Making the First Cut…

Well this weekend I decided to finally knock down a wall…literally. Everyday I stare at the wall and think, “I need to get going on this project!” So with the long weekend we were able to find time to start. Full disclosure, I do not always have the exact tools for the job so I made it work with what I had or borrowed it from a contractor friend we have. My first task was to come up with a plan of how big we wanted the opening to be. We decided that the top needed to match the opening above the walking path so that was easy. The one side we made it the same distance away from the lightswitch as the opening for the walkway was. Again easy. The south side we decided to make it extend up passed the current edge of the coffee station. For the most part easy. The bottom took some research. We have the stools already that we will be placing at the breakfast station. We already knew that they are counter height. I measured the current counters and confirmed with a few google searches that our counters are at the standard 36″. With that in mind I could cut at the width of my counter-top that I am installing (1 1/2″) so that they match. However, my husband and I talked about it for a while and decided we would like a little more clearance between our legs and our countertop. Therefore we decided the top of the counter would match the top of the stools backrest. This meant the line would be cut at 36″. Now with a plan in place it was time to draw it up on the wall to see how it looked and begin the process of looking into how to go about making a hole in my wall.

My Research…

Since my first maternity leave I have been following some of my favourite HGTV home renovation stars. However, their accounts only shared a few tidbits of information of how to actually do the renovation. Instead, they share before and after photos and some really cool ideas. It took a bit because I would constantly get videos of projects involving cutting out picture windows on exterior walls which was a bit of a different process than I was needing to tackle. Finally, I was able to find this video on youtube and it proved to be the guidance for my first stages of work.

Source

One of the first things that the video mentions is that we had to confirm that this opening was not going to affect the structural integrity of our house. After consulting with our contractor we were pretty sure it was not but would know more once we opened the wall up. There was some confusion because of the way the house is and some other walls nearby. It is a busy corner you could say. This is also one of the reasons we cannot remove the wall altogether. We also knew there was likely one electrical switch we needed to be aware of but it would not play a major factor. Our next plan of action was to draw it onto the wall and see what we thought.

Time to Draw

My first plan was to draw a rough line to see if we liked the general idea. I used a meter stick to carry on from the header in the opening beside where the hole would be. I did the same for the south side following a line up from the coffee counter. For the north side I measured using a measuring tape. I made ticks up the wall at the same width and then connected the line with a meter stick. Finally the bottom line I struggled with. With our radiators it involved some obstacles to work around to make sure the measurements were accurate. I ended up measuring the height of the radiator from the floor. It took some tweaking but it worked out ok. Once I had all the lines somewhat roughly drawn I was able to see the plan and sit back and digest it. I debated about using tape like the video suggested but my pencil marks was giving me a good point of view. I also used a stud finder, with some help from a little helper, to mark the studs and electrical. We then sat back and let that sink in for a day. See if it was what we were after.

We agreed we liked this size and were very eager to get to it. I rewatched the youtube video a few times and decided I was ready to move forward and se a level to make sure my lines were straight. Good thing I did because my rough lines were far from level. I anticipated that would be the case but not to the level they were at. See below:

No Turning Back Now…

The moment had come. Were we actually going to cut a massive hole into our wall. Our contractor had stopped by to bring me his multipurpose tool so I was able to run the drawing by him. It was reassuring to know I was doing the right thing. I also appreciated that I was able to talk through my plan and see what he thought and any tips he had for me. Just like the video, he also recommended using a shop vacuum as I cut to help limit the amount of drywall dust that would get everywhere. It was time to get to it. I was pretty nervous to start but I quickly got the hang of it. I was surprised at how well I was following the line. I had some angled cuts and a few that were a little rough around the edges but it worked out. My husband tossed a few tips my way. He tried to let me take the lead but also wanted to provide me with a tip to make the process a bit easier. Using the multipurpose tool, I found it worked easier to only have 3/4 of the blade in the wall and the rest sticking out. If I let too much of it go into the wall then it would catch as it moved and would tear the drywall. Once the cut lines were done, my daughter and I hammered a few holes into the wall so we could rip off the drywall in chunks. She loved this part and so did I. It was fun to include her and also for her to see that Mom can fix things and not just Dad!

The video talked about using little probes to mark the corners and then connect the dots to find the other cut lines on the other side of the wall. I did not have these and instead I used my measurements on the other side of the wall to make my lines. It took a little longer but it was not bad. I once again cut using the multipurpose tool and then took out chunks of drywall. It wasn’t long and we had an opening. Our daughter was thrilled. She couldn’t believe we did this and it has since become her favourite place to hang out. I can only imagine what she will think once we get it done. It really opened up the space and has changed the functionality of the house. In a way we wish we could remove the little post to have it more open but once we get the counter top in, without that post, I see a lot of people running into the counter. Here is the final product for this weekend.

A clear view to the kids fort on the other side of the wall now.

What I Learned…

Besides the obvious of learning how to use a multipurpose tool and the fact we need to add one to our tool kit, I learned that I much prefer to learn from someone in person than re-watching a youtube video numerous times. I felt I gained more confidence from an in person conversation that I did from watching the video. Even though my husband isn’t a contractor his guidance and knowledge as an autobody mechanic and handy guy came in valuable in the real time. The video I found was not providing me feedback on what I was doing or what the final product was. It did not provide me with tips on how to use the tool or the best approach to holding it was. I had to observe that on my own. The general knowledge behind what I was doing was there but not the actual technique used was described. Moving forward I need to come up with a plan for moving the electrical wire, best approach to cutting the studs down and framing in the area. For the most part my lines matched up. I have some areas that will require some fixing but it shouldn’t be too bad. Here are some close ups.

Overall I am happy with how the project has started. I got more done this weekend than I anticipated. I feel the next phases will be a lot slower and a lot more intricate. I am struggling a bit to find the right youtube video for the job but it has been a great learning process. I did come across an instagram account sharing a product that would have been beneficial for this renovation. Check it out.

If you made it this far thank you for checking out my project! We did a lot this weekend so capturing it all was a feat in itself!

4 thoughts on “Making the First Cut…

    1. Thank you! We just moved into this house a year ago. Our old house had an island that we had stools at. They match our kitchen table so we wanted to bring them to this house instead of leaving them. Glad we did because they will work well with this project!

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  1. teachertremblay

    Jocelyn,

    I am loving the direction your project is taking! I appreciate that you mentioned Mom can fix things too, not just Dad– I think that is so valuable for your kiddo to learn! It is also wonderful that you can involve your family in this project and enjoy the final product together.

    We’ve done some renovations on the houses we’ve lived in and I’m always a nervous wreck. I’m always thinking, “WHAT IF I DO IT WRONG? WHAT IF IT LOOKS BAD?” I get so caught up in the “what ifs” that it stops me from starting, so I think it’s pretty amazing that you’ve taken on this DIY project. This multipurpose tool sounds pretty handy… My fiancé and I have been chatting about doing some work on our house eventually and this sounds like it might be something worth acquiring. Thanks for sharing your journey! I can’t wait to see the final product and snag some tips from your experience. I love a transformation!

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