So, does 700 square feet for a family of 5 plus dog count as a small apartment or a tiny apartment? It certainly is tight! Some remodelling is called on, for sure.
On a beautiful Saturday, when the weather was actually beckoning us to sit on our terrace to just chill, sip coffee and eat cake, we found ourselves with a crowbar and a large hammer in our new flat. Our first task, before we even moved in, was to remove the wall between the kitchen and the living room – the room that used to be the original bedroom in the apartment.
How we decided on this remodelling and removing the wall involved lots of discussions, just standing and looking at the spaces (I’m quite lucky that I’m good with visualising space and dimensions) and playing with plans and models online.
The key considerations in remodelling
- Where the windows are:
– we have 2 great windows- one in the kitchen and one in the old bedroom
- What spaces and zones we need to create:
– we needed a living room, a dining room and a large family kitchen
- How we live as a family:
– we tend to use the kitchen and dining room a lot
– the kids don’t watch much TV, but they do play on the XBox with Kinect a fair bit (which needs space, hence a large living room)
– we love having diner parties and have an old Victorian expanding dining table especially for this reason (which needs a dining room)
Our needs made it obvious that we needed spaces to be flexible and multifunctional. Our kitchen wall needed to go!
Do this BEFORE removing a wall
1. It’s very important to make sure that any wall you are removing is not structural! If in doubt consult a structural engineer.
As a side note, it’s a good idea to understand about the construction techniques and materials used in the wall. Last century till the 1980s lots of modern construction had asbestos. If in doubt, consult a professional.
2. Be prepared for dust, a LOT of dust! Have plenty of dust masks and cover doorways and furniture in adjacent rooms.
3. Have the right tools and the right man/woman power- a crowbar, sledgehammer, drill are all useful.
4. Scout out whether there are any services– water, heating or electrics running in the wall BEFORE you start! This can be done with a special sensor; some will even tell you where the studs are in the wall.
We used one similar to this:
5. Waster management– Know what you are going to do with the waste- do you need a skip? Can you take it directly to your local recycling centre and will you be charged for taking it there?
I was sad to see some of the fantastic cabinets from the 1960s sacrificed. My particular favourite was a tall utility cabinet with space for all the cleaning equipment. It’s brilliant how the designers thought of these small details for these blocks of apartments all those years ago. This cupboard also epitomises, to me, why practical Scandinavian interior design has such a large impact world-wide.
On the day, it was noon before we started and we launched into the deconstruction by removing the fridge-freezer. Behind the fridge we found electrics- sockets and wiring to more sockets. We suspected these were there, so we’d switched off the mains switch even before we started. (And only switched it back at the end of the day, after we’d secured any loose connections and wiring.)
Behind it we chipped away at the dividing wall and soon realised the partition wall hid a surprising eco-friendly, sound-proofing and insulating material: STRAW!
It was a messy job to take the wall away!
Then as we removed the wardrobe by the doorway we realised we had a chance to knock a whole panel out… and we succeeded!
The next kitchen cabinets were larger and so were the wall panels. These took a bit more persuasion to come out, but we did it, in whole panels! By 5 pm we were done, the wall segments packed in poor CampyVan and we were off to the recycling centre.
Then result of our work led
That’s not an improvement, I hear you say! Of course there is still lots to do, as this is just the first step of the remodelling. Next up:
- Making good the walls and ceiling
- Concealing the electrics
- Laying new flooring throughout the whole kitchen-dining room- living room.
We will eventually rearrange the kitchen and may even move it to a new location… time and living with the space will tell. 🙂
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Have you removed a wall in your home? Any other tips?
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