replacing floors asbestos we can

Well if you follow me on Instagram, you have probably seen a few little hints of our new kitchen floors. And if you don’t well then you’re missing out on a lot of photos of baby Geoffrey. So. Your loss. Okay let’s rewind to a week before we moved in and decided to pull up the (oh so beautiful) carpet in the utility room.

IMG_9344I mean. It had to go.

We were hoping to uncover some original wood floors that just needed a bit of love, but sadly we uncovered this mess.


Womp womp. It turned out it was a vinyl that was probably added in the 70s, so we peeled up a bit of the linoleum in the kitchen and guess what? More vinyl. It’s hard to tell, but if you look closely you will see that this is actually a fancy gold glitter vinyl. SO fancy.

photo 1-1

The problem with this fancy pants vinyl, was that it had been laid with asbestos mastic. I mean. We just can’t get away from this stuff.

photo 2

We knew we wanted to replace the floors in the kitchen down the road, but we also knew that if we were doing the utility room, we’d have to do the kitchen at the same time so it would all look consistent. After doing a lot of research we learned that the safest option was to just lay new flooring over it. Scraping it up is virtually impossible, it will never be level, who knows what we would have uncovered, and it is super dangerous to breathe. We only had a week before we moved in and we needed to address the situation ASAP considering we didn’t want to walk on this vinyl let alone let Geoffrey walk on it. So we had to act fast. Normally this is the type of project we would have tackled ourselves, but because we were still in the middle of refinishing our floors, still had some packing to do, and had to move at the end of the week, we were clearly running out of time. So we made the executive decision to call in the pros.

Since hardwood wasn’t an option, I knew that I definitely wanted to go in with tile. And because I’m absolutely smitten with our original bathroom floors, I wanted to have a charming porcelain hex in the kitchen and utility room as well.

IMG_8380I contacted my Daltile Rep to see how quickly I could get 130sf of this tile, and she said she could have it shipped from Dallas and ready to pick up in 2 days. Sold. I struggled with the grout color a bit, and ended up going with Dove Gray (on the left) so that it wasn’t so contrast-y (that’s a real designer word).


Our tile contractor laid sheets of HardieBacker board to cover the vinyl mess and allow for the tile to be nice and level.
IMG_9542They applied the mortar onto the HardiBacker and laid out each sheet of hexagons, letting the mortar set for 24 hours.
IMG_9595 IMG_9603

Then they applied the grout and let it set over the weekend before sealing it.

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Yes, I know that the grout looks really thick around the edges, but that is because the quarter round is missing.


Geoffrey was very upset that he couldn’t walk on it yet.



IMG_9632And now for the truth: I ended up making the mistake of approving the installation before I was able to walk on it (while the sealer was still drying). The next day we ended up finding a lot of issues with some residual grout that wasn’t cleaned properly before the sealer was applied (which you can see the inconsistencies in the above photo). So now Derek and I are going to have to strip the sealer, clean the tile, and then reseal it ourselves. It was a very expensive mistake, and I have been dreading sharing this (not so glamorous) detail with you guys. But hey. You live and learn right? I don’t like sharing not so great projects, but I wanted to be honest and up front with why I haven’t shared our floors with you yet, or really anything for a couple of weeks. I have just been really upset with myself over the whole situation, but I’m moving on. My Rep gave me the products I need to strip and clean the tile, so that will be a fun (..what?) weekend. The utility room is really the worst part, but I can’t show you the kitchen side yet because that is an exciting post for another day. So here is a snippet..

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I think it’s safe to say we’ll be sticking to DIY for a while. Lesson learned.

hit the road popcorn ceilings

So I know it’s been awfully quiet on our end lately, but honestly we’ve just been unpacking so there really hasn’t been much to report these past few days. We have had a couple major projects up our sleeve though, one of which involves the disgusting popcorn ceiling in our living / dining room.


 As I mentioned in our home tour, this was the only room in the entire house that had popcorn ceilings. We’re assuming they wanted to hide some cracks or leaks since it had been used as a rental for so long, and popcorn ceilings tend to be a quick fix. Why? I have no idea. We were sort of in a pickle though because we knew our house is 80 years old, but we had no idea when the popcorn was applied. Meaning. We had no idea if the popcorn contained asbestos or not. We had initially planned to scrape the ceilings ourselves but the fear of the unknown (and the type of cancer that runs in my family) was weighing heavily on us, and we both agreed that professional abatement was the way to go. We knew that we needed to have it removed before we moved in. Otherwise. Holy mess. So we had a few contractors come out to give us their bids, and they got to work right away.



They covered our freshly refinished floors with paper, then literally covered every surface except for the ceiling with plastic. It was like a plastic fortress.




All of the white on the floor? Yeah that was popcorn.



They removed all of the popcorn, reinforced our ceiling in a few areas, retextured it with a nice orange peel finish, and painted it flat white. Let’s take one last look at the before.



Isn’t it so much better? It honestly makes the ceilings look higher. Probably because we no longer have stalactites hanging over our heads. We had them completely remove the gross (and sagging) ceiling fan and crystal chandelier (anyone want it??) because we knew were going to replace them. Also we plan to have our dining room near the fireplace and our living room where the chandelier is. It just didn’t make sense to leave them up even though we didn’t have anything to go up in their place.

We already know that we’ll end up hanging this pendant over the dining room side, but have been debating over what to hang over the living room side. We didn’t want a ceiling fan because we didn’t think we would really use it. We also didn’t want anything that hung similar to the dining pendant so that it didn’t look like a bunch of pendants when you walked in the door. We wanted something flush or semi-flush to the ceiling that just sort of blends in with the space without being too hey-look-at-me-I’m-a-light-hear-me-roar. Here are some of the styles we’ve been tossing around.

Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 11.41.50 PM1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

I think I’m leaning toward numbers 1, 5, and 7. What do you guys think?

it’s getting hot in here (but don’t take off your clothes)


You might recall the other part of the couple, the boy. I’ve been hiding in the shadows making jokes and finishing my masters. Since we’ve bought the house my mind has gone into high gear. So many things I want to do. Those all get shut down quick when none of my friends or myself can figure out why the heater in the house will not turn on. So I talked so several other friends and an electrician friend of mine.Turns out that some Air Handlers are NOT wired in directly to the homes power. It has an actual power cord just like your washer or dryer. It wasn’t plugged in and the wire was buried under insulation.

Before we bought the house, a stipulation of the purchase was that the entire house was rewired to update it to modern residential codes. Awesome. Except when the electricians don’t tell anyone how the HVAC was wired and didn’t try to fix it all. They just left it.

Challenge accepted.

The cord that the HVAC was using was spliced in to a very generic extension cord and the connection was just laying on the insulation unprotected. The cord was also too short because when the electricians added a new duplex outlet, they moved it another two feet away so the existing ghetto-rific cord wouldn’t reach.

new duplex distance

existing splice

existing cord

This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. After consulting my electrician friend he suggested that as long as the cord will not be any longer than three to four feet then the draw on a 110V 15AMP unit isn’t enough to be a hazard.

I’ve spent so much time and money at Home Depot the last few weeks I know where the break room is. And that they serve pizza. To bribe their employees into working during ice storms.

cord parts

I went and bought four feet of “SJ 12/2″ cable and a heavy duty 110V 3-prong plug and made my own cord. The plan was to wire it back to the unit and put the connections INSIDE the unit’s housing so it isn’t just sitting exposed in the attic at risk of touching combustible materials and starting a fire in my shiny new house.

This is pretty easy at this point. Make sure the breaker is turned off (that was Catharine’s job). Connect “white to white,” and “black to black,” and connect the ground (green) to something on the chassis of the unit. Note: black is the hot wire and white is the neutral wire. This is pretty standard practice. I exposed enough wire to wind them together and screw on a wire nut. I tried my best to expose as little as possible to prevent the wire from arcing on some other metallic object. The breaker would pop before anything happened but you never know.

exposed wired to be hooked up

wire coming out of unit

final wired to chassis

new plug in duplex

finnished project

Once everything was all buttoned up I plugged in the cord. I yelled for Catharine to turn on the breaker. No sparks or fire, ok good. I yelled for her to turn on the thermostat, motor turns on and the fan starts spinning up to speed. No sparks or fire, ok good.


I think I fixed it. I checked the cord to make sure it’s not heating up. I watched it run for a few minutes to make sure nothing looked weird. Then I turned it all off, unplugged it and put the housing back on and cleaned up all my toys tools. So far so good. The next HVAC project is installing a NEST thermostat.

I was lucky to have a retired electrician to consult before doing this. Please be careful when working with residential electrical. It can burn and hurt you. It can kill you. I’ve worked along several electricians over the years learning as much as possible. But nothing beats the security of a licensed, certified electrician. Be careful. Take precautions. Make sure your breakers are off and use a Multi-Meter to test the plug, switch, or light to make sure there is no power. DO NOT assume the switch turns off the power. I have been in a NEW house and the wall switch didn’t turn off the light’s junction box and I got shocked. That was not fun. Ok, PSA is over. Have a nice day.

let’s get a move on

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After three whole months (!!!) of living out of boxes (which is better explained here), we are officially moving into our new house tomorrow. We couldn’t be more excited. And after the random winter storm we had last night (and not having heat) we are beyond ready to be in our new place. We are currently having some work done in our kitchen, so it’s going to be a little chaotic to say the least. But if all goes according to plan, we hope to be pretty settled into our new abode by Sunday. I hope you guys are having a more relaxing weekend!

your modern eats: vegetarian chili

Apparently we have a major cold snap happening tonight. I mean my weather app literally has a snowflake on it. That is serious. Cold snaps mean one thing in Texas (or everywhere? I don’t know) and that’s CHILI. After going vegetarian back in August (more on that in another post) I was really sad that I’d never be able to eat chili again, especially my mom’s chili. So I made it my mission in life to find the best (and heartiest) vegetarian chili recipe. And boy did I ever.

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 10.32.59 PM

You will need:

1 tbsp olive oil

3 cloves garlic

2 bay leaves

1 tsp ground cumin

2 tbsp oregano

1 tbsp salt

1/4 cup chili powder

1 tbsp black pepper

1/2 onion

2 stalks celery

2 green bell peppers

2 jalepenos

1 (15oz) can whole kernel corn

1 (15oz) can black beans

1 (15oz) can garbanzo beans (drained)

1 (15oz) can kidney beans (drained)

3 (28oz) cans whole peeled tomatoes (crushed)

2 (4oz) packages of vegetarian burger crumbles

Step One:

Finely chop all of your garlic, onion bell peppers, jalepenos, and celery. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in your bay leaves, chopped vegetables, garlic, cumin oregano, and salt.

Step Two:

Once all of the vegetables are cooked through, mix in the vegetarian burger crumbles. Reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and let simmer for 5 minutes.

Step Three:

Mix in the cans of tomatoes and stir in the chili powder and pepper. Add your kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and black beans and stir. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 45 minutes covered.

Step Four:

Stir in the corn, and let it cook for 5 more minutes before serving.

Now the garnishing is up to you. We personally like to make sweet cornbread to crumble up inside, and add shredded cheddar cheese, but to each their own. I should probably warn you that this makes enough for an army (or about 12 servings depending on how hungry you are). I like to make it and either share it with friends, or eat on it for a week. There is something about chili, that somehow even the leftovers taste better than the day before. Most people who have tried this recipe didn’t even know that it doesn’t have meat in it until after we told them. If you have another vegetarian chili recipe, please share!

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