05 June 2013

If Walls Could Talk...They'd Say OUCH!

These past two weekends have been a whirlwind of house renovation. Walls are gone, the house is torn up, our mattress is still on the ground AND I love it! I owe a big (like really BIG) thanks to my parents and grandparents for giving up their beautiful weekends to come help Kevin and I work on the house. Their help has been essential to the progress that we’ve been able to make so far.

But today’s post is going to be about something I was maybe most excited to demo: the spindle walls. Dividing our kitchen and family room the half walls with spindles were the first eye sore you would see coming into either our front or back door. The problem is not only are they super dated looking, but our living/kitchen space is not huge so having our sight lines blocked by the spindles made everything feel more claustrophobic and dark.  Who wants to feel incarcerated in their own home? Not this chick!

Just to give you an idea of what we were dealing with...



Before you start taking down any walls, spindle or otherwise, there are two things that you really need: a gameplan and complete transparency in what you’re dealing with. We knew that the half walls were not loadbearing for the 2nd floor and that the spindles were strictly cosmetic (who said “yes this looks killer”), the critical structure was/is the columns. They are the loadbearing features and had to stay. We are okay with leaving the columns because we both think they add visual interest and provide a nice “division” of space without closing in smallish rooms. If you don’t want columns, you can definitely get rid of them. You will have to have a structural engineer check things out and recommend the correct size beam (header) and proper supports.  Translation: more money spent.

Let the half wall demo commence! The first thing we did was remove the spindles (yay!!!) I wanted to take my aggression out on them and use a sledgehammer; show those guys who’s boss. Unfortunately my level-headed accountant had the foresight to know we didn’t want to cause a bigger mess for ourselves…thus I was banned from the sledgehammer. Probably for the best. So with a reciprocating saw we cut the spindles in half and then pulled them out (much less dramatic, much less mess.)


Next we removed the electrical outlet/hardware with a screwdriver. Make sure you turn off the electricity to any outlets or switches via the electrical panel. You can test whether a current is still running through the wires with a voltage tester. Once the electrical outlets/switches have been turned off and removed, you need to remove the baseboards with a pry bar. We also had decorative trim one the top of the half wall we had to pry off as well. Now it’s time to find the studs with a stud finder and mark their location. Hello, sledgehammer!!! That’s right, time to knock a hole in the wall (make sure you put your holes between the studs.) We put a hole between all the studs on one side of the half-wall. And then removed the dry wall with our hands. Here comes the technical part (don’t judge us) from the side of the wall we just removed the drywall from we kicked out the other side of the drywall. I did get to take out my aggression after all. You may have to use a pry bar to remove dry wall from framing.

You now have to remove the studs. The ones attached to the bottom plate you can knock out with a hammer. Be aware of any nails that are sticking out when you begin to take out the studs, the last thing you want to add to your project budget is a trip to the doc-in-a-box for a tetanus shot . The stud that is attached to the wall you will have to pry off.

We have not done any of our finishing work yet except to fix the column (I will give you guys an update when we do), but basically what is left to do is: 1. fill in the floor (since we have hardwood, carpet, and tile all meeting at that area we are discussing several options with the flooring) 2. Patch the drywall then mud and tape and paint 3.  With the electrical we had in the half-wall we are going to put in a floor outlet (you can get a kit at any hardware store.)


With the other half-wall we took the spindles out, but are leaving the wall to build a bar in the kitchen for extra storage and eating area! Side note: please don’t judge the “finished” pics because we are nowhere near the final product, BUT you do get a glimpse of some of our upcoming projects.




 Xoxo, Christie



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