Connect the Kitchen and Living Room
Here's a quick how-to for anyone who wants an open floor plan.
Be sure to get the landlord on board with this one or it could be trouble during move-out. My landlord appreciate the improvement and returned the full-security deposit. The pass-through is easy to close up and gives the landlord a more flexible floor plan.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
Here are the suggested tools and materials for building a platform desk.
- Four Foot Level
- HammerCircular Saw & Hand Saw
- Drill & Drill Bits
- Screw Drivers
- Tape Measure
- Carpenter's Square
- Drywall Spackles (not shown)
- Paint Brush (not shown)
- Safety: Goggles/Ear Protection
- (4) 2x2s
- ((3) 2x4s
- (2) 2x10s -headers and counter
- (~36) 3" Screws
- (~20) 1-1/4" Drywall or Finish Screws
- Joint Compound
- PaintPaint (optional)
All materials cost around $60 from HD/Lowes/Habitat. All tools cost under $120 and were purchased refurbished online or used off craigslist. Fasteners: I recommend using all screws for the project.
Step 2: Know Your Wall / Meet Your Landlord
A few things to keep in mind...
- Electrical - Are there any switches, fire alarms, power outlets, cable lines? Even in heavily constructed vintage building the walls between the kitchen and the living room are secondary walls that have limited electrical wiring. In my case there was an outlet at 6" out that I simply allowed for when sizing the pass-through
- Plumbing & Mechanical - Are there any risers? again, typically they are not located between the kitchen and the living room. Builders prefer exterior walls or furred out locations built to contain the risers. Look through the apartment for enlarged corners (areas where plumbing is hidden). If there are any plumbing fixtures on the wall the location isn't ideal. There are likely vent lines above.
- Fire Alarm - Also unlikely on interior walls but there is always the potential that there are fire alarm wires. If there is an alarm on the wall it is likely not a good candidate.
- Wall construction - Is the wall wood frame or brick? Again, interior walls are typically wood frame. In the case of my vintage brick building the plaster was initially installed on wood lattice. even easier to work with in more modern builds where drywall is the standard material. If it is a newer building there may be metal studs (still doable but you'll have more trouble with building management)
- Anything else? ask questions (photos help)
All these details help in getting building approval. Share with them what you know and how you will go about the installation ---step-by-step.
- Ask for permission and ask to talk with the head of maintenance or construction
- Share what you know about the building and ask questions about past projects
- Share step by step how you plan to open the wall
- Ask what they would be concerned about
- Ask if they have completed this type of project in the past
- Share what you know and what you don't. I didn't tell the building I had never completed this type of project before. They didn't ask.
- Get something in writing. I didn't but i was comfortable with my building and our agreement was that I would return it to the original condition at their request (at move out). When I signed for the 2nd year I got it in writing that there would be no impact on the security deposit.
Step 3: Opening / Framing / Finishing
Keep in Mind
- you'll save a lot of patching time by boxing out the opening with 2x2s
- drop cloths go a long way in protecting the floor (even better is scrap plywood)
Opening the wall...
- Identify where the studs are located
- Temporarily Frame around your opening with 2x2 or 2x4s. I didn't do this on the first cut and it made more work later on. Framing the opening will prevent plaster from cracking and give you a surface to saw against. I used a reciprocal saw from Harbor Freight. The industry standard is Milwaukee but Chicago Tools works just fine and is a steel at $19.
- Header - As part of the temporary frame I used a larger (overkill) member to remain in place as the header for my pass-through. Consider picking a piece for the header that you 'll leave in place to help distribute the load. In my photos the header is over designed. I was indifferent to the bulky header I initially chose for aesthetics.
- Punch a few exploratory holes. I used the drywall saw and a hammer to get a look around.
- Cut the opening. Use a drywall saw or reciprocal saw. Using the temporary framing from Step 2 as a guide to cut the opening.
- --Electrical: as you start to cut you may find some electrical wires. The wires I found were in flexible conduit and easy to push out of the way. If they can't be pushed out of the way then you'll need to frame for them . That could make for an awkward shape or provide an added detail... it's all in how you finish it. Stay flexible
Finishing the framing....
- The wall is open. Temporary framing is in place.
- Sill: Cut a 2x4 (assuming that's the thickness of the wall) to length. Secure the 2x4 in place to the tops of the exposed studs (cut while opening the pass-through)
- Header: Same as in the treatment of the sill a 2x4 can be cut and connected to the 2x4s.
- Sides: Cut studs to span between the header and sill as required. I only cut one because I used an existing stud as the bound for my frame. Use additional framing if there is electrical or any reason you can't use existing studs.
Trim and Patching...
- Counter: Cut the counter to fit the opening. I used a mix of circular and hand saw to notch out a 2x10. If you have a better material use it! --2x10s worked well for me
- Remove the temporary framing.
- Patching: You'll likely need to patch using joint compound. I did a rough job and covered with trim
- Trim: I cut 6" ceder decking and boxed out the verticals. 1st installing a piece at the inside of the opening. 2nd installing two pieces at each side to run along the wall. (see photos)
- Paint: Paint as required. My building asked me to match the walls. done.
Step 4: Complete
Thank you for viewing!
If you have any questions please post them below. Every wall is different. The key is knowing what's behind your wall. That, and getting building permission! Good Luck!!