How to Expand a Dining Room

Open up the entryway to the kitchen and give yourself some space with this project.

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If the wall between your kitchen and dining room serves mainly to eat up space rather than adding anything to either room, you can open up the area by knocking down the wall and adding decorative columns and shelves. Here are general guidelines for how to do it yourself (the amounts of materials required will vary based on the size of your space):

Materials and Tools:

ten 2x3-inch boards (8-foot lengths)
5 sheets of ¾-inch birch ply
2 rolls of edge banding
primer (1 gallon)
paint (1 gallon)
table saw
power miter box
reciprocating saw
air compressor with hoses
finish nailer
speed square
chalk line
level
measuring tape
pencil
safety glasses

Steps:

1. If you'll be removing electrical plugs, make sure there's no power going to the outlets. Find the power supplying the kitchen and dining-room plugs that are affected, and turn it off at the main breaker panel.

2. Measure and mark the wall. For the pictured project, we cut out the wall from counter height (34½ inches) to the bottom of the existing header (about 81 inches). We marked a level line at these measurements and then marked a plumb line 47 inches from each wall. On one side, we cut the wall. On the other side, it will end up in the existing doorway.

3. Cut through the drywall with a reciprocating saw and remove the drywall. Then cut through the studs and remove them. Note: It's important to remove the drywall first so you don't cut through any wires or pipes.

4. Build bookcases 10 inches deep and install them on each side of your opening. Cap the tops of the cases with 16-inch rips of plywood to cover both the tops of the bookcases and the cut tops of the walls. Do the same on the ends.

5. Frame out the header using 2x3's and plywood. Make the header the same width as the bookcase unit, and make sure they're level with each other, since the columns need to fit between. Make sure the 2x3 frame is attached to the ceiling joists and the wall studs. Secure the frame with the framing nailer or 3-inch drywall screws.

6. With the frame secured, paint and install the columns and shelves. We cut, primed and painted the columns and shelving outdoors and allowed the paint to dry before installing them.

7. With the basic structure in place, install the molding with a brad nailer.

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