One Room Challenge Week 2: Demo Mode

Here we are in week 2 of the One Room Challenge, but really week 15 for us (yes it’s taken that long to overhaul our kitchen, and we’re still crossing our fingers to be complete by the ORC deadline). I’m going to begin with some real time updates, and then dig into some design hurdles…and then chat about how fun it was to smash all the things in the kitchen to tiny little pieces.

It’s a family affair! Our 6 year-old, Eva, helps demo walls

I was super excited when Becca of June and Blue reached out to me last week to ask if she could sponsor a rug for the kitchen. I own a few of Becca’s rugs, but really it’s my life goal to own every single rug she ever lays her eyes on. The girl has magic eyes for rugs and was able to source the most perfect piece for this kitchen by pretty much only looking at my inspiration board from last week. I can’t wait for you guys to see it, but this is also a good segue into how challenging it can be to design a space when you have a deadline.

There is something intoxicating about the ORC. I often say reveal day is like Christmas morning for adults. There are, still yet, other major “pros” that come along with tackling a room for the One Room Challenge. For example, the ORC is also a formidable enemy to our procrastinating tendencies when it comes to tackling home projects. On the flip side, it can be a serious challenge to piece together a comprehensive and aesthetically thrilling space in such a short period of time (I guess that’s why they call it the One Room CHALLENGE). They always say “a great home takes time” (or at least there is a hashtag that says it), and I truly believe that truly special rooms can’t be thrown together overnight.

So this has been a bit difficult for me, especially given my very visual nature. Our stove took 16 weeks from order to delivery, so we had to order it before we even knocked down one wall. Our cabinets wouldn’t be installed until just a few short weeks before the ORC deadline, and I was having trouble visualizing what I wanted when we didn’t even have the cabinets in our hands (a huge thanks to Krystal at Pepe and Carols for creating some kick-ass custom pieces for me and allowing me to wait until the last minute so I could see those cabinets in place first). And then comes the rug I bought from Josh at Kazimah Carpets for the kitchen. I fell hard and fast for that rug and snatched it up – and have ZERO regrets about it – but then a few sponsors came along and my vision for the kitchen began to shift and, alas, the rug I had envisioned in the space was no longer going to work. Good thing it’s such a stunner that it will work in pretty much every other room of the house. I offer you this tale about rugs as a way of showing how designing an entire room before the room is even structurally intact can be, well, STRESSFUL AF.

Upper cabinets gone

Now, onto the demo details! Our old kitchen was quite small, with very little counter space and room for only one or two people to be in the space at a time. But the largest challenge was the strange configuration of the room that most certainly did not maximize the utility of the square footage we had access to. The kitchen abutted a small powder room that had been squeezed into the space and hosted the only interior entrance to our basement (a huge issue if we wanted to carry anything large in and out).

So, we decided to demolish the powder room to create more space for the kitchen and to open access to the basement. We will, at a later date, add a full bathroom to the main floor (hello, Fall ORC!), but for now we are living with just a single bathroom on the second floor (a challenge for elderly guests, as you can imagine). We also decided to demo the wall between our dining room and kitchen to make an even larger and brighter space to meet all of our dining needs for our family of four. And, as if these weren’t enough changes to make, we decided to move the entryway to our sunroom over to make space for the refrigerator and we also changed the placement and size of every window in the room. I was able to source brand spanking new Marvin windows from the Habitat for Humanity Restore – a must-visit site for anyone looking to renovate their home on a budget.

Eva, 6, and Josie, 18 months, dance on the subfloor

Our home was built in 1910, so during demo we were dealing with plaster mixed with horsehair and lath – all of which we took down to make way for a total reconstruction of the electrical and plumbing – and replaced with sheetrock. My husband, Billy, had to pick up three different floors before we were able to finally reach our subfloor (which also needed a lot of repair work). We found a few surprises, one being a brick chimney hiding in the wall that I was really excited about. Everyone who has entered the space has suggested we should sheetrock around it, but I have been adamant about leaving it as an unexpected architectural element – and an homage to the century-old roots of our home (the chimney was originally used for a wood-burning stove to heat the home).

We finally reached the subfloor!

The total time it took for demolition was three months, working about 20 hours/week. It was an enormous and strenuous undertaking and I owe all of that sweat equity to my husband, who is basically some kind of Roman God (who just happens to have Nordic features), but who also has not only been living and breathing this kitchen for months after work hours and on weekends…AND has also happened to build some super sexy abs and biceps along the way.

What more could a girl ask for?

So, takeaways from ORC week 2:

  1. Try to not buy/commit to any items until your vision is COMPLETE and…
  2. Always marry someone who knows how to not just build, but also knows how to do plumbing and electric.

That’s all for now – be sure to check back in for Week 3 updates and also be sure to visit the ORC page to see what all the other designers are up to!

3 Comments

  1. Wow, Kate …. your “one room” expanded to a major renovation of your first floor! You and your family deserve a well needed vacay! Can’t wait to see all the beautiful results.

Leave a Reply