Well that was a fun week we just had! We have completely demoed nearly everything on our first floor…ok, we’re being a bit dramatic. The office, gym and bathroom remained untouched but everything else is gone. The ceilings, some walls, electrical, plumbing, molding, doors…it is all gone! And now we have some new things going in.
If you’re finding us for the first time from the One Room Challenge, welcome! We’re Danielle and Michael Gutelli! And together, we’re Clark + Aldine.
Clark + Aldine is named after the Chicago streets where we first met, and was born out of a love for purposeful design and everyday functionality. What we didn’t know then was that our passion and design influence would continue to grow, and we would soon leave our established careers to pursue Clark + Aldine full time. But like they say, when you know, you know! Learn more about us.
So the first step of our project, after space planning and design, was demo. The entire kitchen and dining space had to be gutted down to the studs. Then our main load bearing wall dividing the living room and the kitchen had to come out, which also meant the living room ceiling had to go. See, we really wanted to save the ceiling as it was the original 1950 plaster cove but it cracked when we were taking the wall out. Once you crack plaster it is extremely difficult to properly repair. We should also note that our team does not have the skillset to do plaster in house, we would need to hire that out. And with all projects, budgets come into play. The budget line item to create perfect coves with plaster was just out of reach for us, but in the end it will make the space much more open and bright.
Knowing that we were taking out 70 year old materials and it would get dusty we made sure to prep the entire house. We did not remove the fireplace and mantle we built out for the Fall 2019 One Room Challenge so we covered it with 5mil plastic and taped it off. We added a Zip Wall at the top of our stairs and into our office to ensure that the spaces that would see frequent traffic were minimal effects from demo. We also did something in the basement – we hung plastic just beneath the ceiling as our basement ceiling is not finished. The amount of debris it collected was wild and absolutely saved us hours of cleanup time.
Now, back to the main load bearing wall. We knew opening and then removing this wall would likely come without its own set of surprises. We were expecting to find the main electrical lines powering the second floor inside this wall, but were fortunate that those all ran through the back wall of the kitchen…BIG WIN! What we did find was an HVAC stack that made zero sense from an installation standpoint. It ran from the furnace in the back of the basement across to the front, up the wall back across the ceiling towards the back of the house and up through a second floor wall into the boys room. No wonder the temperature had a mind of its own in that room…so incredibly inefficient. This was an easy hour long fix that cost about $100. Our HVAC contractor is the best.
Ok, so once all the demo was done and the HVAC was relocated and cleanup occurred it was time for the biggest element of this entire project. No, not the cabinets or new amazing flooring…we’re talking about the massive 22 foot beam that had to be installed in order to remove the load bearing wall and support the structure our our home. Not an easy or quick project at all whatsoever. But we got it done and now the space is open.
And then we added a really fun addition to the space. We decided since we were opening the kitchen and carrying the perimeter cabinetry into the existing diding space we wanted to create a warm and inviting space for gatherings and family meals. We decided to build out a wall 16 inches into the dining space where a floating bench and sconces would be installed. The floating bench would allow us to have a smaller dining table but house just as many people. So, we framed it all up!
Ultimately we wanted to create a nook that looked as if it had always been there, as if it was a structural piece of our home. To do this we are planning to brick the exterior of the build out with these Firehouse Thin-Brick from the Tile Shop. We are taking many rooms and creating one big room.
The goal for us is to design purposeful and functional spaces inside our now open concept. One way we are going to do this is by having unique design elements in each space. This helps draw your eyes to those locations and associate them together. For example in the breakfast nook, not only are we adding brick we are also wallpapering the wall and painting the brick. This will create a statement area with built in texture. I can’t wait to show how we are going to pull it all together with our lighting and coffee bar.
In the kitchen area we are going to pull the space together through glass uppers and a backsplash that will reflect the light from our front window. We are going to have a contrast of color happening there with our white perimeter cabinets and our black island. We’ve landed on the decision to wrap the sides of our island with the slat design we created inside our main living room window to pull everything together between those two spaces. To keep the dining room and kitchen cohesive we are going to paint the window casing the same statement color, hello greenblack!
We needed a quick break after that install before we tackled electrical. This one was tricky because we were doing so much, and had to plan every single element out before we started. We were going from 2 ceiling lights (one in the kitchen and one in the dining room) to 13 throughout the living room, dining room and kitchen, as well as a couple sconces and a whole lot of switches and outlets. We essentially re-wired the entire first floor and used over 500 feet of electrical wire (yup, that is a ton). We can’t stress enough how important it is to pre-plan where all of your lighting and outlets will go before you run your lines. Here’s a nice guide on how to plan recessed lighting, as well as one on how to place pendant lighting.
You can follow us along on our journey over on Danielle’s Instagram page. And stay tuned because tomorrow we are dropping a brand new podcast series inside our Stay True Podcast with all kinds of behind the scenes insight and interviews you aren’t going to want to miss. Subscribe today on Apple or Spotify and you’ll get the notification right to your phone!
Be sure to check back into the ORC tomorrow with all the amazing Guest Bloggers participating this Spring, it’s the biggest guest participation yet, it’s going to be epic, I just know it! And I have a few awesome friends participating this year and they are absolutely killer at what they do!!!
Much love –