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To remove a wall or not remove a wall? A Kitchen Remodel Dilemma

LIrw09
2 years ago
last modified: 2 years ago

Our house is on the smaller end, under 1500 sqft. My husband and I would like to upgrade our kitchen and are trying to decide whether or not we should tear out the dividing wall. The center of our home tends to be very dark because we have a porch on the front and a large screened in patio in the back. The dividing wall is not load bearing so removing it would be relatively simple (my husband has experience in doing these types of things). We stand to gain a lot of natural light in doing so. However if we were to tear out the wall, the kitchen would be visible from the front door. There are pros in cons both ways: natural light, loss of some storage, visibility from the front door, larger feeling kitchen. We just cannot decide which would suit us better. Here are some photos for reference. Thanks in advance for any input!

Comments (53)

  • LIrw09
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Here is what it would look like without the wall


    This would be the view from the front door without the wall


  • LIrw09
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    @Denita Photos uploaded! :)

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  • Sammy
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Is this a one-story home? Where is the pantry? Is there a dining room? How many people live in the home? Kids? Do you entertain often?

  • PRO
    Glo European Windows & Doors
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    What if you kept the wall but opened up a doorway instead? This will allow you to keep your storage, bring light into the front room, less visibility into the kitchen and would cost less. The only downside would be traffic flow while cooking, but that would be an issue with the island scenario as well.


  • LIrw09
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    @Sammy It is a one story ranch style home. There is no room for a pantry so we utilize some cabinets in the mudroom for that which does not bother us. The dining room is to the right of the kitchen (see above, view from the front door). We are a family of 5 and have people over roughly once a month.


    @Glo European Windows & Doors We have actually considered that, however if you look at the aerial shot of where the doorway is, it would center on the corner of the hallway and we felt like that may be awkward? Thoughts?

  • threers
    2 years ago

    Change cabinet to the left of the stove to a corner (triangular cabinet, cut wall in question to half a wall, move current cabinet with blackboard to match up with new corner cabinet. The half wall gives you light you need and keeps storage areas which you need and the half wall blocks most of your kitchen mess. What do you think?

    LIrw09 thanked threers
  • WestCoast Hopeful
    2 years ago

    Absolutely open it up! Would be lovely

    LIrw09 thanked WestCoast Hopeful
  • PRO
    Glo European Windows & Doors
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    It's not ideal but may dissuade foot traffic. Here's a mockup to help in your decision making.



    I live with a small kitchen in a charming old home so I know how valuable kitchen storage (with no pantry) can be, which is my main motivator for your layout.

    LIrw09 thanked Glo European Windows & Doors
  • LIrw09
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    @threers That's not a bad thought. The issue is that the left cabinet is roughly 24 inches wide which is how deep the cabinets on the "island" wall are, so unfortunately there's not enough space away from the stove to allow the stove or the corner cabinet to open properly. A half wall has also been a consideration previously, but we can never decide where to end it. Do we end it at the beginning of the hallway or do we end it all the way to the back wall of the kitchen? The hallway ends essentially in the middle of that awkward little wall space in the kitchen. (See the aerial view of Sketchup to see where the hallway ends in relation to the kitchen. )

  • LIrw09
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    @Glo European Windows & Doors Thank you for the mockup! We hadn't made it that far in Sketchup to try that as an option. That may have some more merit than I originally thought. Nice sightline to the kitchen window, hides the fridge and maintains the option of having upper storage on the "island" wall. I appreciate your input!

  • live_wire_oak
    2 years ago

    Do you have more of the flooring? Because you’ll have to replace all of that flooring. You’ll have to reroute a bunch of electrical. You'll need new electrical circuits. You’ll have to reroute HVAC. Also, since the center parallel wall IS. Load bearing, and would look really goofy standing alone, you’d need to do a flush beam in the attic, with supporting cross beams bearing down to new posts with new foundation points that would need to be dug and engineered. There goes all the storage in the kitchen except on the sink wall.


    This is a big giant Give a Mouse a Cookie. One thing leads to 40 more, and all of a sudden, a 40K DIY job is now a 90K DIY+ job that absolutely requires a structural engineer and structural work. And whole house flooring. And a redo of half the electrical.

    LIrw09 thanked live_wire_oak
  • Denita
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    I wouldn't remove the wall. Not only for the reasons live_wire mentions, but the end result wouldn't be optimal either. IMO looking at a refrigerator when you walk in the front door isn't ideal unless you are in a small vacation cabin. I do like the alternate idea that Glo European proposes with the doorway opening and leaving the rest of the wall. It preserves what little storage you have and hides the refrigerator. Consider adding a storage area next to fridge in the same cabinet so that area of the kitchen looks finished.

    LIrw09 thanked Denita
  • LIrw09
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    @live_wire_oak Thank you for your input! We do have more of the flooring that we would patch in for the time being. Down the road we are planning to redo all of the flooring so it would be somewhat temporary. We have done our research and my parents have done their fair share of remodels, including removing walls. This wall is not load bearing and there is very little electrical/hvac involved in removing the wall. That being said my father is an electrician and my husband is an engineer so I'm very fortunate to have their expertise at my disposal!

    @Denita Thank you for your input! I really like @Glo European Windows & Doors idea as well. It doesn't look as awkward as I thought it would. I like the idea of a finishing cabinet next to the fridge, however we are considering moving it over 6 inches to accommodate a small 18 inch dishwasher.

  • Denita
    2 years ago

    Adding the DW sounds good. You could then put a single panel on that right side of the fridge if there isn't room for a cabinet after you install the DW. It just makes the kitchen look finished:)

    LIrw09 thanked Denita
  • LIrw09
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    @Denita That's a good thought! I appreciate your input.

  • LIrw09
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    If we did leave the existing wall our inspiration is this goregous kitchen designed by Orsi Panos! We would create a U shaped kitchen and place the stove on the left wall. While it doesn't open up the space to allow for more natural light, our thought is that lightening up the cabinets will make the kitchen appear brighter and not quite so cave-like. It would also elimante that awkward wall space. In this scenario we would also consider a cabinet-depth fridge. Thoughts?


  • SeattleMCM
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    personally, I love kitchens being as open as possible, it makes the whole area look bigger and brighter. when it comes to lacking cabinet space, I've worked with worse. store your least frequently used stuff in a different room.

    would it be way too tight to do a peninsula? you could gain a lot more counter space and slightly more cabinet space.

    I wouldn't recommend putting stools to the left. they'll block the hallway when people are sitting there. plus you'll lose a lot of lower cabinet space in order to be able to push the stools under when you're not using them.


  • Denita
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    OP, your insp pic is a very nice solution to the stove issue.

    LIrw09 thanked Denita
  • LIrw09
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    @Glo European Windows & Doors Your kitchen sounds lovely! I adore older homes, do you have any photos of your kitchen you would be willing to share?

  • LIrw09
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    @SeattleMCM Thanks for your input and your mockup! I love the idea of a peninsula, but the cabinets on the left are too close to the stove and wouldn't allow either to open properly. That's a good thought regarding the stools. I hadn't thought about them taking up interior cabinet space. I appreciate your feedback!


    @Denita Thank you Denita! I stumbled across it on Pinterest and fell in love, my husband really likes the concept as well. This option would cost us more in the long run since we would have to purchase all new cabinetry and countertops. The L shape with an island option allows us to refinish the cabinets (which we would diy ourselves). While I don't like the idea of waiting longer to save up and do a kitchen remodel (we've lived here for almost a year) it may be worth it to have a kitchen that beautiful!

  • PRO
    Glo European Windows & Doors
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Don't get me wrong, the house is charming but the kitchen is not. Moved in about 6 months ago and tackling other projects before the kitchen, which as you know, cost so much! The kitchen was "updated" with terrible cabinets, floor, backsplash, and counters about a decade ago. At least it has nice appliances though! Need to renovate it to fit the style of the home, in time.

    Also, I LOVE your inspiration photo for keeping the wall! That would really increase the work triangle in your kitchen too. Wow, changing my vote!

  • LIrw09
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    @Glo European Windows & Doors It does! Which is why we've waited (what I feel) is so long. I tend to be very impatient and get the itch to jump into things before properly thinking them through. This is my attempt to exercise patience and really vet all options before deciding on one. If the rest of the house is as charming as you say, then the kitchen will be worth the wait! When you do update it I would love to see it!


    Awww, thank you! She did an amazing job and I think the dimensions are comparable to our kitchen!

  • PRO
    Glo European Windows & Doors
    2 years ago

    Yes, that is my fault as well. I am itching to just replace the backsplash and counters now and forget the cabinets and floor for a while, ha!

  • LIrw09
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    If it makes it better for you in the meantime you should do it! (Budget permitting of course) We were just talking last night doing some inexpensive improvements to make the waiting a bit easier. Especially if we are going for our inspo photo.


    My biggest hangup with leaving the wall is that the hallway gets so dark in the afternoon. It doesnt have the light shining down from the back bedroom and the light it could be getting from the sliding door is blocked by the kitchen wall. Thoughts?

  • littlebug zone 5 Missouri
    2 years ago

    I wouldn’t personally. Seems so undignified to stand at the front door and see the kitchen sink, frig, etc. I know lots of people do, though.

    If you remove that wall, you will lose a bunch of storage and workspace from an already sparse kitchen. You said you have an enclosed porch - is there a way to expand back into that instead?

    LIrw09 thanked littlebug zone 5 Missouri
  • wacokid
    2 years ago

    We had a slider, like yours, that I replaced with a single door and a small window to the side giving us more space along the the wall in the kitchen.

    LIrw09 thanked wacokid
  • ci_lantro
    2 years ago

    No, I would not remove the wall and I'm usually all for knocking them down. In your case, you don't gain anything. I was going to suggest moving the range to that wall in question but no need because the inspiration kitchen you posted the pix of is Perfect for your situation.


    Get rid of the soffits if you can (probably since you don't have a second floor). The space will feel much larger without them. Also, lots of lighting, white cabs if you like them, lots of LED lighting, Sun Tunnel as mentioned.

    LIrw09 thanked ci_lantro
  • SeattleMCM
    2 years ago

    LIrw09 : yeah, it is a really tight space. I like Glo's mockup of opening a door. it'll definitely add light, and it's really nice to have more than one entrance into a kitchen.


    Is there room to add a full wall of shallow cabinetry to the right of your sliding glass doors?


    LIrw09 thanked SeattleMCM
  • decoenthusiaste
    2 years ago

    Since you havd an electrician in the family, I would tackle the lighting throughout the areas in your pix first. To increase storage put in drawers, not uppers, and extend base cabs into the spot where others have proposed a door. Corner drawers there would be wonderful In fact, uppers on the wall in question could be eliminated and you could just open up the top of the wall, above the counters, not the lower part. That will add the light, increase storage and make for a great "U" shaped kitchen.

    https://www.houzz.com/magazine/pulling-power-clever-drawer-tactics-for-a-kitchen-stsetivw-vs~45324259



    LIrw09 thanked decoenthusiaste
  • LIrw09
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    I really appreciate everyone's input! We have to work within the existing footprint of the kitchen, we do not have the budget for any type of expansion. As far as cabinets on the left @SeattleMCM that is our dining space which is already tight, so that wouldn't be a feasible option for us. This is also the reason we would be unable to remove the slider and replace it with a door and window @wacokid. Thanks for your thoughts @littlebug zone 5 Missouri, the more I look at it and think about it I agree. Keeping the wall is probably going to serve us best. I love your idea @Glo European Windows & Doors regarding the solar tube for the hallway. We've talked about doing skylights but as you stated they are pretty pricey so I definitely want to explore the solar tube option. Love your ideas @ci_lantro Yes! We are getting rid of the soffits, there is no hvac or anything in them so it should be pretty simple.

    One final consideration if we do the U shape and keep the existing wall (which I think is the direction we are leaning at this point), we have looked into doing some sort of metal/glass industrial type of structure to replace the upper half of the wall. Something that you would see in a restaurants setting or like what Joanna did with the kitchen wall in her sister's home. (Please see photos below for reference and inspo.) This would maintain kitchen privacy and storage yet allow light to pass through the kitchen and into the hallway, thus solving the natural light dilemma. Possibly the best of both worlds? Our home was built in 1970 if anyone is taking into account the era of the home. We would frost some or all of the glass or choose a textured glass eliminating a direct sightline of the fridge from the front door.

    I'd love to hear y'all's feedback, and then I promise I'm done! :)









  • LIrw09
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    @decoenthusiaste Yes yes yes! I love your ideas as well! Hadn't thought about drawers for the corners. That's a great thought! Lighting will most definitely be happening sooner than later, it's driving me bonkers. Our old home (a rental) had tons of natural light and I believe that is what is lacking most in our new home. There are many things I love about our current home, but natural light is the one I miss the most. That link is so helpful, such amazing ideas! Thanks for your input!

  • SeattleMCM
    2 years ago

    our kitchen is lacking in upper cabinets and we also want to do the glass shelf wall. it's a good idea and I think it'll look great in your kitchen!

    LIrw09 thanked SeattleMCM
  • LIrw09
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Thank you @SeattleMCM! I appreciate your feedback!

  • stillpitpat
    2 years ago

    What about a transom-like window in that wall?

    LIrw09 thanked stillpitpat
  • ci_lantro
    2 years ago

    I don't see how the glass window/ shelf wall will work with the range & range hood moved to that wall. I do love how it looks but, unless you cook/ live lean enough to have empty cabinets in your current kitchen, IMO, you can't afford to swap closed cabinet storage for what are essentially display shelves.

    LIrw09 thanked ci_lantro
  • acm
    2 years ago

    If you do open up, I'm not sure I'd do stools/overhang -- you're basically making a bottleneck in the hallway. I think the U-shaped kitchen would be far and away the best functionally, but only you know how you live and what would make you feel best in your home.

    LIrw09 thanked acm
  • kodiac23
    2 years ago

    This is a fun project. Love your inspiration photo of the white kitchen with the stove on the hallway wall. Also love your glass wall look both are lovely. Please post which way you go!

    LIrw09 thanked kodiac23
  • LIrw09
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    @stillpitpat That's a great idea as well! We will definitely look into that. Thank you @ci_lantro, we really love the look of it too. We don't store much in those cabinets just our daily plates, cups and bowls so it wouldn't be bad if those were on open shelves instead. Of course I'll be turning into a full-time window washer, but I think it will be worth it to gain as much natural light as possible. That is a good point @acm, it is sort of in the way. Sounds like the U shape is going to be our best bet! Thanks for the feedback @kodiac23! It is fun, I love talking design and layout. Hopefully we will be able to model up some U shape options tonight. I'll let you know. Thanks so much for all your feeback everyone! I've really enjoyed our brainstorming!

  • LIrw09
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Here is a rendering of what we decided! While we liked the idea of the transom, when we modeled it and walked in the front door it didn't make sense. It didn't look intentional, just sort of random.











  • live_wire_oak
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    An expensive tempered (required) glass wall (plus the structural construction) that backs up to a dark hallway, and has zero storage is just bad goofy design. It will look like it belongs in an entirely different house downtown in a loft with the Bird riders zooming by with their soy lattes. It’s a “what????” Idea that needs to go away.

    Go clean all of the windows in your house right now. All of them. Now imagine doing that job every day, but with grease. And the panes getting bits of paper towel or microfiber stuck in the edges. Then clean all of the display tchotchkes covered in grease and dust, before you can use them. You’re going to have to really pay attention to venting up and out the roof, with a powerful vent and MUA, ($$$) in order to keep that cleaning to a minimum. Otherwise, cleaning will be a maximum. That’s not what anyone wants to add as a “feature” in a remodel.

    LIrw09 thanked live_wire_oak
  • Denita
    2 years ago

    OP, I like the white kitchen inspiration photo you posted up thread over this new version. JMO

    LIrw09 thanked Denita
  • LIrw09
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    @live_wire_oak You have a very colorful way of story telling. I get what you're saying about the windows and the design not really fitting with the style of house. My main motivator in doing something to that part of the wall is to allow more light into the very dark hallway. Thanks for your thoughts @Denita! We came up with a variation of a transom window that was different than what I normally picture @stillpitpat. @SeattleMCM if y'all ever do some sort of industrial window, I'd love to see it!







  • PRO
    The Cook's Kitchen
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    $200 worth of extra light fixtures will do what you want for the hall. Don’t overthink it. It’s a hall. Not a 10K feature. It’s not a spot you spend a lot of time in. It’s a hard NO on the windowpane concept.

    Leave the wall standing. Having the range located there does get you more and better prep space. Adding the door to the hall, and maybe a pass through for the wall at the center of the U, could get you a more connected space. It depends on what is on the other side of the U. That would be your main prep area. Redoing the ventilation does present its own challenges, but they are not insurmountable. A small peninsula out from the stove side could provide a perch or two, and additional workspace.




    LIrw09 thanked The Cook's Kitchen
  • Abby Mac
    2 years ago

    Not a pro, but after reading through and having done a kitchen renovation, I think your inspiration photo of the white kitchen and moving your stove is your best bet. Wouldn't do any kind of half wall, glass or even transom there. If you paint it white, that will lighten things up quite a bit.

    LIrw09 thanked Abby Mac
  • LIrw09
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Thank you for your contributions to the conversation @The Cook's Kitchen! A passthrough won't be necessary as the bathroom and bedrooms are down the hall. Though I like the idea of a 2nd opening, I think we would prefer the counter space. Everything is a trade off in this kitchen. We will definitely look into better lighting solutions for the hallway!

    Only after reading back through the thread did I realize I kept typing hallway when I meantliving room. Yes, I realize how convoluted this makes the entire thread. [insert massive facepalm here] (Please be kind!) We are attempting to allow more natural light to flow through into the living room. Most of our natural light comes through the back of the house (north facing home with lots of trees up front). There is also a 6 foot deep porch on the front of our house. All of that restricts the amount of light making it in through the front windows.

    Thanks for your input @Abby Mac!

    As of now it seems the majority is in favor of a U-shape with no adaptions to the left wall. If anyone has any ideas that allow more natural light to make it from the back of the house to the living room, I am all ears!

  • decoenthusiaste
    2 years ago

    Consider adding skylights to the porch roof in front of the living room windows to bring more light in.

    LIrw09 thanked decoenthusiaste
  • jane__ny
    2 years ago

    We moved to Florida from NY. The house we bought was so dark inside because of large overhangs from the roof which blocks sunlight and a large lanai running across the back wall which has a roof, no sunlight.

    We liked the house, but I couldn't stand how dark it was inside. Before we moved in, I call a Tubular Skylight company to get an estimate on installing them in the house.

    Recommendation was a large one in the kitchen ceiling ($500.00), small one in a bathroom off the hallway($250.00), a medium size in the family room off the kitchen ($325.).


    I can't tell you how bright this area is now. What I liked is they just go through your attic, make the openings and can position the tube (in the attic) toward south so we get bright light from sunrise to sunset. Over the past 6 yrs when we could afford more, we added to the laundry room (no windows), another bathroom (small skylight), the dining room.


    My house is so bright when you walk in you think there are spotlights all over the place. It took me a while, initially when the first ones were put in to get used to the high level of light. Looked like a new house!


    Before putting them in, we had to have our overhead lights lit all day. That costs a lot of money. I feel these tube skylights have paid for themselves in 5 yrs. Plus the house looks like a bright, inviting home. Everyone who walks in comments on how bright our home is.


    I would look into installing at least one large one in the kitchen, maybe a medium in the hall. So much less expensive than 'real skylights' and keeping the lights lit all day.


    Jane

    LIrw09 thanked jane__ny
  • ci_lantro
    2 years ago

    If anyone has any ideas that allow more natural light to make it from the back of the house to the living room, I am all ears!


    We need more info to do that. Like a floor plan, existing windows... Photo of the porch... Example: Add a window to the end wall in the living room. What??? Can't do that because an attached garage is on that wall... Ooops.


    Also, climate, overhanging trees, etc.


    Initial thoughts: Skylights in the front porch roof? (more light to the porch/ more light to the house) Change the front door to a mostly glass one? Room for sidelights? (probably not)

    LIrw09 thanked ci_lantro
  • LIrw09
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    @jane__ny Such great info! Thank you for sharing. If you happen to have any before and afters of the impact the solar tubes made, I'd love to see them! @ci_lantro Thanks for your input! There's not much I can do as far as the existing layout of the home. Our living room is in the front of our house with rooms on either side and it looks into the dining area/kitchen wall. We swapped our solid front door for a half-lite door over Christmas break and that has helped tremendously. Based on the info on this thread, I'm thinking that the solar tubes will be a great option for us in the future to lighten the living room!


    Layout for reference:




    Before:


    After:




    At this point, we are looking at entirely reworking the kitchen and creating a galley kitchen to maximize function and storage. Since it looks like modifying the left wall is out we may as well embrace it. While not for everyone, the galley kitchen allows us to add a lot of features we do not currently have such as a full size fridge, full size dishwaser and a pantry. Yes we realize that it will require plumbing and electrical work, but we feel the benefits will outweight the cost and time investment. We still love the u-shape inspo photo but it leaves us lacking several features.


    If anyone is interested in our new design, I have included pictures below! Over the right counter there will be open shelves.


    Thanks again for everyone's input!