See the dramatic difference you can make by opening up a kitchen to a living room by knocking down a load bearing wall in an outdated 80's ranch home.

Knocking Down a Load Bearing Wall and Opening Up the Kitchen

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See the dramatic difference you can make by opening up a kitchen to a living room by knocking down a load bearing wall. We gained a new breakfast bar and so much light!Out of all the DIY projects we’ve done to make our small 1980’s ranch feel more open and updated, the one that has made the most dramatic difference is opening up the kitchen to the living room. Before, the living room felt dark and cramped and the kitchen felt closed off from where our family spent the majority of our time. By removing a seven foot wide section of the load bearing wall, we were able to visually enlarge both rooms without changing the layout.

Before - living room. The load bearing wall to the right is the one that got opened up to the kitchen. Since we kept the bottom third of the wall intact, we were able to add a counter for extra seating.  This also allowed us to keep the wall outlets so we didn’t have the extra expense of calling in an electrician.

By no means was this an easy project, but we saved ourselves a ton of money by being able to do the work ourselves. I was given the fun job (and that was not sarcastic) of helping with tearing down the drywall.

Since this was a load bearing wall, we had to install a beam as explained in this tutorial from The Family Handyman.

See the dramatic difference you can make by opening up a kitchen to a living room by knocking down a load bearing wall. We gained a new breakfast bar and so much light!

A column was made around the middle stud where the light switch is located, so the light switch didn’t have be moved.Knocking down a load bearing wall: See the dramatic difference you can make by opening up a kitchen to a living room by knocking down a load bearing wall. We gained a new breakfast bar and so much light!

The corbels from our old mantel were reused under the new counter.
Kitchen opened up to living room:See the dramatic difference you can make by opening up a kitchen to a living room by knocking down a load bearing wall. We gained a new breakfast bar and so much light!

And we installed the TV on an articulating mount so it can be seen from both rooms.

Living room opened up to kitchen - articulating TV mount

I’m thrilled with the how open, lighter and brighter both rooms feel! I wish we had done it sooner!

Eat in kitchen opened up to living room: See the dramatic difference you can make by opening up a kitchen to a living room by knocking down a load bearing wall. We gained a new breakfast bar and so much light!Living room opened up to eat in kitchen: See the dramatic difference you can make by opening up a kitchen to a living room by knocking down a load bearing wall. We gained a new breakfast bar and so much light!See the rest of the kitchen in the final house tour post.

You can read about how I updated our Ikea bookcases that flank the fireplace in this post.

Tricia signature Today, I’m sharing my favorite room over at Savvy Southern Style so I hope you’ll stop over there and say hello to Kim and check it out! While you’re there, you’ll have to tour her beautiful home. Hint-hint…her kitchen is stunning!


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  2. Was this a load bearing wall? love the outcome. Looking to do something similar

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  10. I LOVE the paint color you have above your white wood details in your living room. I’ve looked in several places to see if I could find your mentioning of the color and can’t seem to locate it. Would you share? I really loved exploring your site. You are super talented. 🙂

  11. Tricia and Mr. Simplicity, what a big difference in the look of the living room bookcases. Are those bookcases from Ikea or did Mr. Simplicity build them from scratch to fit right in the space on each side of the fireplace? Great job and it sure made a big difference in opening up the space..and he did a good job on making the half wall and columns..It really does open up the area. Our first house was a small rambler built in 1953 and as you walked into the front door, there was a half wall there with spindles, and eventually everybody that had kids removed them as they opened the area up so much and made the living room look larger. All that half wall did was catch all outgoing mail and some knick knacks! The builder built those houses like that so it would separate a small area for living room. It mght have worked for that if there was just a married couple with no kids! Once that half wall was removed, the living room became larger and it made a direct path to the galley kitchen. Hey, what did you expect for $12,000 in 1953? We purchased the house in 1967 for $18,000. It was a well built home, had a solid, pured concrete foundation, no cinder blocks to hold water and cause problems in the basement. That house is still standing and the people that own it now are either the 4th or 5th. owners. Everybody that bought that house has stayed at least 15 years or more. They just don’t build houses now days like they did then. It took my husband 4 hours to go through the solid concrete foundation to make a hole for the dryer vent. No joke! I imagine you took the “after pictures” soon as you finished it. Looks like it needs some greenery above the bookcases to finish it off. Maybe you have already done that.

    Great job and thanks for sharing your pictures and useful tips. I have a 3 unit bookcase that we bought from W.H.Bell that is no longer in business. Those bookcases are made of laminate or pressed wood, as it was a kit and they have an oak finish and I’m dying to have them painted white. I could really use them in the home office on either side of the single window to put all my genealogy research notebooks that are now inside the closet taking up much needed space for coats, jackets,seasonal clothes or other things. Everybody keeps showing the “Billy” Ikea bookcases. I’ve been tempted to buy those in white. I could also use some bookcases on the side of a large window in our sunroom to hold my gardening books, my collection of decorative birdhouses and house plants.

  12. This renovation is awesome, but I am obsessed with the column you made! We have dinky half columns in our hour & this has definitely inspired me to figure out how to make them floor to ceiling & chunkier! Love it!

  13. I love reading your blog. My husband and I are in the middle of a remodel of his grandparent’s Victorian farmhouse. What color did you paint your kitchen table? Love it!

    1. Hi Julie! I’m sure it’s been hard work getting your home remodeled but you’re so lucky! I’d love to have a farmhouse to restore. The table paint color is Tropical Lagoon by Glidden.

      1. Do you have a tutorial for painting your kitchen table? I have an almost identical table and plan on painting it but I don’t have the faintest idea of how to do it or even where to begin. Glossy paint? Flat Paint? Sanding? Poly top coat? Wax top? So many unknowns. 🙁

  14. Love what you did with the wall! We are DIYers and walls seem to be the first things to go! Great improvement, on my way to look around the rest of your nest!

  15. hey! Omg I need your HELP! I have 3 open wall and I don’t know how to decorate it. Any Advice?

  16. Oh my goodness! It’s so pretty! Your home is beautiful, you have amazing taste! I hope to do this one day for the wall between our living room and kitchen. I want it to look like this! I love that you’ve left the column, I prefer it that way 🙂

    1. Thank you, Corinna! With all the beautiful homes out there on the Internet, our home seems to be such a humble abode. I’m so flattered by your words!

  17. What a beautiful transformation! Why is it that homes of this era boasted having an attached family room, then blocked them off? it is so much prettier opened up with all the light coming in and speaking of light, the new paint colors are wonderful! I love everything about it! Congrats on a job well done! Hugs, Leena

    1. I don’t understand it either. Although, my grandmother said houses were built that way to keep the heat in each room. I’d much rather be comfortable in my yoga pants and sweatshirt than to live in dark, closed-off house. I’m so glad you like how it turned out! We are truly enjoying it ourselves.

  18. Hi! i came over from TT&J’s link party and I love this! I live in an 80+ year old bungalow and am dying to open up our tiny kitchen by removing the old butler’s pantry (if that’s what it was) and also creating a half wall between the pantry and dining room to make one, large, open kitchen.

    1. Oh, you’ll love it and won’t believe the difference it will make opening up the rooms. My husband’s only complaint was that it was noisier after we opened it up. But he was forgetting we had a toddler that was just begging to talk (and maybe scream a time or two) along the same time after the remodel. I have to admit, I’m jealous that you live in an 80 year old home. I love old homes!

  19. Beautiful!!! We live in a 1600 sq rambler also, and I love that you share you home with us. I always see these great ideas online and a lot of times they just don’t work in a smaller home. Keep sharing, it gives me hope for transforming my rambler into something I will love.

    1. Wonderful, Peggy! I love hearing that you have a similar-sized home and face the same small-home dilemma I’m going through. And it makes me happy to know I’ve inspired someone!

  20. I love the result of this project. I have been planning to do the same to a wall separating our kitchen and living area. Just curious…about how long did this project take?

    1. Hi Luisa,
      I had to wait till I could get my husband’s input before I could remember how long it took. We were able to get it done in 2 weekends. The longest task was after the drywall was put back up. Mudding and sanding the wall smooth seemed to take forever!

    1. Thank you, Shannon! Yes, I love me a hard working TV and my hardworking man that made it possible! 🙂 Can’t wait to see those beautiful hardwood floors when they get done!

  21. It looks great! It’s amazing how much of a difference something like taking down even half of a wall can make. I’m soooooo looking forward to our kitchen being done. There will be so much celebrating of wall-removal happening up in this house!

    1. If I hear a woot-woot coming from the west, I’ll know the wall is officially down. Your kitchen is going to be amazing. I just know it!

    1. Wow, this will have to be done to my living room wall to kitchen!

      Ive got a few questions
      – Did you have to get a permit for this project?
      – How much was cost for materials and beam?


      1. Thank you so much, Vincent! Since we didn’t hire a contractor and didn’t have to move the electrical wires, this project didn’t require a permit in our county. We did, however, have the opinion of a contractor (that’s a friend) let us know what steps we needed to do after looking at our rafters. Looking back, our best bet (for insurance and reselling our home) would’ve been to hire an engineer to see the feasibility of the project and give recommendations. We did the project 10 years ago and the cost (back then) was around $600 for the beam and materials.

  22. Tricia, Your home is stunning, and I just LOVE this living room. It’s so much brighter and more colorful. I love the vintage touches with the crisp white and modern lines. I love it – just beautiful! Hope you are doing well, friend!

    1. Hey, Karen!!! I’m sending you a big virtual hug! I’m so glad you like the room. It’s funny how I forget how much it has changed until I start going through my old pictures.

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