How to Safely Remove an Interior Wall

July 09, 2014

I’m back with an update on the wall demolition progress. Otherwise known as “BEST. DAY. EVER.”

I’ll go through the steps and also a few of our plans – keep in mind that we are still early in this process when you see the pics. :)

We started bright and early last Wednesday – I started scoring and taking down the boards on the office side of the wall so I can reuse them later:

removing wall trim

More on where I’m using them in a bit. :)

It was quite a treat to take them down and not worry one bit about the drywall damage:

removing wall trim

Side note – I didn’t use glue to put these up but it seems caulk acts exactly like glue when it seeps under the boards. Good to know.

On the other side of the wall the trim was being taken down as well – I saved about 90 percent of it for possible use in other spots:

prepping to remove a wall

Early on the guys mentioned that they don’t take down walls like you see on TV – hammers flying, kicking in drywall. I was all, DANG! I was looking forward to that part.

So they let me have at it. I laughed out loud when I saw my face in this picture:

taking down a wall

I forgot my protective eyewear, I know I know. I remembered later.

Think this made me happy?:

pure joy

They had me slow my roll a bit when they realized the drywall was shooting all the way across my office – I was having fun.

I tore down some of the drywall (while my sister and I marveled at how very little is really holding our houses together) and then stepped back and watched as the light started pouring into the family room:

removing interior wall

I actually watched a few YouTube videos on how to take down a wall the night before and I was happy (but not surprised) to see that the guys followed all the precautions mentioned in those videos. Things like moving boards with nails out of the way as you go, hammering down any nails sticking out of the studs so they aren’t a hazard and little tricks like tilting the outlets face up. That’s so when you pull the drywall out it doesn’t rip the wiring out along with it.

By the way – we turned off the gas to the fireplace and all electrical in this wall before doing a thing. Very, very, very important.

Tearing down the drywall was cool but knocking out the studs was way more fun. It’s not hard (again, surprisingly so). I mean, it definitely takes some force, but that was my favorite part for sure:

tearing out studs

Those outlets you see were cut before we took out any studs so there was no need to take them off first.

A few whacks and it was out – then you just pull and rock the wood so the nails out:

how to tear down a wall

I liked it so much I ended up taking out all the studs. ;)

One more BIG thing – I knew from my own research that this wasn’t a load bearing wall for a few reasons. One, it was a partial wall that didn’t end with a large post. I could tell by using my stud finder that the end of the wall was just a few studs and not four or five next to each other. If you have that many it’s probably a support for a beam in the wall/ceiling.

Also, I know which way our beams go in the ceiling because of how our hardwoods were installed upstairs – the flooring needs to be nailed into them so it’s installed perpendicular to them, not parallel.

Because I knew the direction of the beams in the ceiling, I knew the wall wasn’t load bearing – if your wall is perpendicular to your beams it’s probably load bearing, if the wall is parallel with your beams it’s most likely not. Hope that makes sense!!

Anyway, within a few hours everything was out and taken away. The debris overflowed the back of their huge pickup truck – I was shocked at how much was on that little wall so you’d need a small dumpster or truck if you try this even with a small wall.

Of course it went fast because they had so much help:


So when you take down a wall you’re never 100 percent sure what’s inside. I knew we had a cable, two outlets and a gas line. I wasn’t expecting the extra cable and speaker wires:

how to remove an interior wall

Those hung like that for about a week till the audio guy could come out today. They operate our sound system and cable in the family room so he rerouted it all through the ceiling and wall so it can be used when the TV is moved. Still some work to be done to pull everything over from where it is on the other wall – I’ll probably make the whole TV placement a post of it’s own. :)

So far we’ve been really lucky with each trade coming in to do these separate things in a timely manner. I SO appreciate that. Also – I didn’t realize it but you call a plumber to move a gas line – who knew? Not me obviously. :) The same guys that did this also ran our gas line for the basement dryer years ago. They do a great job so if any locals need a name just email me.

I wasn’t planning on the fireplace happening this early but the surround had to be built up in order to move the gas line. I shared my inspiration pics and the guys started building it yesterday. Because we have a direct vent gas fireplace we kept it right where it was, keeping the same vent. No new cuts on the outside of the house. 

Problem is, the fireplace box is about 16 inches deep, plus some room for the vent and you get a very deep fireplace. Most homes that are built with a similar fp have a “doghouse” extension built so the back of the unit can stick outside a bit. But to do that would mean cutting a hole in the house and getting permits and ain’t nobody got time for that. :)

We were prepared for that though so this baby is deep! But by the time we’re done it won’t look quite as deep: cabinets next to fireplace for electronics

Here’s my inspiration pic to give you an idea of how this area will kinda sorta look eventually. Fingers crossed:

I was planning glass fronts on the cabinets to the side (I’m looking into different doors that I will have glass installed in), but I figure the TV components will need to breathe. So either we’ll figure out something to vent them on top of the cabinets or I’ll use radiator grates instead of glass.

I think I’m most thrilled with the fact that this is now a standard sized, wide fireplace – I haven’t had one this big in our family room yet. :)

Lots of room for trim and tile!:

fireplace that sticks out from wall

Even thought the fireplace comes out into the room quite a bit (which I knew before we started), I think the depth will actually be one of my favorite things about it. We’re adding a wall that will be at least three inches deep above it that will reduce the thickness just a bit – I think it will work out beautifully when all is said and done.

SO many things to figure out still!

Here’s the room as it is now:

tearing down a wall to create great room

The desk will be gone, the dresser will move and I have a plan for that side of the room but will have to see how it all comes together. The rug width and length will have to be cut down (or I’ll have to find a new one, but I really love this one) so it doesn’t sit right in front of the fireplace.

The board and batten will continue throughout the whole space and french doors will go where the double windows are to the right of the fireplace. Thing is, this new room is MUCH more spacious, but it will be long and skinny. So the sectional/fp area will be cozy, but we knew that going in. It’s totally worth it with all the extra light!!:

deep fireplaceThere will be a walkway behind the sofa that feels a tiny bit tight now, but that’s mostly because we’re just not used to it. I’m moving some furniture around that will help to open up that area quite a bit too. All these ideas make me giddy. It’s Christmas in July people! For real…this is my Christmas present. ;)

And moving this all down into the old office makes everything SO much more open down by the kitchen, I cannot even tell you. It feels AMAZING. Ack! More on that later too. :)

I’ve been told to plan for extra costs that pop up during a reno and it’s already happening. :) Since the ceiling it already opened up we’re taking this opportunity to add recessed lights throughout the whole space. Hallelujah! There’s no overhead light in my office so it’s needed. I’m thinking of removing the hanging light in the family room for a cleaner look – if I keep it will be moved to the center of the room.

Next, the guys will finish up the fireplace build this week and then start on the lighting. The sound system stuff will be moved and then LOTS of drywall patching, mostly in the ceiling. After that I’ll have the floors patched – and then comes the new doors, installing a TON of trim on the walls (board and batten, base and crown) and painting the entire space – the last two jobs I’ll be doing myself.

Whew! There you go – the progress and the plan! I’m so happy with it so far. I can see the finished result in my head and in there it looks pretty awesome. :) Are you seeing my vision?

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  1. I love knocking out walls too.
    Always amazing what one tweak can do for a room.

  2. S0 excited for you, Sarah! It looks great so far.

  3. Love the pink shoes! What's the brand? Ha! Everything else looks great too! laura

  4. This is incredible! I love your vision and planning. Congrats!

  5. Congrats on the progress! I laughed at your determined face in that pic. That's the face of a woman getting what she wants! :-)

  6. I really like how much more light you get in your family room. Unfortunately my rental doesn't get as much light during the day as I would like, even in full sun I have to have lights on in the kitchen and living room for me to feel like it's fully illuminated. I can imagine your office area becoming a little conversation/readin nook. I'm excited to see what plans you have for it. And I love the inspiration for your fireplace with the built-ins beside it.

  7. Wow Sarah! It looks fantastic already!! How exciting!!

  8. In one photo, I can see that there's an electric socket a little above the fireplace. if you could have your electrical contractor move it to somewhere a little more hidden, then you'd be able to plug a Christmas lights in. But you've probably already thought of that!

  9. Are you giving up having your own office, or will it move to another room in the house? I know that some ladies use a laptop so their office can be anywhere they choose to sit down.

  10. Sarah, your fireplace and living room are going to look amazing! I'm already loving the furniture placement and the idea of built ins next to the fireplace!

  11. Looking good! Amazing how much more open and bright everything is.

  12. That small wall made such a huge impact on the room. I've never knocked a wall out but I imagine I'd have a blast doing it. The fireplace is looking gorgeous!

  13. Wonderful as your little cat too

  14. Oh man I'm lovin' it.. so much fun!! I mean, I know it's a lot of work, dust, and mess, but it's still fun! :) See you tomorrow!

  15. It looks awesome! Going to be great when all done - thanks for letting us come along for the ride :)

  16. This is SO exciting. It is going to be so great. I just want you to know that I have been reading your blog for several years now- one of only a few I could really get interested in- and this is so exciting (not only because you're knocking down walls!) but knowing that you have no debt and are able to move forward and make a beautiful home for your family with your priorities in place. It is so much more exciting knowing you aren't putting it all on a credit card and going into debt. Thank you so much for being my inspiration.

  17. So happy for you, Sarah! I know this is exciting for you--it's exciting just watching from afar!

    One little tip about having your rug cut down. If you're careful about what you cut, it might be possible for you to cut off enough that you'd have remnants for making other rugs (e.g. runner, door mats). A strip just 20-24" wide could yield nice pieces for a great little rug to use somewhere else!

  18. It already looks great! And I love your little helper on the ladder there :)

  19. I love the progress so far! Basically I want to live in your home, or at least have you help decorate mine!!! Quick question...what are your plans for your drapes that are in what was the former office? I have been looking for a similar fabric for at least a year and have been unsuccessful. Please please please tell me you are planning to get rid of them!!

  20. Wow, things are coming along! How exciting! Just wanted to share that putting glass in cabinet doors is actually very easy and inexpensive. You can check out the tutorial here Might be a good option to save some $. :-)

  21. I'm so jealous of how deep your mantle is! Mine is like 6 inches wide and nearly impossible to decorate! Also, your cat is adorable :))

  22. so exciting!! the room looks huge! congrats on getting started!

  23. This was great to see. I love when big plans that are too pricey are worked out this way where you still get the space without knocking out outside walls. Not for the faint of heart, this home demolition. I love the size of your new three spaces all in one. We added on to our ranch 10 years ago and bumped the family room onto the back. We love the cozy layout but it would be great to have the kitchen and FR blended like yours. If you can't trim your rug down, you should host a TDC auction to sell the pieces that don't fit the new layout. Love the fireplace and your inspiration. Donna R.

  24. amazing! and that cat picture is killing me! mine are no where to be seen when there are other people in the house.

  25. I love your inspiration picture, and if yours ends up looking even a little bit like it, it will be amazing. I can't wait to see how you decorate this new room, especially the fireplace, for Christmas! (your Christmas decorations are always my favorite :) )

  26. I'm LOVING your vision Sarah! What an amazing space already, even as it is coming together. I love your fireplace inspiration too - I think I have that photo in my inspiration files as well. ;-) and you're free of the conundrum of the corner fireplace too! Can't wait to see how this space evolves.

  27. Love the new space. An FYI- French doors need ALOT of space to swing open. It makes the space around them unusable.

  28. I really appreciate this particular update. We've been considering putting a fireplace in our basement as it is being remodeled (again!) after dealing with some water issues. I knew you didn't like the corner fireplace and was trying to determine if we could add ours onto a wall like you'll be doing with your remodel. I hadn't thought about it bumping out into the room so far which definitely won't work for our layout. Thanks for that!

  29. All that extra light is wonderful! I'm glad you got to do this. I think you'll feel happier all the time in your sunny new room.

  30. So fun to follow along! I'm so excited for you.
    It appears the floor piecing/patching area might be concealed by your rug.
    Looks like you are achieving the original goal of more space for events and gatherings with your large family! Without adding on! Win!
    As always, thanks for taking the time to explain it all during such a big project.

  31. Love Love Love it! There's so much space and so many options you have for that room now! Let me know if you need a rug shopping buddy ;)


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