5 Things to Consider Before Turning Two Rooms into One

5 Things to Consider Before Turning Two Rooms into One

Inarguably, the most popular design trend has been, and looks to remain, the open floor plan. And why not? With a clean, airy look, and easy flow from one room to the next, open living is much more inviting. The absence of doorways and hallways between, say, your kitchen and family room, can make a small area look and feel much larger, allow for more natural light, and give you a relaxed atmosphere in which to entertain. You can achieve this desirable, easy-going-yet-elegant style when you turn two rooms into one.

For those homeowners who want to enlarge a too-small bedroom, or take advantage of underused utility space by opening it up to an adjacent room, combining rooms has many advantages. Updating your existing home in this way can add to the value and the style of an existing home, and give you the space you’ve been dreaming of.

5 Things You Need to Know Before Turning 2 Rooms into One

Turning two rooms into one should never be approached haphazardly, no matter how “easy” some home improvement shows make it seem. There’s much more to consider in a project like this than scheduling “demo day” and slinging a mallet. Here are the top 5 things to consider before  you undertake turning two rooms into one.

  1. Understand Wall Placement:  Removing load-bearing walls, those walls which bear the weight of the structure so it remains sound, requires the knowledge and expertise of a professional.  Before you begin, examine the walls you will be removing for their structural purpose and stability. Check in your basement, crawlspace, or, if you’re on a slab, the lowest point on your first floor. Locate the wall beams that go directly into the foundation. They will identify a load bearing wall. Sometimes, but not always, it’s necessary to look behind the drywall to find out if there are foundational beams.
  1. Approach Demolition in A Thoughtful Way:  In other words, don’t just start swinging to knock down the walls you want removed. There is a whole infrastructure behind that drywall. When you begin your demolition of the existing walls find out where your electrical wiring is. Locate the ducts and vents for your HVAC, as well as plumbing pipes. Be mindful of things like switch plates and electrical outlets, smoke detectors, heating and cooling vents, and thermostats. These items will be indicative of what’s within the walls. Proceed with caution and consult a professional as necessary.  
  1. Prepare to Fix Any Issues:  If you’re familiar with the popular remodel shows on TV then you know, at some point, the crew encounters some sort of setback, which requires extra time, extra patience, and, typically, extra room in the budget. Whenever you begin opening up walls and making one room out of two, there are bound to be some “surprises” in store. Those with an older home may find the electrical wiring isn’t quite up to code. You may uncover water damage, or even mold, behind that wall. Depending on when your home was built, you may even uncover asbestos within the wall. 
  1. Transitioning From Two Rooms to One:  When you remove a wall, open up a hallway, or do what’s necessary to turn your two rooms into one, you need to consider the transition. You’ll have gaps in the floor, gaps in the ceiling, and remaining walls. It’s possible the floors may not match and you need to replace all the flooring. Your ceiling and trim will need to appear seamless, which will entail some work. If the surface textures vary you will need to be prepared to live with the difference or do what you need to make it all come together as you desire.
  1. What You Will Lose:  If you’re combining your kitchen with another room by removing certain walls, what are you giving up? Are there cabinets? Closets? Counter space? Even just the absence of wall space can disrupt your storage, decor, and work space. You may need to consider alternative ways to compensate for lost cabinets, cosets, and counter space. 

Don’t Neglect Your Due Diligence

When making any changes to your home it’s necessary to check the rules of the municipality where you live. Some home improvements do require you to obtain a permit. It’s always a wise idea to partner with a professional for this reason; they have the know-how and experience to deal with these details. 

It’s not uncommon when turning two rooms into one that you would need to move, add to, or eliminate electrical outlets and circuits, plumbing, and your HVAC components and ductwork,  and you will likely need a permit. Also, should you adjust or reposition any of those load-bearing walls, you will need a special permit to do so. Of course adding to the footprint of any structure on your property will require permission from the appropriate officials.

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