Part 2! Like I said in Part 1, the demolition work was done in a day and a half. But the finishing steps stretched out to about 6 1/2 days for us because during the week, Jon and his dad could only work a few hours each night after work.
I ended Part 1 with all the drywall and studs out and load-bearing beams in place on Sunday afternoon. Jon and his dad spent the rest of Sunday cutting and installing new drywall. This involved measuring, going outside to cut a piece, coming back in to install it...repeat, repeat, repeat. Here's what it looked like after all the drywall pieces were in place:
Next, they installed this metal drywall corner trim on the corners. We chose to use this instead of wood casing.
See the piece of plywood filling the gap in the floor where the wall used to be? We had one on the other side of the column, too. These stayed there until long after the wall was done while we figured out what to do about blending in the gaps.
Next it was time to mud over all the seams and new drywall. The first mud they used was pink! Don't worry, it dried white.
Mudding is apparently quite an art and very tedious. Let's just say this step might convince Jon to hire a professional to install new drywall in the future! This step also set us back a day because some of the mud took longer than the expected 24 hours to dry completely.
After the mud dried, we sprayed wall texture on all the drywall because unfortunately, all our walls are textured. :( We wouldn't have chosen this, but felt like it should be consistent with what's already there. This is the trade-off for getting smooth (non-popcorn) ceilings, I guess!
Finally, all that was left to do on the walls themselves was paint. Painting was more complicated than we anticipated since every room in our house is painted a slightly different color. (We hadn't painted anything since moving in.) We had to figure out whether to paint the drywall on the new openings white (like wood casing would be painted) or a color of one of the walls. We ended up going with white. For the walls, we took a piece of old drywall from both the kitchen and the living room to Lowe's and had them color match it. We painted over the slightly different shade in the "hallway" using the kitchen color.
After the paint dried, Jon and his dad re-installed all the baseboards they had taken out. Then we had to caulk the gaps on the corners and use wood filler on all the nail holes. Once that dried, we painted the baseboards to cover over all these spots.
This (above) is what it looked like for a few weeks while we figured out how to fill the gaps in the floor and blend it with the rest of the floor. We ended up getting some help from Jon's friend who works for a cabinet building company. He cut us strips of oak (2 on each side of the column) exactly the sizes we needed. We installed them, and then we stained them with the closest stain match we found.
We also had to install and stain thresholds to transition to the kitchen flooring. Here are the thresholds (we had to put 2 strips together for the long side) before and after staining.
Below is the section of floor with the new strips - the stain is obviously darker than our very old, worn-in floor. Hopefully it will wear to match better over time, but we plan to eventually re-do all the hardwood floor anyway. You can see one of the thresholds in place in the right corner here.
Here's what the strip on the other side of the column looks like. The black spots seem to be stains, unfortunately, but we haven't very hard to get rid of them, so maybe we'll have some luck with that later.
The floor is definitely not perfect, but so worth it to have the wall gone. We plan to install new hardwood floor in this space and in the kitchen when we get new cabinets and countertops in the future, so until then, this will work.
We LOVE how the new space functions as one now, and I'm so, so impressed with Jon and his dad for doing this all themselves. Saved us so much money. My recommendation now - don't let the fact that a wall is load-bearing keep you from removing it! You can put an exposed beam in place for a rustic look if that works in your space, or you can put in beams that you cover with drywall like we did. All you need is the right help and tools, and you'll be on your way!