Buy New Level. Cut Walls Open.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

holes in wall with level
Makes total sense, right?

Buy a new four foot long level.  Cut open some walls.

They go hand in hand, right?  Right?

I saw an Aldi flyer with an aluminum level for a mere six bucks and I thought, eh, six bucks, a new longer level.  Hey, why not?

Got it home, gave it it's own spot near the workbench.  Heard the old little level whimper in despondence.

new level hanging on the wall
Your own place of honor, New Level.
Then one evening we're sitting on the couch, Mike watching some terrible movie or playing a game or something.  I faintly hear the stair wall behind me purr...cut me.  Cut me open.  The level and I wanna play.

Who's crazy?  Me??  Noooo.

Casually as we head upstairs for sleepy time I drop, "hey babe, how about a few open rectangles here?"

"Yeah babe, sounds cool.  I like it."


Mike comes home from work the next night, something catching the corner of his eye.  He turns to look:  holes in wall.

No response.  Nothing.  A stare of disbelief.  Blink blink.  Then a slight smirk.  Then wee little double take head shake, another smirk, head tilt, smirk.

Not able to stand the silence anymore I say, "well, you said it'd be cool."

He emits a chuckle.  Head shake.  "You were busy today I see."  pause pause pause  "Seems there's no going back."  pause pause pause  "I like it.  Yeah.  I like it."  A you-are-a-crazy-person, what-did-I-marry head shake.


Have I ever done this before, cut holes in walls for decorative purpose?  Uh nope.   No sir-eee.  Was that gonna stop me?  No way, dude.

It twas a messy endeavor, all right, so head's up on that.

area near foyer before
Ah, the obligatory before shot.  My grandma's macrame!
First order of business, a check, a recheck, a recheck and recheck, recheck, recheck of where the vertical studs are in the wall.  The same to see if there were horizontal ones then out came New Level.*  wuuuuuuaaaaaaahhhhhhhh, the angels sang!

I drew vertical lines using New Level along where the stud finder* said the edges were then figured where I wanted the horizontals.  Erase erase.  Ok, how 'bout here?  Nah.  Here?  Nah.  Ok, yeah, it took a few tries.

Huh, the handrail, it'll be slicing across?  I had hoped to miss it but once I realized that that wasn't going to happen, I resolved myself to its presence.  Then drew the holes larger.

Though I wasn't completely set, I went at it with the drywall saw then the handy mini circular saw which made quick work of slicing and dicing.

cutting rectangle holes in drywall
Ta da!!  Big cutouts side one!
Do note, you gotta be really careful when jabbing tools into your walls if you don't know what's lurking back there.  Really careful -- you could hit plumbing or electrical or who knows what and that would be bad.

cutting drywall open on the other side for holes in wall
I always feel like, somebody's watching meeee...
Once I got both sides open, it was time to frolic.  Stick my hands through the wall, do a little butt wiggle dance, disco with New Level.  Well, that and time to plan the patching up.

On my next trip to my second home, I grabbed a 2x4 and these super wide paper faced metal corners.  Upon trimming the 2x to the required dimensions, I found I could not get them in the walls.  Just no way, no how.  Nope, nuh uh, not gonna happen.  Too wide, the 2x's.  What the....who built this crap?!  Oh right.  Bad flipper.

I thought about trimming the width of the 2x's but that would be padded-room batty since the appropriate tools to do so do not exist in this workshop.

What I did obnoxiously large pile of mis-cut 2x2's.  Yup.  Hey, at least they're getting used!  And they worked perfectly too.

adding wood to walls for bottom of rectangle

After getting those all screwed in, it was time to trim the drywall for the perimeter of the cutouts.  Easy peasy with that handy mini circular saw* through the chunks I removed.  Super dusty but that's the running theme of this project.

Since the smaller of the two rectangles was far too narrow to get any kind of fastening tool in there, I whipped out the ol' Liquid Nails and glued the drywall to the studs.  The top pieces got screwed in, and now I can't remember...oh, I think I glued on the bottom pieces.

applying Liquid Nails to wall studs
Check out that bead o' Liquid Nails!  Aww yeah!  I'm a dork.
I'm all proud of myself for thinking ahead though -- I put the screws for the 2x2's in a place where the paper faced corner pieces would cover them.  Yeah?  Yeah?  Smart, yeah?!  *fist pump*

setting drywall pieces into wall cutouts
Drywall is in, baby.
Next up.  Next.  The super duper messy parts.  Mess.sssyyy.

I went through almost a whole tub of joint compound here despite attempting moderate judiciousness.

Trimming the paper metal corner pieces was effortless, just a pair of straight tin snips.*  Be sure to wear gloves so you don't chow up your hands, fyi.

taping and patching drywall
Yes, it looks a disaster.  But it wasn't.
I slapped some compound on both sides of a corner, dampened the paper as advised by, smooshed the corner pieces in, then smoothed those down with a plastic putty knife, squooshing out the excess, then left it all to dry overnight.  I did find on occasion a corner piece refused to stay where I wanted it, so I tacked in a few staples.

Finn the German Shepherd staring at me

Just had to share this photo, Finn looking all pouty and mad at me.  Probably because I blocked off the front door -- I had painted another coat on that door and didn't want him glued to it.  He already has other paint on him, aka Officially Related to Me Now.

The next day, more mess.  I slathered the goop over the corner pieces.  Let dry.

adding more joint compound to holes in wall
Sorry all these photos are so terrible.  It has rained and been cloudy pretty much every day in June. 
Next day, sanding.  Holy dusty mess.  I did this by hand with one a' those foam sanding blocks* to quell the dust plumes and it worked but holy dust piles anyway.  I was really hoping I could get away with one coat of joint compound but alas, nope.  So another coat.  Another dry.

And another sanding the next day.  Although, much to my dismay, the paper was starting to fray and fuzz and come through so I was beginning to dislike these corner thingies.  Hmph.  Ok.  Another splop over the fraying paper parts.  Yet another dry.

fraying paper under joint compound
Horrible photo but you can see the paper frays.  Sad face.
Yet another sand.  See, this is the part where I lose project interest, I find is much less fun than cutting holes in walls.  Yawn, goop and sand, goop and sand.  Booooring.  Plus joint compound/drywall dust on my hands?, ick, it's just a yucky sensation.  Not sure why.  Yick.  I'm weird, *shrug*.

The paper was still showing through in spots but I thought well, what if I give it a coat of white paint, see what happens.  And whew, for the most part, the paper frays disappeared.  Whew!!!  Thank goodness.  Moving ahead then!  Light at end of tunnel!  Or stairwell!

Next day, finally able to paint.  Mike had inquired, "what color are you going to paint the wall on the living room side?"  The same lighter blue as it currently is, I stated.  "No you're not," he announced.  Oh!  Ok then!  What color should I paint?  "I dunno."  Heh.  Thanks.  Helpful yet...  I do love that guy though.

So I painted it the Sonata blue, the living room color.  Finishing up the cutouts also allowed me to finish painting the stair walls which had gone on hold and wow.  Wow!  Yay!!  No more dog vomit yellow in the house!  Yay!!!!

drying paint around wall cutouts
Yes, paint is still drying here.
And wow does that cheap a** carpet look horrifyingly worse now.  Like emphasis:  glaringly awful.

But Mike loves the paint. (repeat link)  I think it's pretty damn cool too.  Bright and happy yet dark and rich.  Not everyone's taste for sure, but hey, what can I say.  Funny though, Mike didn't even notice it done when he came home that day, he's so used to me changing things.  Heh.

cutouts in wall by front door and stair after

This whole area is kinda sorta taking shape now.  Sweet!  With the wood shelf and the shades of gray.  But the shades of gray together with the new Lake Superior paint, yay!  They highlight each other.

view of entire foyer with wall cutouts

All that's left for the stair is a new handrail (in the works), the carpet runner and painting of stairs, heh likely a new foyer light fixture, then dressing the stair walls up with artwork and such or something or whatever.  Hey cool!

view of painted wall and cutouts

New Level is quite pleased with our adventure together and is resting comfortably in its designated spot until our next exploit.

In the end, I suppose the lesson for me here is to be careful buying new tools as goodness knows what will happen when I get them home.

*The levels, stud finders, foam sanding block, similar yet different mini circular saw, tin snips, links are Amazon affiliate links.  Mwah, thanks!  Please see the "boring stuff" tab for more info.


  1. That looks really good Becky, I love it! If you don't like the hand rail could it be relocated to the other side of the stairwell... since you said you're getting a new one anyway? Just a thought. :o)


    1. Thanks Tania! Thanks too for the suggestion -- I'll take a look and see if it would work. Thanks!

  2. Oh, I just loved your descriptions and the running commentary. This post was interesting, funny, and beautiful as well as informative and inspiring ! You rock! Becky, I love your personality! Can't wait to see more of your projects! Have a blessed day!

    1. Oh thank you so very much! I truly appreciate all your incredibly kind compliments! I'm so super flattered! Thank you!


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