Instagram iconInstagram icon
Facebook iconFacebook icon
pinterest iconpinterest icon
YouTube iconYouTube icon
Tiktok iconTiktok icon
LTK iconLTK icon

It Wouldn’t Be Demo Without a Few Surprises

Demolition started last week, and things got real real, real fast – in the best possible way (mostly)! On the first day, I sat at my desk on one side of the plastic sheeting and painted your pets. Every now and then, our general contractor would ask me my opinion on something, and with every brief interruption, he’d end up reminding me of a few questions we had, too; can we add an outlet here?, is it possible to install recessed lighting there?, is it okay that we’ve nixed the tile for hardwood?

Before the crew left for the day, he wanted to show me the progress, and as he swung open the bathroom door, it was felt as if we were entering a different world! Like, where’d the house go?! It was very, very exciting. Here’s the view looking into the bathroom:


Above, can you see where the plumbing for our washer and dryer are sticking up in the middle of the room? That used to be where the laundry wall was. Beneath the drywall of an almost 130-year-old house looks a lot different than the homes on television, right? Below, this is the view from the laundry room, looking back towards the bathroom door:


By the end of the week, the laundry hook-up was removed, and they began plumbing to the exterior wall. (See how we’ll be flip-flopping the laundry room right here.) Electrical outlets were moved into their new, proper places, and the floor joists were reinforced, too!


The original bathroom plans called for demolishing the shared wall between the bed and bath, so we could see what lied beneath. We knew that the wall was extra thick for the plumbing stack, but the hope was that we could squeeze a few more inches of width into the space. We found out both good and bad news:

  • THE GOOD. The plumbing stack does not run the entire length of the bathroom! With a 70″-ish width on the room, we can snug up our 60″ bathtub and have a good 10″ or so to spare. We’ll use that space to create a nook for extra storage (and we’ve already got some ideas in mind on how to make that work).
  • THE BAD. There’s no pushing back the plumbing stack in the front half of the bathroom, and it sticks into the space by a solid 6″…
  • BUT! The stack is little more than 48″ wide, which is the exact width we need for the vanity area. What a happy coincidence, huh? We’ll work with this to create an on-purpose look (the best we can), so all’s not lost!


Moving into the laundry room, they’ve cleared space for our soon-to-be pocket door! Until a header is installed, they created a faux-wall in the bedroom for support:


Speaking of the bedroom, this unassuming room left us with the biggest surprise of the week. The chimney that we swore wasn’t being used for anything? It turns out that it’s being used for venting our first floor furnace and water heaters. (Insert all the grumbles here.) We’re working with the team to figure out options around this, but this has the potential to be a huge hurdle. Fingers crossed we can take this guy out – and salvage any whole bricks while we’re at it (they’d be great for gardening in the front or back yard at some point!).


But in adorable news, the guys found a few sweet items hidden in the walls! Is that pipe beautiful or is that pipe beautiful?


The teeny flag is made of metal, and you know I love imagining who hung this on their wall at some point! Could it date back to the imaginary family with all the dogs and chickens?


So much more progress has been made since the start of the week, and in the meantime, we’ve officially ordered wallpaper and finalized the top tile choice. That’s big, you guys! We’ve (er, I’ve?) only been agonizing over these things every day, all day.

Add a comment...

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

  • Karen12.8.15 - 6:43 AM

    I too had a chimney for furnace and water heater venting running up through all the floors of my house — but mine went through the MIDDLE of my kitchen! I replaced them with a high-efficiency furnace and a tankless water heater that could both vent directly out through the basement walls. This cleared up some nice floor space in my basement, too, since the nincompoop who designed the house had placed them smack in the middle of the basement.ReplyCancel

    • Kim12.8.15 - 9:19 AM

      Those are some options we’re looking into as well – although replacing the furnace right now really isn’t an option. The water heaters though – well, we’re still not sure yet! Still noodling on things, but it’s comforting to know we’re not the only ones!ReplyCancel

  • Adrienne12.8.15 - 8:13 AM

    I can’t remember, will you be posting a budget breakdown once the project is complete? I LOVE seeing the progress, so excited for you guys! #jealousReplyCancel

    • Kim12.8.15 - 9:20 AM

      It’s a little tough to do a budget with our contractors in play, only because it can vary so, so much depending on where you live! But we’ll definitely be sharing the sources for items along the way, as well as any ways we’re able to DIY! Our to do list is pretty long, ha!ReplyCancel

  • Jane12.8.15 - 8:18 AM

    Oh man, my fingers are crossed that you can find a solution to remove that chimney! If not, though..I’m pretty confident you’ll find a funky way to make it work. That seems to be a talent of yours. :)ReplyCancel

  • Kathi12.8.15 - 8:56 AM

    That flag is cool – especially because it’s older than Alaska and Hawaii being added to the country!ReplyCancel

  • Molly12.8.15 - 9:40 AM

    The chimney stack could be a really cool feature of your bedroom if you are able to expose the brick nicely. I would love a pretty exposed brick element in my house. It would add amazing texture!ReplyCancel

    • Kim12.8.15 - 9:50 AM

      Agreed! We actually exposed another chimney in the front of the studio during demolition a couple years ago:

      But this time around, the chimney isn’t in good shape (not even close), and it cuts into any flow for the room – especially since we’d like to accommodate a closet for the first time! At one point, we had considered keeping it and exposing the bricks, then adding floating shelves to the left of it, but there wasn’t any other feasible option for the closet. But, who knows! We’re still working on options with our HVAC guy!ReplyCancel

  • You probably already know this, but the bricks in the chimney may not stand up to outdoor wear. I’d figure that out first before planning a whole garden feature around it. :)ReplyCancel

  • Kim12.8.15 - 10:47 AM

    We had a similar issue with our chimney, which was so old and dilapidated that we were told just to tear it down – it was only there to vent the original kitchen wood burning stove, I believe. Except, oh wait, our (brand new) hot water heater now vents through it. The options were to buy a tankless water heater to vent from the basement, or just fix the chimney. Turns out our quote to fix the chimney was CHEAPER than getting a new water heater (shock to us, our first quote to fix the chimney was more than $5k!).

    TL;DR. Old houses and their back chimneys. Oy. Sorry about the furnace part though – that majorly sucks!ReplyCancel

    • Kim12.8.15 - 10:52 AM

      Thanks, Kim. We had assumed that nothing was going through that chimney, but we’re kicking ourselves now!ReplyCancel

  • Ann12.8.15 - 12:04 PM

    that flag has to be at least as old as 1958. Love the pipe also.ReplyCancel

  • Kalli12.8.15 - 1:48 PM

    Salvage the bricks, you sound like Nicole Curtis : ) I like the metal flag. Have you hidden any “treasures” in the walls from 2015? Maybe you should for the people 100 years after you.ReplyCancel

    • Kim12.8.15 - 2:06 PM

      That’s a cute idea! Hmm, now what to put… what to put…ReplyCancel

  • Ryan12.8.15 - 2:56 PM

    I’m sure the HVAC contractor knows best, but perhaps there’s an external chimney option that you can have built to vent the furnace and hot water heater. Then when you replace the furnace and water heater later the chimney is much easier to remove than one that is inside the walls and through the roof.

    We replaced our furnace shortly after buying our house and now we really do have a totally useless (and not in great shape) chimney through the center of our house/kitchen corner. Since it involved patching the roof I’m in no hurry to remove it but it will be exciting to gain the extra space in the kitchen and perhaps swap our swinging kitchen door for a pocket door. I love the swinging door but it does get in the way in both the kitchen and dining rooms when it’s open.

    I’ve never seen a home with a floor plan like yours that has such narrow rooms side by side with a wider room. I know your house was converted into multiple units so it’s hard to tell what was the original floor plan and what was altered. But I”m curious as to the original use of these three back rooms.ReplyCancel

    • Kim12.8.15 - 4:05 PM

      Hi Ryan! Ugh, these chimneys! Too bad they’re not all beautiful! I’m going to look into the original floor plans and see what I might be able to find…ReplyCancel

  • Josh | The Kentucky Gent12.9.15 - 1:07 PM

    That’s a real, real bare bones room if I’ve ever seen one, and it makes me feel better about watching too much HGTV and them always running into problems. Now I know a lot of the drama on those shows is staged, but demo problems are a real life problem after all.

    Josh | The Kentucky Gent

  • […] cute couple have called in the professionals to finish off their staged renovation of an old house. Plus, […]ReplyCancel

  • 7 lovely links - 5to507.10.16 - 12:49 AM

    […] cute couple have called in the professionals to finish off their staged renovation of an old house. Plus, […]ReplyCancel

Let's be Pen Pals

Our Pen Pals have direct access to first looks, a peek behind-the-scenes, and exclusive interviews showcasing members of the #YBHDIY community. We can’t wait to connect with you!

Kim and Scott

We’re Kim + Scott, Chicago based content creators behind the Home + Lifestyle brand Yellow Brick Home.

Join us as we renovate and nurture vintage homes across Chicago + SW Michigan!

Instagram iconInstagram icon
Facebook iconFacebook icon
pinterest iconpinterest icon
YouTube iconYouTube icon
Tiktok iconTiktok icon
LTK iconLTK icon

LEt's be Pen Pals

Subscribe for first looks, behind-the-scenes, and exclusive community content

/* footer flodesk form */

This site uses affiliate links. We will always disclose sponsored posts in the text and by using the ‘sponsored' tag.

© 2024 Yellow Brick Home. | All Rights Reserved. | PRIVACY POLICY