When this whole house is finished, and I look back at all of the changes I made to the house over the years, I’m certain that creating this opening from the dining room to the kitchen will be among my favorites. I really went back and forth over whether or not I even wanted to make this opening, but once I started, it just seemed like a doorway should have been here all along.
This wall is load-bearing, so it was a little more complicated than widening the other opening from the music room into the hallway. This one required some structural support to carry the load. I started by measuring out the width and placement of the opening, and then I used my reciprocating saw to cut away the shiplap on the dining room side of the wall so I could see what was going on inside the wall. And there happened to be a wire going to an outlet right in the middle of the planned opening. Of course.
After removing some tiles on the kitchen side of the wall, I went ahead and cut the opening on that side of the wall as well. You’ll notice that on the kitchen side, I didn’t cut the shiplap all the way up to the top of the wall, but I did cut the shiplap all the way up on the dining room side. I did that on the dining room side so that I’d have room to work (room to insert the header and cripple studs), but I only needed that on one side of the wall.
Here’s what the view looked like from the kitchen side…
Ironically, when I was designing the layout of my kitchen (way before I ever considered cutting a doorway in this wall), I intentionally put the dishwasher as close to that wall as possible so that it wouldn’t be the first thing people see when they walk into my kitchen. And now with the new doorway, it’s directly in view from the front door of my house. 😀 Oh well.
At this point, I went ahead and made my header. There are charts available online (I used this one) that will help you decide how big your header needs to be and how many jack studs are required based on the width of your house, the number of floors, and the width of the opening you’re creating. Mine only required a 2 x 6 header (with one jack stud on each side), but I went ahead and used a 2 x 8 header instead.
Headers are created by using two pieces of 2 x 8 (or 2 x whatever based on the chart) lumber with 1/2-inch plywood sandwiched in between. That extra 1/2-inch material in there is necessary in order to make the header the same thickness as the 2 x 4 studs that it will sit on top of. I put my header together with lots of wood glue and 3-inch framing nails.
When I was ready to actually put everything together, we put up a temporary brace, right underneath the main ceiling joist that ran right over the middle of the new doorway. And then using my reciprocating saw, I carefully cut through the nails holding the two studs in place. I did so carefully because once the nails were cut, I wanted to test and see how much weight the studs were still carrying with the brace in place. If they were still carrying quite a bit of weight (i.e., if they were difficult to move), then I was planning to add another brace on the kitchen side of the wall. But after I cut through the nails securing them to the top and bottom plates, they quite literally fell out, which indicated that the brace was carrying the weight.
So with the two studs removed, I could put everything together. What you can’t see on mine (because they’re hidden behind the shiplap) are the king studs, which go from the top to the bottom plates just like any other stud, and the jack studs, which go underneath the header on each side to support the header. (You can see a diagram of a load-bearing doorway here.)
And then to finish out the framing, I added five cripple studs between the top plate and the top of the header. Two of them are hidden behind the shiplap, but you can see the other three here.
It was after dark last night before the drywall was up, so I still don’t have a picture showing how nice and bright my kitchen is now with the added light coming in from the front windows. But what I can show you is the new view into my kitchen from the dining room. I LOVE IT!! I always considered this wall the “feature” wall of my kitchen, and yet when entering the kitchen from the original single doorway, there was no straight-on view of the feature wall. And now I have one! And not only do I have one, but it’s the main view from the front of my house. You can see this view from my front porch.
I still need to cut away the bottom plate, and do some repair to the hardwood floor. And obviously I still have lots of drywall finishing to do before I can actually frame this doorway out and make it look pretty. But at this point, I think you can imagine how it will look, right? 🙂
Of course, the kitchen side will take a little more work. I need to cut and attach all of the tiles I had to remove, plus the few extras that fell off when I was trying to hammer the header into place. But that shouldn’t be a big deal at all.
I love this new opening. It has totally transformed the feel of my kitchen. I love being able to see out of the front window, see the front door, and get all of the additional sunlight in the kitchen from the front windows.
I took this picture very early this morning, so the sun wasn’t even completely up, but it gives you an idea of how this opening will affect the kitchen on a bright and sunny day.
To be clear, I won’t actually be putting doors on this opening. I had considered putting double doors like I have on my bathroom (and like I will be using on my pantry), but in the end I decided to just leave it open. I can’t imagine ever wanting to close out that additional light. As for privacy at night, I’ll have draperies on the front windows that will close completely. So really the only reason I would ever have for closing the doors is if my kitchen is a complete mess and someone comes to the front door. And, well, maybe it’s just time for me to learn to be a better housekeeper and keep my kitchen clean and my dishes washed. 🙂