Remodeling, the never-ending story

While some people are trying to build a wall, we’ve been trying to tear one down.

Ever since we bought our house more than two years ago, we’ve dreamed of taking out the wall that separated our living room and dining room. Apparently in the 1950s they valued small, boxy rooms, otherwise the wall made no sense.

The wall presented decorating challenges, made choosing a spot for the Christmas tree difficult, and rendered the fireplace in winter nearly pointless.

So when my brother Mick mentioned his daughter had a softball tournament in Tacoma recently and that we could take down the wall, I said let’s do it – though he didn’t mention who was paying.

Tear down that wall. This was the fun part.

What seemed a simple two-day project turned into a month-long affair, which I suppose is how all remodeling goes in reality.

The wall coming down was the easy, quick and fun part. The wiring – and creative extra wiring that past remodels had installed – was what caused a bit of chaos.

Our house features wall heaters with thermostats in each room. Pretty poor way to heat a house, frankly, but I digress. The wall we removed had two thermostats on it – so we had to figure out how to rewire those. The wall also featured a light switch for a dining room light (which I despise because some fool hung it low, and I constantly bash my head on it) and a pair of outlets.

Mick labeling the wires hanging from the ceiling. How can one wall have so many wires?

We punted on the outlets and the light switch, and donated the overhead light to Goodwill. But the thermostats would have to be moved.

Enter the attic.

I’ve never been in my attic, except to poke my head up there. It’s not a standard attic like I’m used to. You can’t walk in it or even pretend to stand because of the way the trusses run. So Mick climbed up there, laid down on some boards we shoved in there and tried to figure out some old school electrical work.

Needless to say, it did not get finished the first weekend. Nor did it get finished the next weekend. Or the next. But it did eventually get done.

Both heaters work and that is all that matters.

Having a seafoam wall and a red wall with a racing stripe down the middle was not ideal.

Even after the electrical got done we still had to paint as we had been living with a seafoam colored wall and a red wall with a white stripe where the old wall used to be running down the middle. It was beautiful, if you did drugs.

We settled on our new colors, getting rid of the red accent walls as our house is pretty dark – something we didn’t realize when we bought it.

My brother came back one final time – thank goodness for all those softball tournaments all over Western Washington – and helped install our new light and fan in our new Great Room. Veronica and I then solved the problem of where to put all the photos that used to hang on said wall, by creating a gallery wall near the kitchen, and getting creative in the old dining room.

Now we just have to save up some money to put in hardwood throughout the house, as there is a bit of a gutter on the floor separating the Pergo from the carpet.

For now, though, I sit and type this at my kitchen table, surrounded by light from the back door and the living room windows.

So the lesson here is, tear down walls don’t build them.

– Craig Craker

Our new Great Room. Crazy how taking out one wall makes your house feel huge.

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