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06.09.11 / Demolicious

You can thank my boys for that title.  I don’t know if they heard the word somewhere or made it up themselves but they’ve been using it in every conversation for the past few days.  At any rate, it’s very fitting for what’s been going on over at the Underdog.  This past weekend Handy Hubby nixed the idea to move all the original loose insulation {Not asbestos!  Yay!  We had it tested.} from the future great room ceiling and transfer it to other areas of the attic that wouldn’t be affected by the vaulted ceiling that we’re planning for the kitchen/living room space.  {After having a few contractors out to give estimates on spraying foam insulation in the attic, he’s decided that’s the way to go.}  Instead, he went straight on to demo.  He removed the walls separating the kitchen, dining room and living room.  If you’ll remember, this is what it looked like before:

{view from the front door}

And as of last Saturday, this is what the Underdog was lookin’ like:

{view from the front door}

Looks a little different, huh?  Before you start wondering if Handy Hubby removed a load bearing wall, the remaining support is only holding up the ceiling.  And since we’re planning on tearing out the ceiling, the post will eventually come down too…without detrimental effects.  The original roof is what contractors call ‘stick built’ meaning there aren’t pre-fabricated trusses up there framing out the roof.  The plan is to vault the ceiling of the great room to the rafters.

The boys and I were checking in on the progress before Handy Hubby got the entire ceiling ripped out.  {No demo takes place with kids present!  At least, that’s the plan.}

Here you can see into the living room from the future kitchen.  All those hanging electrical wires look scary and dangerous but there was no power on at the time of these photos.  {Update: as of late yesterday afternoon, the Underdog’s power has been restored!}

And here’s the opposite view looking back from the picture window into the kitchen.

Everett found an old sweeper left by the previous owners and was helping to clean up.  That’s after he played with the Power Tool Workshop for well over an hour.  And one more shot of the living room with the walls removed…

We’re really happy with how the space feels now – minus the demolition dust, exposed wiring, and heaps of insulation.  We definitely prefer open floor plans versus confined rooms even if that means seeing the kitchen from the front door.  We knew opening the three rooms up into one space would give us more of that light, airy vibe we like.  Plus, the traffic pattern just makes more sense now too.  Before we’d have to walk all the way through the kitchen and dining room from the den or garage just to get to the living room.  Not anymore.  Which leads me to another minor issue.

I CHANGED MY MIND! Already.  And Handy Hubby never saw it coming.

Remember my conundrum with the extra dining space/surface?  While we’ll most likely eat at the kitchen island on a daily basis, we need more dining room for guests.  Originally, we had thought that once the walls in the great room were removed we’d have the space and freedom to toss a pedestal or drop leaf table somewhere into the living room to serve as dining space when needed. Alas, removing the walls did give us the feeling of more space but we didn’t really gain any space. Even with the walls down, it was pretty evident that putting a dining table of some kind into the living room was going to be a tight squeeze.  So, like a few of you have already suggested {really, you all are so smart!  Sometimes I wonder why you read anything I write.}, the ‘den’ will now serve as a dining room/storage room/mudroom with an on suite laundry nook.  I envision a round table with chairs and floor-to-ceiling storage along one wall.  I know I had said that we don’t have a dining room and don’t miss it…and that’s still true.  However, we do have a dining space that we would miss.  Don’t worry though, it’s not going to be a dining room that only gets used once or twice a year on special occasions.  Nope.  This room is going to have to hold its own and provide space for:  dining, storage, sewing, laundry, crafting, hanging up coats and taking off shoes.  The TV that we had thought would go in the den will now go in the living room above the fireplace.  I’m not usually a fan of televisions above fireplaces but in this case I’m going to make it work because I have to.  {Or I’ll just change my mind again.  Just kidding, Handy Hubby.  I think.}  There’s just no other good place to put it without losing the space for something else.  The woes of small space living!  Oh, and the reason we had planned on making the ‘den’ our TV room in the first place?  It was the perfect room and layout for our comfy sectional that we already own. We were mistakenly arranging our floor plan based on one {albeit large} piece of furniture.  It’s too large to fit functionally or aesthetically in the Underdog’s living room – not to mention the chaise is on the wrong side to work – so we immediately assumed it would go in the room off the garage and I coined that room the ‘den.’  Well, it looks like we may just have to sell our beloved sectional at some point and use the money to buy something just as comfy and stylish but with better proportions for our smaller living space.  Don’t mention a word to our sectional though.  We haven’t told him yet.

The lesson?

Don’t plan rooms’ functions around one piece of precious furniture that’s just not going to work. While the single piece of furniture may be awesome in its own right and out of context, it may not work well when you look at the bigger picture.  Or in this case, the smaller house.  I have a feeling our cozy leather sectional won’t be the only piece of furniture not making the move to the Underdog.  It’s kind of sad and exciting at the same time.  Sad to leave behind items we like but exciting to find more appropriate replacements.

Oh, shoot.  I’m doing it again.  I’m getting ahead of myself.  We’ve got plenty of other projects to complete before we start picking out furniture.  But you really do have to look ahead somewhat when renovating, building or even just decorating a home.  You can’t go into the process blindly. There has to be a vision of which rooms will serve what purposes and what furniture will be needed in those rooms.  There’s a constant battle between looking ahead and looking at where you are.  I’m not gonna lie.  I’m already tired of this battle.  It’s just because I can see where it’s going and I’m so excited to get there.  Let me not forget that the process of getting there can be a just-as-rewarding experience as the end product…if not more so.

In the wise {and maybe raspy, cigarette smoke laden} words of Miley Cyrus, “It’s the climb.”  And right now this one is demolicious.  Yum.

images:  1 & 2)  Dana Miller  3) Home Building Answers  4-7) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

39 Comments

09.June.2011

I really enjoy all your posts about the Underdog, it is so interesting to see the process! I think the new plan sounds great.

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09.June.2011

Dana,

I have to say watching this all unfold (and so quickly) is so exciting! We had picked out an “underdog” but then backed out and went with a newer (but not new) home, because the work involved was likely over our ability levels (and cash on hand). I so wanted that small house, tiny mortgage, and living differently than norm experience…sigh. Thanks for letting me live vicariously!

I wish our states were closer. I could so use some of your lovely furniture and would happily purchase it from you. Hmmm, road trip? j/k

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replied on June 9th, 2011

Valerie – We have kind of jumped in there with both feet in just a month’s time, but we’re careful to realize that this reno is probably going to take several months. And that’s just the reno…not decorating, furnishing or tweaking. That’ll be my life’s work! If you ask me, the best part about demo is that it really doesn’t cost anything if you have a Handy Hubby and a hammer!!!! Aside from taking down the awful shutters, removing the walls has been the cheapest project to date.

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09.June.2011

You don’t mess around, that’s a lot of progress!

I like the new space use plan…have you tried playing around with the furniture on a to-scale plan? My mom used to use graph paper and little cut out furniture, or you could try google sketch up or floorplanner…that way, you can know whether the sectional might fit. There were a few pieces we thought wouldn’t work that did fit in other spaces (our living room sectional from the old house is our sun room sectional in the new place), we just had to play around a bit!

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replied on June 9th, 2011

Carole – So far we’ve just relied on lots and lots and LOTS of measuring and sketching. Once we get to the actual step of moving {we have yet to sell our current house} and editing furniture, I’ll probably give floorplanner a shot. I’ve heard great things about the program! Even with all the measuring, reconfiguring and squeezing things in…the sectional isn’t going to work no matter how much we love it. It’s just too large. Sure we could fit it into the living room, but it would take up almost the entire space and the chaise would run along the picture window wall while I’d prefer it to be on the opposite side of the couch to create somewhat of a boundary between the living room and kitchen. The good news is that the leather sectional is in excellent condition so we could maybe get enough $$ out of it to furnish the entire living room. We’ll see…

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09.June.2011

Demolicious indeed! Thank you so much for letting all us demo nerds in on your excitement! I can’t wait to see it without the ceiling. I like your ideas for the dining room. With some built-in storage (maybe a built-in bench under that window?) you can have a very useful room.

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09.June.2011

Love the name the boys came up with. Demolicious! You guys work fast and before you know you will be cooking up a frenzy in that open kitchen with your crew gathered around the island waiting to eat.

Thanks for sharing!

Ps. That sectional will have no probs finding a good home. Maybe a home with 5 kids and few miles south of you????? ;-)

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replied on June 9th, 2011

Valerie and Anna – Whenever we have a moving sale or list pieces on Craigslist, I’ll be sure to link to them on H*T!

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I love that you took out the wall it already makes a big difference. This is so fun to watch the progress.

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09.June.2011

I never ever comment on websites, but I wanted to let you know that watching your progress is so much fun. I look forward to all of your posts!

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09.June.2011

Could you use the sectional as banquette seating around the dining/multi-function table? Would make it easier to take a post-dinner nap :)

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replied on June 9th, 2011

Kimberly – “Post dinner nap” – hehe! Sadly, the massive sectional would leave barely enough room for a small coffee table much less a dining table and other chairs. Plus, it’d probably be too low and deep for sitting comfortably at a dining table. I do like the idea of banquette seating for extra storage but will probably wait until we’re actually living there to decide what seating to use around the non-existent table.

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09.June.2011

Funny, I just did a post about demo yesterday! I do not miss those days! And I can totally relate to changing plans in the middle of the remodel. We did it about a million times!

–Brittany @ RemodelVenture

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09.June.2011

Love the progress… I’m imagining the kitchen already! I’m really excited to see what’s next… Thanks for sharing!

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09.June.2011

Love following your blog, Dana. Thanks for sharing!

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09.June.2011

Hi Dana, 1st wanted to say that I LOVE this great leap that you’ve guys taken.

Can I tell you what I think about your new plan? I don’t want to seem presumptuous or whatever, and I”m definitely no one to give advice (I have no formal training or anything, just renovating my house), etc… and every family is different, etc, etc. BUT :) i think you would, in the long term, appreciate having a “den”/family room… as your boys will get older you and they might appreciate having separate living rooms for reading/tv watching. I really like, in my house, that I can have kids playing in one room while adults are lounging in the “formal” living room. This is becoming more and more of a case as kids grow older.

Would you consider replacing your island with a huge table and creating some additional storage in the “laptop nook” to the right of the 2nd window. You will have a huge table, you will have a home-y and cozy eating area, storage, etc…

just a suggestion… :)

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replied on June 10th, 2011

Nat – We’ve toyed with the ideas that you suggested! And they’re great! Just not what we think is best for our living arrangements right now. After taking inventory of our kitchen supplies, we decided that we would most definitely need the island for storage. Don’t get me wrong…I would absolutely LOVE to have a big farmhouse table in the middle of the kitchen for dining, but we need concealed storage instead. As for the separate living room and den – our kids are young and we enjoy having them around us {most days!}. I can’t really think of many instances in the last few years that we’ve had adult guests who don’t also have children, so there’s never a problem with kids being in the same room as adults. Who knows? Maybe when our kids are older we’ll turn the dining room/mudroom into a more lounge-y den for the boys??? I’m very excited to see how the Underdog changes as our family changes. Should be fun!

Thanks for the suggestions! I actually enjoy seeing and hearing about how other people use their homes and the rooms inside, so I’m always open to suggestions. While there are certainly wrong ways to address houses and their rooms’ functions, I think there can be more than one right way. It just depends on what will work best for you!

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It looks great, Dana! I like the idea of a big kitchen/dining/mudroom type place (almost like a new version of a “family room” cuz that’s what it will be!) and moving the living room stuff into the other room. I was also very hesitant about putting our big TV above our fireplace, but in the end, it was the best way to get function out of the room and not lose more wall space and seating to a separate TV stand. Sometimes you just gotta choose function first. And I’m sure you’ll make it beautiful anyway. :) I’ve even heard Candice Olson say that she doesn’t understand why people try to not make the TV a focal point in the room when they spend so much time using it. You just gotta fit it in to the rest of the design. It’ll be great!

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I completely agree that the best part of demo is that it doesn’t cost anything if you’re handy! Now I just need to get the money together to finish our unplanned, need-based guest bath reno. Sigh.

Can’t wait to follow along with all your demo, reno and tweaking!

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09.June.2011

Love seeing the progress and all the detail! If you keep writing, I’ll keep reading! It makes the whole “demo” thing seem not as scary.

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09.June.2011

What a clever idea for use of the former “den”. Mud rooms / laundry rooms are so nice to have. Combining it with a dining room table for occasional use seems really smart. I’m of the one living room/space per house mind frame. I liked having my son and his friends close by and a part of the family (instead of off on their own in another room). And if there needed to be a more adult time, kids can learn to play quietly in the same room as adults or go to their room for quiet time. I can’t wait to see what you do next!

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09.June.2011

The vaulted ceiling is the part of this house that I am most looking forward to seeing. Thanks for giving us the lowdown on the whole reno process!

P.S. Love the new pic on the homepage!

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replied on June 10th, 2011

Rebecca – Thanks! I try to update my homepage pic every few months. I like reading blogs where the author’s real face is present and the image is current, so that’s why I do it. Glad to know someone else appreciates my indulgent little photo sessions!

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The Great Room looks awesome now. We have a similar set up in our Hi-Ranch…the Great Room. We love it. And we even have vaulted ceilings in the kitchen & dining room. The previous owners did that though. We just enjoy it. ;) As for your new choice for the “Den”, I think it’s great that you want to change it into the DR, mudroom, etc. You can always change it years down the road to something else if you need to. I can’t wait to watch the Underdog turn into your new home. :D

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09.June.2011

I am so excited to see what you have up your sleeve.

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09.June.2011

I love seeing all of the progress you guys have made on the Underdog already! I can’t wait for more updates!

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10.June.2011

Dana,
Love your blog! But I do want to share a word of caution with you and your readers about the spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation…it’s a great product if applied correctly, but PLEASE make sure that the contractors are all wearing respirators and that you and your children aren’t around during the spraying process. A lot of people don’t know enough about it before they use it. You can find more information about it here: http://www.sprayfoam-mag.com/default.aspx and also (if you’re interested) you could contact the magazine regarding a story submission…just a thought. I used to be the editor :)

Stephanie

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replied on June 10th, 2011

Stephanie – Thanks for the heads up! We’re definitely researching, reading, questioning and gobbling up all the info we can about insulation options. Handy Hubby has interviewed 3 contractors so far for the spray foam job and isn’t done yet. Whatever we decide to do, we’ll only do it if we feel comfortable with the contractor’s product, technique and knowledge. Our kids most certainly won’t be around for that project. Thanks so much for your concern!!

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10.June.2011

I am really enjoying being a bystander in your renos! We gutted the house we are living in about 6 years ago…and began again. Still not done, mostly, but not all. I really love all the promise a reno holds (although it’s definatley not for the faint hearted!) Thanks for sharing your process!

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10.June.2011

I don’t even own a house and I am totally hooked on following this blog and seeing the progress. I think I’m a homeowner trapped in an renter’s body.

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10.June.2011

such an improvement already! are you on any sort of time-table or does the move into the new pad just depend on when you sell your old place?

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replied on June 10th, 2011

Lizzy – Until our house sells, we really have no timeline. Ideally, we’d like to sell/move before our older son starts school in the fall so we don’t have to move him into a new school district mid-school year, but that may not happen. We aren’t ones to procrastinate, so even though we don’t have a move-in date set, we’ll still try to move the reno along by working on the Underdog some weekday evenings after work and on weekends. The whole ‘unknown’ is sort of scary to me {for the most part we’re usually organized and planned when it comes to big life events}, but Handy Hubby keeps assuring me that he really feels that everything will fall into place when it should. I hope he’s right!

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10.June.2011

I think your decision makes perfect sense. Why have two “living spaces” at the expense of an area that your family is used to? I think that people are really starting to look at home layouts in a different way, and its completely refreshing. I’m really quite glad that someone as fashionable as yourself is helping to illustrate smaller living as a smart and viable choice, and I am so looking forward to how well you will do it.

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13.June.2011

Pleeeeease tell me you have days when you wonder if it all too much? I find myself between over the top positive and the next minute wondering if I have bitten off more than I chew….

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replied on June 13th, 2011

Alison – Oh YES!!! Nearly every night we go to bed, look at each other and one of says, “What are we doing?!” But we always come back around to the same end goal that we both desire… to live in a home that we can pay off in ~5 years. We try to focus on the project at hand – whatever that may be – and not get too caught up on all that is left to do. Just the other day Handy Hubby said, “We’d be bored if we weren’t doing this.” He’s probably right. As stressful as reno’s and home improvement and selling your house and making your kids change school districts can be, we really do enjoy working on the Underdog and imagining its potential. It’s our drug.

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13.June.2011

Definitely in agreement with Nat. I hate the idea of putting TVs into kids’ rooms, so having a den that they can go hang out in is so nice.

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24.February.2014

[…] you have been following along, you already know we removed the walls separating the original kitchen, dining and living rooms. When the walls came down, part of the […]

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