Noodling the kitchen walls

Clearly things are slowing down a bit here at the firehouse. Aaron is trying to edit his way through our fall wedding season and we’re gearing up (or maybe down is the right word) for winter. It’s always been our chance to recoup from the craziness that is our life 9ish months of the year.

That doesn’t mean things will totally stop. We have a few winter break plans that are good “for now” changes and could ultimately save us a step in the long run. I’m looking at you awful skin-toned and red walls in the upstairs living room. I have a bucket of white paint with your name on it.

We’re also scheming for next year, which seems to be a hot topic as I know my parents have some sort of wager over what space we tackle next. Even though part of me wants to wait until we have an Ikea (OMG! I can’t even explain to you how close this is to the firehouse. Like, we could walk… long walk… and we couldn’t buy much, but still…), the kitchen is high on the list for the next major project. It has us pondering what we could do in the spring and summer to get ready for an overhaul next winter.

The biggest question in this space is the layout. Right now the kitchen is firmly hidden behind two walls, which really flies in the face of our desire for an open floor plan. Here’s a few views from the dining room.



This is the view walking into the space from the studio. Dining room to the left, living room to the right.


Ideally, we’d like to take out the whole wall facing the dining room and the corner the juts into the living room. Here’s a mock up.


From the living room side it looks like this.


And we want to get ride of that blue section.


Just like in a normal home, this all comes down to whether the wall is load bearing. Even if it is, we could add a post and beam to keep the structure intact. The problem is we can’t tell whether it’s load bearing because it’s made of glazed brick.

This seam (in the dining room) makes us think that the kitchen wall is free standing.


We’ve also been able to peek into this hole (which is right at the corner and maybe used to be a drinking fountain?) We can see a vertical I-beam on the dining room wall, but not much else.


Then we realized that the kitchen ceiling is a lot shorter. It was nearly impossible to photograph, but we’d basically be left with this much height difference. I’m sure we could make it work, but we’re not totally sure the glazed brick would stay in place long enough to re-support it if we tore everything out in the blue area.


Right now our worst case scenario is only demoing the wall facing the dining room and building back an upper wall (probably with drywall) so that the opening looks something like this.


So that’s a long way of saying “We don’t know what to do.” We think an architectural engineer could give us some guidance. Is there a section for that in the phone book??


  1. I wonder if you have a good architectural undergrad or graduate program at a nearby university… you could contact the head of the department for some leads/ideas? Plus, you might find that some students would be interested in the retrofit of a private residence into a once commercial space. Maybe you could get some free drawings/advice out of the deal? There’s also always the option of just widening the doorway to an opening rather than full removal of any of the corners. Not as modern, but maybe it would fit within the architecture of the building? And save some money? Saving money is always good… because you will always find somewhere else to spend it.

    1. Not a bad idea!
      In this instance I think we’d opt to spend the money to really open it up. We seem to have the “forever house” mentality. BUT it all comes down to how MUCH.

  2. We had some structural issues with our STL house and used Marc Bacchetti with DreamRunners ( A structural engineer should be able to get you where you need to be. I can’t wait to see what you do with the space – opening it up will be so awesome. Also, congrats on the Ikea! I just left STL for Phoenix (where they have an Ikea) only to hear one is coming to the Lou. Swedish meatballs for all! Cheers – CT

    1. Thanks for the referral! I was hoping someone would know someone 😉
      I’m still doing a happy dance about Ikea. It was officially confirmed this morning. Woot!

  3. The wager is not over which space. Can’t say what it is but I think I’ll win this one!!

    1. Ha! Good. Don’t tell us. We don’t want to skew it 😉

  4. […] Assuming that the scratch-off lottery tickets Santa always tucks in our stockings don’t pay out big this year, we’re on the hunt for more economical floor coverings. While we don’t need to install anything right away, we do need to make some serious decisions before the kitchen reno we’re noodling. […]

  5. Definitely have a structural engineer take a look. If the walls are load bearing, they’ll be able to determine the appropriate size of the column and/or beams required. Depending on your City requirements, you will likely also require a stamped engineer’s drawing to apply for a permit for any structural changes to the building. Good luck – I’m sure it’ll be great once its all opened up!

    1. Thanks, Marilee! We’re definitely bringing in some experts for this one 🙂

  6. Pft… hipsters

    1. We’re assuming the “pft” means we’re living above the “hipsters” moniker… so, thank you?

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