adventures in heatherland

Renovation: Thresholds.

I’d like to state something for the record: I hate raised thresholds.


Why do I hate them? Beside a general dislike for how they look, if there is any sort of a raised threshold in a doorway, that means I can’t simply vacuum from room to room without picking the vacuum up. And I shed like a family pet, so vacuuming (and cleaning my hair out of vacuums) is an almost daily activity for me. Also they collect dirt, they never really match anything, and sometimes they are so high they are a toe-stubbing-hazard.


When I imagine my dream house, I see the flooring smoothly going from room to room without any sort of obvious threshold. As we were planning out the new flooring in our house, the topic of thresholds came up and Mr. Heatherland has been very, very patient with me.

Me: “I hate thresholds, it all has to be flush from room to room”
Him: “Do you have any idea how difficult that is?”
Me: “Difficult like ‘impossible‘, or difficult like ‘inconvenient‘?”
Him: “Like near impossible.”
Me: “So it is possible. Good. No thresholds.”

I kinda wonder if he thinks talking to me is like reasoning with Jim Carey from Dumb and Dumber.


He and I revisited this conversation a few times, he even tried to get me to buy a marble threshold for the bathroom “just in case”. But in the end he indulged me, and with the addition of a second subfloor the tile in the bathroom was perfectly flush with the flooring in the hallway.


In the end, it worked out perfectly.  We has a flush joining of the tile and the wood,  with a 1/8″ gap between them to match the grout lines in the bathroom.


This an expansion gap, and whatever you use to fill it cannot be rigid, since it has to shift and move as the house settles. Otherwise something is going to give and it ain’t gonna be pretty.


I filled it with a 3/8″ backer rod, stuffing into place with a putty knife. The backer rod will give a flexible, even, and stable surface for silicone to rest on.


Place two strips of masking tape along either side of the gap.


Fill it with a silicone that matches your grout. And try not to squeeze it like an animal getting it everywhere… Like I did. Then run a damp finger over the line, finishing it off by wiping off the excess with a damp sponge.


Immediately pull off the masking tape.


Let it dry fully for 24 before fully enjoying a life with no thresholds, like this:


Renovation: Load Bearing Wall.

The only toe to toe debate Mr. Heatherland and I have had was about the placement of an engineered beam that would replace this load bearing wall between the kitchen and the living room.

With the wall in place, the kitchen was dark and claustrophobic, and the living room felt disconnected. In an effort to create a more open concept layout, that wall needed to go. But it required some tender loving care because it’s load bearing and packed full of switches, outlets, thermostats, and radiators.


So after the initial demo was done, our electrician pulled back all the wires, the great beam debate began. I wanted the beam to be sunk into the attic so the ceiling would be flush. He did not want to do that for a variety of timeline, labor, and budget issues, and was quite fine with the idea of a 6″ beam hanging down from the ceiling.



Back and forth we went, but I can only beg, threaten, and pout for so long. Since I wasn’t the one actually doing the heavy lifting, I felt like I didn’t have much of a leg to stand on besides knowing that aesthetically I was right. And just around the time I was coming to terms with a visible beam in my open concept, he invited a couple guys from work over to get a second opinion.


These two gents, an architect and a general contractor, came by the place and in a matter of minutes (in their own way) said that the structural wood beams should be up in the attic, leaving nothing but a flush, beautiful ceiling behind. Interesting.


When Friday rolled around and I knew he was tackling “the beam” while I was at work. And let me tell you, it is impossible to express my joy when arrived at the house that evening and the beam was recessed into the ceiling, the wall was down, and it already looked phenomenal.

He’s my hero. I am *beaming* from ear to ear.

Renovation: Popcorn Ceilings.

When we were first looked at this house, I couldn’t even focus on all the work that needed to be done because I was so distracted by the most hideous thing in some older homes: Popcorn Ceilings.


Count yourself a lucky person if you’ve never had any experience with them. Officially called “acoustic ceilings”, they were invented after World War II as a design feature in new homes to keep noise from traveling room to room. But you can’t clean them, they look like cottage cheese, and back in the day they were chock-full-o-asbestos. Lovely.


Before we bought the place we sent a sample to be tested for asbestos, just in case, and when it came back clean I knew this would be one of my first projects to tackle since it is really, really messy.

Armed with a step ladder, a garden sprayer filled with warm water, a large scraping trowel, and some rosin paper for the floors, I got to work spraying sections of the ceiling and scraping the nasty stuff off the drywall. The whole house took me three days, it took a little longer because I could only keep my arms up in the air for a few hours at a time… I’m only human, after all.


What now? Well, I’d like to say the hard part is done, but the ceilings need a lot of work. I need to patch it, sand it, and prime it with a drywall primer before painting.


It’s a lot of work, but I think it will be well worth it in the end to give this house a more modern feel.

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