The most nerve-racking part of renovation is not the actual work, but the decision-making. This is particularly true when floor plan is modified, or new window/door opening is created. Will the result be what we imagined? Will we like it as we hoped? How much time and money will we waste if we want to change it back?

Since we settled on the office plan weeks ago, the new opening to the living room has been on our minds. To me, this new opening is what makes the room or breaks the room. With the help of Sketchup, we tried our best to imagine what the view will change from every angle. We think we like it – but will we actually like it in real life?

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The only way to find out is to make the new opening. So Friday night, we gathered some courage and waved the hammer to the wall…

And made a new opening!

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Do we like it? Well, we do not like it…

We love it!

A New Opening

Let me back up a little and tell you how the process went. According to our plan, the new opening is 6′, centered on the 10′ wall between living room and office.

I marked the proposed opening with blue tape on the living room side, which helped us to visualize the opening.

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We were still waiting for our engineer on the new header size, so we could not knock done all the studs yet. To get a feel of how the two rooms connect, we decided to cut open the drywall while leaving most of the studs intact.

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It did not take long at all to remove the drywall. We did have to relocate an electrical outlet, which involved cutting into one stud a bit.

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We opened just 2 studs in the center, which is about 32″ wide, less than half width of the proposed opening (72″).

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Slav cut open the other side. Suddenly, the two rooms were connected!

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We immediately liked it. Even with only two studs open, the office already felt wider. This is how the same wall looked like before.

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Framing the Old Doorway

With the new opening, we moved onto closing up the old doorway. Last time I showed you the office, we reversed the closet to face the bedroom, leaving the office/bedroom wall like this:

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Our plan was to drywall the closet and the old doorway, and make one uninterrupted wall:

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Slav took down the door and I popped the trims off:

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I then proceeded to take the door jamb off. It is amazing how quickly one can learn on the job and feel confident. I am very comfortable with tackling these steps alone, which makes me very happy.

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While we were working on the office, the living room inevitably suffered:

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We then cut some 2 x 4 to size to frame the doorway:

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We did not remove the header, which already supports all the weight. So the framing is basically for creating a structure for drywall to attach.

First Time Drywall!

Slav got drywall from Lowe’s and we cut them to size in the garage:

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First piece up, more to go.

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Putting up drywall is pretty straightforward. Size, cut, then Lego pieces together. We quickly finished the bedroom side:

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Drywall finish requires a lot of sanding; so we will save it for another day. I loaded all the clothes back into the closet and was pretty happy to have enclosed bedroom again!

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Remember what the closet wall used to look like? 😉

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We next moved onto drywall the doorway. Slav cut a piece for dry-fitting:

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And here came the challenge – our old wall is not straight. The old studs are bowed so our newly framed studs did not align.

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Consequently, when we put new drywall against the new studs, it did not sit flash with the old drywall due to the misalignment.

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The difference in height is too much for taping and mudding. Without taking down more drywall, there is not much we could do to fix the curved existing wall/studs. We decided to take off a slice of the new studs from its side to keep the new wall aligned with the old.

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It does not fix the curved wall, but it fixed the misalignment and the curve is pretty small to notice. It is definitely a lot easier than replacing the whole framing behind the existing wall. The piece we took off is only 1/4″ thick, so we are not worried about the strength of the studs.

Then we could put the drywall up without a problem.

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The Office in Progress

Done with the drywall, the office now looks like this:

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We also decided to take off the center studs, so we do not have to pass the opening sideways:

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We have been living with the opening for a couple days now, and it feels so natural to go in and out of the office from living room. Slav and I like to be on our computers in the evening, and I usually sit at the dining table in the living room. The new opening, although narrow, makes us feel like we are in the same room while having our own space. Needless to say, we are pretty excited to widen the opening to its full span!

We also like the changes in the little hallway leading to the bedroom. To remind you, here is the what the hallway looked like before closing the office doorway:

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You can see that the hallway had doors on all four sides – office, bath, bedroom, and linen closet. Now with the old office door blocked, the hallway looks like this:

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It has become a more private access to the bed/bath area, which makes the bedroom feel more like a suite than just a room. The new closet space in the bedroom is definitely a plus too. We are now 100% sold on the new floor plan!

While waiting on our header size, we are planning to start on the library built-ins. We got a foot of snow today and I am off next week. Cannot think of a better way of spending a few quiet days at home than assembling bookshelves!