Guess what? We’ve been demolishing things! Whee! Enough with all the sanding and painting and fixing — we woke up Sunday morning wanting to destroy something. So we did.
We started by removing every bit of furniture from the dining room. Not an easy task because it was serving as both the living room and my office. And storage for IKEA goods we’d purchased for the guest bedroom. Annnnd we usually ate dinner on the couch, so it was still functioning as a living room at the same time.
After the room was empty, we took our official before shots:
That’s the doorway that leads to the kitchen. The hole in the wall is a recent addition.
We’re having an old-school wood-burning fireplace installed this weekend, and that hole is where it will connect to the chimney. Our chimney guy told us we’d be better off demolishing the room before the fireplace is put in. The thing is pretty massive and it’ll be hard to work around. Plus we don’t want to risk damaging the chimney or the fireplace.
Soak it all in, peeps. The burgundy carpet. The seafoam green crown molding. The ceiling tiles. That fan. It’s all got to go.
One of the walls features a window waaaaay over on one corner. Another window to balance it out would have been nice. But we’re working with what we’ve got.
There are 3 doors on another wall:
From L to R: the basement door, the door that leads to the front of the house (and upstairs), and the living room door.
And then there’s the window wall:
The door in the middle leads out to the porch and back yard. When we viewed the house before deciding to buy it, we didn’t see any of the crusty features of the house.
It’s like we had blinders on and could only see the cool features, like the 130-year-old solid wood doors, with their skeleton keys:
Still totally charmed by those! Not so charmed by stuff like this:
We’re not really sure what happened in this corner but the molding and the floral border doesn’t line up. At all. And, in case you didn’t notice, it’s hideous. That molding, by the way, is not original. It’s a later addition, and it’s painted the most atrocious shade of grandma green. At least it matches the floral border though, right? Right?? (We’ve been dreaming of ripping it out and smashing it to bits with a sledgehammer.)
Then there’s the ceiling:
We’re not huge fans of fans, but we do plan on having 3 ceilings fans in the house (in the dining room, guest bedroom and master bedroom). We’ll need them to help circulate heat from the fireplace and to keep us cool in the summer. We decided to not have air conditioners in the house. Even when it’s 90 degrees outside, our house stays pretty cool in the summer. We do have a window unit, but it sat in the garage all summer and we didn’t miss it. Added bonus: our electricity bill averages $35 a month now! Squee! But I digress…
We’re having ceiling fans, but not that ceiling fan. It’s outta here. The ceiling tile is also gone-zo.
We have some patching up to do in some spots, like the place where the radiator pipe meets the ceiling:
You can see right up into the guest bedroom through that hole.
We plan on stripping the paint off of the radiator and leaving it bare. But radiators aren’t exactly pretty to look at, so we’re making covers for all of the units in the house. That way they won’t collect dust and we don’t have to maintain a paint job. Low maintenance living!
We have a few wall warts to rip out — ugly, unnecessary wall fixtures like phone jacks for land lines. We haven’t had a landline in 7 years and we’ve survived.
And we have 2 original windows that need to be replaced. It’s starting to get cold outside, so our single-panes look like this most of the time:
The room isn’t insulated at all and has 2 walls that face outside, so we have our work cut out for us. But first, we have to demo.
We sealed off the doors that lead to the living room (currently our bedroom), the stairs and the kitchen with thick plastic sheeting:
Then we gently pried off the original molding. We want to preserve the original stuff just in case we can use it in other parts of the house.
Behind the molding, we found a big gap between the floor and the wall. Stuffed inside was some old-school insulation:
Newspaper! We carefully unfolded the delicate pieces of paper and looked for a date:
December 12, 1932 — the newspaper is nearly 80 years old.
We were pretty geeked. This confirmed what we’d suspected for a while — the “new” part of the house was added on in the 1930s. That includes the kitchen, both bathrooms, laundry room and office. The original house was already 50 years old at the time. Crazy!
Once the molding was off, it was time to get serious. Our plan for the day:
- Expose the big brick wall
- Tear down the ceiling to expose the rafters
- Remove all the carpet from the room
Did we mention we had less than 8 hours to get all of it done? Annnnnnd we were off:
This is the same brick wall that we exposed upstairs in the hallway and office, so we knew the brick would be in good condition. It came off pretty easily:
We didn’t bother covering up the carpet because we knew we’d just roll it up and throw it away at the end of the day. It made things so much easier.
The only downside to the jackhammer is that it’s insanely loud. We waited till 11:30am to get started so our neighbors wouldn’t hate us. I was also worried about how Jabba the Mutt would react to the noise since she was hanging out in the next room. This is what I found when I went to check in on her:
She was curled up on the couch, napping right through the jackhammering. What a trooper.
After de-plastering the wall, Bradley showed me how to take down the ceiling tiles (just yank on ‘em on a little):
That hole wasn’t always there. Bradley punched it out to see what was behind the tiles. No shocker there: it’s lathe and plaster. I took over tile removal while Bradley “fixed” the doorway:
Just like the doorway upstairs, we wanted to get rid of the wood frame and have exposed brick sides:
And, just like upstairs, we have a neato header sitting above the door.
Those scars are chop marks from an axe. And the wood is so old that it’s turned grey — we love how a little bit of natural wood color peeks out from the scars. It adds a lovely bit of texture and dimension to the room.
We salvaged the original trim and the planks from the doorway just in case we want to use them later.
We already have big plans for the planks — they’re going to be reborn as nightstands for the guest bedroom! We’ll post the step-by-step on that when we get to it. But, rest assured, that pile of wood will eventually look mega-fabulous.
After all the tiles were out, it was time to pry the furring strips out:
The furring strips were nailed to the original lathe & plaster ceiling and the tiles were stapled right on top. After that, things got a little dusty:
We’ve demo’d our fair share of lathe and plaster walls, but never a ceiling. This was, by far, the dustiest job we’ve done in the house so far.
Bradley tore down the ceiling while I bagged debris. We learned a lot from our last big demo upstairs, so this time around, things were surprisingly fast. Everything seemed pretty under control, and then this happened:
A rogue lathe strip fell from the ceiling and crashed right through our single-pane window. The funny thing is that this was moments after I told Bradley not to break a window.
Me: “I’m gonna go outside and eat a sandwich. Don’t break any windows.”
Bradley: “Yes, honey, duuuuuh, of coooourse I won’t break any windows.”
Moments later, glass smashed inches from my turkey breast on whole wheat:
Mistakes: we make ‘em, too. The only difference is that we taunt each other mercilessly about them for at least a week afterwards.
We finished up everything — carpet removal and all — at 9pm on Sunday night. We were too exhausted to take after pictures. Plus it was too dark and dusty anyway. So we decided to wait a few days and let the dust settle before we did that. Those pictures are coming up later today. Get excited peeps. We are!
What we learned:
We actually learned what not to do from our demo upstairs. So this time we had it down to a science. Here’s how we streamlined the demo and cleanup process and got it all done in one day:
- Leave the carpet till last. We took out the carpet before we demolished upstairs. If we had left it in, we could have just rolled up the dust with the carpet and tossed it all out at once.
- Bag the plaster, not the lathe strips. The wood has nails in it and they poke through the bags.
- Sort the lathe strips into 2 sizes: long and short. Bind the piles together using twine. Stack the bundles together like firewood.
- Use shovels, not dustpans, to gather up the smaller debris and dump it into bags.
- Cut the carpet into strips and then roll it up instead of rolling it all up in one piece. Bind each roll with twine. Waaay easier to carry.
- Cut the carpet from the bottom instead of the top. Your knife won’t snag.