Demo in Progress, Opinions on Dividing Wall (pic heavy)

GoosterMarch 20, 2013

We're finally in progress on our renovation: combining a 12x12 kitchen with a 12x14 dining room to make an eat-in kitchen. In the process we are also touching the adjacent rear foyer and updating the family room (plus matching or updating flooring in the hall, hall bath).

Here's a view of the before of part of the old kitchen -- minus stuff as this was taken just before we began demo. It looks in better shape than it actually was, btw. It's not a recently remodeled white kitchen that is being taken out. The remodel is driven by the need to make the space more functional and to better utilize some underused space:

And the wall that divided formal dining from the kitchen. The underused formal dining room is being combined with a large underused formal living room to make one space that will be equally underused:

and the side entrance leading to the rear foyer, which opens into the family room.

Here's Day 1:

And here's how it looks after the studs came down, notice the small door to the left which leads to the main entry foyer.

And in the other direction, notice the door to the rear foyer:

Sorry for the dim photo, it was at 7:30 am today!

My question for everyone is... should we proceed ahead with the partial removal of the wall on the right of the photo shown above. We have the ability to enlarge the opening from 33 inches to about six feet. It would then create a large opening to the rear foyer, which then has a large 7 foot opening into the family room in back. Or, would you keep the wall in place, maintaining the symmetry between the two doors along that wall? This is what the contractor thinks. (Remember, there is a door on the opposite end that leads to the entry foyer.) This wall removal is more pricey than just a wall removal, because it is a bearing wall and there is a need to replace a water heater to a model that can vent out the side of the basement below.

Here's a photo on the opposite side of the wall/entry that can be enlarged:


This post was edited by gooster on Wed, Mar 20, 13 at 0:44

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If you could add a floor plan it may be easier to come up with some ideas.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 2:53AM
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Here's part of the floor plan showing the wall in question. It's always been an option in the plan, depending on what issues were found within the walls of this old house. (There were a few surprises, as you might expect)

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 3:22AM
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I would absolutely open it up. We just did something similar - opened up one end if our kitchen to the family room and left the other end with a door. I forget if it was Victorian architecture that mandated symmetry, but I think practicality trumps form. You'll get so much traffic to and from the family room, and I think you'd like the enlarged sight line.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 7:06AM
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My only concern is that is is opening to a foyer. What are you gaining by opening up the wall, if it is looking in to a foyer?
I am not sure it is worth the expense. Also, this could be something done further down the road, not ideal I know but a possibility.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 7:14AM
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Why? For a better view of the closet or the toilet? If you do open it up I would not take the opening all the way down to the basement stairs, but leave a cased opening there instead.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 8:36AM
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robo (z6a)

Originally I thought 'no' but when you posted your floor plan, I like the wider opening for better views and passage to the family room.

For me a lot would depend on the feel of your rear foyer and the feel you want - does the foyer feel like a nice room? If you open COMPLETELY up to the kitchen, it may feel like an extension of the kitchen. Are you ok with that? Would you be tempted to use the same flooring throughout? Would you be interested in converting both the closet and pantry to look/function like kitchen cabinets? If so, are you a person who would be bothered by having a powder room 'in' the kitchen? If you want to keep them quite different the cased opening (but wider) would help maintain the feeling of separation between the rooms.

Even if you didn't take out the wall completely I'd be interested in a wider opening personally, for flow. Those doorways seem little and make the kitchen feel closed off to me. I basically require distraction from cooking so I like a more open feeling where I can still socialize or at least have a clue what's going on in the rest of the house.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 10:12AM
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And do you really have a pantry corner closet in the foyer? Is the family/living room an addition to the original structure? It seems far away from the formal dining/living room, and weird that there's a bedroom and a bathroom in between.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 10:36AM
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We have the same question right now! Our kitchen and family room are one, but there is a small doorway (24") that separates them from the foyer and rest of the house. We hope to open it up by at least 6" more. Can't do more than that because of step down living room.
I say go for it---especially since it leads to family room!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 11:03AM
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Let me see if I can answer all the questions -- this is a bit long:

* The home is 1930s "semi" Colonial with small touches of art deco style in the original hardware, cabinetry and mouldings
* The family room is an addition. It is on a step down level (like the original formal dining room in front). We are making changes to blend it better with the rest of the house, including entertainment center cabinetry that better matches the kitchen.
* The two normal doors into the new enlarged kitchen are pretty much standard width and are cased in the original trim. If the opening was enlarged, the thought was it could be left uncased and arched, which would match the uncased original arc that leads to the formal family room. We could also custom mill some matching trim. The potential removed wall would still require a beam that hung down about 7 inches. Due to the nature of the add-ons over the years, I'm don't think hiding it into the ceiling is possible in this situation.
* We are matching the original flooring throughout the new expanded kitchen and the rear foyer area, to match the original hallway and dining room. It is a random plank, quarter sawn oak with bevels between the planks. However, the family room will be in a different flooring.
* The original rear foyer area has an original built-in closet used as a broom closet and two built cabinets in the side, with matching original inset recessed panel doors. The corner pantry was added in later and the doors do not match. The new kitchen cabinets will be inset, white, recessed panel but a slightly different style. These are painted currently in a taupe shade that matches the trim in the rest of the house.
* Heading into this rear foyer area is a cased opening that is identical to the kitchen entry to the left of the main entry. We are taking off the door to the entry by the main entry, as it seems like it will just get in the way.
* Standing or sitting by the corner windows in the lower left, you should be able to see directly through the two openings directly into part of the family room. At one point, we thought about raising the roof and floor of this room and taking out the wall completely, but the cost was way too high.
* I think the bath is far enough away from the main working area of the kitchen and down a little niche, so there are no hangups with it sitting off of the "virtual room".

Thanks everyone for your feedback.

This post was edited by gooster on Wed, Mar 20, 13 at 11:56

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 11:51AM
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In your current kitchen plan, where is your pantry? Since the formal living/dining rooms are getting little use, does the family spend most of its time in the family room addition? Do you have young children you need to mind while preparing meals?

When we were remodeling our house we spent a lot of time thinking about the function of each space in our living areas and ended up repurposing the d/r, family room and living room to meet certain goals. For one, our 1957 ranch provided no connection between the eat-in kitchen and the rest of the house. My young kids had flooded a bathroom and broken a TV within 1 week of moving in, all because I could not see or hear them while I was in the kitchen. We turned the old guest room/office into our family room and opened up a regular door btwn that room and the kitchen so that I can see them quite clearly now. The new family room is a pretty tight space for us, but thankfully we like each other a lot. :-)

We closed off one wall of our old D/R and made that into the new office. We repurposed the old L/R into the D/R. The original open floor plan of this area is just a little bit changed, but much more functional for our family.

I don't know if this is helpful, but Marcolo's point is important. What is the function of that foyer space? How will you use it? Do you want to have a bathroom so connected to the kitchen?

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 12:02PM
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We just did something very similar beginning two weeks ago. Two walls (plaster/lathe) came down, opened up the long space. We did not open into the front Foyer. In looking at your floor plan, it would hint that the wall is load-bearing, and the cost vs. benefit I just don't think would be worth it. Then again, we do love the open space.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 12:37PM
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Whit461: We too have plaster/lathe walls. The wall is bearing and would require a beam. At most, we would just remove the door by the front entry.

karen_belle: There are no kids, just a spoiled Corgi. The foyer space is mainly a passthrough. Grand Central station between the BR/office, the FR, the garage, back yard and side entry to driveway. The foyer cabinets are used mostly for snacks and excess storage (mostly outdoor ware or infrequently used appliances). The hall closet is used for cleaning. There is a secretary there that becomes a catchall for keys and other miscellaneous items. The living room and former formal dining room got more use by the dog than by humans.

There are counter stools going in by the island. My thought was that opening the wall would give more breathing room there and give more room to avoid the range. The spacing is 42". The spacing between the range wall and the island is 48" (counter to counter).

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 1:55PM
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