Wall down, should we close it up a little or leave wide open?

homebuyer23August 4, 2013

I did post this in Remodeling, but to me its a kitchen question anyway and its way more active here, so thanks for reading...!

We are in the middle of a kitchen & 1st floor reno. A large load bearing wall was knocked down and here is the resulting space as well as my original sketch floor plan of what we planned.
The fireplace room will now be our dining room (taking the place of a formal DR & EIKitchen), and it is wide open to what will now be our Family Room. We will be continuing the wood floors all throughout.

I cannot decide if I like it all open or if we should build the walls together more and make a cased opening, creating more of 2 separate rooms that are open to each other, rather than 1 open space. I am mostly concerned about how it looks. Either way, it will be open to the dining area and kitchen and I wanted that. But I want it to look right.

DH & GC think we're done, they like it open. I think I do, but part of me feels like it should be closed back up a little on the left side, creating a wide doorway, rather than all open. But Im wondering if I just have a hard time seeing that it will look good once drywall goes up.

someone suggested columns, but they're not really my style.

Any thoughts appreciated, thanks!

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strongly favor keeping it open....

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 12:54PM
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I would probably build a very short wall adjacent to the fireplace. For definition, and to make the header look supported a bit.

I would probably also make more of a doorway from the foyer if there isn't one.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 1:03PM
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agh 2 opposing opinions from 2 great GW-ers!! Thanks to you both! I need more now!

Palimpest, I think that's what I think looks off...that the header isn't supported by anything on one side.

But I fear a little wall there will look silly and a wide one will almost, not really, defeat the purpose of opening it up!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 1:11PM
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Connie K

Here's what I think I understand to be the case:

The opening in your photo is the opening between the proposed dining area (with the fireplace) and the new location of your family room.

If I understand correctly, then I would want some definition between the two areas. You already have a large open area from your kitchen to your dining area, and I would feel like I was just living in a big, undefined space otherwise. But that's just me. Even if you put in a very large arch that only comes in two feet on each side, that would help define the space.

If I have a misunderstanding about your situation, please correct me, and I may change my opinion.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 1:19PM
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There was a discussion of this on the kitchen forum, or the building a home forum and the architect referred to it as "room bleed". There is definition to some extent with the wall on the TV side, and there is definition on the ceiling with the header, but along the fireplace wall, one room kind of bleeds or creeps into the other.

I think the wall would have to be no deeper than the depth of the header or, perhaps the fireplace hearth to define it a bit.

It will help the family room furniture from creeping into the dining room, too. Before you know it there would be a lamp table, straddling the space between rooms, if there is no definition there.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 1:24PM
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I vote for the little wall to give it definition. I think its those little things that people may not notice directly but notice the big picture. No one is going to say " wow look at the little wall giving definition" they are going to say this room feels great. Or not say anything because it just feels off.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 1:34PM
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I agree with some room definition. It doesn't have to be deep at all, but I think it would add some architectural interest in additional to helping with the living and dining room creeping into each other. It looks like you have plenty of open space now and to me, this would be a nice finishing touch. Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 1:35PM
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Digging in the dirt, thank you yes you got it right.

I tend to agree it needs a little definition. And pal, I will have to look for that discussion, thanks.

Do you think I need to build it in on the right side? Right now that flows right into the DR too, but since there's more wall along the DR/kitchen side, I think it looks ok.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 1:38PM
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I agree with having a small wall in the corner at the fireplace. When I look at it in the photos it looks like the weighting for the opening is off. It looks like the whole opening is falling to the left. Putting a wall, perhaps slightly wider than the header or half the width of the wall on the other side of the opening, will help to give the allusion of support.

It will also allow you to have different colours of paint on the wall in the two rooms, different accent colours if you want, etc.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 1:45PM
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I would like some definition, . A little bit of wall definition, door opening detailing like an arch if style is appropriate, header beam between kitchen and dining .... Right now it feels like an open cavern. Architectural details go a long way in making or breaking a space. And they just feel good.

This post was edited by snookums2 on Sun, Aug 4, 13 at 13:48

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 1:47PM
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Here's the recent thread in the Building a Home Forum, where the architect used the term "room bleed."

How do you feel about "room bleed"?

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 2:39PM
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Me too. A little definition is good. :)

I usually incline that way, but in this case I'm specifically imagining and undivided long, narrow space, and your family room end table just sitting there with the dining chairs and whatever those are flanking the fireplace starting right beyond it--difficult to make look right. Same for a chair that might be put on the other side of the opening. Short walls will make this problem never be.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 2:45PM
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I don't have an opinion on adding or not adding a wall or partial wall, but in looking at your floor plan it seemed apparent to me that the dining room table should be running parallel to the length of your room The fireplace wall is about 12.5 ft.++/- and the window wall is 14.25++/-. I have re positioned your table in the plan to illustrate my concern.

If you decide to have an area rug under the table the position will be critical. In addition, the position of your table will determine the position of any lighting in the room. That's my 2 cents. Good luck.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 3:20PM
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I now have an opinion on the wall or no wall. Based on the architecture of your home, which is not contemporary, I would recommend only adding enough wall to allow the bookcase/millwork units you plan to install on either side of the fireplace to die into it. If you plan on only 12" shelves, then the wall should only be slightly deeper.

If you plan on shelves above with standard depth cabinets below, then the wall will have to be 24"+ in depth. I have included pics that I found while searching on HOUZZ under Dining Room/ Fireplace Bookshelves. Please note the placement of the dining room table and area rug in the first picture. Illustrations from this source may help you make a decision.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dining Room Fireplace Bookshelves

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 3:47PM
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the "definition" can become an obstacle.....an angled chair/a small round table with a lamp/etc. [ flexible ways to define space] can be completely interfered with these "framing" structures which serve no purpose.Your areas are not that big ,and enough of the wall will be out so that a foot or so serves no purpose and will prevent some things you can do with artful placement of case good or accent furniture. Note that the 2 pics each have 10-12 foot high ceilings/crown molding galore and beams/etc, The scale of the rooms lends itself to what is done with architectural embellishment. Your space is not in this category....be careful when looking at pics like this. Magazine quality layouts of design ideas rarely translate to modest homes with 8 ft ceilings.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 5:10PM
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Herbflavor, I was suggesting a 6" thick drywall element. I was simply using the pictures to illustrate why a small wall might be the proper solution needed to end the cabinetry.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 6:00PM
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I think that small houses can benefit from boundary definition to a greater extent than larger houses can, sometimes. (think of Sarah Susanka)

Many people here take out the small vestibules here in their 12-15 foot wide houses, for example, thinking it will make the front room larger. It doesn't, because with a wall there you can back any sort of furniture right up to the wall, where it is technically inches away from the front door, but with the wall gone, people will not put something that close to the front door, and Never something large that would seem to block or crowd it. In a large house it doesn't matter as much. You can leave a 3 foot gap for visual separation and float pieces away from the walls.

In this situation I would easily place an end table or the arm of a sofa close to a small wall there, because the wall would indicate that it was "in another room/space". Without the wall there, I would not put it so close because it might visually look like it is straddling between rooms.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 6:25PM
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We are taking out the wall that separates what will be our kitchen and the family room. I thought the whole wall was coming out, but it turns out there will be an opening, probably framed with some wood arches to provide definition.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 7:20PM
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I would leave the space open for now. Live in it for awhile and see if you like the open feeling. You can always add a small wall later - much easier to add a wall than take one out in terms of the work involved.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2013 at 4:51AM
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I agree with Beverly about having a small wing wall extending from the fire place wall just deep enough for the shelves/cabinetry flanking the fireplace to die into. I like the way it looks in your initial sketch. I think totally wide open spaces works better with a modern or contemporary house.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2013 at 1:47PM
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We opened our kitchen and dining room to each other, and we had first planned to make it one big open space. But it wasn't sitting right with me, in our old house.
So, we actually put in a wall, with pocket doors. IT's a 12 foot long wall, with a 6 ft opening in the center. I love it, for our space, because it really defines the 2 rooms. But they are still very much open to each other. When it was open all the way through, it looked really cool, such a big space, but there was no real definition of the 2 rooms.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2013 at 1:59PM
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I imagine any chairs near the wall would feel more naturally sheltered and comfortable with that "protection" at their backs.

It's as Palimpsest said a lot better than I did. And boy, did that remind me of entering homes and finding the back of a chair uncomfortably close--from semipublic outside area to looming over Dad's favorite chair in one step, no transition at all. Transition spaces are wonderful, even ones too small to qualify for the word spaces, by whatever devices are available to achieve them.

I'd mock up different wall depths and determine what felt right to us, but I'm imagining not less than what is shown in your diagram, the opening extending past the built-ins and creating places for the family furniture on that side to belong.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2013 at 6:29PM
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