I’ve totally been holding out on you. While I was all like “check out my playroom” I was really all like “whoa – we secretly started our kitchen remodel and we’re tearing down and moving walls in our kitchen!”
Yep, the big kitchen re-do that has been in my head for nearly four years is finally happening. And blog-magic makes it seem like no big deal, but it has actually taken a ton of mental work, prep time, hiring some pros, and permitting. Being your own general contractor is totally like a second job. And we’re not even remotely close to having the whole thing figured out. So instead of dwelling on plans (because those are sorely lacking), let’s just look at where this wall started:
We had a decent-sized kitchen with a really amazing (insert sarcasm font here) peekaboo window into our dining room and living room.
Here’s a layout for you:
The kitchen worked just fine, but we knew it could be so much better! Sometimes you just know your house wants to be awesome but was thwarted by the original designer/builder and prior owners. I kind of feel like it is my job to bring it to glory. In this case, glory means making the kitchen bigger and
badder more open. We do a lot of cooking/baking/eating around here so having a nice space to do it is key. We are that typical family that spends more time in the kitchen than anywhere else – I blame our family’s low blood sugar problems and frequent urges to eat.
We decided steal about four and a half feet (in width, more in square footage) from our too-big guest bedroom and give it to the kitchen. We also decided to tear down the peekaboo window wall and open up the entire kitchen to the dining and living areas. Like this (blue shows where new cabinets will be along the walls):
We actually had no idea if this was even possible, so called out a structural engineer. After a nerve-wracking inspection, he gave us the green light and drew up our plans, which called for a big new header, moving the guest bedroom doorway, tearing out one wall and framing another, keeping a couple of fatty posts, and adding more support in the basement. While we’re pretty handy, this sounded like a job for the pros. I mean really, this 13′ header was almost too heavy for me to move on the ground, let alone lift way in the air.
So last week we permitted the project and had the pros come in to do all the dirty work – literally. The walls were lath and plaster which means a big, fat, dusty, mess. Here’s where we are now, as shown by my totally awesome nighttime, flash-ridden photos:
Yes, we still have to deal with posts. Yes, we still have to deal with crazy floors (fir, maple, and faux). Tearing down these walls and all the other stuff that comes along with it is really just the first step in a long-line of projects involved in the kitchen reno. But already we are super glad we are doing it. It is just so much more open! And bigger! And amazing! Fine, not quite amazing yet, but some day…
I’ll share plans for the kitchen soon (um, as soon as I get some) but in the meantime we are working on some additional issues that have cropped up like moving some heating vents, moving electrical stuff, and more. We expect to be living in a construction zone for the foreseeable future, but the excitement for our future kitchen is getting us through adjusting to life in a dust bowl well enough so far.
So for anyone looking to tackle wall removal or moving walls as part of a kitchen remodel, here’s a short checklist:
Hire structural engineer to create plans
- Pick a contractor for demo/framing
- Get a permit
- Hire an electrician
- Mildly panic over the mess and craziness involved
Because we’ll be doing most of the work ourselves, this will certainly be a slooooooooooow process. There is so much left to do, but we’re just trying to take it one step at a time (well, except for when I full-on panic about the scope and find myself just staring at the kitchen for hours on end). Our next few steps will be:
buying some new appliances (because we don’t want to miss a big sale by our local appliance dealer)
- figuring out what the heck to do with our floors – right now they are glued down fake wood floors from 1992 on top of particle board while most of the rest of the main floor is hardwoods
- selecting cabinets
- designing the kitchen layout
- tearing out the rest of the kitchen
- figuring out lighting for the kitchen
I think that will keep us busy for a while. In the meantime, we’ll also be dealing with the changes the kitchen remodel has brought to other areas of our house, like our guest room, entry, basement, and even our master closets (strange, but true).
Anyone else really believe your house wants to be a better house? Or give yourself a few years to live in a space before tackling a kitchen remodel? Or decide to hire out a big job to the pros? Love to hear!