Home Ownership Chapter 4: I don’t do math, I went to Art School

DIY Home, Home Improvement, Interior Design

I’m a little behind here and I apologize for that. It’s been a busy few months and that doesn’t even touch on my house projects. But I’m back at it and want to keep going on documenting everything I’m doing with my new house.

Bye, bye asbesto! I no longer have ugly, dirty carpet, or tan and brown, cafeteria tile. I have beautiful honey bamboo flooring!

I guess it was back in March (like I said a little behind here) I started the process of ripping up the dirty carpet that was throughout my upstairs. Now, I knew the carpet was dirty- you could see the outline of where the furniture had been, which is honestly fairly normal when you’ve had carpet for so long and furniture in the same place. BUT, I guess when you’ve lived with this carpet for many many years, maybe you forget what it looked like and don’t realize how dirty it is. It’s like the difference between watching a child grow from age 4-6. If you watch them grow everyday, the changes seem small, from day to day you don’t see the differences. But if you see the child at age 4 and then not until age 6, those changes are extreme. I guess over time you don’t realize your carpet completely changes color. So when I was pulling this carpet up, and with it, the threshold pieces for each room, it revealed to me what the carpet looked like when it was first installed and wow, is it crazy. Pictured below is a close up of the awesome (sarcasm) products used in my house. Top: bathroom floor, which I will be living with for at least a year, Bottom: existing, exposed carpet, Middle: untouched, unexposed carpet underneath the bathroom threshold. It used to be WHITE (well pinkish white)! And is now a gross, brown, gray. It felt so nice to pull that up.


So the hardwood. I thought on this product for awhile. I knew I didn’t want laminate but I also didn’t want to spend $6/sq foot. This was actually the first product I found and liked and knew I could afford. But it took me about 2 months to buy it, I just wasn’t sure, I was afraid I’d change my mind on the color. Well naturally by the time I decided to buy it, Home Depot decided not to carry it in stores anymore. So after almost getting it .75 cents cheaper a sq/ft I bought it full price. Which I was planning on paying anyway, but when you think you can get it $300 cheaper, its kind of hard to let go of that.

As much as I like to do things myself and go through the process of learning something new, I don’t do math and laying flooring involves a lot of math. My dad and his two neighbors helped me out and it amazed me how they would yell measurements and terminology to each other and they would just get it right (for the most part). I don’t think they would have appreciated me yelling 13 inches and 5 ticks, on the side with the groove. I went to art school, they don’t even have math class there.

So since I’m not a master floor layer, I’m not going to pretend a tutorial here will help anyone, so here are just some pretty pictures of my new floors.

Below: Bye, bye, dirty, dirty carpet! The boys wanted to toss this out the window to dispose of it, on my tiny narrow street instead of walking it down the stairs. I was a little worried that if they did that there would just be clouds of dirty carpet dusty filling my street. Boys…


Below: 18 boxes of flooring, which after seeing my friend’s stack, I realized is nowhere near a lot.


Below: Pretty honey woodimg_6522

Below: My floors!

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Tip: Splurge on the underlayment, it’s really not even a splurge.

The one thing I did learn, and I’m not calling anyone out here, but I was told that using an underlayment material wasn’t necessary, and while, yes, that might be true for some houses, I don’t think it was good for mine. I have UNBELIEVABLY slanted floors, like legit I have to chop off some furniture legs to make sure things don’t slide off end tables, or position my bed so I don’t roll right off. Because of this I think there are places I could have used a material to even things out. I did notice this halfway through laying the flooring but ya know, too little too late. I was able to stick some in certain places so there wasn’t like a big dip, but you can definitely tell I could have used more. Not to mentioned the flooring against the tile could use a little noise barrier. But like I said, too little, too late and it’s really not too bad. Overall I’m super happy with it, it looks awesome for a pretty great price.


Home Ownership Chapter 3: Not the right kind of exposed ceilings

DIY, DIY Home, Home Improvement, Life

In my last post I told you about the big ticket items I’ve been checking off my list.. I talked about Number 1. Appliances being delivered and 2. Dealing with my “uh oh” with the fridge; Number 3 was the ceilings.

When I bought this house, every room, besides my new studio and the bathrooms, had acoustical tile on the ceiling, which if you don’t know what that is, it looks like popcorn ceiling (yuck) but in tile form; so much easier to get rid of (yay).

Now as awful as it sounds it didn’t occur to me that I could fix this in a semi-easy way, it never crossed my mind to bridge that subject with my personal contractor (Dad). But Lee; and he’ll tell you this didn’t happen but it is all his fault he got sucked into this; he recommended drywalling the ceilings. And once he said it, it was happening. He’s learned over the last 2 months to not express his ideas out loud anymore, sometimes he slips up though.

Originally the plan was to drywall the ceilings directly over the tile to avoid having to take it all down, but for one reason or another most of the rooms ended up having it taken down. The kitchen was first because there were signs of a leak. During the home inspection the inspector said his moisture meter came up dry, but it hadn’t rained in awhile when he took the reading so he said he couldn’t be positive the problem wasn’t still present. My dad didn’t recall this and said it was fine but I said “Chip and Jo would make sure there was no longer a leak, better to make sure now when things are in construction, then after the drywall is up and the ceiling is painted and we have to knock a hole in my new ceiling”. And I really did reference Chip and Jo, to which my dad responded “who?”; gotta work on that one. Naturally Chip and Jo know best.. Leak present. Leak fixed. Then the living room tile came down because my beautiful wrought iron railing that goes right up to the ceiling would make the ceiling uneven and also to make doing the electrical work easier. Then the hallway; well that was an accident, ya know momentum and an over eager neighbor, but a happy one because we realized the upstairs wasn’t insulated and without that the upstairs wouldn’t keep my AC in, which is super important to me. I told my realtor when I was looking at houses that I could have a house without heat, as long as it had AC, or the ability to install AC fairly easily (I know a guy..), I was good.


So over a few weeks those tiles came down and the drywall was ready to go up. I mentioned before, I’m very lucky to have such handy people in my family; handy and very generous. So one weekend in January a bunch of my cousins and a few of my dad’s friends came over to do the drywall. They started at 9:30 Saturday morning; they would have started earlier but I’m seriously concerned my neighbors will kick me off the block because of all the noise I’m making, and mostly wrapped up Sunday afternoon.

It was an interesting experience to say the least. We thought the more people the faster the job would go, but when you have 5 male egos in one room nobody wins.

It was a long few days and all I could really contribute was a tube of lipstick. What..? You didn’t know that was a tool used in drywalling? Me either. Think the toothpaste trick for hanging pictures, something like that.

Once all that was done the next step was the taping. Seems easy right? My dad said he didn’t want to do that so I said you don’t have to, I will, I’ve taped before, I’m actually a very good, very precise taper, if I do say so myself. Well, contrary to what you may think, taping is not putting tape up around the perimeter of the room so that the paint doesn’t get on the wall. Taping is spackling the screws and seams so that the ceiling is smooth for painting, which is not so easy. So once this was explained to me, I found someone to hired to come and do this for me. He spent about a week coming to the house on and off spackling and sanding, and then spackling and sanding and then spackling and sanding some more. He actually tackled some of the wall imperfections too. There are some things in this house that you can tell were properly installed and attentively taken care of and others not so much. Some of my walls weren’t done well from the beginning, you tend to see this often in city houses, so he smoothed out some of the imperfections there as well. He told me he was going to do this but it was alarming when I came to the house in the middle of his time there and saw this site. Must have been one very neglected wall.


In the end, I had smooth ceilings and a room full of white dust. Like everywhere, 2 inch piles in the corners. So much, I left white footprints going out the door instead of coming in. I got gray hair from the clean up; from the dust not the stress. And then my house was prepped for paint. The place looks so different with smooth white ceilings.


A few more big ticket items left and I can started moving things in and really think about a move in date. I do not plan on having everything done before I move in, I’m super anxious so I just can’t wait. The only other thing I will accomplish before moving myself there is the upstairs floors. Right now one room has asbestos tile (not ruined so I will not be pulling this up and the others have gross, old, stained-so-much-you-know-where-their-furniture-was carpet.

So my plan, because this tile so far doesn’t appear to be ruined, which would mean I’d have to go through the insane process of taking it up and disposing of it to prevent exposure, is to install hardwood over it, cheap hardwood but hardwood nonetheless.

Hardwood self-installation post to come. =)