Rediscovering our living room – Part 1

Gutting an old building can be pretty messy and hard work, but also a lot of fun. The building has been remodeled or ‘upgraded’ a number of times in its 100 year-plus history. Removing everything down to the outside shell and interior studs reveals all past alterations.

Take the basement for instance. It was easy to identify any original interior walls. They all had old growth studs (true two by fours), while all new walls had the nominal studs (1-1/2 by 3-1/2).

Just looking around the living room prior to any deconstruction, we got the feeling that the layout was something else once upon a time. Take a look at the wall below that separates the two living room sections.  Nothing too remarkable, but did you notice the baseboard that is short on the left side?

Look at the same wall from the other side, and you notice that the doorway was once about twice the size. Also look again at the baseboard and the upper trim. The patching and change in materials suggests a different layout from way back when.

Our suspense grew over the weeks, as did the theories on what the original living room layout may have been. We are now finally at the point where we can open up the walls to find out. It turns out that this very big living room was once sectioned off into two spaces by a very big archway, as hinted in the image below.

Look at the same ‘wall’ one hour later, add a little creative imagination into the mix, and you can envision the glory of this old archway that added a beautiful balance to the living room.

About Marcus de la fleur

Marcus is a Registered Landscape Architect with a horticultural degree from the School of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Sheffield, UK. He developed a landscape based sustainable pilot project at 168 Elm Ave. in 2002, and has expanded his skill set to building science. Starting in 2009, Marcus applied the newly acquired expertise to the deep energy retrofit of his 100+ year old home in Chicago.

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