Creating an Open Concept Living Space.

One of the things I loved when seeing our current house for the first time, was the potential it had for an open living, dining and kitchen space.  I know a lot of people are fans of having separated spaces, but with 3 little ones running around I’m a big fan of being able to keep an eye on everyone from most rooms.  Our first home was a split level, so although our kitchen and dining spaces were on the same floor, our main living space was down half a level and not visible from the kitchen.  I hated not being able to chat with the hubs easily while he made dinner and the kids and I were downstairs.  It also made for a poor flow during parties.  Anywho… back to the current house!

When you walk into our front door, our foyer space opens into a living room on the left, a dining room straight ahead (after walking past the stairs), our kitchen to the right (before the staircase – remember our powder room is off of that hallway), and our den is behind the foyer (it looks out at our front porch).  When we moved in, the plan was to widen both living room doorways, and to open the wall on the bottom half of the stairwell (to see into the dining room from the foyer).

Don’t you love how the foyer had cement board on the ground when we moved in?  The previous owner refinished the wood floors in the dining and living rooms (hence the plastic sheeting in some of the before pictures), and was going to tile the foyer.  However, we told him to stop all work when we bought the house – we didn’t love the tile he was going to install (and we knew we would want one flooring type throughout the main floor eventually).

Phase one of “operation open concept” was to widen the living room doorways and remove part of the stairwell wall (from the living room wall to about the sixth stair – to eliminate the “doorway” into the dining room).  To get an idea of how it would look, we tore down drywall wherever walls would be removed in the foyer and dining room.  Gradually, we started wondering if maybe we should tear out the entire living room wall, and have a support column installed.  It was an easy decision once all the drywall was down – the natural light flooding in from both the living and dining room windows, and the open sightlines (from EVERY DIRECTION) made it a no-brainer!

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Left: Before/after looking into the living and dining rooms. Right: Before/after looking downstairs.
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It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but in-person the light flooding in from the two, pictured living room windows made a huge difference!

We hired out the beam and column installation (we were not about to mess around with load-bearing walls!), and did a last minute add-on to have them install recessed lighting in the living room.  Previously, there was no overhead lighting, and the light switch controlled an outlet (I cannot stand that!).  We also had them add a light switch for the dining room in the column.  Now we have light switches for the dining room, living room, foyer, and upstairs hallway in the column.  Very convenient!  And each room (except for the living room) has light switches on the opposite sides of the respective rooms, too (the upstairs hallway has a light switch on each end of the hallway).

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Upper photos: before the support beam and column were installed (note the support walls created before the previous header was removed on the upper right).  Lower photos: after installation of the beam, column, recessed lights and outlets/switches moved to column.

To save on funds, my husband did the finishing work himself.  He patched the drywall right away (except around the stairs), but took several months off before finishing the ceiling beam, column, and crown molding.  He started to finish the staircase at the same time (a huge undertaking in and of itself), but has yet to install the new balusters and railing.  And that is the problem with DIYing…  Sometimes it’s hard to find the time – or energy – to finish projects.  And now, it has been a few months since the hubs almost(!) finished the staircase – maybe that project will be finished before the summer is over… 🙂  I will definitely cover the whole project in another post once it’s finished!

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Upper right: we lived with the column and staircase like this for months!  Lower right: replacing the foyer light.
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Left: what a difference paint makes (it’s Ben Moore Stonington Gray)! Bottom right: getting rid of the dusty, cement board to cover with cheap, peel and stick linoleum until we can redo all of the floors.  No puppy paws were harmed in this project.  😉
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From before (upper left) to “almost” after (bottom right)!

The support beam was finished to match the ceiling beams in the den, so the two rooms tie together nicely!  One day (maybe when our staircase is finished?) we will install the switch and outlet covers.  Haha.  Here are some before/after photo’s from each view of the foyer…

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Note this has a decent before/after of the foyer light.  And look how dark the foyer was before we took the walls down – such a difference!
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Again – so bright and airy now!
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Another decent before/after of the foyer light.
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Can’t wait for phase two so we can replace the floors!

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Phase two of “operation open concept” includes removing the wall between the dining room and kitchen.  But since this will require changing the kitchen layout, we can’t start that phase until we’re ready to tackle the kitchen.  I’ll talk more about these plans in some future posts (one for the dining room, and another for the kitchen).  We’ll also replace the flooring during phase two.  Note in the “after” picture above we have wood floor in the living and dining rooms, peel and stick linoleum in the foyer, and tile floor in the kitchen.  After phase two, we’ll have the same flooring in all four rooms!

I also have some bigger plans for the living room, but I’ll wait to share those until sharing a living room post.  🙂

How do you feel about open concept living spaces?  Are you onboard, or do you prefer more separation between your kitchen/dining/living spaces?

9 thoughts on “Creating an Open Concept Living Space.

  1. Open concept is perfect! I can have a glass of wine by our fire place and talk to David while he works in the kitchen preparing my meal. Lol. Yeah, right! But I do like open concept for the same reasons you do!

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    1. Bahahaha – maybe in 15 more years that will be reality, Patty?! At least the potential is there with open concept 😉☺️

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