From the moment we first viewed this house, we agreed that if we were to buy it, we would want to tear down the wall between the kitchen and the living room, for a more open feel.
Our London flat was vast. Cavernous, even. And we loved that spacious feeling, and really miss it. We’re now doing our best to recreate some of that feeling here. The wall is gone now, and now it looks like we might be able to gain some height, too. (The ceiling in the old part of the house appears to have been lowered to match the new part. At some point we’re going to tear it down, see what’s behind it, and hopefully gain a good 25–30cm of height.)
In the living room, the part closest to the wall evolved into a cul-de-sac where stuff tended to accumulate: mostly Ingrid’s toys and books, but other stuff as well. On the kitchen side, the wall was all bare. All we had in front of it was a big cupboard. I haven’t even got any pictures of that side of the kitchen as it used to be, because it was so uninteresting.
After we moved all the stuff, all that was left was a white wall – and some cabling in the wall. Before we could attack it with big sharp implements, we had an electrician disconnect and remove the outlets on both sides. It turned out that the junction at the top of the wall was a major one, apparently supplying all of the top floor with electricity, so the top box stayed in place.
Then we got to work. Or rather, Eric got to work, and I got to keep Ingrid out of the way, and take photos whenever I could. Instead, Eric was helped by our next-next-next-door neighbour Gustaf.
First they removed some molding and the skirting board. Then they attacked the drywall with a crowbar.
Behind the drywall we discovered panelling, and a boarded-up door. The door was removed in its entirety and found a new home in Gustaf’s house, where it fit perfectly. The panelling was simply torn down.
At this point we were left with the innermost layer, and everything on the far side of it. Eric and Gustaf kept the living room side of the wall untouched as far as possible, to keep all the dust and mess confined to the kitchen. (Tearing down drywall makes for an awful lot of gypsum dust.)
Now that we got a good look at what was inside the wall, we were suddenly a bit less confident about tearing it down.
The planks were a good 5cm thick. Given how solid and heavy the whole thing looked, we started thinking that maybe it could be load-bearing after all. It shouldn’t be, given how the rest of the house was constructed, but you never know. It’s not the kind of decision you want to make rashly: even a 5% risk of the top floor falling down on top of us is too much.
So we took a break. The next day we called a couple of builders, and had them take a look and confirm that it was indeed OK to take it down. They had a 5 minute look, walked around, knocked on a few things, and announced confidently that the wall was definitely not load-bearing.
We continued on New Year’s Eve. Because the planks were so heavy, Eric and Gustaf sawed them into sections and removed them in pieces. That’s Gustaf in the picture.
After that it was time to take down the drywall on the other side. Gustaf in blue shirt, Eric in white.
And we’re through! A big hole in the wall.
Time was a bit limited on New Year’s Eve (we had dinner guests coming a few hours later) so we stopped there and cleaned it all up. Most of the wall was gone but the top bit was still there. Almost elegant, in a way: one could almost imagine an arch of some sort there.
A few days later Eric sawed off the “arch”. Now we just have 20-cm stumps left of the wall planks. It would be almost impossible to remove those without damaging the stretch ceiling, so they’ll have to wait until we get rid of the ceiling, which is not a high-priority project and might have to wait until next winter.
We also have a rather unsightly gap in the floor, which will also have to wait a while. This would be easier to fix than the top of the wall, but we haven’t quite decided whether to put in place a temporary quick fix, or let it be until we decide what to do about the kitchen floor. The original wooden floor seems to be there still, under a few layers of other stuff, and we might want to dig that out. Or not.
We’re very pleased that the wall is gone! The whole place feels so much more open. And lighter, too: now both rooms get light from three directions. Plus, now that the wall is gone, there’s no place there for stuff to accumulate, so there will be less clutter, too. It’s nice to be able to go directly from the living room to the kitchen without a detour through the hall. Ingrid in particular loves running around in circles around the chimney stack. And it makes both rooms much more social: I can hear music while I’m in the kitchen, and have a conversation with Eric while one of us is in the kitchen and the other is in the living room.