Kitchens, Folk Festival, Links, & More

A request from a resident. Comments appreciated. And if folks would like to send me photos to share (I don’t believe you can post them in the comments), I can pass them along or create a gallery.

I’m wondering if any other residents have opened up their kitchen some more than it’s original boxed in state.  I’ve seen some old Zillow listings of units with removed walls or a wider arch. 

Is that kitchen wall load bearing?  Did their contractors have to do anything special to remove it? 

Would love to hear any stories or experiences about opening the place up a bit. 

I’ve also updated the Links page on this site. There are now links to the new fire safety info as well as links to various sites with info about how heat pumps work. And I’d like to remind people that if you changed your heat pump filters when the AC started up in May, you should start thinking about changing them again in a few weeks. If it’s been even longer than that, you should be changing them now.

The Lowell Folk Festival is coming up this weekend. They’ve shifted things around a bit—the dance tent is on Arcand Drive (no JFK plaza stage this year) and I believe the Market Street stage is being moved from the park out front onto Market Street itself. The St. Anne’s Courtyard stage and the Boarding House Park stage will be as usual.

Street closures will be as follows according to their website:

  • Wednesday, July 27th: Arcand Dr. CLOSED beginning at 5AM (for the duration of the festival)
  • Friday, July 29th: Market St between Shattuck and Palmer CLOSED beginning at Noon (for the duration of the festival)
  • Full Festival footprint [this usually includes closing Merrimack and Shattuck Streets, at least on Saturday]: Friday, July 29th from 3pm-11pm, Saturday, July 30th from 11am-11pm and Sunday, July 31st from 11am – 8pm (ish depending on breakdown) Sunday

Get ready to hear lots of clanking tent poles out front over the next week. The Folk Festival is one of my favorite weekends of the year and the weather is looking good (if a tad warm—gonna wear a hat and carry a water bottle!), but I still urge folks to take care. My own family will be making sure we have our masks with us and expect to be making regular judgement calls as we try to balance fun and safety!

7 thoughts on “Kitchens, Folk Festival, Links, & More”

  1. The only load-bearing structures in our units are the original wood beams, the exterior brick walls, and the (sometimes boxed, sometimes not) green columns in the centers of (some of?) the units. In my thinking this through, it’s the pillar that’s the problem in opening up the kitchens – you CAN unbox the kitchen, but if you want to widen it or add cabinets etc, making the kitchen significantly wider is a problem.

    Every time I think about this I come to the conclusion that it isn’t worth it – I keep considering talking to an architect etc. but the noise and disruption now that home-work is a thing stops me.

  2. I had some work done a few years ago to remove the kitchen wall closest to the living room, and now my counter there is an L shape (definitely made it feel less claustrophobic). It’s not a load bearing wall, and didn’t seem too difficult for the contractors (other than shifting some electrical left a few feet). Happy to show you, I’m in 606.

    Side question – I have been very interested in extending my second floor exit hallway to make that into a usable space. I know a few units have had this done and I’m looking for any advice; Are there any contractors you recommend? Did contractors have to do anything special to put this in place? Would love to hear any stories or experiences.

  3. Probably a silly question but there hasn’t been a festival since I moved in: I work weekends-are residents of the neighborhood allowed in and out? I need to get in and out all 3 days…

    1. They always let people in and out of the Leo Roy Garage as well as our surface lot but you may have to convince whatever official is minding the lot entrance that you live here and have a right to use the lot; the Leo Roy Garage itself definitely shouldn’t be a problem. I fully expect that the only option coming out of the lot or the garage will be a right turn on Market. The problem is how to get to the Lowell Connector from here if you need to given the work on Central Street, and I can’t be certain of that without knowing exactly which roads will be closed this year and when. Worst case, you make a left onto Prescott at the end of Market, a right onto Merrimack, a right onto one of several possible streets to cut over to 110 which will take you back to Dutton.

      Hopefully routes and detours will be decently marked. Just make sure you leave yourself extra time!

  4. Great topic. Seen a bunch of different designs in listing photos and agreed many ways to approach this. Agree with Jack’s assessment above, though the logistics of removing that corner column, yet still running electrical above a potential bar area were not worth the trouble in my case and ended up just opening up the window-facing side of the wall adjacent to the fridge, then using the center column to run electrical up to new, custom overhead track lighting. Works well and the only thing I’d consider doing down the line is the small opening/spice rack on the opposite wall closer to the entrance, which I know a few folks have had done to create more storage space.

  5. RE kitchen walls: None are load-bearing in mine, though electrical and thermostat wiring can make for surprises.

    RE foyer redesign: My unit came with a full room above the foyer, which has been GREAT. I’ve known several units to have converted to one from their sparer walkway design, and those folks have likewise enjoyed the increased space. In my case, I also had George’s Textile (Merrimack Street across from City Hall) fabricate and install a sliding curtain across the opening so the space could contain a “day bed” and be used as a spare bedroom if desired, or left open if not. (I bought a small antique English wardrobe cabinet for hanging clothes to serve as its closet, which I will be wanting to sell soon in case anyone becomes interested).

    My understanding of the renovation is that a load-bearing beam is needed to cross the opening, and then the joists and subfloor installation is pretty straightforward from there. I enthusiastically recommend Pedro at Alcantara Hardwood Floors for the finish work–floors as well as handrails and spindles over the foyer. I had him re-do my stairs as well, and the results are absolutely beautiful.

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