Gonyea Home

The story of our home

Meet the models….errrr….dogs

We are married. Joe is 32. I turn 30 in April. We have a house. We don’t have kids. We  have dogs. Dogs who we love and spoil and treat like people. Sometimes they wear matching holiday sweaters. Sometimes they wear jerseys. They are allowed on the bed and the couch. And they travel in our cars. We love them.

Meet Cooper. She is “my” 6 year old mut named after Marissa Cooper from the TV show, The O.C. That is a real fact by the way. We call her Coop, Coopus, and Coopey. When she bad I call her Cooper Morton Gonyea and threaten to send her to live the homeless. Though lets face it, look at that face! Never gonna happen…

Meet Chino. He is “Joe’s” 12 year old chihuahua. He is named after the drummer from the Deftones. We call him stinky (bad breath issues), cheenis, and a hole host of other names that Joe would kill me for revealing. Since he is never bad (says Joe) we never have to use his full name. Joe insists we carry him up and down the stairs. Of course with is cuddly as he is no one minds.

We all know our pets weasel their way into our hearts and lives in ways we could never expect. Before you know it you are those creepy people who don’t have kids, but have dogs. My parents call them their granddogs. They spend weekends together and even get off limit food items.  If I die I want to come back as either one of our dogs. So naturally the next step was to have them (and us) professionally photographed. I was thinking about Chino’s age and more importantly his significance to Joe and realized we have a lot of iphone pictures, but nothing really great to look back on years from now. Fast forward through the photographer search and I found Michelle Able with Michelle Able Photography. She is amazing and she has a new blog. She captured all of us together, but more importantly Joe and Chino together perfectly. I wanted to have the pictures done at our house and on our street so it would really be us. Everything turned out so wonderfully and I really couldn’t be happier. Joe loves them! And can you blame him??

Makes my heart smile. And you can see more here: http://naturallyyoursblog.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/the-gonyeas-pups/

Note: You didn’t miss anything- Joe and I don’t work together. I do work with the person who referred Michelle to me.

So much harder than I thought!

This blogging thing is hard! Even worse I feel like every time I end up trying to type out a post I say that! Arrgghh! But in all fairness to myself here is whats been going on in the little world of us (mostly me 🙂 ):

1. One of my dearest closet bestest friends is getting married in April! So since I talked blogged last we all went to Napa for her bachelorette party. It was ah-maze-ing! Three days with friends, wine, food, more wine, showers, wine, and more food. I came home and needed some time to recover. Obviously. And whiten my teeth after all the red wine.

2. Same friend had a beautiful bridal shower brunch in Dallas. I rarely miss a chance to brunch or drink mimosas or see Mandy so clearly I was there.

3. A dear close wonderful law school friend is having a baby- ANY DAY NOW!!! So naturally we hosted a shower for Jessica and what I can only imagine will be her wonderfully adorable sweet baby girl- Emerson Paige!

4. We hosted a super bowl party because that is what the Gonyea’s do! It was so much fun and guess what- our lovely marble counter tops don’t even have a stain to show for it! Of course hosting a party meant we spent what free time we had on the weekends doing little projects around the house. Nothing major, just touching up paint, adding in some missing baseboards, etc.

5. Probably the biggest time taker upper of all was Oscar Night America. So that is what this blog will be about. 🙂

I started volunteering with the American Cancer Society about 4 years ago. I dove in immediately by co-chairing the fashion show committee for the Starlight Gala. Then I did it again the next year. Last year ACS hosted its first annual Oscar Night. It is an awesome event! It’s officially sanctioned by the Academy so we get the same programs the celebs get at the actual Oscars. You get to wear a fancy dress, eat fancy food, drink fancy wine and raise money for cancer. I got involved through my friend Trish and stayed involved because of what it means to me. Joe is a cancer survivor. His mother passed away of cancer. This year my mom lost a very close friend to cancer. And my dad’s mom passed away of cancer before I was born. So clearly being involved is a no brainer. Well the event, like the Oscars, was last night. This year I was the co-chair. It created quite a busy few months. Lots of meetings and prep, but it all paid off and it was an amazing event last night! And of course all the amazing volunteers made 99.9% of it happen. I helps to have so many awesome people committed to such an awesome cause!










I would say the other reason for the lack of posting would be money in that renovating a house is expensive! And I know, I never posted a final picture of kitchen and I will do that asap!

So that covers from December to February…almost! I have a few other things I will cover later, but right now I am sleep deprived.



I will never cook again…not that I did before….

Because holy crap, our kitchen looks uh-maze-ing. No seriously- picture Kristen Wiig’s character Sue from SNL. This is me unable to control my excitement right now:

So this is what our kitchen looked like when we moved in (look at that amazing fan!):

Ohhh she was a looker wasn’t she?! I mean those cabinets! That floor! Ohh and the ceiling light covered in plastic tiles.  Needless to say it didn’t last long. We moved in and did this:

You know it, in true Gonyea home-remodel fashion we completely destroyed it. We ripped up the tile, trashed all the cabinet and drawer doors and pulled that UGLY light thing out of the ceiling.  As you already know we got cabinet doors and hardware from Ikea. We also had hardwood floors laid down and put in a light fixture from this century. We also purchased a new refrigerator and dishwasher. Then we waited.

A few short months felt like an eternity. I looked at granite and marble. Cried when one place told me a slab of carerra marble (my dream counter top) cost $10,000. I was so upset I ate a donut…from Shipleys…at the tile place. You can ask Emily. She was there and so upset by me being upset that she ate one too. But then the Heaven’s opened and Olympus Marble, Inc. began so sing (specifically Raffi via Emily) and my dreams came true. See!!!!!

We got a new stove! On sale at Lowes! It was regularly $950 on sale for $675. But it was the last one and the display model so we got it for $575. Score board Gonyea! We got a new sink too and a faucet.  And currently my favorite tile man of all time is currently installing the backsplash. Oh did I mention that Joe installed the stove, the sink and the faucet? He really did!

Finished product soon to come! The house is a mess so its being bashful right now…no pictures please!

We are so bad at this!

Seriously! We are really bad at this whole blogging thing. What is worse is things are really starting to take shape. Here in no particular order are our (my) excuses:

1. Football season is upon us

2. We went to Costa Rica for a long weekend with Heather & Morgan

3. Work has been crazy for both of us

4. Lazy

Clearly #4 is the real answer, but just to prove a point here is a picture from Costa Rica. Ahhh seeing that makes me want to go back…

This weekend  a Jessica and I hosted a wedding shower for my dear friend Shelley. Check out her blog here:  http://live-with-love-and-laughter.blogspot.com/   She has a lot of great DIY wedding ideas.

Hosting clearly means we kicked it in to high gear for a few weeks trying to take care of a few small things. So without further ado I present to you the transformation of the guest room and bathroom:

It started off like this:

It is insane to me that it used to look like this!  There was carpet and stars on the ceiling that glowed in the dark. We have since had it painted, removed the stars, and ripped up the carpet. You can see the bathroom in this picture and see that it had poop brown tile.  We painted the tile white using floor paint, the whole bathroom was painted, spruced it up with a better shower curtain and rod, and added a window treatment and some accessories. Now…is this done? No. Is it better? Yes- MUCH!

Here are so in between shots before we show you are closer to finished product:

And here is where we stand today:

Oh and if you are wondering, yes, I can’t wait to get rid of that mirror and lighting situation that is happening. And I want a new desk too and chair.

Lessons we learned from this:

1. It is unlikely you will be gutting your guest bathroom a month after buying your house, painting the whole thing and having new floors installed. Why you ask? Oh you know, because you are  poor. That is the only lesson. Remember when your mom said money doesn’t grow on trees? She was right.

In all seriousness there are some really easy things you can do to make a space more livable without using a sledge hammer. We used Valspar floor paint to paint the tile and sealed it with the same stuff you use when  you stain concrete. It was much easier than ripping up the floor and putting in all new tile. We got rid of the crappy blind and put up window treatment we got at Lowes. Add some new accessories and shower curtain and viola- major embarrassment fades to minor.

Stay tuned because in two weeks new countertops are being installed, new stove top, sink faucet and back splash. I CANNOT WAIT!

Talk to you soon and don’t forget to subscribe!

The saga continues

I lied. The next post won’t be about The Apollo. One of these days Joe will get around to that. I won’t promise though! 😉 After all it is football season and we did spend the weekend in Dallas for Texas-OU.

My current state of despair is based one one thing and one thing alone. KITCHEN CABINETS. UGGGGG!

In effort to be handy and thrifty we attempted to salvage our kitchen cabinets. This meant we didn’t rip everything out and start over. We took down all the doors and pulled out all the drawers and had the painters slap a fresh coat of paint on the frames.

We found doors and drawers at Ikea. We went with Adel in white. They were plain, simple and turns out they fit perfectly when using our existing hinges (note our thriftiness!). Everything was going along smoothly until…a few (4 to be exact) hinges were not reusable. Off to Lowes we went. Then to Berings and Ace Hardware and Restoration Hardware and Home Depot. No one had them and what is sold as a suitable replacement is anything but suitable. As it turns out our current hinges are discontinued. Commence internet search.

I have narrowed down what it is we need by manufacturer and model number and found a few websites that seem promising. We don’t have them yet so we currently have one cabinet that does not close properly at all and one cabinet with no door. Though I suspect Hingegate is nearly resolved. I can feel it- one of these days the perfect hinge is going to arrive via mail, be installed and all the angels will sing. Until them I will spend my time dreaming.

So the next tip in our every growing list of things we have learned is- check all the pieces to your puzzle to make sure it can actually be put together. Or just count on finding the same hinges your house from 1976 currently has. Simple, right??

In the mean time I deperately want to get rid of this desk and chair and by get rid of I mean sell. Any buyers?? 🙂

I know it would make more sense to post the chair and the desk in the same room with each other, but that meant I had to carry it upstairs and I just didn’t feel like it!


Now that we know Joe doesn’t have to have surgery on his pinky hopefully we will be getting new counter tops and a new sink/faucet combo. Naturally it’s all picked out just turns out we haven’t won the lottery. Stay tuned!

Our house becomes a home

Our house finally feels like a home. That and it’s been a long time since we updated. YIKES! Things in the Gonyea Home have been busy. We went to Joe’s parents –Gonyea Ranch – for a visit. We had a great time seeing all of our adorable nephews. Then, of course as you know if you are a red blooded American, football season is upon us. Joe had a draft in Austin and then this weekend had one in Houston as well. I suppose I shouldn’t complain because a draft always means I get to see my girlfriends for slumber party time. By the way the movie Crazy Stupid Love is fantastic!

On another note today is my and Joe’s two year wedding anniversary. We didn’t intend on getting married on a holiday weekend, but the venue we wanted was only available that day in September. We went to Greece for our honeymoon (Grand Mykonos Resort) and Nicaragua for our one year (Jicaro Eco Lodge). This year we bought a house so we decided what better way to celebrate than by being here. So this is what we did:

Friday we ran errands. Made our typical trip to Lowes and then went to Whole Foods for dinner. We had to make another stop at Richard’s Liquors because Whole Foods didn’t have the Heineken mini kegs. Do we party that hard? Sometimes. For our anniversary I got Joe a mini beer keg for the Apollo. What is the Apollo? Look for Joe’s post next on how to stain concrete.

Saturday we did stuff around the house. More cabinet hanging and hardware installing. Joe had his Houston fantasy football draft and I had Shelley and Charles’ engagement party. The party was great and I can’t wait for the wedding!

Sunday morning we got up and walked across Kirby to Café Express for breakfast. I keep forgetting we can walk to Sorrel at Kirby and Greenbriar. Maybe next weekend. Then we headed to Borders since it is going out of business and in our neighborhood as well. Joe got a book about Aliens and has been reading it non-stop. I headed out to run a few non-husband errands and decided to get a hand towel to keep in the Apollo for spills since the traditional anniversary gift is cotton. I am sure you are starting to guess what the Apollo is and its purpose. We got a couple’s massage at Fiori and saw Rise of the Planet Apes. Massage and movie were both meh. Regardless it was great to spend a day not working (on law stuff) and just hanging out with Joe.

That brings us to today. I got a Shark 2 in 1 vacuum and steam mop! It is amazing. I mean really really awesome. We have no carpet in our house aside from rugs and the make shift closet. I have no experience in keeping dark hard wood floors clean and it’s been tricky! The maid hasn’t been coming because of all the remodeling and I just constantly feel like everything is dirty and dusty and it is driving me INSANE! Well fret no more- this hardwood floor (good for stained concrete and tile as well) gadget is amazing! While I enthusiastically cleaned floors Joe hooked up the icemaker and water to the fridge. Then we sipped on orange water by the pool. The orange water was spa inspired because I found another great deal at Bed Bath & Beyond. Joe is making dinner tonight and I can’t wait. Hope it is as good as his birthday dinner at Tony’s. In all seriousness, thankfully one of us can cook.  Everything he makes is amazing and he is so creative in the kitchen. We had lobster last Thanksgiving.

Needless to say things have really progressed and changed and not just at Branard Street. As a married couple we have transitioned from apartment dwellers to homeowners and from newlyweds to old married folk. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love our life and I love our home.

Joe will be on board later this week for his take on DIY concrete staining. And remember, if you don’t follow us- please do!

Tips & Tricks

Joe and I have made it pretty clear we are learning a lot. We feel it’s only fair that we share some of what we learn so that others don’t make the same mistakes or can plan better. On the off-chance you jump into the deep end here is some information we hope you will find handy:

1. Forget being done on time. It won’t happen, doesn’t happen and should be placed in the impossible category. Which means be prepared to live with people in your home. This means water bottles, trash, and generally people just not following your rules being there every day. Take a DEEP breath. It will end someday right???

2. Order of events should be (if you are doing similar projects): pull up the floor, paint the walls, lay the new floor, and then bring in the painters for touch ups. Don’t pull up some floor while painting or pull up some floor after painting. It’s just a bad idea, trust me!

3. Use your words but be careful about the words you use. You hired the people, you are paying the people so they need to do the job the way you want it. Don’t be rude remember they are there when you are not. Do be honest and tell them you expect honesty back. Express your frustrations but don’t move their tools on the front yard. I wanted to but Joe wouldn’t let me.

4. Buy a home warranty if you buy an older home. We got everything in the house and at the end of the day that is what matters. Until the a/c quits working.

Funny side note: We sat on our couch and watched TV while eating premade food from Whole Foods and then slept on our queen size blow up mattress. Think of the irony: we moved out of an apartment and bought our first home only to live like freshman in college. We are quite sad we didn’t take a picture of our arrangement.

5. If your electrician is going to replace your breaker box know that Center Point gives you a four-hour window for coming to unlock your electric meter. They will show up after four hours so tell your electrician not to come until after that time passes. After the breaker box is installed and you need an inspection don’t call your home inspector he can’t help you. The city does these inspections. Oh and turns out that your electricity will be off during said breaker box repair so don’t have the guys there trying to finish up the floors. Those saws don’t run on batteries.

6. When you meet with contractors make a list of what you want them to do and go through it in your meeting. Ask questions as they come up so you don’t call them 5-6 times a day with random follow-up questions. Also, if you notice your husband is just saying “yes” to everything a person and that person’s first language isn’t English-intervene! Turns out your husband is useless in that field. See comment about calls 5-6 times a day to clarify things.

7. Be patient. Be patient with your spouse, be patient with your workers, be patient with everyone. Getting upset, sulking and threatening to sit in the bathtub and cry will get you nowhere. Especially if your bathtub doesn’t have a stopper.

We have made it this far and every day we see progress. I can’t wait for the before and after post. Maybe it will be more like a before, middle and after. That way you can see how the previous owners had it arranged, what happened during our remodel and then end result. Oh and one last tip: try to avoid the hottest summer on record for your move and remodel.

Oh one more list and that is funny things that have been said:

1. Internet guy: Are you a lawyer? I need a lawyer. I have an aggravated assault charge in my home state. Me: My husband does criminal defense, do you want his card?

2. Same guy to the pool guy: is the pool ready for me to go swimming in?

3. Floor guy: you sound really serious. Me: Floor guy, I don’t sound serious. I am serious.

4. Joe: Today it really sounds like home. I got here and there weren’t 5 other dudes here.

5. Gas connection guy: You are going to rent this place out, right? Me: nope, we bought it to live in.

6. Emily: Joe, I told you I would hate that chair.

7. Joe: How do you want to fire him? Me: I am just going to start moving his crap out in the front yard. I think he will get the picture.

8. Heather & Morgan: This place has a lot of potential.

9. Mom: Can your movers store your stuff for one week and see if y’all can stay somewhere?

I think that sums up where we have been and where we are going. Subscribe to our blog or follow us!

How to Remove Saltillo Tile

Saltillo Tile is typically installed using a mortar base which makes it very durable, but also very permanent.  Removal is a difficult, time consuming process.  My wife and I like and appreciate modern design, and, unfortunately, the saltillo tile that has cozily resided in our project home for the better part of 20 years was irreconcilable with the direction we wanted to take the home.  It met its demise over the weekend.  The following is a step by step guide on the removal process.

Step 1:  Don’t do it.  It’s harder than you think and you’ll be shocked, disgusted, and depressed by the pathetic excuse of a floor waiting for you underneath.

Step 2:  See Step 1.

Step 3:  If you ignore  all sound advice  and your better judgment, and you feel as though you must remove saltillo tile, then you’ll need the following tools:

Electric Tile Stripper – It turns out that this tool is pretty much useless, but I wasted a lot of money renting it, and you should too so I can feel better about myself.

Crowbars – At least one short length crowbar and one medium length.

Hand-held sledge hammers – Don’t bother with the long handle, this is finesse work.

Shovel –  Preferably one with a sharp front edge.

Dust Masks and Goggles – You are going to create dust, a lot of it.  Also, every time you hit the tile, it will send pieces flying in all directions.  Goggles will help protect your eyes, but they may damage your street cred.  That’s a cost/benefit you’ll have to weigh on your own.

Friends Who Suffer From Dementia And/Or Have Otherwise Distorted Ideas About Their Self-Worth – It’s probably not necessary that your friends are mentally infirm, but mine are and we got the job done.

Step 4:   Hammer the flat end of the crowbar under the mortar thinset and start prying it up.  Don’t attempt to remove the tiles and then the thin set, the tiles will come up much easier if you get under the mortar.  When you get a few pieces up, use the shovel instead of the crowbar to clear a larger area at a time.   Repeat ad nauseam.   Don’t be discouraged when the individual tiles shatter into a million pieces, making it nearly impossible to remove.  That’s just part of the fun.  Chip away at each little piece until it comes up.  It will … eventually.

Step 5:  Complain, a lot.  It sucks.

Step 6:  Run the Electric Tile Stripper over the areas where you have removed tile so you can claim that you used the very expensive and very unnecessary tool.

Allen using the Electric Tile Stripper

Step 7:  The worst part is gathering all of the individual pieces of shattered tile and taking them to the dumpster.  Your wife and the wives of your friends will volunteer to help.  Delegate this task to them.  They will be happy that they are included.  You’ll be happy that you don’t have to do this back-breaking labor.  It’s win/win …until you blog about it and they realize that they spent all afternoon doing the most difficult part of the job while you were laughing about it behind their backs.  Then it’s lose/lose.


Step 8:   Once you’ve finished or given up, drink beer, hit the pool, and try not to let your wife take a photo of you passed out in the sauna with another guy.


The weekend was a success by most standards. With the help of some wonderful friends (who may not be our friends if we keep asking for favors!) all the tile on the first floor is removed. For all you DIY’ers Joe is going to post his do’s and don’ts about tile removal next.

In keeping with the nature of remodeling, we encountered some hiccups.  The purpose of pulling up the tile was to either stain or finish the concrete. In the room that will be the home theater (Joe will also post on this later) the floor is great. To say that in the floor in the foyer isn’t so great would be an understatement. It is more like a disaster. It is uneven, about 2 inches lower and overall a complete mess. So we have come up with a new plan, or 100th plan (but at this point who is really counting?)  Tile! I actually think it may work out better.

The good news is things are moving along. The bad news is it feels like it’s moving very slowly.  They started laying hardwood on the 3rd floor and they are pulling up what is left of the tile on the 2nd floor. The painters are coming to touch up on Friday and then we move  SATURDAY! I MEAN THIS SATURDAY- THE 6TH. For the past two nights I haven’t been able to sleep. We have so much to do!  We haven’t finished buying fans, light fixtures, cabinet doors, hardware, etc.  And, it turns out, we didn’t win the lottery. That means the paint and floors are the big thing right now. Everything else is coming in time and in the form of projects. Yet another reason to check back!

Oh and I am again singing the praises of Mini Roll Off Services. We filled up our first dumpster and they picked it up today and delivered another within an hour. They even gave us a discount. Call them if you need one- (281)865-1865.  The 6 yard one will fit nicely in any two car garage.

Now for some photographs! You are seeing our full dumpster, piles of tile on the 2nd floor (Joe didn’t pull that up), and our beautiful painted wall in the master with the start of hardwoods.

Look for Joe’s post next. I assure you Tim Tebow will be mentioned. 

Lights, lights and more spilled paint

Every day after work Joe and I visit our home, mostly because I am compulsive and have to see what gets done every day in order to feel assured that the workers show up.  Joe goes to check the pool, although we finally got a pool guy!  Also, we adjust the thermostat:  Our dearly beloved painters, who are turning our disaster into a livable space, like the a/c to be turned waaaaaaaaay down, and, since they are painting, repairing dry wall, and doing all sorts of other stuff, they have to have all of the doors open as well.  Yay for paying two electric bills in July in Texas.

The other reason is to do things like removing that blasted cabinet Joe started on so the new fridge fits, or taking down light fixtures that are uglier than Kyle Orton. Thankfully, the painters took down the glow in the dark stars which were so strategically placed on the guest room ceiling.

Below you have Joe in his Dolce & GaPrada remodeling gear (with spilled paint on the floor), the cabinet he destroyed, and the ugly lights.

And here are a few more things we have learned:

  • Mosquitoes are evil flying machines.
  • We have A LOT to do.
  • If Joe finds a single painter in the house painting alone he will tip them. Note to self: put tip jar on counter for when Joe finds me working alone.
  • Our hearts melted at the discovery of all the popcorn ceilings being gone!

We have also rented our very own dumpster. Turns out you can get same day delivery on a dumpster. Imagine my excitement! In all seriousness, its far easier than I could have imagined. You call and pay, and they back a dumpster right into your garage. Once you fill it up they will retrieve it- trash and all.  The painters seemed pretty happy about this addition.  Though, I’m not exactly sure why, since they have just been piling the trash up in the garage anyway (and yes, I checked to see if they were there when I met the dumpster delivery service). If you are looking for a dumpster I suggest Mini Roll Off Services.

This weekend Joe is going to attempt to pull tile up on the first floor with the help of Morgan and Allen. Don’t worry- I will post lots of pictures of guys in work goggles. If Joe wears his usual modeling remodeling attire it should be interesting. Check back next week for more progress and, of course, tile removal pictures.