Fireplace Room Remodel: Installing a French Door + Windows {Part 3}

I’m really excited to be sharing this phase of our fireplace room remodel with you all today. It’s the point where we (and by we, I mean everyone else!) could finally start to see the potential in this space. A pair of French doors and windows can do that to a person!

Last week, I shared the demo phase of our fireplace room remodel where we ripped everything down to the studs, and now I’m going to be chatting all about the new French door and side-by-side windows we installed in here! They really made all the difference. I’m not kidding. I think this might have been my favorite part, watching how the room just instantly transformed before our eyes when the door and windows went in… although I tend to say that about almost all of the phases of this remodel. Honestly, it’s all been fun and exciting… just in different ways!

For those who are new here, we actually started renovating our fireplace room early last year. We live in a 1963 split-level home, so there are essentially four floors. The main living space houses our living room, kitchen, dining room and front entryway, and then we also have a half bath and family room with a brick fireplace on the lower floor (naturally dubbed our “fireplace room”).

We basically worked on this space almost every weekend and night after work for four or five months straight. The renovation is nearly complete now, although we still have a few finishing touches to add that we’ll be getting to soon, after having taken a much-needed hiatus for several months.

This part of our renovation was a bit trickier than we originally anticipated. I think we thought installing the new French door and windows would be a simple, relatively quick process. And it probably is for those who do this all the time. But we had literally never installed a door or window before, so there was a bit of a learning curve involved. What I figured would only take a day or two ended up taking an entire weekend and part of another weekend to finish up. But that’s okay!

One thing I’ve learned throughout this whole process is that you should always set aside more time than you think will be needed, and plan for extra “surprise” expenses to pop up. I don’t think there’s even been a project in our house where that hasn’t been the case. It’s probably more frequent in older houses, but honestly that just keeps things interesting and you end up learning a whole lot more along the way!

The first thing we had to do was get everything framed up so we could install the new headers. We had existing headers above the original door and window, but they needed to be replaced with larger headers fit for the wider door and window openings.

This part is really what took the most time. And because it’s a load-bearing wall, we needed to build a temporary wall to support everything above the openings as we worked to replace the headers.

Luckily, my good friend’s dad remodels houses for a living, so he was able to tell us what size headers we needed for our house to be structurally safe. That is not something you want to mess with!

It took a little while to hammer in the new headers, as it was a pretty tight fit. We didn’t want to make the opening any looser though, or else that would have defeated the purpose of, you know, holding our house up and everything. But eventually we got them into place!

Once we were done with this part, I think it was almost 8 p.m. and we still had two huge, gaping holes in the back of our house!

That’s basically how our house looked for a few days. Whoops. Thank goodness we had warmer weather that weekend, or it could have easily been a mess.

We did manage to get the new French door installed late that night, but actually had to temporarily put the original window back into place overnight until we could work on it the next morning. You live, you learn… right? At least it’s something we’ll always remember. Next time, we won’t be taking both the door and window out at the same time!

The following weekend, we were finally able to finish up the project by caulking around the new French door and windows, and adding foam insulation to fill in any gaps.

With all said and done, I’m really happy we did the work ourselves. Although hiring a contractor would have certainly been a whole lot easier (and quicker), we’ve been learning so much along the way and we’ve saved a lot of money, too! It just involves doing a ton of research ahead of time. You definitely don’t want to just wing these types of projects, or else it could end up costing you more down the road. And that would not be cool.

I absolutely LOVE how our new French door and side-by-side windows turned out!! They have seriously transformed our fireplace room into such a bright, inviting space. It’s crazy how much natural light filters in now. It almost feels like a sunroom!

(You can find a full list of product links to the French door, single-hung windows, hardware and all other supplies used in my demo phase blog post.)

It’s starting to look like a whole new room, isn’t it? Funny thing is, this was really only the very beginning of our remodel process. There was still so much left to be done at this point, but it was certainly so exciting to see it all starting to come together.

And now for the fun part… putting the room back together again! I’ll be sharing all about this next phase of our fireplace room remodel on the blog next week  installing new insulation and drywall, painting the walls, and putting in the new bathroom and closet doors! Are you as excited to see it, as I am to show you? Okay, so I lied… this will be the most exciting part!


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