To get you caught up on the progress of our major renovation – our next project was the DIY renovation of our family room and keeping room. If you’ve been following my blog you know that because of the original layout of our home, we started a major renovation that included moving the kitchen into the former den, and the dining room into the former kitchen. You can start reading about those spaces here:
The two rooms in this post were originally a formal living room and a formal dining room. There were so many projects involved in renovating these two rooms that I will do some spin-off posts, but for now I’m going to do one long post that summarizes the work.
The Family Room – Before
The picture below shows the formal living room (which I’m going to just call the family room going forward) while standing and looking in from the keeping room above. You’ll see there is an opening to the foyer that is larger than a normal door, but still somewhat small for today’s norm.
This picture shows the view from the family room into the old dining room which is now the keeping room. You can read about that really beautiful transformation here:
You’re basically standing at the line of windows in the picture above. Notice the fireplace mantle. It’s a lovely antique piece that we were told came from the Hamptons. While lovely on its own, it doesn’t look right in the space because it’s too small for the wall and the room that it’s in. So its character is lost and it looks out of place. This is one of the things we changed during our renovation of the family room.
Installing lighting in the ceiling
The first thing we did is to remove the ceiling drywall. Again, if you’ve been following us you know this has been par for the course so far so that we could add much needed lighting. You don’t always need to take down drywall to add can lights. There are tools to assist in cutting out the drywall and drilling through the joists. But our space had everything going against us including the size of the space and the number of joists we were going to have to drill through, so we decided (again) to just rip the drywall out.
Recognize the table? It’s in the living room only because that was the only room big enough before we started our renovations. Now it’s in its permanent home in our new dining room =).
The cabinets shown in this picture are in the same spot they became permanent built-ins.
Another angle looking from the family room into the foyer.
Removing load bearing walls and installing laminated support beams
The picture below shows the opening in between the family room and keeping room. We significantly increased the width of the opening because we wanted them to “blend” together when entertaining large groups.
But making that change meant extra work because it was a load bearing wall.
Because of the span of the new opening, we had to install new support beams. We used three 16 foot laminated beams that we glued and screwed together. We built a temporary wall to support the space, then installed the beams, added columns at each end, and then removed the temporary wall.
Because the weight of the three laminated beams was significant, we installed a laminated beam in the floor when we were working on the dining room and had the flooring removed.
The picture below is from a previous post when we were doing the dining room. It looks into the new keeping room. TJ installed a laminated beam below the floor running from the wall on the left of the picture below to the wall on the right where the two rooms split (where the drywall ends). This provided support where a new column came down from the laminated beams in the picture above.
Taking down walls to make ceilings appear higher
The picture below shows the expanded opening into the foyer. We also added a smaller support beam there. In both cases we used a drywall lift to help us hoist the beams – there is no way TJ and I could have installed any of the ceiling laminated beams by ourselves without the lift. Here is a link to a similar lift.
As you can see, even though we only increased the opening into the foyer by about 2 feet – it made a tremendous difference in how the space feels more open. We only have 8 foot ceilings in this home and moving to an open floor plan makes the ceilings feel much taller.
The next picture shows the mess we lived with while doing this part of the renovation. It was an incredibly messy year =). We hung inexpensive plastic sheathing we purchased at Home Depot to separate the spaces that had been completed from those that we were working on. It didn’t kill the dust completely but sure helped.
A great idea for temporary window treatments
We have a very active neighborhood, so a lot of neighbors walk by in addition to those that drive. Because we have this large span of windows facing the street, all the lumber and tools were visible during certain times of the day.
We needed a solution for temporary window treatments – something to cover the windows that was inexpensive, but not tacky. I found inexpensive black fabric shower curtains on Amazon that are washable. Then I hung them in the windows, and while it did make it dark on the inside – you couldn’t tell they were up on the outside!
I can’t tell you the number of laughs we got from our neighbors when we told them we had shower curtains hung in our front windows for months. No one ever realized it! They just thought they were looking into a darkened room. WIN!
I still use the “window treatments” as protective covers when I paint so they’ve been worth the cost. You can find the ones I used here.
Wiring custom cabinetry for TV and Internet installation
We knew we were going to install a TV above the fireplace mantle so while TJ was building the (amazing) fireplace and mantle, he installed piping to house the electrical and internet components.
He ran PVC pipe down the side of the mantle which is now hidden by the cabinets. He drilled through the brick on the exterior of the home and installed pipe to provide for the exterior internet lines. And of course he installed an outlet behind where the TV will sit above the mantle.
DIY custom fireplace mantle
TJ used various sizes of trim and his standby, cabinet grade plywood, to frame the old mantle I mentioned earlier in the post. He brought the new mantle all the way to the ceiling and framed a space large enough to house a TV. I think i’s a 65″. In the past I would have said that’s insane to have one so big, but nowadays, that’s really not that large anymore is it?
DIY custom built-ins using discarded cabinets
So what about the cabinets? I have a brother who does demolition and he works with clients that are building amazing homes – crazy amazing =). Because they want their new homes built on prime real estate, he takes down homes that are also pretty amazing – to make room for the new ones. Some times this means getting rid of furniture and appliances. At one of his jobs, he came across these two stand alone cabinets. They were great quality and really unique but totally 70s and yes, ugly.
When he called to see if I wanted them, I knew they would fit our Tudor style home perfectly. I checked with TJ to be sure he could turn them into built-ins flanking the fireplace. And of course he said yes. Why do I even ask? He can do pretty much anything as long as I show him a picture =).
TJ started by removing the exterior components of the cabinets since they would no longer be stand alone. He then built a new cabinet to support the cabinets in the wall on either side of the fireplace mantle.
Adding trim to make the cabinets and new fireplace mantle really shine
TJ then added the beautiful trim that he does so well. And that ugly wall is now an amazing wall of custom built-ins flanking a beautiful fireplace and mantle. Wait until you see it finished and painted!
Let’s take one more look at the wall – before! What a difference, right?!
Drywall work, finishing the woodwork, and paint
Time for the dusty work – mudding and sanding the drywall and sanding and finishing all of TJs beautiful trim.
The full reveal and more projects are coming soon so consider signing up for an email alert – you won’t want to miss seeing the finished rooms!