Sometimes the things that we want to renovate in our homes bother us for purely cosmetic reasons. Sometimes, your kitchen is falling apart. I haven’t really shown my kitchen because…well, I hate it. I love how big it is. I love how it nourishes my family. But I HATE how messed up so many things are. And the load bearing wall smack dab where I don’t want it to be really doesn’t help. How are you broken, oh kitchen of mine? Let me count the ways.
- The faucet on the sink is broken and doesn’t swing back and forth properly. The base
leaks,and it cannot be fixed (we’ve even had plumbers look at it).
- The sink is scratched something fierce, and the right bowl’s plumbing putty is disintegrating.
- The original laminate countertop has a big hole in it and scratches all over.
- The contact paper that we slapped on top of the countertop to hide the holes is peeling.
- The countertop near the wet areas is disintegrating and I sweep up new wood particles every day.
- The cabinets are incredibly hard to open.
- The cabinets have been cleaned so many times that you can actually see the particleboard underneath because the finish is gone.
- Our microwave sounds like an AT-AT coming in to annihilate rebels.
- The floor is ugly (this isn’t broken, but I HATE IT)
- The dishwasher and sink leaked into the cabinet below the sink, meaning the bottom of the cabinet rotted out.
- Four of the bottom cabinets have mold from the leak.
- The tile backsplash that we painted (to make it a little less ugly) has chips all over the place (not pictured).
- The layout is terrible. It’s like half of our kitchen is unusable.
- The countertop that separates the kitchen from the living room has a ridiculously small overhang, and it’s on the wrong side.
- The pantry is too deep, but not wide enough.
Need I say more? I mean, it isn’t like we haven’t made progress, but you can only slap a band-aid on so many times, you know? We’ve hung some curtains (which are now frosted windows), replaced the range after Emma was born, replaced the dishwasher after Tyler was born, covered the countertops with contact paper so I wouldn’t gouge my eyes out every time I walked in, painted the backsplash white for the same reason, etc, etc etc.
We’ve come a long way from what the previous owners left us with, but the mold (and bazillion other things that are broken) means it’s time to go.
So we’re finally gonna do it. The biggest reason we haven’t pulled the trigger yet is we weren’t sure about the layout. Ever since we moved in, I wanted to take out a small wall where our refrigerator and pantry are.
Taking that section of wall and the pantry out would really open up
We’ve thought about this for 3 years, since we bought the house, and have tried to figure out if it was something we could feasibly remove. I’ve had contractors out, who all had differing opinions. I’ve contacted the builder of our home to see if they had the blueprints (they didn’t). I’ve contacted city hall to see if there was any information in the permits or blueprints for the property (they laughed at me). I’ve talked to neighbors, who have basically just wondered the same thing. I’ve read EVERY ARTICLE on the internet on ‘How to Determine if A Wall is Load Bearing’. Promise.
I was fairly certain that it wasn’t supporting anything, but I really don’t want my house to collapse around me. So…we called in the experts. I contacted a local structural engineer who came and looked at it last week.
Unfortunately, we got the report today, and it isn’t good news – it’s load bearing. There are a few ways to deal with a load bearing wall:
- Remove the wall completely, and install a header (must be installed by a contractor and plans drawn by a structural engineer, needs permits)
- Remove the wall partially, install columns but a smaller header (must be installed by a contractor and plans drawn by a structural engineer, needs permits)
- Keep the wall and work around it (free!)
- Expand the wall, if possible, to make it feel like it belongs in the space more (not free, but can sometimes accomplish almost the same thing that removing it would)
It could technically be removed. We’d have to put in a structural beam to carry the load of the floor above, but I just don’t think the cost associated with that is in the cards for this house in this neighborhood. We’d never see that money again in resale, and it would be pretty dang expensive to do. Plus, this is a b.u.d.g.e.t. renovation. We’ve got two young kids and NO extra money. I’d much rather pay off some debt (Hello, student loans!) than install a big
I have to admit, I was pretty bummed about this. I had my heart set on taking out that wall, and the structural engineer’s report really threw a wrench into things. So after a little baking to lift my spirits, I got back into the IKEA kitchen planner and got to work.
I’ve spent more hours than I care to admit courting the IKEA kitchen planner. You really have to sweet talk it to not lose all our work (for no reason) and actually get something accomplished. What I love about the planner though, is that you can spend time figuring out what you want in the comfort of your own home, and can change your mind as much as you feel like. Just for kicks, here’s all the layouts/versions we’ve considered.
There’s actually more than this (dating back to about a month after we moved in), but they wouldn’t fit all on one page. Can you tell we’ve been dreaming about this for a while? Here’s what we were starting with, so you can understand why we’re making some of the changes we’re going to make.
This isn’t perfectly to scale, but it gives you an idea. Right now, everything we actively use in the kitchen is squished to one side. I think this was so you could have an eat-in-kitchen, but with the dining room mere steps away, I don’t think it makes sense to put another table in. What ends up happening is Aaron and I are stepping over each other all the time, we don’t use our space effectively, and it feels incredibly inefficient.
We thought HARD about putting an island in, but there just isn’t really a way to make it work. To get a 36″ walkway on each side of the island, it would only be 10″ deep. The empty space on the left looks great for an island, too right? Yeah…it just doesn’t really fit. The island would be comically small and doesn’t fix our ‘squished’ problem. So here’s our new plan:
We’re making a few changes that I think are going to make a HUGE difference!
- Move the sink underneath the other window to give more countertop near the range for meal prep
- Build a wall(?!??!?!?!) to give us more storage where the big opening used to be
- Move the microwave from over the range into a cabinet to modernize the space and make the range area prettier
- Install a desk so I can pay bills/blog/be with the kids and Aaron has a space to work when he works from home
- Install a cleaning cabinet next to the fridge so I can finally have all my cleaning supplies in one place
There’s only one ‘big’ move, and that’s the sink. We’ll have to reroute the plumbing in the wall to accommodate the new location, but I’m up for the challenge. I’ve done a fair bit of wiring/electrical, and I’m ready to dive deep into plumbing. It’s definitely going to change the feel of the room drastically. But I think with the big passthrough to the living room preserved, it’ll still feel like the big kitchen that it is. Just in case all those changes have your head spinning, here’s a little GIF of the changes.
I’m pumped. I know the IKEA sale is happening pretty soon, so we’re keeping our eyes peeled (the cabinets will be from IKEA). It’s not my ‘dream kitchen’ with the huge 10ft island I’ve been thinking about, but it’ll be a gorgeous space that fits our family (and our budget).
Have you guys struggled with a load-bearing wall? I feel like it’s practically a four letter word in the home renovation world, and nobody likes them. I get their purpose, of course, but I wish there was an easier way to take care of them. Putting in a beam that will hold up your house isn’t exactly a DIY job! Tell me your load-bearing wall stories!
Last, but not least, I’d love to chat with you guys over on Instagram. I’m posting tons of exclusive behind the scenes content over there, and would love to hear what you think!