We've been in our house for over a month now, and ever since we moved in, my head has been swirling with house-project thoughts. Really that's been the case since we found the house, but it's gotten progressively worse (or better?) since we've moved in. There's not much else I would rather work on or think about so much, but it does feel like a disease sometimes. Can't. Stop. I'm already driving Jon crazy, I'm sure.
The project that's consumed the majority of our house conversations and time and attention so far has been a wall. The first time we saw the house, at the showing, we talked about the possibility of taking down this wall. Jon is not a fan of the divided, closed-off feeling of older homes, so he was all about taking it out. I'm not as opposed to this style, but the more I thought about how small our living room would be, the more on-board I became. Then, after a couple days of living here, I was sure it had to go.
This wall divides our living room from the kitchen. A couple times cooking with this wall preventing me from seeing or talking to Jon in the living room, a couple times eating with this wall right beside us - and I wanted it gone.
I'm going to be lazy and use pictures from the former owners' listing. :) See the wall below that the picture is on? That's the one!
And from the living room side, the wall the sofa is on:
You walk directly into the living room from the front door, so taking out this wall will completely change the look from the moment you walk inside. There's a large picture window opposite the sofa, so it will also change what you can see from outside. We're hoping it will give the room a much more spacious and airy feel.
I'm sure we wouldn't have been so hasty in this decision if it weren't for the fact that Jon's handy dad is going to do this for/with us! Apparently this kind of thing doesn't intimidate him....and he doesn't even work in the construction field. Crazy. It's also apparently going to be fine even though it IS a load-bearing wall. "You just build a temporary wall and put in a beam," he says. Simple as that! Needless to say, I'm very curious to see how this will all go down next weekend. We have planned and measured and talked about it to death, though, so I think we're pretty much as prepared as we can be.
I do know that it helps a lot that we have a one-story house. We're not dealing with the weight of a second story on top of the wall, at least.
Example of an exposed beam put in place of a load-bearing wall:
The first photo in this post is a sketch of what we decided to do with the wall. At first we were going to just take the whole thing out, but since then we've gone through lots of other ideas and have landed on the one above (the shaded sections are what we'll keep). There's currently a door on the right end of this wall, leading to the rest of the house. We're going to take the door off, but leave the opening. Then, off of that opening we're going to leave a half-wall with a column on either side. We'll do a symmetrical half-wall/column section on the far left end of the wall, and between the two walls will be completely open.
Last night I drafted the living room and part of the kitchen to scale so we could get the full picture and decide on the precise measurements. We decided on a 7-foot wall opening with two 4-foot half-wall/column sections. We'll do 6 inches for each column and have a 3-foot half-wall between them. If this all goes according to plan, that is.
The most complicated issue with taking this wall out is figuring out what to do about the floor in the kitchen. In the kitchen photo above, the black and white checkerboard floor (it's vinyl tile) looks pretty good, and I like the style. In person, though, not so much. It's seen better days and is already coming up in several sections. It's also the worst color combination for Murphy - the white shows all the dirt and the black shows all his hair. This makes me sad because I would love to keep the black and white checkerboard look or even have all-black floors.
Taking out the wall leaves the transition between the hardwood floor in the living room and the kitchen flooring very exposed. This is part of the reason we decided to leave some of the wall in place. And there's another place the floor will transition as well, unfortunately. Behind the left-half of the wall is the kitchen; behind the right half is a hallway leading to the kitchen. This hallway (and the rest of the house) has the same original hardwood floors that are in the living room, meaning that the floor transition also happens where the hallway leads into the kitchen.
The original hardwoods are under the vinyl tile, which is great. It's covered in black glue from the tile, though. Not great. And we're pretty sure that even after we got all the glue off, it would be next to impossible to re-stain the floor to match the rest of the house since the rest of the house is very worn and weathered. This leaves us with pretty much two options - we can either refinish ALL the floors in the house at the same time and re-stain them to match, or we can just choose something new for the kitchen. Since the first option is extremely involved and we have way too many other things we want to do to think about that right now, we're going with the second option. Oh, and, even if we wanted to do the first option right now - we're planning to install new cabinets and countertops in the not-too-distant future. We would mess up the newly finished hardwood floor when we take the current cabinets out, so we're definitely not going to do that.
Stay tuned for more on the flooring decision and the other projects we've been working on! I'll leave you with a favorite kitchen inspiration photo of mine: