The wall that George built -
Current design trends have people removing walls to create open floor plans for the way we live today, a bit more casual and more connected. Busy day to day life benefits from open plans that allow families to be connected, regardless of being busy on different tasks or in various rooms. For me, personally a historic home requires additional consideration. I feel there may be a bit of obligation to be mindful of the past. Our cottage when renovated by the previous owner, had a pass through window added between the dining/keeping room and kitchen. The pass through featured a bar, protruding into the small scale dining/keeping room. The bar made furniture placement in the space difficult. If used as a dining room, there was no way to center the table beneath the chandelier.
A concern for me, was the original plan, the wall was original. Additionally, I felt the opening created visual confusion, looking past one room through a "frame" of sorts at the kitchen. It was much too contemporary in design to be part of the cottage structure. We considered removing the wall completely, opening the kitchen up to the remainder of the house. Again, original wall. I pondered it for three years.
|Above photo taken a dining table ago! We have a different one now. You can see the opening, the bar and how the kitchen is framed by the opening. The walls are bathed in Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige paint, trimmed in Aesthetic White.|
As we all do, I asked advice from friends, who mostly felt removing the wall to create an open plan was the best choice. Did I really want to see the kitchen all of the time? See the kitchen from most every room in the house? I felt closing the wall back up would be respectful to the cottage's history, as well as define the spaces. That definition I thought, would create a more visually pleasing space and plan. My idea wasn't the most popular. Eventually, as time grew near for us to place our beloved Sybi on the market, I jumped. I called my trusty contractor Moses for help. We met and I explained my plan. He looked a little confused, after all building a wall, isn't trendy. Further, there would be a tile issue in the kitchen side, the backsplash tile dipped below the bar counter. We'd have to figure out a way to deal with the backsplash, or locate matching tile.
Moses trusty, very talented sidekick George stopped in and in no time had the wall framed and drywall installed. Finally, I could see what the division would be like. The spaces actually felt larger. The peekaboo hole between the two rooms was now gone. It looked so much better! Maybe even a little contemporary artish - squares and dots...
The following evening when I arrived home from work, Moses and George had applied the final mud to the wall. It had dried. They should know better than to leave me unsupervised. A quick inspection indicated that the mud was dry enough to sand. So sand I did. I sanded smooth the wall that George built.
All it needed now was a coat or two of paint. I don't recommend that you paint at night. You're going to miss a spot, or two, or three - so on. But for a first coat, I suppose it works.
Standing there at midnight, staring at the wall, literally watching paint dry - I felt the non trendy choice to close the wall back up, was the best choice for Sybi (our home). The focus had previously been on that peekaboo view. Now the gorgeous eight foot square French window and chandelier were the focus of the room. But what to put on that huge wall? It's funny when you do things in a home, how every step leads to more; more issues, more work, more questions. I don't have a lot of art. I do have a hobby. I take photos of statuary, also architectural pieces or details, things that strike my imagination. That newly built wall looked like a blank canvas -
The perfect place for a gallery of gathered sites; statues that beg for quiet, rusty fences, broken glass, angels forever holding journals frozen in time contemplating their next thought to record. Moments discovered along streets or in cemeteries, hidden within cities where Mr. GDC and I have wandered.
While the keeping room wall came naturally. The kitchen wall was a bit more of a quandary. How to handle the dip in the backsplash? Mr. GDC offered an idea. In our previous home we had three large chalkboards in the kitchen. Those boards held grocery list, kept us up on homework assignment due dates and reminded us of parties and events. He asked "How about a big chalkboard"? Hmm. I thought. It could work, the size could be fluid, then if we framed it in chair rail to finish it off it just might work. It would need a wall sconce to light the counter and the board. I quickly got busy carrying out his plan. I have to admit, that big black rectangle - it was scary. But, it's only paint I thought.
After Mr. GDC framed it in and installed the sconce for the wall. I realized he had a great idea.
We were able to create something useful, aesthetically pleasing and manage the dipped tile. Don't you love it when a twinkling idea develops into something just right?
For three years I wondered what to do with that wall. For three years it bugged me. For three years I knew it could be so much better. Don't be like me! Don't worry about trends! Don't wait! Jump! Follow your heart and get your George to build a wall.
Wishing you all the best -