Things are gonna get ugly around here

Cough. Sorry, give me a sec as I cough up all the drywall dust.

Ok, I'm back.  Our first major reno is fully under way (and I have the sore muscles to prove it).  We decided to tackle the most expensive but also the most value-adding renovation first: the kitchen.

I guess you can say the kitchen was a little, well, um... outdated.  The cabinets were in pretty decent shape, but the function was not at all there:

  • only a few narrow drawers that you couldn't pull all the way out otherwise they'd just fall to the ground
  • corner spaces that were completely underutilized due to poor access
  • a pantry with shelves too deep that you can't easily access food
  • annoying bars in between each cabinet, again preventing easy access to dishes, pans, etc
You get the picture.  Anyhoo, in addition to updating the cabinets, flooring, paint, and lighting, we want to tackle 2 structural changes:
  1. Remove the wall between the kitchen and the family room
  2. Remove the drop ceiling
Opening the kitchen to the family room will not only open up the space and make the kitchen feel bigger, but will also allow us to add a kitchen island, have a direct view of the fireplace, and entertain guests in the family room while we cook.

The drop ceiling in the kitchen, which brought the kitchen height to a low and stifling 7 feet, absolutely had to go.  Raising the ceiling once again makes the kitchen feel more spacious and buys us about another foot of storage space all around.

All we had to do next was make sure that the wall wasn't load bearing and nothing was hidden behind the drop ceiling.

Simple, right?

Just our luck. It turned out the wall IS load bearing, and all of the upstairs plumbing and venting is in the kitchen ceiling. Awesome.  Annnnnd...instant budget increase.  Work that we were planning on doing ourselves now has to get done by professionals; a structural engineer to evaluate the project and provide architectural plans for a supporting beam, a contractor to add the beam, and a plumber to raise all of the plumbing in between the joists and into one of the kitchen walls.  Oh, and not to mention obtaining a permit from the city to remove the load bearing wall.

To keep the additional costs to a minimum, we worked it out with the contractor that we would take care of all of the demolition and finishing work.

So, that's where we're at.  We got the engineer's architectural plans, and we're almost done with the demo, which, by the way, is the most fun part EVER.  I never knew how excited I'd be to break stuff, but it's liberating, I tell ya.  Permit's all that's left, and then it's wall removing time!!

Of course, I took loads of photos during the demolition.  Here's a short(ish) montage of what we've been up to for the last couple of weeks.

I should mention that we mainly only have weekends to work on the house, so progress will be slow.

I should also mention that I did a lot of the work in my pyjamas.  It's more fun that way, trust me.

Oh, and you'll also see that we're doing a lot of work in the family room too.  Since we're opening up the wall to that room, and the flooring will be uniform throughout the entire space, we'll be doing a lot of other stuff in parallel.