Home and DIY

Living Room Redo: Part 1

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Before I ever bought this house I had already made my mind up about a few things:
1. All rooms needed repainted
2. The kitchen needed new counters
3. I hated these arched doorways:

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I took that photo on move-in day. With empty rooms, I don’t really mind the arched doorways. In fact, they kind of give the area character. Until, of course, everything was moved in and there was just TOO much going on. The arches just don’t make sense. The dog likes them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve chased her in circles through these rooms trying to get something out of her mouth.

Sigh. I digress…

The ground level of my home is mostly an open floor plan but this wall and those arches were added later as an addition to the home. Except for those arched doorways, all other doorways in the home are square. When you walk into my living room and peek past the arched doorway, what you see, is………another seating/living area. Couches and chairs everywhere you look, that’s how it is.

When it came to furniture placement in the living room, I had a lot of trouble with arrangement because there is not a single solid wall that doesn’t have a large doorway or window obstructing the functionality of it. It’s just not a sensible room the way it is now, so for both appearance and function, I knew I had to come up with something.

Ultimately, I decided to fill the living room doorway in and complete that wall to make the room more functional. I struggled with this decision for a few reasons.

1. I didn’t want to take away the sunlight this doorway brings in. Fortunately, there are so many other windows providing light to this area because of the open floor plan that the loss of light was going to be minimal (hopefully).
2. I didn’t want to do this myself, I wanted it professionally done so it would be as seamless as possible, and even then I didn’t know if “seamless” was a possibility.
3. What would I do with the 2nd curved arch in the kitchen? I want both arches gone. I’d ultimately like to widen and square out this doorway a little install french doors so that my sunroom is entirely separated from my kitchen/living area.
4. Budget. This would need to be done in phases. The french doors will wait…..

Phase 1: Living Room Renovation

I started planning this mini-reno back in April but trying to get a contractor for such a tiny job proved to be more difficult than one might realize. After I exhausted my local sources, all of which wouldn’t return calls or were booked out for weeks/months, I decided to burden family with my shenanigans. Though he lives 45 minutes away, carpentry is kind of my uncle’s gig and he kindly agreed to help me out with this.

Here’s the living room, before:
Take note of couches and chairs everywhere….
Also, Alyah decided she was going to model, but refused to get her hair brushed for photos, so excuse that.

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Do you feel me now!? See what I mean about seeing one living room while standing in the other??

Here is the view from the sunroom into the living room:

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Blame it on a touch of OCD but being able to peek into each from from the doorways, no matter how neat a room, makes everything look cluttered and displaced. I can’t rearrange the furniture because there’s just nowhere else where it would fit, unless the wall gets filled in.

I considered other options, like squaring the doorways out – which didn’t seem like a possibility. Or sliding door covers, like this:

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But those were all quick fixes, and I wanted a permanent fix. So, I filled it in. And I have no regrets.

Well. My Uncle filled it in. As we go along I’ll very very very briefly overview how he did it (because quite frankly I just don’t know what I’m talking about), and why it took me a month to finish.

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First, I fed my Uncle Ronnie a very strong cup of joe and a donut. Then, he measured some things (I didn’t pay much attention, as I was too busy during this time playing in my wildflower garden, but I did come inside intermittently to ensure that progress was indeed being made).

He used 2×4’s, cut to size, and built out the wall to attach the drywall.

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He then cut and hung the drywall.

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Lastly, he applied the first coat of mud and drywall tape to the seams. Once that was dry, he was done and said sayonaro! Then began the long and tedious process of applying mud/feathering out the seams, sanding it down, and REPEAT. With work and school, this took… longer than what is necessary for this, but whatever.

This is what the wall looked like the day I was ready to paint.

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Here’s where I confess.
I forgot to prime the drywall first, which, along with maybe going a touch (massively) overboard with the mud, was a mistake. The mud is a different texture, porosity, and absorbs paint differently than drywall. I assumed I’d be ok just applying paint with “primer” already included but that wasn’t exactly that case and it took many many coats of paint to hide the texture difference between the wall and mud.  

Another setback was paint color. I intended to paint the room the same color it had been before, I love the color and that meant I only would have to paint one wall… It turns out…. even though I went to Lowe’s, bought the same paint, in the same color, in the same finish, it no longer dries the same color a year later:

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I then had to paint the entire room instead of just the affected wall, like I had originally planned (prayed). I was ok with it, because “new” color is closer to what I want anyway, but I am concerned it will deepen/fade just like it did before.

I ended up painting the new wall with something like…. oh, 10 or so coats of paint- until I was happy with the finish.
I told you I wanted it to be seamless.

Now that I’m a day late and a dollar short, here’s what I recommend for priming drywall, PRIOR to applying paint (if you aren’t a seasoned carpenter, like myself). This is good If you’ve done the taping and mudding yourself and might have overdone it a touch or if you have some texture issues or imperfections to even out:

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I ordered a gallon of this and I’m going to use it in the sunroom when I get around to finishing that side of the drywall job so that I might only have to apply a few coats of paint, instead of 700……

Oh! You wanted to see the after photos, enjoy!

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Now that it’s all said and done, I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. This is a really big room that was rendered only semi-functional by that wall. My sectional is gigantic and fits perfectly in its new home. Now there is so much more open space for activities! (come on, I know you get that reference 😉 )

When you walk into the foyer of the home, what you see is a normal-apearing living room, not an awkward kaleidoscope of endless living rooms and odd doorways. The sectional no longer blocks the entire living room off from the kitchen, thus actually utilizing the “open floor plan” concept.

As is always the case when I’m working on a project, the ideation of new projects begin brewing amid the choas of current projects, and now I have new plans for the room. And this is why this post is titled “Part 1”.

Part 2:

This part is still in fruition (in my brain.. and I’m sure will change about 467 times before completion), but at this point, it consists of furniture updates. When it came time to move the furniture back into this room my brain started scheming. I’m ready to get rid of the dark cherry wood furniture and donate it to other (well-hidden) areas of the house. I am going to mount the TV on the wall and use this bookcase (that’s been passed from kitchen to sunroom, and now soon, to the living room) as an entertainment stand.

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Now that fall is on the horizon and gardening will soon be over, I’ll be itching to make stuff, and next on my list is a coffee table:

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Or an ottoman:

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I have some bookcase and shelving ideas brewing too, but I guess you’ll just have to wait and see. Until next time, thanks for stopping by!

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