Have you ever thought about removing your fireplace to create more space in your home? For years, this was a dream of mine. However, my husband loved having a fireplace, and we had plenty of free firewood in our backyard thanks to the emerald ash borer. Fortunately, my dream finally became a reality. We removed our fireplace and replaced it with custom-built cabinets that now serve as our office space.
Why Removing the Fireplace was Necessary to Create More Space
When our second child was born, we no longer had the luxury of using a spare bedroom for an office. We had to move our desk to our dining area. We squeezed it into a space between our fireplace wall and patio doors. The desk was massive. The space was awkward. Nothing was ideal. Yet we made do with what we had.
By the time our third child was on the way in 2014, we were both ready for a better arrangement of our office/dining area. Even my husband, who loved using the fireplace during the cold winter months, agreed that removing the fireplace would create a more functional space for our home.
Creating More Space with Better Functionality
This wasn’t a job that we wanted to tackle ourselves, so we hired local contractor, Brentwood Builders, to do the hard work for us. Removing the fireplace would add a lot of space to our dining area, but we also needed a dedicated office area. We wanted more than a desk pushed against an empty wall. Our contractor offered a stock-cabinet solution, but it did not meet our needs for the space.
We soon realized that we would have to increase our budget and use custom cabinets. We needed a space that was versatile, functional, and aesthetically pleasing.
- Storage for homeschool and office supplies.
- Cabinets that could double as a large buffet or display area for a dining room to add resale value to the home.
- Display shelves that could alternatively house a flat-screen TV for resale value.
- A dedicated cabinet with electrical access for our desktop computer tower.
- Other peripheral devices within easy reach but out of sight.
- Deep upper cabinets for files, binders, and homeschool supplies.
- Magnetic locks on all lower cabinets and drawers to keep our small children from getting into absolutely everything.
- New electrical outlets for the counter and central shelves.
- A clean look that would match an eventual kitchen remodel.
- A design that combined the office, dining, and kitchen areas seamlessly.
Although I wanted to remove our chimney with our fireplace, it was more cost effective to leave it in place. On our house, the chimney affected the roof line, the foundation, and the sidewalk that surrounded it.
The flooring needed a major overhaul as well, but this had to wait until we were ready to renovate the kitchen. Thus, the worn-out Berber carpet that our vacuum loved to eat remained for another year.
Loving the New Layout
Removing the fireplace wall was one of the best decisions we’ve made while remodeling our house. Without this change, we could not have continued to live in our house for the past five years. Not only are the custom built-ins beautiful, but they have been so practical for our family.
Beauty and Functionality Meet
Hidden Keyboard Tray
Much Needed Game and LEGO Storage
Hidden Peripheral Devices
Convenient Pullout Shelves
Deep Upper Cabinets
What I Would Do Differently Today
We’ve enjoyed these built-in office cabinets for five years now. If I had the design process to do over again, the biggest change I would make is that I would not have a decorative opening under the cabinets. Our kids’ small toys and our writing utensils have a habit of rolling under the cabinets, and they are difficult to retrieve. We may soon try to resolve this issue by squeezing a thick foam cushion under each cabinet so that items can’t roll back very far.
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