Full Episodes of Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford

How to Remove a Wall to Expand a Kitchen

By: Danny Lipford

This dated 1970s kitchen was in need of a makeover. Watch this video to see how we:

  • Removed the existing kitchen cabinets and countertops.
  • Took out the wall between the den and living room.
  • Installed recessed light fixtures in the ceiling.
  • Repaired the drywall on the ceiling and walls.
  • Replaced the vinyl floor with ceramic tile.
  • Installed new wood cabinets and granite countertops.

Read episode article to find out more.

Print   Video Transcript

Danny Lipford: This week on Today’s Homeowner we’re opening up the floor plan in an older home that’s been stuck in the 70s for quite a while, we’re making it more attractive and functional for the new owner who has some interesting history here.

If you can’t quite remember what a 70s style house look like, well I’m right in the middle of one. This is a den that has the typical old dark wood paneling and I remember the dark floors that they had back then, and this apparently was from the 70s, I mean look at the traffic pattern and basically the trench running right down the middle of this room.

Now here’s something else that was very typical for a den to have sight built built-in cabinets, this is where the trim carpenter actually did all the work out here no cabinet shop involved.

And remember the old console TVs? I can see it tucked right in under here and the family gathers around watching that one television they had in their house, boy things have changed a lot.

Hey, as far as a typical 70’s kitchen man this hasn’t changed much, with the smooth doors like this with a little bit of molding around them to dress them up a little bit. The old antique finishes on the hardware that has kind of faded away.

Fur downs up above the cabinets up here, I never understood why anybody would want a fur down, it takes up a lot of space in the kitchen when you can have the cabinets extend all the way to the ceiling. Butcher-block countertops, remember that? I’ve seen acres of this stuff in kitchens from this time frame and stainless steel sinks. Well popular back then and fairly popular now.

Hey what about this floor? Sheet vinyl floor with all of these patterns, boy you’d get tired of that pretty quick, but nothing really dates a kitchen as much as these beautiful designer colors. I think they used to call this harvest gold and they’re in fairly good shape but I’m sure the homeowners will want to replace this.

Now back when this house was built it was probably considered kind of an open floor plan with this opening and kind of an opening here looking out into the den. But this isn’t near as open as these homeowners want it.

The plan for this project is to remove the wall between the kitchen and the den as well as the one between the den and the formal living room. This’ll create one large room of almost 800 square feet.

The kitchen will basically remain in the same spot with the sink and stove moving just slightly. But now, this nice sized island will be the only thing separating the kitchen and the family areas, now that’s a lot of work but the owner of this house has a history here.

Eric Anderson: We first came here in July of 1979, my father and mother decided to move here from Arlington, Virginia, and my mother was from Mobile, so this was her home, birthplace, and she grew up here.

My parents came down here and picked out a house and my father then went back to get the money to pay for the house, had a massive heart attack didn’t make it down here but my mother and I still moved here.

My mother you know, she had a stroke, and she’s ill, you know, and she wasn’t able to live independently, she had a car accident and she had to go into the hospital. So, she had given me the house a number of years ago and wanted me to have it.

Well the work that’s going on now basically was something that we decided we needed to do because the house was so outdated. And it was a small kitchen, had an overhang to it and the old butcher-block style. And I have a wife and three kids and we wanted to open it up as a large play area, so we wanted to get rid of the wall that separated the den from the living room.

Danny Lipford: Well, they wanted it open and that’s what these guys are here to do, the old paneling cabinets and ugly, yellow appliances are on their way out. Now I mentioned earlier that these were site-built cabinets, which means they were custom to this house 40 years ago, but it also means they’re almost impossible to remove without completely destroying them.

The worn carpet and paneling, they have to go, too. But before the center wall can come out, the guys have to put up a temporary wall to support the ceiling in the living room, then it’s back to demolition.

The weight carried by the studs Mark is removing will be transferred to this laminated veneer lumber beam. Now, once it’s properly positioned and secured, the drywall can be cut out around it to open up this room for good.

All signs of the 70s are gone from the inside of this house and the homeowners are really getting the feel of how much space they have to work with here. Another thing they didn’t realize is how much light they would gain from the three large windows in the front of the house, even influencing the light level back in the back part of the house.

Right now we’re tying down all the little loose ends getting the last little bit of demolition done. Mike’s in the process of a pretty aggravating thing here, having to get all of the last little bit of backing from the vinyl flooring.

And well Mark’s in the process in cutting out all of the little patches that we’ll have to make in the drywall. But fortunately we were able to save the majority of the drywall and all of the insulation up above it, that helps a lot on the budget.

Now, since we had all of the paneling on the walls, Chris is having to go around and kind of check every single stud to get all the screws and nails that are left over from all of the cabinets and all of the paneling. But it won’t be long we’ll be able to get all of the walls back up on this project and move right along.

Now, we’ve had to do a little trenching here and that’s a pretty tough part of demolition too so that the electrician can run a line out to the little island cabinet here. It’s always a good idea to have an electrical outlet in a freestanding island like this.

You know we’ve only been on this project for three and a half days and as I mentioned earlier, it won’t be long before we have all the new walls up. I love this kind of remodeling and I love those tips that Joe shares with us every week.

Joe Truini: Obsession takes many forms and if you’ve been watching Simple Solutions over the years you might be able to guess what mine is. That’s right, I’m always looking for storage space wherever possible.

Now, one of the most overlooked spaces in everyone’s home, the backs of doors. In this case, this is a pantry door and I converted it by using a shoe organizer that I just hung on the top of the door and it’s got all of these plastic pouches. And it’s the perfect size for putting in all the spray bottles most people have in their homes of cleaning solutions, and room sprays, and even little pouches, these little packets of wipes.

Now at the bottom of the door, you may have noticed I stuck in a couple of push pins. They’re not really necessary but it does keep this organizer from swinging because once you fill up these pouches they’re going to have weight in them and they can bang around as you open and close the door.

Another thing I like about them is because the pouches are clear, it is very easy to see what’s inside and if you’re running low on a particular fluid or cleaner, you can see that as well. So now for less than ten dollars, I’ve converted an unused space into a very organized storage unit.

Danny Lipford: Well it’s only been about three weeks since we started this kitchen expansion project, and already the guys have the drywall installed and the first coat of tape and joint compound in place.

The drywall finisher still has a good bit of work to do and our heating and cooling contractor’s in the process of relocating the pipe for our vent hood because we moved it over just a little bit. That’ll be the last little bit of disturbance of the drywall, so that the finisher can complete all of his work, then we’re ready for trim and ready for cabinets.

You know when we first walked through this space it was such a dark and gloomy area, we had dark paneling in this area, dark carpet, dark cabinets, and really it didn’t have very much natural light or artificial light. Well that’s completely changed now since we removed this wall, we can’t believe the influence these front three windows have in terms of the natural light that penetrates this whole entire area.

But at night there will still be plenty of light because of all of the recessed housings and recessed lights that we’ve installed both in this area we have 11, just in this one part of the project, over here we have an additional eight.

Now this took a little time to lay all of these recessed lights out because you want to make sure that it has kind of a little bit of symmetry to it, and things are lined up real well, so that takes a little bit of time. But once they were ready to install these lights, particularly these, it went very quickly because this is what you call a remodel can.

All they had to do is to cut the round hole, do the wiring on the housing, and then it slipped right into place and locks into the joist up above. Now these are great for a situation like this where you’re trying to minimize the amount of drywall that you want to disturb, because as you can see no repair work’s needed on any of those fixtures.

But there are a few patches here and there, this is where we had an old light fixture that was hanging here over a little breakfast table and what you’re seeing here is what a drywall finisher calls a hot patch.

Basically what a hot patch is, I have one over here I wanted to show you all right, they basically take a piece of drywall and then they cut away all the excess other than what’s needed to go into the hole itself. Then when he comes out later today he’ll remove these nails and he’ll actually use the joint compound to completely make that disappear.

This is a great way of patching any holes that you may have in a ceiling or a wall because you’re not having to cut such a large area of drywall out in order to nail it to any adjacent rafter or stud if you’re dealing with it on the wall. So really the next person we need to see out here is our drywall finisher.

In this case, that would be a guy named Mark who’s been doing this for a long time. So long in fact that he makes it look very, very easy but this is one of those skills that, while it isn’t really that strenuous, it does take a delicate touch to perfect.

Mark’s on a schedule because as soon as he’s done, the new kitchen cabinets arrive and start going into this project. Oddly enough they’re darker than the ones that were here before but they certainly don’t look as dated.

Now, these guys love this kind of layout, because they can start hanging the cabinets in a central corner and work their way out. When they’re done with their work it’s time for the trim to start going in around all of the cabinets. There’s also new crown molding going up and plenty of wood to wrap the caste opening in the center of the room.

As soon as the trim work was complete our painters were right behind them, out on the job priming, painting, caulking, everything necessary to complete the paintwork, and they’re about halfway through with it.

Now, you know you hear all the time about what it takes to get professional results when you’re painting around your home, well one of the best things you can do is have adequate light.

You can see the work lights are everywhere around here and the reason we’re using those instead of all of the recessed lights that we’ve installed is they’re going to do a lot of spraying on this project and we didn’t really want any of the over spray getting on any of the bulbs or the finished trim. So we’re leaving those off until all of the painting’s completely finished.

Now, another way to get professional results is to use a sprayer any time that you can. Now they’ve already put one coat on all of the trim and now they’re in the process of just sanding and touching it up to make sure they get any of the imperfections out of the wood before they spray it again.

And of course not all projects are conducive to spraying because you can get a lot of over spray here and there, but this one with it being wide open and them being able to cover up any of the finished wood makes it very easy to spray and get that nice glossed look on the trim.

Now, they’ll be rolling the wall color on, this is one little sample of it, it’s called desert tan and if you have that color contrasting with the gloss white finish contrasting with the dark cabinets this whole place should look pretty good but still maintain that bright airy feeling that the homeowners wanted.

Now we’re doing a lot of upgrades on this kitchen but you can do a simple upgrade with something in this week’s Best New Product.

Jodi Marks: I love installing tile but more than that I enjoy teaching people how to install their own tile because tiling is such a great do-it-yourself project. But I also like finding ways to make it a lot simpler for you.

Check this out. Now this is called Simple Mat and what this does is it basically takes the place of the thinset that you would have to put on your backsplash or your countertop to get your tile to set.

Now there are some limitations with this mat, you can’t use it on a floor and you can’t use it say in your shower, or in areas that get constantly wet. But it is perfect for a backsplash or a countertop.

All you gotta do is since it’s double-sided adhesive, you just stick it to the surface, peel off the top layer, and now you’re ready to start setting your tile. Once you get all of the tile in place, you’re then ready to grout.

Because you know when you used to have to use mortar or thinset, you’d have to wait for that to set up and cure before you could grout it, so take a look at this. You have no more mess, you have no more wait time, and it just frees up your time so you can spend more time with your family.

Danny Lipford: Hey, we’re back out on our kitchen expansion project and things are moving right along, you can see our cabinets are all in place. And they’re covered up right now because our painter’s doing a lot of spray work on the ceiling and all of the nice gloss white trim.

Our countertops are almost complete and they’re in the process of putting it in, and fairly small kitchen in terms of countertop so it didn’t take them long to bring in the different slabs and put them in place.

They still have a little bit of work to do but you know I love it when a subcontractor has a little gadget that solves a very common problem and here’s the gadget our granite contractor has.

It’s a vacuum pump that’s basically called a seam puller, starts off with a little air compressor in this tool box, then the hoses go up and attach to these four pads that keep it attached to the countertop on each side of the seam.

Now you know granite comes in some fairly large pieces but still when you’re turning corners you’re going to have a seam here or there and that’s where the problem can occur later on that seam comes loose, really hard to get it back together.

So what they do is they use a two-part epoxy where they have a putty and then the cream hardener mixes with it and then you have just a few minutes to butter up the end of the countertop pieces and then to hold it together this does the trick.

The air pressure holds the pads down and then this adjustment holds the seam together and these adjustments allow you to make sure that the top surface of each side of the seam is perfectly level.

You leave this on for a few minutes and you never have to worry about that countertop seam coming apart. I’ve seen them use this a lot and never seen any problems with the seams at all.

Now, they have just a little bit more work to do on the backsplashes here and they have the sink, their stainless steel sink, that they’re going to glue in place there. Then the next step will be a larger piece of granite going on the center island.

When the backsplashes are secure the under counter mounted sink is set and sealed. Then it’s finally time for the island top to go in and boy is this one big piece of granite. It’s weight pretty much keeps it in place but the guys still add a little silicone adhesive to be sure.

Now, one thing is certain, this island will be the thing that catches your eye as soon as you walk in the room and that’s exactly what we wanted. Now the painters have a little more work, and as soon as they finish up, the job is turned over to our flooring contractor.

Now they’re using a leveling compound to smooth out some of the bumps that were created when the old flooring was removed before they begin installing the new tile. And there is a lot of tile in this place but it goes in pretty quickly since the pieces are so large, after just a couple of days they’re spreading grout.

It used to be that ceramic was only installed in bathrooms and kitchens, nowadays people are installing ceramic all throughout the house. Here we have it in the kitchen, breakfast area, all through this adjacent living area as well as the foyer and the hallway that goes right down the middle of the house.

Now one of the things that we’ve done here is use a larger tile, this is actually a 20-inch by 20-inch and that really helps us to keep the spaciousness that we wanted in this area. Now over 900 square feet of ceramics already been installed but the ceramic contractor’s not through yet.

A little mistake was made here in that the granite contractor thought we were going with a traditional four-inch backsplash. Well the homeowners always wanted ceramic on their walls for their backsplash so that was removed and very soon the contractor will be back putting the six-inch tile on all of the area behind the countertops.

Then we’ll install appliances and this project will be complete.

Ok, I’ve got some baking soda, vinegar, lemons, cornmeal and olive oil. Don’t worry the only recipe I’m working on is one to get rid of dirt and stains. You’ve got some very natural cleaners right in your own kitchen cupboard.

White vinegar kills most mold, germs and bacteria because of it’s acidic nature. Make a paste from water and baking soda for a mild scouring abrasive. You can also scrub away dirt and stains with a combination of lemon juice and baking soda.

Now mix one cup of olive oil with a half of a cup of lemon juice, and you have a great furniture polish. And cornmeal can be used as a dry carpet cleaner. It’s really amazing what you’ll find these natural ingredients can do besides help make a meal.

One other benefit you’ll find is that when compared to the cost of chemical cleaners, most of the time you’ll save money by cleaning the natural way.

Well we started off this project with a kitchen and family room that were very much stuck in the 70s, the harvest gold appliances, butcher block countertops, and funky vinyl floors were screaming to be updated.

The dens paneled walls and worn shag carpet were begging for some attention too, not to mention a little opening up of the floor plan. So that’s what we did, the walls are gone and now there’s one big wide open space where there used to be three separate rooms.

There’s also tons more natural light throughout the whole area which now incorporates family and kitchen space into a large truly open floor plan. The brightly painted drywall is a great change from the dark paneling and the new tile floors offer a much cleaner look than the tired old carpet.

Now the kitchen has made a step up too with all new appliances, rich wood cabinets, and this gorgeous granite with tile back splashes to replace that butcher-block laminate.

This is a far climb from the 70s flashback we started with, you know not only have we updated this part of the house, but we’ve also made it a lot more functional for Eric and his family.

I mean think about it the kids can have plenty of room to spread out and play here while all the activities in the kitchen are taking place. You know I can see it once they get everything moved in and just like they want it, they can enjoy their new house for years to come.

Hey, I’m Danny Lipford thanks for being with us, we’ll see you next week.

What can you do with a small room and a lot of creativity? Find out next week.

If you would like to purchase a DVD copy of this week’s show, visit dannylipford.com or call us at 251-478-3345.



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3 Comments on “How to Remove a Wall to Expand a Kitchen”

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  • Yvonne Says:
    August 12th, 2016 at 9:42 am

    We used our old office and wash room for our old dairy to build a flat. We want to use the dairy to make a new living area and new bathrooms and two more bedrooms. But now we don’t know how to join the old and the new side so that we can make the old kitchen bigger and to join them..



  • John Anger Says:
    June 24th, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    We have recently removed the walls between kitchen, living room and dining rooms to open our kitchen up. The kitchen has a plain ceiling and the living room dining room have the “popcorn” style ceiling. What is an effective way to transition the ceiling in these rooms with out removing the popcorn from the two larger rooms?

    thank you

    John



  • Tina neal Says:
    May 11th, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    I don’t know were to start need directions; my kitchen is very small, on the right side of the kitchen wall is a very small bathroom. My plan is to remove the bathroom and open up the kitchen. My delemma is that I need to either add a tub/ shower to my bedroom bathroom before I open the kitchen because there is only one bathroom in the now two bedroom house. Help!


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