for your blog; it’s a great treat when you post. And kisses to Mekko.

    • 2.6.18
      Daniel said:

      Hahaha, DAD! NO! That’s such a great dad move.

  22. 2.6.18
    suzanne said:

    That armoire is quite the grand dame. Beautiful piece of furniture! And the chair philosophy: “Nobody sits in bedroom chairs; they exist exclusively to collect laundry and fill awkward corners.” Well, after that validation, I’m feeling so much better. Welcome back!

  23. 2.6.18
    Caitlin said:

    Yay! Another post! t I’m breaking out of my lurker shell to say that these past two posts have been just what I’ve needed, personally. It’s so nice to know that I’m not the only one who falls into a procrastination/avoidance/anxiety/procrastination cycle, and reading your writing about it was so comforting.

    Also, I am in love with that diptych! So, so, cool!

    Quick question- as someone who is in need of a cheap, firm mattress, what kind did you get?

    • 2.6.18
      Daniel said:

      Oh whoops, I meant to link to it in the post! Fixed it, but also here!

    • 2.6.18
      Ashlee said:

      Link looks broken still. I’m also interested in what $200 mattresses are decent.

    • 2.7.18
      Daniel said:

      Argh, I’m sorry, I think it’s doing some automated thing I don’t know how to turn off, haha. Copy and paste this into amazon and it should come up!

      LUCID 10 Inch Gel Memory Foam Mattress – Dual-Layered – CertiPUR-US Certified – 25-Year Warranty – Queen

  24. 2.6.18
    Amy in Iowa said:

    I love your post. I can relate to your feelings about your house, even though I don’t have an old house I’m working on renovating. Sometimes it can seem like your home can become a giant suck of all your… everything … To break free and just get a simple project done with satisfying results – what a joy! And, your armoire looks great!

  25. 2.6.18

    The simple beauty of a just fine project! Absolutely LOVE this post, and it’s totally what I needed to feel motivated to get something little and satisfying done today.

  26. 2.6.18
    Ann said:

    I’m so glad you’re back to posting. Your blog is my favorite.
    I’m convinced my relative’s success as a lawyer depends on her finely tuned sense of “good enough.” Which is the same as your “fine.” There are some projects that are worth a full court press, but so many others where fine is good enough and you save so much energy by recognizing that.

    • 2.7.18
      Daniel said:

      Yes!! I think for some people, being able to distinguish between the two is much easier than for others—I’m definitely not one of those people, so I’m trying to at least be more conscious of the whole perfectionism trap and nip it in the bud before I’m knee-deep in some stupid waste of time I’ve created, haha!

  27. 2.6.18
    Elena said:

    There is a French saying: the perfect is the enemy of the good! I. E. Why spend effort when actually fine is good enough. I think your work is pretty amaizing on so many levels. I will never be able to do anything remotely as good as you. Hope you can appreciate your talents and give yourself a break. Loved the post!

  28. 2.6.18
    sweetfe said:

    I LOVE your Armoire! Congratulations on making it more functional! I am drooling over your Pendleton blanket. In your not so spare time maybe you can consider getting some decorative containers for your linens to keep them from getting dusty? Just a thought.
    Thanks also for your words about doing work on homes that does not “show” but is required.

  29. 2.6.18
    Dandy said:

    Thank you!! Love it

  30. 2.6.18
    Christy said:

    Ugh. “Fine” is the hardest. My bathroom is currently half disassembled because I do not know how I’m going to paint the trim. This is out of hand.
    And, I mean, I know I’m pushing you further down the rabbit hole… But I had a dresser with those exact same original pulls. I needed replacements and found them here: Sorry.

    • 2.7.18
      Daniel said:

      HAHA! Don’t be sorry, thank you! You’d think I would have checked the internet, but somehow I think I was expecting them to magically appear in front of me at the moment I needed them? Who knows.

      (my bathroom is a horror show, don’t feel bad haha)

  31. 2.6.18
    Louise said:

    I always love your posts! Glad to have this one on an impossibly grey day.
    May get myself some of those nice shelves.

  32. 2.6.18
    Beth said:

    This spoke to me. I once got a free, kind of cool but definitely not in the best shape glove-drawer dresser from my neighbor. I spent the next year or so occasionally sanding it for like 10 minutes but the stain/possibly some sort of weird paint was a pain to get off. I was convinced it needed to be refinished and stained but really it has a chunk missing and should have a mirror attached to it, so it’s not exactly a fine antique (though it is quite old). I finally decided I wanted a bright yellow dresser, primed and painted it, and bought some simple white ceramic knobs for a cheap price. Guess what? The drawers stick like crazy, something that should probably be remedied as I have stuff stuck in the bottom drawer and can’t really get it opened, but I absolutely love looking at it! And I completed the whole thing in a day!

    See pictures here:

    Oh! And I totally have a painting (that I did) of a naked woman on my wall. I’m currently abroad and this is my room at my parents house and my parents now use my bedroom as the guest room. Sadly, they hide the painting (sadly because it’s the best painting I ever did).

    • 2.7.18
      Daniel said:

      Aw, so cute! Tell your parents to put that painting back where it belongs and display it with pride!!

  33. 2.6.18
    Andrea Stoeckel said:

    I just love that it lived with you until it told you what you should do. It looks great. Want to come help us stage when we move from 1200′ to 686′ in a few months?

    • 2.7.18
      Daniel said:

      Well that does sound like a fun time! Why not!

  34. 2.6.18
    Diane C said:

    So, so happy to see another post from you. Funny how it can be so easy to create a little happy in someone else’s day. Now you’ve inspired me to get off my ass and get something, anything done. Thank you!

  35. 2.6.18
    KathieB said:

    Oh Daniel, so nice to “hear your voice” again!
    If you ever need a break from your home improvement career, I think you would do well as a stand-up comic. You made me truly laugh out loud more than once today. The armoire re-purpose project looks just great. We can all learn a lesson or two from today’s post.

  36. 2.6.18
    Susan Griffiths said:

    I so appreciate the approach you took. I think I can tackle my million tasks now one at a time. You did a great job.

  37. 2.6.18
    Jenn said:

    hahaI totally relate to your window saga! We just finished skimcoating our house and now whenever people come over i’m all like “LOOK AT MY WALLS!!.” We need to fix some broken windows this year too…you made it look so easy in the past, here’s hoping I can too! Glad you’re back at this whole blogging thing :)

    • 2.7.18
      Daniel said:

      Haha, I remember well asking everyone to admire my ceilings after getting them drywalled! Because I finally had ceilings again! It’s amazing the things you learn to really appreciate that nobody would ever think twice about.

  38. 2.6.18
    Meredith said:

    Oh, hey, someone wrote down the inside of my brain!
    This is lovely, and excellent, and great inspiration to tackle a few FINE projects of my own. Although I think your armoire is actually closer to FOINE. Which is an Indigo Girls parody waiting to happen. …I’ve gotten off track.

  39. 2.6.18
    Kate said:

    I’m seriously contemplating putting “that subtle difference between hoarding and collecting. Collectors store their shit well” on a tshirt and giving it to all my family members. And if it makes you feel any better, my parents started building their house in 1989 (no that’s not a typo) and it’s still not finished. Or even anywhere close to being finished.

  40. 2.6.18

    So Daniel, because I love you, I’m going to give you the title of your book.

    Nobody Ever Sits In Bedroom Chairs.

    You’re welcome;).

    • 2.7.18
      Daniel said:

      Put it on a paperback and sell it at the airport! Done!!

  41. 2.6.18
    Arli said:

    Good enough is good enough!

    • 2.7.18
      Daniel said:

      Ya damn right!

  42. 2.6.18
    Heidi said:

    We bought a COMPOUND last summer–3 houses on one lot. Two old adobes and one old mobile home. My husband is a purist and wants to tear off all the cement plaster (It doesn’t breathe!) and put on lime or earthen plaster. What a project!

    The one thing we feel guilty about not doing is solar panels. So expensive, but they do nothing, right? But we have great south facing roofs.

    • 2.7.18
      Daniel said:

      Wow, what a project indeed!! Sounds exciting and ambitious!

      Solar is so complicated, ugh. I don’t know a ton about it but my minimal understanding is basically that you can either buy the panels and generate your own electricity ($$$$$$$) or lease the panels and use the electricity you need. But because you’re leasing the panels, the company that owns them gets all the tax credits and incentives, and you pay basically the same as you’d pay on a traditional power grid, and you have these things on your roof that aren’t particularly attractive? (Someone feel free to chime in and tell me how wrong I am about all of this!)

      One of the more encouraging solar things I’ve seen lately is the Tesla roof! It’s really good-looking and seems like it’s aimed at disrupting the existing solar roof economy that doesn’t favor consumers.

    • 2.8.18
      Heidi said:

      I’ve seen articles about the Tesla panels–I forgot, because all the new high-tech things that seem like they’re going to save the planet rarely become available. Probably because in 8th grade science, 40 years ago or so, I made a model of a solar cell and thought there was no way this wouldn’t be everywhere by the time I grew up.

  43. 2.6.18
    Gillianne said:

    “IT’S. FINE. A great many things are fine being just fine.” That’s a powerful life philosophy right there, it really is. In fact, it’s downright wise.

    I recently read something meant to de-intimidate (we oldsters can neologize if we want to) people from socializing in their own homes: “Less perfection, more connection.” That’s wise, too, and it’s applicable to other aspects of life.

    Sounds as if you’re learning to loosen up about perfection–it’s a process, I know–and gaining more connections that you find rewarding. A darned good start for 2018.

    • 2.7.18
      Daniel said:

      Less perfection, more connection! Love that!

  44. 2.6.18
    Mari said:

    Oh man. Your quick screw-it job is so pretty, this is why we love you.

  45. 2.6.18
    Susan said:

    Love to read your posts. They equal the design, IMHO.
    I also love home design.
    As a result, I have studied Feng Shui for a while now and I want to address that naked man art.
    It’s not the nakedness, its the LONE PERSON in the art-usually “sad” or “alone” art keeps people that way.
    I know it’s kinda woo-woo superstitious voodoo stuff, LOL, but FS works for me.
    I’d look for art that has a happy naked couple (or whatever) to lift the energy in that room and tell the universe EXACTLY what you want in life. :)

    • 2.7.18
      Daniel said:

      But what if I WANT TO BE NAKED AND ALONE?! Haha, I’ve never thought about my art this way, to be honest…although I’ll point out that I’m happily coupled so being alone in this bed has not really been a particular problem. But if that should change, I’ll take it under advisement! :)

  46. 2.6.18
    Susan said:

    I feel like I should comment in every single post of yours just to show you how loved you are no matter how long of a break you take. It’s the writing, it’s the vulnerability you reveal by showing us your thought processes and the things none of us want to admit are true of us too. And, you give us such great eye candy with the projects you do.

    And Amen to the commenter who mentioned feng shui and the lone figure in the art above the bed. It’s fine for maybe a hall or somewhere but not in your personal space.

    Love your writing and love you!

    • 2.7.18
      Daniel said:

      Haha, thank you! I do feel loved—no pressure to comment, I will be OK either way!! But it don’t hurt! ;)

  47. 2.7.18
    Helena said:

    As a fellow cronic overthinker, thank you for putting “my” ramblings into coherent sentences. :-)

  48. 2.7.18
    Rachel said:

    Snap, snap and…snap! I too am of the “it must be perfect” bent, which of course means that I do the easy bit (demo), then can’t quite work out the *best* way of rebuilding things better, so they sit half-done for months or years. Thanks for this post, it’s a great reminder that sometimes good enough is just right.

    • 2.7.18
      Daniel said:

      Oh gawwwddddd yes. Sometimes I feel like all I ever do is tear things apart (hard to screw that up!) and have to remind myself of the things I *have* actually put back together so I don’t forget that I am, actually, capable of that part too.

  49. 2.7.18
    Rachel said:

    Oh man, Daniel- this post speaks to my soul. Three and half years into my home “renovation” and I can relate to every damn thing you wrote. Also, spurred by a blog post you wrote a while ago, I recently fixed the cabinet hardware thingies that keep my kitchen cabinets shut. It bothered me for a year that they didn’t stay shut. It literally took me 10 (ten!!!!) minutes to add new stay-shut thingies. So satisfying and infuriating in that I didn’t do it ages earlier.
    Anyway, love your blog and your writing. Keep up the great work!

    • 2.7.18
      Daniel said:

      Thanks Rachel! And YAY! Those little fixes are the best. I wish all projects were like that!

  50. 2.7.18
    Cecilia said:

    I find EVERYTHING you write so relatable! Good job with the armoire, and yes, neatly stacked linens = eye candy.

  51. 2.7.18
    gigi said:

    Most of my house is unfinished projects. It seems one fix leads to another needing to be fixed. /Wonderful to read your blog posts again.

  52. 2.7.18
    Eileen said:

    “Nobody sits in bedroom chairs; they exist exclusively to collect laundry and fill awkward corners.”
    Or provide a place for a cat to sleep…the cats are no longer with me (sigh), but I still put my clothes on the floor instead of on the chair.
    So wonderful to hear from you again! We’ll take what we can get, however you want to share.
    And I will go do a thing. There are plenty to chose from!

  53. 2.7.18
    Martin said:

    Enjoyed the post, like all the others. Stay handsome.

  54. 2.7.18
    Colleen said:

    Oh my goodness I have missed your wit and sass.

  55. 2.9.18
    Eva said:

    When it comes to old houses, do you know what’s better than good? “Good enough.”

  56. 2.9.18
    Tara said:

    Very happy you are back – and even happier you are learning to live with “good enough”. Suddenly that house renovation is going to move right along. And the armoire looks great!

  57. 2.9.18
    Jessica said:

    LOL … so, there’s a character in Louise Penny’s mysteries series who is a poet and the grumpiest woman on the planet. She responds to questions of “how are you?” with “I’m FINE … Fucked up, Insecure, Neurotic and Egotistical.”
    I’ve decided that this is my new mantra. :)

    • 2.19.18
      Daniel said:


  58. 2.9.18
    Val said:

    Ya know it might be just fine & dandy to NOT stain and poly the shelves. At least for a good while. If they’re solid wood I bet they smell good and are probably helping the linens you’ve stored in there smell a little more like fresh sawdust instead of old, funky wood.

  59. 2.10.18
    Jen said:

    Dude, I missed you like we were friends since 6th grade and haven’t talked in 25 years but I knew it wouldn’t feel any different once we did. Welcome back!

  60. 2.11.18
    Kelly said:

    I have so many projects that are in limbo because I am afraid they won’t turn out a certain way. I need to just do. I am actually looking for a new chair to fill a awkward corner of my bedroom. The current model is stacked with pillows and a blanket. I’m wondering why I care so much about how it looks when it will always be buried under a pile of something.

  61. 2.12.18
    Bonnie said:

    I’ve been meaning to put up some of “those” shelf strips, but I can never get them exactly even and the shelves slant. I can live with a lot of things being way less than perfect, but not slanty shelves. Still, yours look so nice. And Lowe’s is only a short drive away …

  62. 2.12.18
    wendy said:

    OMG that armoire is fucking gorgeous! Well done on the interior and I love your blankets! The only thing it needs is an automatic door closer so you don’t have to get out of bed to close the door when you’re ready to go to sleep (or maybe that’s just me…) Well done.

  63. 2.13.18
    Sharon said:

    So nice to see your post! Also, is that a Hudson’s Bay point blanket on the bottom shelf?

    • 2.19.18
      Daniel said:

      Thanks, Sharon! Yes, it is! I found it at a garage sale in its original packaging for TEN DOLLARS and I think I almost started crying.

  64. 2.13.18
    Meite said:

    Thanks for sharing :) That was lovely, your lovely, and I can’t-stop-won’t-stop ever reading this blog.

  65. 2.13.18
    Ashley said:

    After following you for a few years it’s so refreshing to read this from you. Not only because of your previous post “I Went Away,” explaining how you were going to approach 2018, but also because from reading other blogs it can make readers feel like the writer’s projects are a little unrelatable and that they are those perfect “Pinterest people.” The fact that you’re willing to just work on a project, while still putting quality work into it, but not need to show us how perfect you made it is a nice change. Thank you for sharing with us.

  66. 2.13.18
    Sonya said:

    Thank you for posting this… you so brilliantly put into words exactly what I’ve been feeling for almost 2 years now. I’m a stay-at-home mom with a 5 year old who’s in school for just 3 hours a day, and a husband who works full time and is not very DIY and design inclined…and 2 years ago we purchased a 3000 sqft colonial revival that needs a TON of love. So many larger-scale projects (yucky out-dated kitchen and bathrooms! vinyl floors! cracked concrete patios!) as well as smallish ones that need attention as well (hideous light fixtures at every turn! ancient windows and doors! dingy dinged up trim everywhere that needs fresh paint) and I’m often finding myself so overwhelmed and uninspired by all of these big things that NEED to get done as a service to the house itself, but leave me with little personal joy at the end. Like, do I want to spend my time filling 100 holes in a door frame and then re-painting it white (ugghhhhh), or would I rather create an artistic gallery wall in my hallway? And as a type-A perfectionist, I tend to get bogged down in the details with even the little “fun” projects that bring me joy and add real value to my life, like your lovely big armoire. This was a such great reminder to JUST DO IT and not ITS OKAY if the finished result isn’t always perfect or magazine worthy!

  67. 2.13.18

    Mmmmm what a lovely piece that is, in all it’s imperfect loveliness. And – which is really important, just right for the job (as the person who owned it before you already found out!). I joined you after the death of your wee dog, and like lots of other readers who are regulars of yours, was glad when you came back. Just FYI, I am across the Atlantic pond, older than you, and live in a little 2 bed cottage built 1800. Nothing in this house is perfect. The walls are crooked, there are gaps under the skirting boards, and lots of the furniture is second hand (because that way, when you are fed it with it you don’t feel guilt about a family heirloom or the money you originally spent!! Even new stuff often gets a makeover because I CAN! We brought a new dining table last year because we couldn’t find anything second hand that would do the job we wanted…. and the first thing I did after it came in the house was paint the underneath and the legs – and I don’t care!

    Glad to make your aquaintance – and will be reading you again. Mrs Mac x

  68. 2.13.18
    greta said:

    I have a nice armoire that I have had for a very long time. I use it everyday to store my clothes. When I
    bought it both insides were half finished. To make it more useful, my solution was to just stack up those plastic bin crates laying on their sides, not attached to each other at all. Getting out tools always seems like a lot of work. Your solution looks like professional perfection to me.

  69. 2.13.18
    Sally said:

    Thank you, Daniel! Glad you are back!

  70. 2.14.18
    Jenny said:

    GAWD Daniel I am so glad you are back to writing for us all! I always relate to your thought process and the ramblings are adorbs, and your projects are inspirational. And, AND reading through the comments I realize that your readers are a tribe of like-minded, possibly anxietal, and ultimately just FINE people! Thank you for returning to us, and introducing us to one another; please continue as the urge strikes you.

  71. 2.15.18
    Camla said:


  72. 2.19.18
    Andrea said:

    The “good enough” philosophy is a way to keep yourself moving and sane. You “could have” scoured salvage places for the “perfect” antique shelves to install, etc., etc. but I’ll bet your life is much improved by having the shelves as they are now – installed and functional.

    One thing I must warn you about, though: unfinished lumber will eventually stain white and light colored textiles, particularly cotton. I know this from personal experience with an old armoire with new shelves.

    When the weather’s fine and mild, take those shelves out and give them a coat of some kind of poly or enamel paint, and let them thoroughly dry for at least 48 hours. Reinstall and they will never, ever trouble you again.

    • 3.2.18
      Daniel said:

      Oh, thank you so much! I didn’t even think about that!! I really appreciate it!