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caitlin622

should I remove this load bearing wall ?

caitlin622
last month
last modified: last month

EDITED

Long story short… my dishwasher flooded my kitchen and my flooring is getting replaced. I already planned to do the work, but it’s happening sooner now. It’s a 70’s split level ranch.
I find the peekaboo wall between the kitchen and living area to be really awkward and ugly. My husband thinks there may be a way to keep it and make it look nicer? I think removing this wall would open the area up and allow us to have more room for a proper dining area, and modernize it to a more open concept area.
The major deciding factor for my husband is whether removing this wall would increase our resale value.
I appreciate any and all input!

EDITED to add dimensioned sketches And additional photo of odd shaped living area.


Living Room · More Info


Living Room · More Info


Living Room · More Info









Comments (52)

  • kandrewspa
    last month

    For questions related to resale value you are better off asking a real estate agent as they are most familiar with what people are looking for at your price point in your area. IMO the house is already pretty open. When people remove walls they sometimes come back here and post questions about how to arrange their furniture because without walls they don't know what to do. You also lose outlets, and sometimes plumbing, electric or HVAC is inside walls if you have a second floor. However, as with any remodeling project, if you're planning on being in the house a long time, do whatever pleases you. It's your money.

  • Lorraine Leroux
    last month

    If you just remove the half wall where would the sofa go?

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  • cat_ky
    last month

    I dont think it will bring any extra money at resale time. Removing that wall, removes all the places to put furniture. It would be a big turn off for me, and a waste of money.

  • PRO
    JAN MOYER
    last month
    last modified: last month

    It would undoubtedly be enough to take just the lower portion of the wall. Leave the corners, header etc.

    You don't need, and can't expect insurance to cover thqt cost, nor the cost of UNIFYING the flooring. which means extending hardwood to the family room.

    Result would be a huge improvement for you, stop thinking of resale. You do reno for YOU. no matter the circumstances.

    Draw the space, both, add all dimensions. opening windows etc. See the possibilities before you consider MORE than that.

    caitlin622 thanked JAN MOYER
  • caitlin622
    Original Author
    last month

    Thanks guys. I had considered all these points and understand what’s out of pocket. But it’s different hearing it from experts. Sounds like the husband gets a win. 😒

  • caitlin622
    Original Author
    last month

    Any suggestions how to frame the existing opening to be more attractive?

  • kandrewspa
    last month

    If it were me I would reduce the size of the opening, but have it open from top to bottom (make a doorway) near the fireplace wall (if you even have room there with the sofa). I think it's the half wall aspect of it that is bothering you, and I don't think it looks right either. A 48" opening would be more than sufficient if you have room on that end of the living room. It would make the living room more accessible from the kitchen and dining area. I think it was a solid wall when the house was first built and previous owners carved out the opening. They left the header because of what @Verbo said, it would be a very expensive change to completely remove the wall. However, if you have young children and you need to be able to keep an eye on them, you might as well leave it the way it is.

  • PRO
    JAN MOYER
    last month
    last modified: last month

    You aren't listening. You both can "win". Do the measuring homework. Jeeeeeeesh.

    Get a tape measure make a bold sketch of the entire two areas, as is. With the partial opening. Add the details. All the inches. Take a picture of that, upload it.

    It's baffling to me, when folks won't partake of a dialogue that could solve an issue...... at least find a common ground. The "dialogue" means you provide all the information needed: )

    caitlin622 thanked JAN MOYER
  • shirlpp
    last month

    Get rid of the bottom wall - as a few have suggested and then rearrange your furniture.

  • caitlin622
    Original Author
    last month

    Measuring homework? I guess I’m stupid Jan :(

  • PRO
    JAN MOYER
    last month
    last modified: last month

    See up above comment. All kitchens, all rooms, all the function in a home revolve around available space, and space is feet and inches. Until you can see a plan? You go into a woods of guessing possibilities. Or missing good ones, COMPLETELY.


    " Get a tape measure make a bold sketch of the entire two areas, as is. With the partial opening. Add the details. All the inches.!!!! Take a picture of that sketch, upload it in a comment box." ( clear edit of earlier )

    caitlin622 thanked JAN MOYER
  • caitlin622
    Original Author
    last month

    This is a really rough sketch of a possibility, but I want to capture your attentions while I have it….. would something like this be an improvement or am I doing nothing to help myself? I figure with a longer side wall near entry I could squeeze a decent dining table in….

  • PRO
    JAN MOYER
    last month

    The corner, I will virtually guarantee is part and parcel of the very expensive detail holding up the roof.

    Stop . Do the sketch, add all the inches. So the answer is, no, you're not yet really helping yourself.

    If you have the original building plan for your home? Upload that. Either way........marking up photos, isn't informative in a real way.

    caitlin622 thanked JAN MOYER
  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC
    last month

    I despise open concept. You need the wall space.

  • Mrs. S
    last month
    last modified: last month

    No one here can know whether it is worth it resale-value-wise without you saying where you live. Even then, as was mentioned upthread, consultations with excellent realtors in your area can help you out.

    Where I live in SoCal, whether the homeowners could afford the $30K would matter a lot more than how much of it would be repaid at resale, especially if there's a lot of unrealized/unrecognized capital gains baked into the home already.

  • freedomplace1
    last month

    If you don’t like the half wall, closing it up entirely would be the best move, imo.

  • littlebug zone 5 Missouri
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I also despise open concept, and my first thought would be to close up some of that ”big picture window.” You’re right - it looks awkward and ill-conceived.

  • mcarroll16
    last month

    Is your house large enough that your target buyers are probably families? No one who spent the Covid quarantine at home with kids will ever want an open-concept house. I think you would maximize resale value by opening up a full doorway near the corner, and walling the rest of it up, as kandrewspa suggeted.


    And please do what Jan Moyer requested. Post an overhead-view sketch of the space with dimensions. Some of the posters (Jan for example!) are fantastic designers, and can probably suggest ways to fit in a bigger dining table in the space you have, or arrange your living room furniture for better flow.

  • Lindsey_CA
    last month

    I'm betting that your house originally didn't have a "peekaboo wall" between the kitchen and living room; and that a previous owner wanted "open concept" but after finding out how much it would cost to completely remove that wall, they settled on just cutting an opening in it and putting a frame around it on both sides.

  • mxk3 z5b_MI
    last month

    Open concept is way over-rated. My first thought when I saw your original pics is close up that wall entirely, make the kitchen a distinctly separate space. The second thought is remove the bottom half of the wall if you don't want to close in the kitchen.

  • Erika McConnell
    last month

    To each their own on what they like, but I also hate open concept. I know there will always be a place for it, but it is also downtrending right now. I agree, however, that one does renovations for oneself and not for resale. Maybe you make it make back, maybe you don’t — who can tell what the market will be like when time to sell?? Or things beyond your control that make a neighborhood more desired or not. I would also close the kitchen.

  • Erika McConnell
    last month

    I just read mcarroll16’s comment and it made me LOL. Yes, if you are looking for resale, right now is NOT the time to do open concept haha. All of us millennials with children at home the last couple years— thank goodness I live in an old house is all I have to say, and I shudder at the thought of open concept now.

  • caitlin622
    Original Author
    last month

    I believe my target buyers would be families. It’s a split level ranch with ADU/MIL suite possibilities. For me personally, I like open concept because we are always keeping an eye on our kids to make sure they are doing their music practice/etc. Everyone has their opinions on open concept but we like it. If I need privacy I can go downstairs or to my office. We use this space for relaxing, conversations with guests. Ideally for me there would be space for a larger eating table (kids are no longer toddlers) and a more accommodating seating layout.

    Hopefully my sketch is self explanatory.

  • Erika McConnell
    last month

    I am having trouble getting a sense of the kitchen and where appliances and things are? Does your kitchen feel functional? Do you have enough storage? Do you feel like you have work zones? The countertop seems oddly long to me so I agree with another poster that you may be able to get a better dining room another way. That would bother me as well to not have a real dining space. It may not actually be that the wall needs to be removed but that the space needs to work for you better. If you have the wall there, it could add cabinet space for example (this is just an example — I don’t have a very good sense of the space still) I am not a pro though so they can help you more!! But getting more of the layout of the kitchen would be useful.

  • caitlin622
    Original Author
    last month

    I am not changing the kitchen layout, so I left it out of the picture.

  • Erika McConnell
    last month

    OP— I would still post the kitchen layout — even the entire downstairs. Removing walls is expensive and I would want to make sure that is the thing that really needs to change. It may be that there is a way to reconfigure the downstairs and that the wall is needed or not needed but it is hard to determine without a drawing of the entire downstairs and kitchen. Houzz has been very helpful to me for figuring out layouts and prevented me from making huge errors.

  • PRO
    JAN MOYER
    last month
    last modified: last month

    You are still focused on ONE wall. The drawing is inadequate, we can't see the rest of the spaces- adjacent/ Front entry, the entire living room, and the ENTIRE kitchen.

    " I'm not changing the kitchen layout"

    How do you know?

    If you want help? You have to be more informative.

    Of course you can get a couple pros on your site. That would be an interior designer with a very good KD in her back pocket. That's the first thing they would do, btw. A complete floor plan.

  • Erika McConnell
    last month

    Jan is correct. You will probably have to engage an architect for the wall. And they will do an entire floor plan of the downstairs. I still use pros but I like to feel out on Houzz whether the suggestions that have been made to me are “good” and to more clearly articulate what it is I want when I do talk to an architect, designer etc. it is difficult as homeowners when we start renovating — you have no idea what you don’t know haha. As Jan points out, you are concerned about the wall - which I get but the wall could be the symptom of something else that you dislike (for example not having a clear DR) and the money could be better spent elsewhere.

    For example, when I talked to an architect I thought I needed to knock down 3 walls and put in a pantry for my kitchen. I am pretty sure when I talk to a designer now that I will only actually need to talk down 2 of those walls and don’t need a walk-in pantry. But through Houzz I was able to articulate what my priorities really were that will make it easier for me to engage with pros. And this will save me a ton of money!!

  • caitlin622
    Original Author
    last month

    Jan,
    What part of the living room is missing from the sketch?
    Here I have updated dimensions to include dimensions of the entry.
    This “customer” has limitations. I am not interested in remodeling the kitchen layout. I just paid a ton for these quartz countertops. I like my kitchen and I don’t want to change it. I am hoping for ideas to possibly reconfigure the hokey peekaboo wall in a relatively short amount of time since renovations will shortly be taking place for new floors.

  • Erika McConnell
    last month

    OP— also, I recently watched dream home makeover with studio McGee and one homeowner actually requested this type of window that you have to a dining room. It was the episode “grand kitchen deployment” if you want to take a look. I don’t think it is bad per say (although yours is quite large—it maybe needs to be smaller), but it’s hard to know without seeing the whole picture. It is hard for the average homeowner to imagine all the possibilities because we aren’t in the thick of design everyday.

  • Erika McConnell
    last month

    I am not a pro, but knocking down that wall seems like it would not enhance the space. Are you planning to leave the living room, the living room? Where would you place the couch if so? If you are going to convert it to a dining room, I would definitely just make it into a wall with maybe a smaller window. I know this probably isn’t what you want to hear, but I think the kitchen probably needs better design and then you would be able to get more of a dining area. However, if you really want it to be open and are staying a long time, then make it open! But it may be just that furniture in the LR and kitchen layout needs changed rather than taking out the window wall. IMO the kitchen could maybe be better if it was more galley style and then there would be room for dining. Because I don’t like open space, I would actually probably add a wall between the kitchen and dining. I also don’t like guests seeing my kitchen mess but of course everyone is different in that regard. But in answer to your original question, I would either make the window smaller or fill it in completely.

  • caitlin622
    Original Author
    last month

    Erika - how to rearrange the furniture and where to open the wall exactly, without completely changing my kitchen is exactly what I was hoping for ideas on. All the design experts wanted dimensioned sketch before they could have any helpful advice, so that’s what I did and now I just hear crickets.

    There is a certain point where one does not make their money back on their investment. I already remodeled my kitchen 4 years ago so that’s not going to happen again. My floors will be redone very soon due to the insurance claim, so any changes to the walls should really be done now. Thats my primary concern. I still have to pick out my replacement floor brand/color/type, as well.

    I do appreciate your advice and opinions.

  • mcarroll16
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Looking at your full floor plan, I'm wondering if your first floor has already had a significant remodel. The narrow corner of your living room, with windows on two walls, looks like the dining nooks of split levels in my neighborhood. And your current dining area would typically all be part of the living room in those houses, with a cramped kitchen at the back. It's possible that the wall between the current dining are and the living room isn't actually structural at all. Do you know which way your ceiling joists run?

  • caitlin622
    Original Author
    last month

    McCarroll- I believe this isn’t the original kitchen layout guessing by how wonky the plumbing is but I have no idea how it was originally. The city didn’t keep records here in the 70’s. This is the floor above the daylight basement , where the floor joists run perpendicular. There is also a large beam in my basement smack dab directly below this long wall with the cut-out, so I am almost 100% sure it’s a load bearing wall.

  • Erika McConnell
    last month

    100% agree mcarroll!! It does look very different from the split levels I am used to seeing. I completely understand your frustration caitlin622. I think one of the challenging things in your floor plan is that sort of dead space in the living room where it leads to the kitchen. I would almost wonder if it would be better for the kitchen to end there and have a wall so you could have a couch along that wall in the LR, but this is me just brainstorming and I know you don’t want to change the kitchen. If you also had your countertop not go around the corner and more galley style, it would give you so much more dining space. Maybe removing the wall and having the couch remain where it is currently would work but I am just doubting it would actually give you that much more room — I think other changes would. It sometimes helps to look at similar homes in your neighborhood to get a feel for different layouts (even if a home isn’t currently for sale, oftentimes Zillow has the old pics inside).

  • Erika McConnell
    last month

    I think you could probably float a couch in the center of the room to face the fireplace— I always just make sure there is at least 3 feet of space to walk through so that could mean having a smaller couch or loveseat (again not a pro so they might have better spacing recommendations but that is just my rule of thumb). Then if you had a smaller couch in the center, you could place a chair (maybe 2 — depends on size and also have to be mindful of space to walk through so that will be the challenge) across from the door outside. Other furniture recommendations really depend on how you use the space. My couch floats in my living room — old 1930 house — probably would be better with 4 chairs or a loveseat rather than a couch—but the room is not going to be featured in a magazine :) so it works for us right now. Make your fireplace more of a focal point — remove the clutter and place a large piece of art over it. The doors leading outside — really beautiful and a big highlight! I would frame them with drapes (take them up to the ceiling and make sure they are long and wide enough — you don’t need to actually use them but the drapes would make the doors more of a focal point. Just be sure to measure, measure, measure to make sure things fit and walkway space.

  • PRO
    JAN MOYER
    last month

    It matters not what is missing from the floor plan. Your only cost effective way to "open it up" is to take TO THE FLOOR, the portion of the opening that leaves corners and PENINSULA UNTOUCHED.


    The reality check here? All of this should have been addressed at the initial kitchen remodel.

    That's just fact. Sorry......: ) move on from the issue.

    This is why when remodel of kitchen takes place? You consider alllll the adjacent spaces. Before you replace cabinetry, tops and all else.


  • caitlin622
    Original Author
    last month

    Ok cool, you could have said that before I drew the floor plan you asked for. I thought I made it obvious I was looking for ideas on the wall area only. Not everything is a total gut and start over scenario. Wouldn’t that be nice though!

  • caitlin622
    Original Author
    last month

    Ideally I could add an additional room onto the house too but that’s not going to happen.

  • Jinx
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I like how it looks now. When I was a kid, these pass-throughs were very common and usually had shutters inside them. Back then, most didn’t want guests milling around in the kitchen, seeing the mess, etc … so would close the shutters while everyone was in the living room. Ours were usually open, though. I find it charming, and fitting to the house, but I’m weird that way. :)



    Shelves …






    But I‘d prefer it open, especially with the size of it. The above ideas would be busy in such a large space, unless you just did something in half of it.

    These were the kind of shutters we had in our ’70’s house:



    So, all that said, my preference would be shutters, half done with shelves/half open, or just leave it exactly how it is. I like it much better than the thought of removing it. Vintage charm. It’s a very nice house! Love your front door.

  • Erika McConnell
    last month

    Jinx I like it too and find it charming for the age of the home ;) I am the exact same way with kitchen mess haha. I would maybe only make it a little smaller. I love quirky old homes though — to me these are the things that give a house character!

  • Jinx
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Exactly, Erika! Love that they haven’t whitewashed any brick.

    I agree with you that the size is the issue. I’m guessing it was once smaller, and someone had it enlarged later.

    Hope they update us with whatever they decide. :)

  • PRO
    JAN MOYER
    last month
    last modified: last month

    "Ok cool, you could have said that before I drew the floor plan you asked for. I thought I made it obvious I was looking for ideas on the wall area only."

    You did. Here's what you left out until just NOW.

    "I just recently remodeled the kitchen. Tops are brand new"

    Had that been in your original post? I could have saved time, as could you. Probably none of us would have been asking for a full plan of the entire area.

    I stand by what I said. When you did the remodel........that was the time to consider the opening, the wall, the separation, and open or closed quality etc.

    Try not to shoot this messenger : )

    Nothing lives in isolation . Open, closed, large, small, and no matter which room. Every room and element within, is a piece of the whole.

  • caitlin622
    Original Author
    last month

    I assumed you wanted the floor plan to see how the living room/current dining could be rearranged if I were to modify the half wall. Not as an opening invitation to gut my kitchen. I said upfront this is being done shortly because my kitchen flooded. It sounds like you have nothing constructive to add besides telling me what I have done wrong, so thanks for stopping bye. 👋

  • Erika McConnell
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Yep!! Some brick I do think is really ugly but most of the time, leave it alone!

    Does anyone have advice for OP on furniture layout in her LR or DR? I have a room that is awkward to put furniture in because there are lots of windows, a door to the porch, 2 doorways, a fireplace, and not that big so I feel her pain. I think you could fit a larger dining in the dining room, and I would even get rid of some of the peninsula chairs to do so. You can always bring them out for an event.

    @caitlin622 I dont think you need a total gut :) Function of course is the most important but decorating can really make you feel better about something you can't change. I dont know your style but these homes are very MCM so I would probably lean into that for styling the house. If you can tell others more about your style, fav colors, and how you use the room, you can probably get some suggestions for layout.

  • mcarroll16
    last month

    Are you open to moving your dining table to the other side of the kitchen, that living room nook? At 9' 4", it's wide enough to use a 42" wide table and have almost 3 feet of clearance on each side. Better clearance I think than behind your peninsula, if you are using bar stools there. You can use a 5' long table comfortably for every-day use. For bigger events, you add a leaf to the table and stretch it out into the main living room area. You could move the organizing furniture and the keyboard into the current dining area, which could work well with a small desk, shelf unit with containers for homework, art supplies, sheet music.

  • caitlin622
    Original Author
    last month

    Yes I am thinking of making a proper dining area in that spot. With hardwood floors vs carpet I think it will be more possible. It would probably require floating the coach in the middle then.
    It now comes down to deciding whether to keep or modify the wall opening. I think in the very least I would like to remove the bulky wood trim and wrap it in drywall for a more contemporary look that matches my windows in the living room.
    Regarding the brick.. I love brick too but I don’t like the color of my brick. But I also don’t like whitewash. I actually just learned I am getting an electric insert for my fireplace, which will modernize it. So add a fireplace redesign to the project (insert cry face) lol….

  • mcarroll16
    last month

    If you do move the dining area, how would you use this space behind your peninsula? My instinct is that for anything other than a dining space, you are better off with more wall, not less. Not a pro though, so curious to see what other recommendations are.

  • Erika McConnell
    last month

    I would put hardwood floors throughout the area but I am partial to hardwood and know it’s not budget friendly. You could use rugs to create distinct areas — one for dining and then one with the couch you float. Then choose a curtain to coordinate with rugs. Then pull a couch color from the rug (I believe in choosing your favorite color for a couch unless doing a white slipcover which actually has been my best couch with kids because BLEACH haha. Most couches today just don’t last forever anyways — get something you will love). Then choose an accent colors for toss pillows, get an end table and some lamps, and a chair in your accent color. Art. Then paint. And maybe think about painting the brick and wait until the other elements come together to see how you feel about it. I think you would feel a lot better about the space if it looks more put together. Then for your storage, you could get ikea sektion cabinets or something like that and even paint them to have more attractive storage and there are even hacks to make them look more built in. I’ve hacked several ikea things in my house (closets, playroom storage, a bookcase.. and I am not a DIY person at all LOL but custom storage is so expensive and if it’s not in areas where I entertain or my kids are just going to beat it up, no way am I doing anything custom) you could maybe even add “mudroom cabinets” because your garage door leads into the dining room correct? You could totally hack ikea pax into mudroom cabinets if on a tight budget/. You could maybe also add a pantry cabinet if you need extra storage (I don’t think I saw a pantry in your drawing and this is where getting the full floor detail is really helpful!!) if you can better think about what you need, you can probably get more advice about what to do with that area.