Moving Walls Pt. 2: Kitchen

You know how a few weeks ago I told you about the things we hoped we could do to modify our little ol’ ranch style house. Well, I figured I would start with one of the many things we gained from closing up the original front door.

But brace yourselves, because when I tell you that we got around 23,000 pounds of drywall and material out of our little ranch, I know some of you are not going to believe me. In my opinion 23,000 pounds is a lot for this little tight space. Keep in mind that figure does not include the material we took in, just out.

From the outside you wouldn’t know, but this basically means that we had to modify a lot of the original floor plan from 1953. The house still preserves 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom as the original square footage called for.

As soon as the house was ours we practically took a sledgehammer to it ~ listen to me trying to rack up the points~ it was really Ryan that did it all. I wasn’t even in the country. So no… I never picked up one sledge anything. That was probably for the best! 😉

Before I show you what we did here is a short video of the original kitchen:


One of the first walls we removed was between the dining room and the kitchen. When we took this wall down we created a more open feel to the space. This allowed us to make the kitchen also a dining space with a decent size table for all of us. Previously, the living and kitchen area were separated by a wall. Wall is shown below:


One thing Ryan can testify about is I don’t do modern. I like clean streamlined living but I love walls that define rooms, not big open spaces. With such little space we did not have the luxury of keeping too many separate spaces. So seeing this wall go was sad in a way. We knew the entry from the kitchen would become the only front entry from the carport.  There were two front entries when we first bought the house.

Shown below: The fridge pictured was backed up to the wall that separated the kitchen from the living space. You can see an open door that lead to the old “main” main entrance. That opening is now the pantry. And the door you see closed, also above left hand picture, is the utilities closet, which is still there.

Shown below: The pantry was behind the front door with a nook to the right that held the washer and dryer. I will show you later where they are now.

Once everything came out! Shown below:


Our kitchen now:


You can see where the fridge once stood is now a sort of kitchen “island.” It has ample storage space and is great for entertaining. Most everything is from Ikea. We added a new hood vent and changed the counters to butcher block (the link I provided is not the exact one we purchased 4 years ago, the thickness is different but we have solid oak too). We changed all the cabinets and hardware, we added a dishwasher. The only thing we reused in the kitchen were the appliances and the sink. We love the sink! And we know it came from Ikea as well. The faucet is new (we did not utilize the soap lotion dispenser), we had an Ikea faucet for over 3 years and that did not work out so well. We think it had to do with the water pressure into the house and the water quality (all that is for another post ;-).


The wall where the pantry and laundry was is now just extra space. We currently utilize it for the kids digital piano. For large get togethers we move the piano and set a folding table there for extra serving space. Shown below:


Here is a basic floor plan:


What we hope will be next for our kitchen:

The table is new to us and we plan to re-finish it. I love these colors but I am still undecided. Either this darker gray Driftwood by General Finishes or this Phillipsburgh Blue by Benjamin Moore.

We have no upper cabinets. We want to wait since we have several ideas brewing, but can’t quite agree on one. I love exposed shelves. I also think exposed shelves would keep me accountable to what I stash, but I also want something to put the microwave in. We’ll see.

We would also like to add a backsplash. Something with patterned-tile, something chic yet neutral. I think it would make a big impact on the small space.

As grateful as we are that we did not have to spend money on appliances, and the ones that came with the house have been great for the last almost 4 years, the all black is too much for me. One day when they go kaput, we want to change the appliances to these pretty airy little ones. I love the color and style. Don’t they scream the era these homes were built in? They would be such a fun addition!


I know… could I have picked some of the most expensive ones on the market?! We all have a pipe dream or two right?! 

Sometimes I regret having done so many modifications. Only because I feel like we have snatched up and buried what once was. I get sentimental like that about certain things, its history!

But, don’t misunderstand me. I don’t want to paint a false picture of our intentions and of owning an old home. We’ve ran into a lot of typical home owning issues that have never been addressed or just patched up, like re-wiring the entire house because the electrical wiring was still from 1953.  

Any pressing issues that come up, we have tried to address to prevent bigger problems. Because of all this, we have been provoked to take extreme measures. And by measures I mean just bite the bullet and expand or rebuild. But it’s a big investment and it requires some serious planning and forethought.

While we know there is a lot we would gain from expanding, we want to make sure we measure it against what we know we could potentially lose.

So far, I do have peace that the things we have done up to this point have been the most effective and sensible solutions for our family, and a way to show the house the tender loving care it was so desperately needing and deserved.

♥ Best wishes updating your little ol’ treasure! ♥

Helen and Ryan


How We Came To Northwoods

Northwoods subdivision is a little gem hidden in the middle of so many things.

People often ask us, “why did you end up in Doraville?!”

like ~ they can’t believe we would ever.

Or, “how did you end up in Doraville?” because they really are curious.

I get it, no offense taken. It’s a bit of an odd pocket.

People picture busy streets with endless no name stores that only cater to Asians and Hispanics. Or a great cut thru to other more affluent neighborhoods, that this can’t possibly be a place to call home. There is some truth to that.

But when I people watch on Buford Highway, I am surprised by all those that make their way here. Not just the cultures mentioned previously.

Admittedly, sometimes I get jealous too, that too many people know it exists. Silly, of course. We want our local businesses to thrive. And hopefully the more traffic we get thru the more people will get brave and try us out. The jealousy I feel is more of a please respect our neighborhood, protective feeling. I think wherever you live these sentiments are true to you.

Sometimes I wonder if people assume Doravillians (I don’t know if this exists but we are going with it) don’t care about where they live because of where they live. Make sense? We are not affluent.

But I am finding this to be far from the truth. Not the affluent part necessarily. 

Something really cool about the nature of my husband’s job is that he is constantly meeting new faces. 40-50 a week. He sells shower doors, glass and mirrors. This has been the family business for close to 40 years. At one time Chattahoochee Shower Doors was doing business as Doraville Glass and Mirrors.

Through his job, Ryan consistently meets people who tell him stories about Buford Hwy. Some have that one or multiple stores, restaurants, memories, etc. of Doraville. A customer once told him that Sunday was Doraville day. The entire family would lunch and then shop for the weeks groceries at the Asian Square Plaza. 

Sometimes we try out new things because of customers recommendations. These customers come from varied backgrounds, African, Asian, European, American, you name it. The diversity of those passing through and noticing is thrilling.

Not only are there family business ties, but sentimental ties too.

Doraville Glass and Mirror was started by my in-laws in this house. My husband came to our little ol’ ranch when he was a newborn babe. He lived here for the first 9 years of his life and remembers a lot about the people and neighborhood. My in-laws regret ever selling this house.

I have many photos of my husband as a boy in our house. Like this one:

Look at that cute little hug juice drinking tot, in a Braves t-shirt mind you ~ heart flutters…

Ryan is pictured above in the carport of our house – 1982

Here he is mowing the grass, I’m guessing close to 8 years old. Sometime around 1986-87


We have other reasons, some of you know them about why we ended up here. One of those stars align type scenarios. And I will gladly share a bit more about that later. For now I’ll just say, that we are okay with making this our forever home and neighborhood. I don’t think I could stomach “perfectville.” I want house prices to go up and I want neat, nice yards. And I hope for city updates like any homeowner. But ultimately I love the essence of what Doraville has become, a celebration of diversity. People stand up for this neighborhood and I love that.

I hope too that we can make a comfortable home for our kids. More than anything that they would remember how great their neighborhood is with its perfect imperfections.

All three kids plot and plan about buying the lots next door one day. They are prepared to make a cash offer. Any takers?! 😉


Moving Walls Pt. 1: Wishes

Trying to make a space this small for five work is quite a task!

When we purchased our ranch style home I was traveling and would not be back in the country for 3 months. I had not the slightest vision of what the space was really like. I had never walked into it, never seen anything but the outside shell and scarcely remembered even that. But… when we found out this house was back on the market – and with the man I trust most (my husband;-)) still in the states we quickly jumped at the chance.

Old homes are daunting, no doubt. Any home buyer fears running into major issues after the big I do. Still, old homes can be fun treasures waiting to be exposed.

One of the first things we did was look at our existing floor plan and look at the different options we had as far as modifying the layout.

above is the original home floor plan from 1953

A few things we felt we needed to modify ~ without making major structural changes ~ was the two front of the house entrances, one in the kitchen (left side) and one by the bedrooms (middle).

old “laundry room” in the kitchen

For us an actual laundry room was needed. One with doors we could close and hide away our dirties.

Perfect pepto pink! 🙂 Say that a few times, its real fun!

Don’t get me wrong. I have no issue with the original pink tile, but it was outdated, and a little dingy. I have a peeve about using hotel bathrooms and this reminds me of a dirty dingy hotel bathroom. Not cool!

Besides the space was a small and tight bathroom for 5 people. So we needed to update and make the one and only bathroom in the house larger.

These were the most pressing needs for our family, that meant we would have to remove and re-build some walls. It was very obvious that while the square foot space was minimal for 5, we had plenty of room to work in some necessities.