Here are the long awaited before and afters!
First, the dining area
We ended up finding a cool little surprise in this room! It looks like the wall previously had an opening where we were planning on making one! That means it'll likely be a bit easier to open that wall right back up.
All this paneling was relatively easy to pull off. A couple crowbars and a few hours, and we got most of it down. The biggest difficulties were 1) giant pieces of nail-laden wood paneling flying at my face, 2) the older paneling splintering, and 3) feeding the electrical outlets through the holes in the paneling.
Then, we got the paintbrushes out and painted the "cozy room" and the fireplace.
This is just using a white paint and special masonry rollers (they're extra fuzzy). Another fun part was yanking off the mantle. A couple crow bars and a few minutes of tugging, and it came right off!
We took care of a few more odds and ends as well.
Other than that, we're just waiting until my finals are over to start doing some more work! I just got a reciprocating saw and a shop-vac, so we have everything we need to open up the wall.
Next 5 things to do
1. Open up the entryway wall
2. Remove the ceiling fan in the cozy room so that we can get some furniture in
3. Spackle and tape all the newly exposed drywall
4. Run electrical and wires so that we don't have any exposed wiring for the TV. Also run CAT5 around the house.
5. Fill in the giant hole next to the house that seems to attract bugs.