For years I felt isolated in my small, galley kitchen. The open, bright kitchens of countless HGTV shows and Pinterest taunted me with their inviting beauty. We knew that we could never have the totally open space that is so popular these days, as moving the air handler was and is out of the question. My inner cheap bitch is having fits just thinking of the cost of that.
I started plotting how I could get my dream kitchen. Why not just cut a window out of the wall from the kitchen into the living room? After months of lurking on Pinterest and bothering Pete to no end, we had a plan. Time to start knocking the shit out of some walls.
The microwave/ rangehood was the first thing to go. The hood worked, but the microwave had been dead for almost a year. *sideeyes* SOMEONE broke it during a temper tantrum….. it was me.
We removed the cabinets, as we were giving them to Pete’s parents. It makes me mental to see shows where they demolish perfectly good cabinets. It took less than 5 minutes to get them all down, with zero damage. Now we had an open, filthy wall.
The best way to remove a section of drywall cleanly is to score it with a blade. You can tear huge sections of paper and paint away if you don’t start with scoring. Our original plan was to mirror the “window” into the kitchen to the large window opposite it in the living room.
After measuring and drawing out our lines, He very carefully scored the drywall from the kitchen side. We have found that the easiest way to remove a section of wall is to score the first side, whack it with a hammer in a couple of places to get inside and just gently pry it away. Usually this comes in pieces. Be careful around the scored sections, and take your time. It is very important to start with a straight edge to draw your lines and the first scoring. It generally takes around 3 passes before you have the drywall scored deeply enough to get a straight break. The layers of paint and texture can also affect the number of passes you need to make. When removing the opposite side of drywall, gently push along the score lines from the inside of the exposed wall.
He used a Sawzall to notch the studs to remove the wiring. I held the wires back and basically spazzed the entire time he was cutting.
We have found over and over that there is not a single square or level line in this entire house. We measured from the ceiling on both sides and the corners and edges of walls. We still ended up with the openings being a little off and had to go in and straighten them up. After scoring the living room wall, Pete popped the panel out like a Jedi. One magnificent piece.
Once the panel was fully scored, we pushed the panel GENTLY at the scored edges until we felt the last bit of resistance give. We were able to lift out the entire panel in one clean piece. This pretty much never happens. We always get large chunks that break away, we made a big dorky deal of this. Complete with dancing and bragging about our level of awesome. Equal measures win and fail.
At this point we realized that we weren’t happy with the size of the “window”. It just felt strange. We decided to take another 10 inches off the bottom. We tuned the outlet boxes to accommodate the lowered opening. We later removed the soffit, but that mess is a post for another day. The biggest lesson we have learned over the years doing renovations, is that you have to be able to adjust your vision. It never works out the way you think. There are always issues that will pop up along the way, and frankly your tastes may change during the process.
To remove the studs from view, we used the Sawzall to cut them level with the opening on top and bottom. This took a couple of passes to straighten out the cuts to make them flush with the drywall.
The dust that is generated from scoring and demolishing drywall is intense. Cutting the studs also threw gobs of dust. We generally try to hold the vacuum right next to the saw when possible to help cut down on the dust. The reality of living in a construction zone is you will have dust everywhere. There will be tracks of it on the floor, no matter how often you clean, they will reappear for weeks. It used to make me mental, but I at least don’t pull my hair out over it now. Much.
We added 2×4’s to plug all the openings, and cut out a piece of a cereal box to cover the hole from the range hood into the attic. Little bits of blown-in insulation kept falling into the house. I didn’t even want to think about what was mixed in with the insulation. Our house was built in 1974, that is a lot of years of unknown Florida bugs and critters undoubtedly crawling around in the attic.
This wrapped up the partial wall removal until I knocked out the soffits. More posts to come on the progress of the kitchen renovation.
It was dusty, tedious job to open the wall between the kitchen and living room, but it was well worth it!