Category: Woodworking

The Wall is Down!

Since the load bearing wall removal is finally complete and now we’re just working on the furnishing and room design, I figured I’d do a post summarizing all of the posts and work we’ve done over the past few months. Plus, I like being organized and having things in one place, much to the annoyance of my husband, but who still reaps the benefits of this trait anyway.

We started with this mess of a never used room:

And are now here, to a beautiful, open, family room:

It’s definitely been one big labor of love!  The scouting and planning work went on for about 6 months (we had big decisions to make while taking care of a baby!) and then the actual work started in late April 2017, and became livable in July 2017.  The long timeline to this was mainly due to the fact that we are DIYers and did large portions of this project ourselves, while both having full time jobs, and a crazy toddler running around the house.  So while the length of time sounds crazy, it was what we could manage while also keeping our sanity.  I would go into budget details, but figured I won’t advertise to the world how much money we’ve spent these last few months.  If you’re really curious, whether because you’re a nosy person like me when it comes to these things, or just would like to plan your own project, send me a message and we can chat!

So below are all of the posts that we’ve done summarizing the work we have done to plan, design, select contractors, and execute our project.

1. The beginning!  Thoughts and planning:

This Old House

2. The work begins! HVAC design and selection:

This Wall is Coming Down! – HVAC Selection

3.  Choosing an HVAC Contractor and the installation:

This Wall is Coming Down! – HVAC Installation

4. Planning and designing the load bearing beam:

This Wall is Coming Down! – Engineers, Contractors, & Beams. Oh My!

5.  Demo of the old wall and installation of the new beam!

This Wall is Coming Down! – Demo & Installation

6. Some more details about HVAC, electrical, and drywall as the project went on.

This Wall is Coming Down! – HVAC, Electrical, & Drywall

7. DIY jobs like molding, recessed lighting, and painting.

This Wall is Coming Down! – Recessed Lighting, Molding, & Paint

8. Flooring – the final touch!

This Wall is Coming Down! – Flooring

9. The REVEAL!

This Wall is Coming Down! – The REVEAL

10. Planning out the design ideas (my favorite part!)

Family Room Design Ideas

So that’s it!  All about the our load bearing wall removal project!  It was quite a journey, but we’re happy to have it behind us.  I’ll be concentrating on furnishing and decorating it over the next few months, and maybe we’ll eventually get to those built ins too!  But for now, we’re enjoying our open family room, and can’t wait to have family and friends over to enjoy it!

If you have a friends or family planning on doing a project like this, feel free to send them this post as a resource!! We hope it helps out others so they may not have to go through all of the headaches we did!

This Wall is Coming Down! – Recessed Lighting, Molding, & Paint

For the last few details of the wall removal posts, we just wanted to go through some of the finishing touches on the room.  Starting with the electrical and recessed lighting:

The room is pretty large, and we knew it would be our main gathering area in the evenings after dinner.  It’s so large though, that for it to be properly lighted, we would have had to have way too many lamps, and I knew that just one ceiling light on each side wasn’t going to cut it.  We wanted some lighting that was soft (cue a dimmer!) but lit the area evenly and well, so we (I, haha) decided on recessed lighting. The rest is David’s department, so I’ll let him do the talking:

We didn’t realize how many decisions we had to make on the recessed lighting in the room. How many? What size? How far from each other? How far from the walls? How far from the beam? Should we treat the room as one huge room and space evenly, ignoring the beam? Or is it two separate rooms? It was a lot more difficult than we expected. There is so much conflicting advice online. One thing became pretty clear though, since the beam is not exactly in the center of the room, ignoring it to space the lights would have looked very strange. One row of lights would have been very close to the beam.

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This Wall is Coming Down! – Flooring

This would have been an easier job if I weren’t particular about our flooring.  There I go, making things difficult again. 🙂  The existing wood flooring in the formal living room area was still in pretty good condition, but my need for consistency won over the opportunity of reusing or refinishing.  The carpeted area in the family room was trash from the day we moved in.  It had a huge stain on it in the main walkway from the previous owners, and it was always embarrassing to have someone over and see them look at it.

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Shiplap vs. Nickel Gap: Making Your Budget Work For You

This is going to sound weird, but I’m just going to come out and say it; one of my favorite renovation projects so far was the powder room in our Charleston house. Really? A bathroom? And not even like a master bathroom with a waterfall shower and a huge tub? Yeah, really, just a powder room. And I can sum up why in one word: “shiplap.”

Actually it’s really two words: “Nickel Gap”. So what’s the difference, and why does it matter? Well, technically shiplap is a type of board with a rabbet joint which allows the boards to overlap. The bathroom above did not use real shiplap, but it essentially looks like it. Instead we used a method called “Nickel Gap” which is simply spacing the boards the width of a nickel. This method is more time consuming, but can be done for significantly cheaper and yields a similar result.

For the boards, we used 5mm plywood, which is about as thin as plywood comes. At about $13.50 for a 4’x8′ sheet, you can really make a room interesting for cheap.  We bought 5 sheets at Lowes and had them cut in-store to 6″ wide strips lengthwise. I think the guy who did the cutting probably still breaks out into a cold sweat when he hears “Customer assistance needed in the board cutting area… bing bong… board cutting area.” I don’t know if they have rules about a number of cuts they’ll make per board, but he did seven cuts for us. He cut all five of the boards stacked, which definitely saved time, though. I could have cut the strips with my table saw, but I never would have been able to cut them as straight and even as in the store.

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Nursery Crafting

In our posts about Connor’s nursery, here and here, we glossed over a few projects that we worked on for the decor, so we figured we’d go back and talk about them, assuming you’re interested 😉

I grew up as a total cheapo.  My family made fun of me for everywhere we went I always claimed that I “forgot my wallet.”  I’m sure this has some crumb of truth in it, but I won’t give them that satisfaction to fully admit to it right now haha.  Now that we bring in steady paychecks and can live comfortably, and aren’t struggling, broke college kids, we’ve definitely loosened up on our spending habits.  At heart though, I’m still a cheapo.  I had a lot of ideas for the nursery, that big box stores don’t typically sell.  They’re more the types of decor that you find on Etsy.  As much as I appreciate supporting someone to do that type of work, some of the prices are crazy.  So I researched and pretty much decided that I would do them all myself.

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Building The Shelves That Weird Nook Was Meant to Have – Part II

Check out Part I of this post to see the building of these shelves!

We wanted a dark wood stain for the shelves.  We’re a little atypical with painting and staining in that (except for walls and ceilings) we apply finishes to everything before the final install. It just makes it easier to pull together the final project without worrying about taping and touching up already painted walls. This means I had to deconstruct the shelves for staining and mark each piece inconspicuously with it’s location so I could rebuild it easily.  It’s extra work, but we think it’s worth it in the end for a high quality finished product.  We’ll probably write a blog about our reasons one day.  Carolyn did all the staining and top coats because she’s way better at finishing touches than I am.  In case anyone is wondering we used Minwax Dark Walnutfor our stain color.  It very closely matches the hardwood flooring color we chose for the house.

Staining the shelves

Just look at this beauty… and the stain looks pretty good too!

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Building The Shelves That Weird Nook Was Meant to Have – Part I

Let’s face it, sometimes houses have weird, little nooks that make you wonder what the builder or contractor was thinking.  We have one in our basement.  One of the previous owners had the basement finished and created a strange cavity between a support post and a closet.  Ever since we first looked at it, we thought “That nook needs some shelves.” Our plan for this section of the basement is to make a bar area, so we thought the shelves would be a good place to store the growlers we’ve been collecting from our favorite breweries.

We also inherited a TV from my Dad.  It’s the only other TV we have besides our projector, and its on the smaller side, so we figured the shelves will also be a good place for a TV.  A bar needs a TV, right?

Carolyn found some “pinspiration” from these shelves, but couldn’t find a tutorial, so we decided to improvise.  She loved how they had a slight rustic, but built-in look to them, without actually cutting into the walls.

First, we measured everything and decided how many shelves to build.  We decided to go with four shelves, which would comfortably fit the growlers and the TV on top.  We went to Lowe’s and looked at the standard size pine boards and decided that it would be much cheaper to buy a sheet of 3/4″ plywood and cut it into sections for each shelf.  I had them cut the shelves to an approximate size because we brought our smaller car that day.  I over-sized the cuts by 1/2″ in each direction because although their cuts are super straight, their measurements aren’t always accurate in the store and I could easily do the final trimming at home.  If you don’t have a table or circular saw at home, you can have Lowe’s do all the cuts for you, but you’ll want to double-check the measurements before and after cutting.

Our design was a floating shelf so we wanted to see as little support or screws as possible.  To hide the screws I used pocket-hole joinery, a technique used in woodworking to join pieces of wood together with a screw drilled in at an angle. The screw can even be covered by a wood plug.  This was a perfect practice project for the Kreg Jig Kit that Carolyn bought me for Christmas.  The Kreg Jig is a tool to make pocket joinery simple. The kit she got me is amazing and is a bit of overkill for this project, but I plan to do a lot of built-ins with it in the future.  Kreg has plenty of jig optionsto match any budget.  Even the Mini Kreg Jig Kitcould get this job done. No, our tiny blog is not sponsored, I just really love their tools!

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