The character of our 100+ year old home is something we truly love from the oversized baseboards to the squeaky original hardwood floors. That said, the design of the main floor with three very separate and closed off living spaces (kitchen, dining room and living room) is something that has always left us wanting more. The dream of being able to have someone in the kitchen preparing a meal and enjoying a clear sightline of the living room where our soon to be arriving baby would be hanging out (listening to records, obviously) set us out on the journey of one of our biggest home renovations yet.
Not wanting to change too many of the original features such as the heavy old pocket door and beautiful beam work in the living room meant going for a modified open concept space with a brand new kitchen to replace the one that had been well loved and was on its last legs. Originally our plan was the take down just one wall (between the living room and kitchen,) but after being encouraged to see the vision of a slightly opened up dining room, we added that to the list of things to demo and re-do.
LIVING ROOM BEFORE:
As the kitchen was a total gut job, we needed to remove everything, starting with the cabinets and backsplash and were fortunate enough to have the help of family to wield the sledge hammers. Along the way we punched holes in the west wall that previously housed the majority of hanging cabinets and the wall that was to be removed (north wall shared with the living room) to see what was behind the plaster, and where the pipes and duct were. Old homes tend to be full of surprises and this one was no different!
With some of the plaster gone from the west wall we better understood why our kitchen was a bit chilly in the winter as the framing and insulation were in serious need of updating. This little discovery encouraged the decision to redo the framing and put in proper insulation to help keep the kitchen warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Another little surprise was the discovery of a duct running right up the middle of the north wall as well as some electrical work, both of which would need re-routing. Both were easily adjusted, but not of course without the welcoming of some additional trades and money!
A good home reno always brings with it the fun excuse to indulge in all of the different take out options there are to enjoy, but even pizza can grow old (even for a 7month pregnant lady!) after a while so we were very fortunate to be able to have use of our fridge and stove during most of this renovation. Simple meals and coffee in the morning can somehow calm the chaos that a full reno can download on ones daily routine.
Once new drywall was put up on the west wall, work could be started on the ceiling, which brought with it perhaps Lauren’s happiest change of the whole reno, a farewell to the popcorn plaster ceiling.
The plan after removing the north wall was to replace it with a half wall that would act as a counter for eating with lower cupboards, etc. on the kitchen side. A simple job of putting up a frame and some drywall gave us some definition to the spaces and perfect spot to eat and entertain.
With all the drywall replaced it was time for a cleanup of all of the surfaces and prep to install the new cabinetry. Stay tuned for Part Two!