House For Six

Open It Up: Bringing In The Light and Bright

Deme Crinion3 Comments

If you follow along with us on Instagram or Facebook, then you probably saw that we had quite the scare with our son Jack this past weekend.  We've known of his peanut allergy since he was 1 but this weekend was the first time he had an accidental exposure by eating something with straight peanut ingredients (not just through cross-contamination or topical/surface residue) since his first exposure a few years ago.

His reaction was terrifying and far worse than any reaction he's had to date.  We spent Sunday afternoon in the ER and have spent the rest of the week recovering.  He's doing beautifully, but my nerves are still on the mend.  One thing I do know is that God is always present and we're once again humbled by the kindness of our friends and neighbors.  

I'm still trying to catch up, but I promised to show you the progress on our three main goals for the house when we moved in.  I'm going to squish the first two (Open It Up and Easy Maintenance) together today since one sort of begets the other.  You'll have to excuse the phone pics!

Our house is very traditional with most of the rooms sectioned off from one another.  It does have a good circular order to the rooms that make sense for daily living and entertaining, but we really wanted to open things up for better flow and more natural light.

Although the house was beautifully updated, the family room still had dark paneled walls and due to some awesome trees that provide a shade canopy for the backyard throughout the day on that side of the house, the room felt very dark.  

The family room/breakfast area were right on the other side of the kitchen wall, and we knew opening that up would allow us to see the kids and really let more light from the kitchen window into the adjoining room. 

The house has fantastic storage, so we could stand to lose the upper cabinets and actually plan to reuse them in another room.  Mike and his crew from O'Neil Contracting took on this job for us and were so great to work with....they were courteous, skilled, clean, and very considerate of our home. 

We didn't plan on having a post, but losing it would mean major electric work to relocate all those wires.  The opening had already accomplished the goal of letting in more light and creating a more open space, so the post was an easy compromise.

We also had to decide on a bar top.  We considered trying to find the same granite as the countertops, or pulling one color from the granite and going with something completely different.  But then we remembered we had a free and more meaning solution.  

These marble slabs (you can see them resting against the wall a few pictures back) belonged to James grandfather.  He used to make candy on them and we were never sure of what to do with them.  We asked our contractor if he could make them work as a bar top and they fit perfectly after a few minor cuts.  Eventually we'll change out the backsplash for something that will tie in the two surfaces a bit better and possibly change out the countertops, but we're so happy to have a piece of family history incorporated into our home.

That change alone was a huge improvement and I was already reaping the benefits of being able to watch the kids while I worked in the kitchen.  Yet the family room still felt dark.  We knew paint would make a huge difference, but we continued to waver on taking down the wall between the family room and living room.  The living room gets some of the best light in the house and we knew opening it up would probably make a huge difference in brightening up the space...but taking down a wall is a major commitment!

In the end we decided to go for it....and that's when things got tricky.  You never know what you're going to find when you open up a wall.  We knew it was load bearing and planned to create the largest opening we could.  However, a little surprise was waiting for us....

That AC vent goes to Liv's room.  Moving it over into the wall would have put it outside her room, requiring more vent work to route it back into her room upstairs.  That was a huge expense that we just couldn't afford and more construction upstairs that we would rather avoid.  

Thankfully, the vent was centered on wall, so we decided to push forward with two large openings almost like doorways.  It's not what we originally had in mind, but it would do the job.  As soon as the wall came down on the other side and all that glorious light poured in, the worry of regret disappeared.

So much light.  So much bright.  Hooray!

We obviously had a flooring issue to address since we now had two different types of carpet greeting each other over a gap where the wall used to be.  Not to mention that light carpet was in the eating areas and right by the sliding door to the backyard (which means it would have destroyed with food and dirt within a week).

We wanted to extend the same flooring from the kitchen throughout these spaces, but the price point was higher than we planned for in our budget.  After some of my best internet stalking, I was able to find the flooring online at 40% off, no tax, and free shipping as part of a 4th of July sale.  That meant we could afford enough to put throughout the whole main level. 

James was a machine laying the new flooring throughout the rest of the house.  We had a few friends help along the way and within a few days we had a totally different house.  The flooring really was the ticket to the house feeling cohesive.   You can get a good idea of how the rooms flow in the pic below, with a side of some Olympic National Anthem action.

Now it's on to paint and finally getting some things on the walls!  Just for reference, the crew was here for 6 days working on the kitchen opening, the large wall opening, and another project that I'll share tomorrow.  The flooring took another week (including the dining room not pictured).  So, all in all it was about two weeks of living in a major construction zone.  It felt long and terrible at the time, but we're so glad we sucked it up and knocked it out in the beginning.  It's so much harder to commit to projects like that when your furniture is already in place. It was certainly worth the time and stress in the long run!  

Tomorrow I'll show you two more rooms (still in progress) that are going to make a huge impact on the function of our home!