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Dining and family room transition help! (lots of pics)

Posted by equest17 (My Page) on
Thu, Jan 22, 09 at 15:59

We bought this 1972 house this summer and have been updating it, mostly DIY. We’re still in the middle of a complete kitchen remodel, but we have reached a critical point in the process. We knocked out most of the wall between the kitchen and dining room (it previously only had a 30" doorway). We were planning to try to update the spindles in the half wall between the dining and family room, but now we’re not sure.

The reason we have to decide soon is because we’re laying new flooring (handscraped laminate) all through the downstairs. You can see the new floor already down in the kitchen. So the question is, should we keep the half walls in the dining/family area and floor around them, or take them out completely and run flooring continuously?

The spindles seems dated (they match the front of the house, but that doesn’t seem like a good reason to keep them ;-). Could we do some sort of simple column(s) instead of the spindles? It would be more work to tear it all out, but maybe it would open up the space more? I already painted the family room an olive shade, but it’s too dark so I was planning to repaint it the same as the partially painted dining room (SW Camelback), so paint transition won’t be an issue.

Please ignore the mess in the photos. It seems as though every room in the house is under construction. I hate to show our disarray, but everyone on this board has such good ideas, I'm hoping you can help us. We’re open to suggestions, idea, personal or inspiration photos, anything!

Sarah

Family room looking into dining room (listing photos, before we bought the house)
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Matching spindles on front of house
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Flooring in kitchen (to go throughout dining and family room also)
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View from kitchen into dining and family rooms
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Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Dining and family room transition help! (lots of pics)

I would love to know what color green and gold you used in the kitchen and dining area.


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RE: Dining and family room transition help! (lots of pics)

I'd take down the spindles, the soffits, & the half walls too. Those two matching windows are so pretty, that removing the dividers would open up a view of a nice design statement. Besides, the dividers don't really serve a purpose -- it's not like you need them for furniture placement, nor for declaring "this area is The Dining Room."


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RE: Dining and family room transition help! (lots of pics)

If you do take down the half walls and the spindles -- don't forget to remove the chair-rail AND the moldings from the walls -- otherwise it might look odd with the plain walls in the living area!

I would remove them all inside the house (along with the half walls and moldings) -- and the ones from the outside front too but DO consider replacing the ones in the front of the house with a single substantial square column in the corner so that the roof looks "supported"

Jan


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chair rail

You could probably just paint the molding & chair rail the same color as the wall to blend them in. I don't think that would look bad at all, and would give a subtle design oomph (is that an oxymoron?) to the DR. To hide where the chair rail starts, you could put a china cabinet there. Nice place for it.


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RE: Dining and family room transition help! (lots of pics)

If you take the half walls out, how will you handle the wainscoting and chair rail? And what about the ceiling? If redoing the ceiling drywall and paint as well as the walls is too much, then just run some trim down where the half-spindle (half newel?) is on each wall, or even come in a few inches with new drywall and leave the rest open. Later if you find it's too open for you, you could add some pretty fretwork or even stained glass?


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RE: Dining and family room transition help! (lots of pics)

If you can afford it, I would take out the half walls because today the open look is in, more of a great room thing.

Rather than trying to play down or remove your beautiful moulding in the DR, I'd just continue it on into the LR. It adds value to your home and it isn't difficult to do.


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RE: Dining and family room transition help! (lots of pics)

I really can't offer much in the wall removal area at all, however, your house is just beautiful. Love the design and exterior color. Congratulations that is a keeper.


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RE: Dining and family room transition help! (lots of pics)

This is a beautiful space, and i agree with those who have suggested removing the spindles. They're unnecessary, and i think the "cleaner" lines will make the whole area look so much larger.


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RE: Dining and family room transition help! (lots of pics)

We had the same thing between our living room and dining room. We took the half walls down. We did it ourselves one evening. Then we patched the drywall and fixed the trim and painted.


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RE: Dining and family room transition help! (lots of pics)

The half-walls don't really bother me and I think that a demarcation between the two spaces is not such a bad thing. It gives you more paint options and you won't have to post asking how to transition between the two spaces. :-) You'd also get to keep the fancy trim in the DR, which could be an asset.

So, maybe you could just remover the two center spindles and box in the other two, making for a much cleaner look. That would be the easiest thing to do for now. I'm sure you're quite busy with lots of new-house projects and that simple fix would buy you some time to think about what you'd like to do there in the long run, how you want the spaces to connect or not, etc.

I purposely designed half walls and columns to demarcate my entry foyer. The builder's plan had the front door and entry just spilling into the living room in a way that I did not like. Gracious transitions and separations make me happy.


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RE: Dining and family room transition help! (lots of pics)

Thanks so much for all the great input and lovely compliments!

June19, the kitchen paint is BM Nantucket Gray; it's a sophisticated sagey-olive, not really gray at all. The dining room is SW Camelback, a golden tan. I tried SW Blonde first, but in my low light room with North facing windows, it looked almost orange.

I hadn't thought about what to do with the chair rail and wainscot trim; that's why I need this board! I agree, I could probably paint it the Camelback to blend, but I'm not sure about hiding the starting point on the shared wall. The right side (looking at the photo) wouldn't be a problem because the wall joins in at a 90 degree angle, but between the windows could be a pain. I had my china cabinet on the right wall and the dining table to the center left.

I hesitate to remove the chair rail all together because it is not mounted over drywall. It hides a join between wood paneling on the bottom and sheetrock on top.

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I could run it all through the family room, but would that make it too formal? We have a more traditional living room for entertaining, so the family room has the TV, stereo equipment, piano, and (if we ever have kids ;-) toys. Could I transition the chair rail with a tiny piece of return molding, the way the upper and lower trim of the soffit and half wall in the family room are?

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I hadn't considered the possibility of leaving the soffits and half wall and just removing the spindles, as several have suggested. I thought I needed some sort of columns or something there, but the ledge is so narrow, I haven't been able to find anything (although simply boxing in the posts as was mentioned is an intriguing idea). Does anyone have any photos of an open half wall?

One problem is that we were given a lovely Ethan Allen dining set that is too long for this dining area if we want to put both leaves in and have all 8 chairs around. We don’t entertain that many often, but removing the walls would give us that option of expanding into the family room. If we leave the walls, would it look odd to place the table diagonally in the room when we need to seat 8?


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RE: Dining and family room transition help! (lots of pics)

Before rip&tear, it might be helpful to learn absolutely where the structural supports are. There may be more reason to the spindles being more beefy than spindley? Your home is wonderful! Really lovely and your new floor is spectacular!


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RE: Dining and family room transition help! (lots of pics)

you have to worry about the floor being consistant thru it all...take out spindles. Do not move walls....open concept is good but to just step in the front door and then there is all that in your face. The half walls make a foyer.


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RE: Dining and family room transition help! (lots of pics)

I saw a show a few weeks ago on HGTV where they had the same issue with the spindles on a half wall. The homeowners jokingly referred to them as "prison bars". They took them down and instead put in a custom shelving unit, open to both rooms (no back). Not like rigid looking close together bookshelves, more like graceful open ones. They put some pretty accessories on the shelves that then could be admired from either room. I thought it was a great solution.


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RE: Dining and family room transition help! (lots of pics)

linnea, i think i saw the same show. Didn't they on the end of the piece make like a square pillar style thing, then put the shelves in open area.


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RE: Dining and family room transition help! (lots of pics)

Wow, more great ideas!

We actually have a proper foyer that is separate from the family room. This photo is taken from the living room looking across the foyer into the family room (left doorway) and office/bedroom (right doorway). When you walk in the front door, you enter the foyer and face the staircase going up, so you would have to turn right and actually enter the family room to see the transition. Does that make a difference in anyone's opinion? The same flooring will run from the kitchen, into the dining and family rooms, and across the foyer also.

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I really like the bookcase idea! Does anyone know which show or episode that might have been on? That would update the look and solve the spindle/column dilemma, but I would still be a bit constrained on the large dining table due to leaving the lower wall.

Has anyone dealt with the issue of a large table in a small dining room? The dining area is almost a square at 11'2" by 11'0". The table is 84" long with one leaf and 102" with both leaves. We had hoped to remove more of the kitchen wall so the table could spill over that way, but there was plumbing that couldn't be moved. Would angling the table for big gatherings look odd?


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RE: Dining and family room transition help! (lots of pics)

I've searched the HGTV site and can't seem to find the episode Linnea and Patches both saw on converting the half wall spindles to an open bookcase. Can anyone tell me what specific program it was or some search details? I'd love to see pictures and a description of what they did. Thanks,

Sarah


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RE: Dining and family room transition help! (lots of pics)

What a pretty house! I agree totally with Jan's (Teacats) suggestions, so I won't waste time rewriting them again. Hope we get to see some After pics of these rooms when they're done.
Lynn


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RE: Dining and family room transition help! (lots of pics)

I think no one really answered your question about angling the table. I think it's understood when there are large gatherings that accommodations have to be made and at any rate people will concentrate more on eating and drinking and the conviviality, so I doubt it would be a big issue. I'm assuming you wouldn't be doing this once a week. You could also lean more toward buffets rather than sit-down dinners and the table would just be laden with food and perhaps some older guests could still be accommodated at the table.


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RE: Dining and family room transition help! (lots of pics)

patches_02: " Didn't they on the end of the piece make like a square pillar style thing, then put the shelves in open area."

Yes, they did. I had forgotten about it. I don't recall if it was a structural thing (load bearing) or cosmetic, to "anchor" the display area to the rest of the wall. It looked really nice, and I think would be perfect for this area.

I don't remember the episode. It was probably Designed to Sell, which is on at lunchtime here and the only time I am likely to watch because of the time of day. I’m pretty sure it was one of their "fix it up to sell it" shows. It might be the show with the British guy (Clive?) as host. I think I remember the show ending with an open house, and people oohing and ahhhing over those shelves.

I’m not sure about how to search their website; I’ve had problems tracking down shows.

As far as the angled table: we always had to turn the table around for big dinners and extend it into the foyer. But I wouldn’t want to compromise my daily environment for the sake of occasional events; and take out the walls just for that. Someone (usually me) is always squeezed in the corner, no one minds. We also serve buffet style rather than having the serving dishes on the table. That saves space for seating and place settings.


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RE: Dining and family room transition help! (lots of pics)

I don't know if angling would help (depends on where your china cabinet is). If worst came to worst, could you extend the table all the way to 102" and seat someone (just the chair) in the doorway between the half walls?

I agree there might be a structural reason for the spindles so check into that. Bookshelves sound nice, or take out all the center ones and just do a really beefy column at the end of each wall.


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RE: Dining and family room transition help! (lots of pics)

I love your house!!

I remember that HGTV episode too, and I was even thinking about it as soon as I saw the pics.

I would leave the half wall, and just remove the spindles. I would doubt that those are structural...unless they go through the half wall to the floor. More than likely, the builder just ordered them along with the ones on your porch (they appear to be the same). I'm definitely not an engineer though. (I just play one on the internet - BA DUM DUM!.)

I love the idea of putting up a single thick column in replacement of the spindles. Less work too - no reworking the trim! IMO, I think the separation is nice to have. It helps to define the individual spaces, and gives you a little extra "wall" to decorate with.


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RE: Dining and family room transition help! (lots of pics)

Thanks for the HGTV info, Linnea. We rarely watch TV (and we don't have cable or satellite), so I've been searching their website for info. It does look like Designed to Sell is hosted by a Brit named Clive, so I'm guessing that's the correct show. It says it airs 8/7 central; would it have been a rerun you saw in the afternoon? I was hoping to narrow down the episode, but reruns could have been from any season! I could run with the idea, but my husband is very visual. I know if I could find a photo to show him, he would probably be all for it. Does anyone have any more details from that particular show to help me find it? Thanks,

Sarah


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RE: Dining and family room transition help! (lots of pics)

disclaimer: have read none of the replies above!

Please get rid of the spindles---your first reaction to them is absolutely right, they ARE dated. I would leave the half wall, if you like that look, but would get rid of that little piece of wall hanging down from the ceiling that the spindles are attached to at the top. Frankly, I am tired of all the decorative columns that are just for show; they obviously don't hold anything up and are more visual clutter, imo.

While you are at it I would also get rid of the spindles on the front of your otherwise very lovely new home. If they need to be replaced that would be a good place for a column. Nice house, good luck!


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RE: Dining and family room transition help! (lots of pics)

Here are a few ideas if you are interested in the column look. Having a small floor to ceiling wall return on each side, between the rooms, and then the column a foot or so away would allow the rooms to co-exist nicely without taking off or adding chair rail/wainscoat. Also, I think it would open the "walk through" area up enough to maybe accomodate the table without putting it on an angle. Does that make sense?? Or last pic - half columns??? I also agree with ingrid_vc about holiday size groups just in case you still need to.
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RE: Dining and family room transition help! (lots of pics)

Thanks for the compliment Kismet. I guess everyone except me saw the HGTV episode I needed! If anyone can point me to the right show for photos, I'd really appreciate it.

I'm glad I'm not the only one torn by the options this creates. To summarize the great suggestions, in order of least to most invasive, it sounds like I could:

1. Just remove spindles
2. Remove center spindles and box-in outer spindles to create simple columns
3. As above, adding shelves for open bookcase/display area
4. Remove it all (spindles, soffits, and half walls), transitioning and painting molding to blend in

Have I left anything out? I suppose technically I could remove spindles and soffits and leave the half walls, but since patching the walls and ceiling is more work than the floor (since we're laying new flooring anyway), I don't think I would go "halfway" with that option; it's either all or nothing!

I think I like the box-in column or open bookcase ideas. Does anyone else share kswl's dislike for extraneous decorative columns? They would have to be simple, square posts, since the ledge is only about 6 1/2" wide. Would that look too cluttered with the chair rail and wainscoting?


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RE: Dining and family room transition help! (lots of pics)

It must have been a rerun since I saw it at lunchtime in the Chicago area. Sorry I can’t tell you more! HGTV makes it hard to track down a show. But what they did was to build a square column at the ends, it was not large in diameter, probably no more than 5-6"; their space was just like yours, barely thicker than the wall. If I remember correctly they built the shelves like a unit and slid it into the space and just nailed it in place. It might not have been horizontal shelves; it might have been like a grid with spaces of different sizes (more visually interesting).


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