Note: I’m still redecorating My Sweet Cottage, so please pardon the dust!
Recently, we decided to invite a few friends over for dinner. We wanted to have one last party on our back patio before the weather changed.
But we didn’t stop to think about how early the sun goes down this late in summer. The patio sits in the far corner of the garden, and there is no lighting there. So once it got dark, candles alone would not be enough. We had to set something up – quickly.
If done right, outdoor lighting can be gorgeous. I was inspired by the magical, romantic lighting at the garden concert we attended earlier in the summer.
But of course we didn’t have time for anything that elaborate. At this point, all I could hope for was lighting that was adequate but not glaring.
I had a strand of Edison-style filament bulbs that I use during the holidays. We attached one end of the strand to a long bamboo pole. The pole was then anchored to a tree.
We ran the lights above the table. On the other end, we attached the strand to a tree branch because that was our only option.
It wasn’t elegant, but it would get us through the night.
Once the sun goes down, so does the temperature. So we made sure we had plenty of fuel for our heat lamp.
Right after we bought this heat lamp, a few years ago, we lowered it by about 8 inches. Now it’s a good height for keeping things cozy while we’re sitting at the patio table.
Note: Please have an expert assist you if you decide to lower your heat lamp! Also, altering a heat lamp probably voids its manufacturer’s warranty.
I momentarily considered setting out some blankets in case anyone got cold, but with the heat lamp it really wasn’t necessary.
The citronella centerpiece took me about 10 minutes to put together. I set a tall glass candle holder in the center of a small clay saucer, filled the saucer with water, and added some leafy twigs from the garden.
It was compact enough for the small round table. Flowers would have attracted bees, which is why I used only the fresh twigs to add some interest.
No matter how hard I try, by late summer my garden looks like an overgrown monster. I used to let this keep me from entertaining, but I’ve come to realize that no one really minds the monster but me.
Still it’s nice to create a diversion. Chris set up his mid-century bar across from the patio. This was where the party would start.
I tossed a few blossoms into the bird bath,
Tucked a few citronella candles around the patio,
And we set up our iPod player for music.
As neglected as it was, the patio still had some charm.
Goodbye to Summer
Everything worked out.
We were warm, the bugs stayed away, and we could see each other.
It’s raining today. We really needed the rain, and I hear it’s going to stick around for a while.
But at least we enjoyed the last warm day of summer.
Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.
We used the Vickerman lights, which I love. However the bulbs are glass, not plastic, and the filaments are delicate. The globe string lights are perhaps sturdier, although I haven’t tried them. The heat lamp is very similar to ours.
It’s time again for Second Tuesday Art Walk. The Art Walk is a relatively new feature to my blog, and it won’t always have a theme. But this month I realized that I developed a theme without even trying.
And it is . . .
I love browsing home decor magazines to find inspiration and to dream. Everything looks so perfect – and so effortless.
But in the real world, most of us have to face a few challenges when we want to improve our homes. Budgets, time constraints, a lack of help, having to compromise with family members, or simply the fear of trying something new: These are all speed bumps that can slow down a great idea – or stop it in its tracks.
So here today are some gorgeous but realistic projects – and some inspiration – for those of us out here in the real world.
Let’s get started!
Weekend Bathroom Update
Do you have a room in your house that you’ve been meaning to remodel but the time has never been right? Meg got tired of waiting for a full remodel of her small bathroom so she decided to do a weekend update.
Sloped ceilings can add so much character to a room. But they can also be challenging to work with.
Tricia really made the most of her little A-shaped dormer space with this DIY built-in bed. I love everything about this. Be sure to check out her before photos!
Mandi calls her trailer, The Nugget, “the cutest vintage trailer on the internet.” And I can’t argue with that.
Check out The Nugget’s Reveal and you’ll fall in love too. The interior photos start about halfway through the post, and there are a lot of charming details to see here. My favorite little detail is the kitchen faucet.
Yes, beauty in the form of luxury furniture and accessories!
One King’s Lane has reached out to let me know about their Labor Day sale from 8/31/17 – 9/5/17, when they are offering a site-wide discount of 20%! And on Monday only, 9/4, they are offering free shipping in addition to the sale. Just use the code “OKLSHIPSEPT”. Prices on all eligible items will be as marked, and some exclusions apply.
Enjoy the Summer!
Now I’m off to take a late-summer blogging break, but let’s meet back here on the second Tuesday in September. Thanks so much for visiting today, and enjoy your summer!
This post could also be called “How To Not Build Yourself Into a Corner.” If you’ve been following along with me for a while, you know that my husband Chris and I, along with help from my brother Dan, have been remodeling our laundry room. (You can find all my previous posts about this remodel at the end of this post.)
The Quartz Countertop
It’s taken us a while to get this far, but we’re close to being finished. The quartz countertop was installed about a week ago.
I wanted the laundry room to be a mix of old world charm and modern efficiency, and I think the quartz works nicely in that theme.
And it’s practical for a laundry room since it’s said to be very stain-resistant.
Installation was not fun for the three men who maneuvered it into the 7′ X 7′ laundry room.
The countertop is 33 inches deep – deeper than a standard 25-inch kitchen countertop. That extra depth made it hard for these poor guys to set it in place in such a small area. Arms stretched to the max, all three men yelled and groaned as they carefully raised it!
Hopefully their backs recover. And the countertop is beautiful. But there’s a lot going on underneath its simple, clean look.
Before we started the laundry room remodel, we thought long and hard about the configuration of the sink and appliances: We considered placing the washer and dryer side by side, topping them with a countertop, and placing the sink near the window. Another practical and space-saving idea was to stack the washer and dryer.
But we tossed practicality aside and opted for the beauty of symmetry: A sleek kitchen-style configuration with the sink and base cabinet in the middle, an appliance on either side, and a countertop over them running the width of the room.
And they would all live happily ever after.
But the devil is in the details. And in the real world, what goes in eventually must come out. Appliances break. Pipes leak. Dryer vents need to be reconnected. So it all needs to be accessible.
And our design called for the appliances to be trapped under a countertop and walled in on either side.
So to keep our little fantasy alive, we needed a plan.
It was simple really. We just had to make sure there was enough space around the appliances to be able to pull them out when (not if) we need to.
So Chris left about an inch of space between the top of the appliances and the frame he attached to the walls for the countertop to sit on. And when we ordered the sink base, we purposely had it built about an inch taller than the appliances.
Chris left roughly one-inch gaps between the sink base, the appliances, and the walls. Now the appliances will (hopefully) be easy to remove and reinstall.
The appliances and sink base sit out from the wall several inches to make room for the dryer vent which runs behind them. It’s nice because it gives us a deeper counter and more counter space.
But there is another advantage: This gap behind the appliances made it possible for Chris to cut a small hatch in the back of the sink base so we can access the plumbing, an electrical outlet, the gas line, and the dryer vent when we need to.
A hatch cover conceals it.
Across the Room
The corner cabinet that Dan built us (drawer front coming soon) also received a quartz countertop.
The countertops were definitely a splurge. But they were worth it. The professionals came over and measured, and their measurements were spot on.
I still marvel at the precise spacing between the countertop and the door frame.
And at the little cutout that is perfectly sized for the washer hoses.
At the moment, Chris is installing the gorgeous Delta “Leland” faucet that I received compliments of Delta Faucets Canada.*
I’m looking forward to using the single-handle control and pull-down sprayer on this faucet – and to having a built-in soap dispenser.
Our old utility sink did heavy duty for us. We were always using it to clean brushes, tools, etc. after one project or another. It will be so nice to have a utility sink again.
There are lots of little details to work on before this room is finished. But now it’s summer and the sun is shining. And that last 10 percent of any remodel project is always the hardest. But we’ll get there.
Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.
* A warm thank you to Delta, a sponsor of Blogpodium 2015 – a Canadian-based lifestyle bloggers’ conference which I attended. Although I was an American blogger at a Canadian conference, I found lots of inspiration and ideas there. Blogpodium 2017 is coming up in September in Toronto.
My other posts about the laundry room/mudroom remodels:
I wasn’t sure why I grabbed my camera as I headed out the door yesterday to visit Mom. I only knew that there is always something interesting going on in Mom’s garden, and it’s been too long since I took my readers over there.
But in this post, I’m focusing on her ever-beautiful garden containers – and sharing a few of Mom’s container gardening practices.
1. Accessorize Sparingly
Containers are the jewelry of Mom’s garden. And since she accessorizes sparingly, they are always well-placed, elegant, and never gaudy.
They don’t overwhelm her garden, they enhance it.
2. Use Commonly Found Container Plants
Her containers are a reminder that elegance doesn’t have to come at a high price. She doesn’t go for exotic, pricey specialty plants. She uses inexpensive, tried-and-true garden favorites like geraniums, begonias, lobelias, impatiens, and African daisies. These all do well in our USDA garden zone 8B.
These plants are popular for a reason: Besides being reasonably priced and easy to find, most of them bloom all season long.
Mom plants her containers once in late spring, and they look beautiful well into fall.
This year I noticed a new monochromatic theme in some of her containers.
Some were simply planted with one plant.
But that simplicity allows us to fully appreciate the beauty of the featured plant – a Rieger begonia.
Or a cheerful African daisy.
3. Use a Mix of Bargain Containers
Since Mom has an informal cottage garden, she doesn’t worry about making sure her containers match. Like me, she has collected her containers over the years. Some were deeply discounted or garage sale finds, and a few she even got for free. We both love the thrill of hunting for bargains – even when it comes to containers.
Things always seem to work out. Mixing containers and moving them around gives her the freedom to experiment with different plant groupings every season.
She can enjoy the patina of a nicely weathered clay pot,
place a sweet hanging basket where a focal point is needed,
or go larger scale where she wants more impact.
When it comes to containers, anything goes.
A vintage watering can hosts trailing periwinkle.
And an upturned saucer on a pedestal is home to a display of tiny succulents.
4. Keep Plants Happy
For most common container annuals, it doesn’t take much to make sure they look good all season long. Some simple care tips are:
Consider sun exposure. Place the plant where it gets the correct amount of light. Check the plant’s tag before you buy it to make sure it will be happy where you want to place it.
Water consistently. Check the plant’s tag for water needs and combine it only with other plants that have the same water needs.
Fertilize regularly. Most summer-blooming annuals need a little nourishment now and then to keep blooming all season long.
Deadhead regularly. This works for many flowering annuals and perennials. Don’t let blossoms go to seed. Instead, pinch blooms off once they are spent so the plant puts its energy into developing new flowers.
Protect the plant from pests. Slugs have been known to dine on impatiens, and aphids can sometimes plague a nasturtium. Luckily, with all the environmentally friendly pest control products out there these days, there is no need to use harmful chemicals to control pests.
5. Be Patient with Imperfection
Some plants look beautiful even when they are winding down for the season. This pansy is past its prime but still sweet.
In My Own Garden
In my own garden, I’ve been experimenting with coleus plants that I grew from seeds in my greenhouse. Since slugs love them, I have been keeping my precious babies safe in containers.
But that is for another post. My favorite container right now is on my front porch: The begonia that thinks it’s a tree.
I’m way behind on my yard work this year, and my containers are really the only things bringing order to the chaos outside. So now it’s time for me to sign off, get out there, and finally get to work.
Happy gardening, folks!
Posts on this website are for entertainment only.
Wondering how you can view my previous posts? The funnest way is to browse my photo gallery and click on any photo that interests you.
I have found that summers are precious – too precious to spend time dragging a garden hose around, keeping it unkinked, and then spending time re-winding it. So I’m really enjoying this self-retracting hose that my husband bought me last year.
Mom has many passions and talents, and writing is among them. She currently has two books available on Amazon: Year of the Angels, a touching historical fiction novel based on her childhood during WWII, and Cries from the Fifth Floor, a fun paranormal thriller/murder mystery.
My husband Chris and I are pretty sensible people. We tend to plan and think things through – usually. But if you’ve ever read my About page, you know that our decision to buy our 1927 cottage was impulsive and driven by passion rather than reason.
And so was our recent trip back east.
It all happened because of Chris’s latest obsession: Collecting and restoring vintage Coleman lanterns.
I booked our flights before he could change his mind.
But of course, I told him, we couldn’t go all that way just for the convention. That would be silly. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to check a couple more things off my bucket list.
Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor
I feel so fortunate to live on the West Coast where we enjoy beautiful sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.
But I’m always curious about that “other” big ocean way across the country where the sun rises. Maine in particular seemed so intriguing and romantic to me: Rugged coastlines, old lighthouses, grizzled fishermen, colorful buoys – and Acadia National Park.
So as soon as our plane landed in Boston, we headed up the coast to the village of Bar Harbor, Maine.
I didn’t really have time to research Bar Harbor before our trip. I’d always pictured it as rustic and weathered: Crusty fishermen wearing heavy wool sweaters and pulling lobster traps off their boats.
But it was more gentrified than that: Lots of great shops and restaurants, and many intriguing lodging options.
Eventually I did find my colorful buoys.
The best part is that Bar Harbor is at the entrance to Acadia National Park.
As national parks go, Acadia is small. But there’s a lot to see. On our first day in the park, we enjoyed the rugged coastline.
We caught a glimpse of the remote Egg Island Lighthouse before a heavy blanket of fog moved in.
And watched water rush through Thunder Hole.
We took a murky hike to the summit of Gorham Mountain – all 525 feet. We learned that these mountains were once much taller, but over the ages erosion has worn them down to their granite bases.
I liked that we got to experience the Maine fog, even if it meant missing the views.
The next day the sun came out, and we made up for lost time.
We hiked at Cadillac Mountain.
We explored the carriage roads and magnificent stone bridges at Logan Pond. John D. Rockefeller, Jr had these roads and bridges built when he owned the land.
And we visited the Bass Harbor lighthouse.
This part of Maine smells so good. Everywhere we went, we were either smelling the fresh ocean air or the fragrant balsam fir.
The L.L.Bean headquarters are a few hours south of Bar Harbor in Freeport, Maine. There are several L.L.Bean stores located there and, when we walked into the first one, there it was again: That smell of balsam fir. So I bought it to take home.
I’m looking forward to making sachets with the large bag of balsam fir needles.
We also found a drying rack for our laundry room at an antique store. It’s still working its way across the country to its new home on the West Coast.
But it’s time to move on to the world of vintage lanterns.
All Things Coleman
We headed to rural, inland Massachusetts – to the tiny town of Winchendon. Here, collectors of all things Coleman, but especially vintage lanterns, were having their annual convention at the senior center.
Now coming from the Pacific Northwest, where our architecture is relatively new, I imagined the senior center to be a dated one-story building with dingy linoleum floors.
Here is what I found.
The Old Murdock Senior Center was built in the 1880s and was originally a public high school.
In the auditorium, Coleman collectors from around the world shared their treasures, their stories, and their knowledge.
From the unusual to the rustic, it was all here.
We were newcomers to the club, and everyone was so welcoming. On the second evening, we joined them in a “light up” outside the senior center. It was their way of honoring members who had passed – and it was beautiful.
But it was almost time to fly home, and we were only about an hour and a half from Boston.
We’d visited Boston before, and I just have to say that I love Boston. I love the architecture, the people, and most of all the history. This is where it all began for the United States.
On our previous visit, we only saw the first part of Boston’s Freedom Trail. So this time we started at Bunker Hill Monument and worked our way back to Paul Revere Square.
We toured the USS Constitution. “Old Ironsides,” as they call her, is actually made of live oak.
Launched in 1797, she was the second battleship ever to be built for the U.S. Navy. And she fought pirates.
No trip to Boston is complete without a visit to a colonial-era graveyard. We visited Copp’s Hill Burying Ground. Some of the deceased buried here were born in the 1500s!
I loved the timing of our Boston visit: Right before the 4th of July. There is no better reminder of what Independence Day is really about than touring the Old North Church, where the “one if by land, two if by sea” signal was sent from.
And admiring a bronze statue of Paul Revere.
So, to my American readers, Happy Independence Day!
Chris loves collecting vintage Coleman lanterns because he enjoys searching for them, and often the ones he finds are very affordable. They don’ take up much space to store or display. Etsy always seems to have a fun selection of all things Coleman. Remember though that there is a lot to learn about safely lighting these lanterns. Please use caution and do your research.
The drying rack I found at the antique store is probably not an antique. But I love it because it’s expandable, and it has a shelf and pegs for more storage. It look almost exactly like this one on Amazon.com.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that we’ve been slowly refurbishing the smallest and most neglected room in our house – the mudroom.
Little Room – Big Embarrassment
The mudroom had become an eyesore over the years. Which was unfortunate since it is the best way – the only way really – to get out to the back patio where we sometimes have dinner parties.
So when we had people over, I was always tempted to stage some kind of distraction as they walked through the mudroom so they wouldn’t notice how dingy it was. (“Oh, look out there! Is that an eagle?”)
The biggest challenge with the mudroom is that there are three doors and a large window in this 5′ X 7′ room. So that really limits wall space. In this room, we simply can’t do the cool storage lockers or vertical cabinets that look so great in other mudrooms.
But in 1927, when the house was built, no one was thinking about wall space in the mudroom because it wasn’t a mudroom then – it was a covered back porch.
Our mudroom makeover has taken months. Since it’s next door to our laundry room, and they share the same concrete floor, we’ve been remodeling both rooms simultaneously.
The mudroom was in rough condition. This corner was the worst part.
I painted the walls with Benjamin Moore Pale Oak. For the trim, I used a white paint we’d had custom mixed to match our kitchen cabinets. Since the mudroom can be seen from the kitchen, this helps unify the spaces.
The ceiling, still beadboard from when the mudroom was the back porch, didn’t need repainting. We kept the vintage parrot light here that matches the one we have in our kitchen.
Now don’t laugh, but here is what was hanging on the wall near the back door before.
The large mirror/shelf was from Pottery Barn, and it was really something in its day. But with wall space being such a premium in this room, a large mirror is the last thing we should have had taking up that space.
Plus the shelf above the mirror was so high that it wasn’t practical to store anything useful, so it became a catch-all for silly things.
We wanted to put shelving there instead, but we couldn’t find any ready-made shelves of the right dimension.
So Chris made these beautiful shelves.
He bought a piece of fir, cut it to size, and used a router to soften the edges. Then of course he sanded, stained, and finished the wood.
It was a fun little project, but I think the part he enjoyed the most was finding the antique shelf brackets on eBay.
We were very lucky, he says, that someone was selling four of them.
The wire baskets hold hats and gloves. The shelves sit above a small shoe cabinet. It all barely fits in the shallow space between the wall and the door.
Chris can display some of his vintage camping lanterns here.
The little shoe cabinet helped us solve a problem:
The Shoe Solution
Chris likes to keep most of his shoes in the mudroom near the door – which really makes sense. But here is how our shoe situation was before. Not good!
And, since I didn’t want to make things worse, I kept my shoes in the laundry room.
Notice too all the shopping bags stuffed into one cubby, and the basket for hats and gloves above that. It was a little tower of clutter. And it left us nowhere to sit while putting on shoes.
And now we wait until mid-July for the installation. In the meantime, we’ve been shopping for accessories including this stainless retractable clothesline, which I can’t wait to install.
But there is something new and exciting. My brother, Dan, is building us a beautiful custom corner cabinet.
We wanted to get the most out of this tricky corner without taking up too much floor space. This corner cabinet is our best option. And there is no one better to build it than Dan, who has created some gorgeous built-ins for his own house.
It fits nicely under the window. The drawer still needs to be installed, and it will have the same quartz countertop as the appliance wall. But it’s already looking perfect for the space.
Materials for the cabinet cost almost nothing. Dan used old plywood he’d salvaged from his kitchen remodel. And I had two extra cabinet doors (for our new cabinets) left over from our own kitchen remodel. Luckily they were the right size for the corner cabinet.
So now the corner cabinet matches the sink base. And both laundry room cabinets match our kitchen cabinets.
And my brother rocks.
Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.
I’m almost afraid to say this but the rain has finally stopped – for now. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we’ve had an unusually cold and wet spring. But now it seems that we’ve turned a corner.
We’ve even enjoyed dinners on our patio these past few nights. This got me thinking about some of my previous posts on gardening and outdoor entertaining. A few of them contain information that we can use right now, so I thought I would share a little roundup.
This time of year always has me thinking about my old neighbor, Mr. B. His tomato plants were legendary, and he taught me everything I know about raising tomatoes. In Tomato Tips from Mr. B, I pass along his old-school advice.
One of my very first blog posts was about choosing bold colors for man-made garden structures. My writing style has changed since I wrote it, and hopefully my photos are better now. But I still feel the same way about using bold colors for the outdoors.
Whites and barely there colors are still popular indoor paint trends. But outdoors is a whole different story. In a lush garden, accents and small buildings can get lost if they are not given a strong color.
Recently my mom, Erika, and I made a short visit to Victoria, British Columbia. Since we live in Western Washington, we’d both visited Victoria many times over the years.
The city is named after Queen Victoria – and the British influence is strong here.
We were looking forward to visiting some of our favorite sights – the Empress Hotel, the Inner Harbour, Chinatown, and stunning Butchart Gardens.
Victoria is a user-friendly, walkable city, but this time we decided to broaden our options by renting a car.
Maybe it was good that we only had a cartoon-like tourist map, no in-car navigation system, and no cellphone reception. Because while trying to find things, we sometimes stumbled upon unexpected gems.
So today I’m pairing each of my old favorite sights with a hidden gem.
Old Favorite: Butchart Gardens
The concept of Butchart Gardens began over 100 years ago and it evolved over the course of many years. Today it’s a paradise filled with inspiration for any gardener.
Its Sunken Garden is the site of an old limestone quarry.
There is also a Mediterranean Garden,
a Japanese Garden, and a Rose Garden.
As in many gardens, the best things sometimes happen by accident – like flower petals littering a pond.
The gardens are constantly changing with the seasons, so each visit to Butchart Gardens is unique.
Hidden Gem: Scenic Marine Drive
Butchart Gardens is a bit of a drive from downtown Victoria. Most visitors arrive via tour bus. But since we were driving, we decided to design our own route to the gardens – a bit windy but worth it.
We took Scenic Marine Drive, which starts near downtown Victoria on Dallas Road – a few blocks behind the Parliament Building. From there we drove up the coastline for several gorgeous miles before we headed inland and cut over to Butchart Gardens.
I didn’t get any photos, but we passed beautiful beaches and trails. We also saw some of the nicest homes and neighborhoods in Victoria. Taking this drive will cure anyone of the notion that Victoria is just a British-themed tourist town.
We relied on our tourist cartoon map and everything turned out okay. But for this journey I would advise either having a navigation system or a much better map.
Old Favorite: The Inner Harbour
One of the best places to sightsee and people watch, the Inner Harbour is the heart of downtown Victoria.
Surrounding it is the Empress Hotel
and the Parliament Building.
This is the kind of place where couples hold hands. And they don’t walk – they stroll. Old world charm abounds, and no one wants to miss anything.
Hidden Gem: Fisherman’s Wharf
But a more colorful and quirky marina is found at Fisherman’s Wharf, a short drive (or about a 20-minute walk) from the harbour steps. It’s also reachable by water taxi.
Colorful restaurants serve seafood in a casual al fresco environment. Equally colorful is the eclectic mix of houseboats.
And the locals are friendly (just don’t feed them).
Old Favorite: Craigdarroch Castle
Craigdarroch Castle is a quick uphill drive from downtown Victoria. The castle was built in the 1890s by the prominent and wealthy Dunsmuir Famiy. And what a castle it is.
Touring the castle is a great way to see how the upper class lived in Victorian times in . . . well . . . Victoria.
A large lawn surrounds the castle, but there’s not much of a garden. The neighborhood is beautiful, with so many old craftsman mansions.
So after touring the castle, Mom and I decided to just drive around. And we happened upon a beautiful garden – one that really should be married to the castle.
Hidden Gem: The Government House Gardens
The Government House is the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor. I was jaded after visiting Craigdarroch Castle, so I didn’t find the Government House itself to be a particularly appealing.
It’s been a while since I mentioned our laundry room remodel, which began in early February. That was when my husband, Chris, and my brother, Dan, demolished walls and installed new plumbing, electrical, and heat. They were on a roll!
Then came the winter colds, conflicting schedules, and vacations. I found a nice little laundromat near home. It was in a fun walking neighborhood with good coffee and shops nearby. So not having laundry facilities at home was fairly painless.
Still I’m happy to report that I don’t have to go there anymore.
The laundry room isn’t finished yet, but we’ve made enough progress to put the machines back. Here is what’s been going on:
Vintage Texture for the Walls
We wanted to treat the walls with some sort of vintage-inspired texture. I was considering floor-to-ceiling painted shiplap. But, between the shiplap and the open shelves we planned to install, that might be too many horizontal lines.
Chris suggested beadboard. Always a classic, but beadbord is most commonly used for wainscoting and rarely seen as a floor-to-ceiling wall cover.
Then I remembered some photos I’d seen on an Instagram account and blog called Vibeke Design. Vibeke’s photos are so gorgeous they instantly lower my blood pressure. But now the backdrop for those photos had me thinking – that charming paneled wall.
It still looked like beadboard, but the wider-spaced planks somehow made it look more appropriate as a floor-to-ceiling wall cover. We both loved the look, and we wanted to find it in easy-to-install 4X8 panels.
The big box stores didn’t carry them. But we were able to special order panels from a locally owned lumber yard. They arrived quickly, and they weren’t expensive.
For me, the panels were easy to install – because I didn’t install them. Chris did. And if you read my previous post about this remodel, you already know that the laundry room walls are not sheetrock. They are not even lath and plaster. They are mortar and mesh.
Which basically means they are made of cement.
So Chris had to pre-drill every nail hole and keep track of where the drilled holes were located so he could secure the panels with screws.
This was his first attempt at something like this, and he did an amazing job.
Our house is old, so the walls are not straight or level. But somehow Chris managed to hang the panels so that all the vertical lines look straight.
The panels were thin enough to hang flush with the original subway tile baseboard, which we wanted to keep.
We found new crown molding that matches the original crown molding in the mudroom.
Chris caulked the seams between the crown molding and the ceiling – and also between the wall panels. Now I have to look hard to even find the seams.
The seams in each corner of the room will be covered later with a narrow cove molding.
Prep and Paint
Now the room was ready for me to paint.
The paneling looked gorgeous, and I was very nervous about messing it up with a mediocre paint job. So I took my time with the prep work.
I did a lot of sanding, spackling, priming, cleaning, dusting and vacuuming.
Chris took the windows apart so they were easier for me to sand. He stripped decades of paint off of the window hardware.
He even cleaned the old cloth cords that attach to the lead window weights. He worked on the 90-year-old windows until they opened like new.
We’d had custom trim paint mixed to match the warm white of our new kitchen cabinets. When I recently repainted our mudroom, I used the same trim paint there. The laundry room can be seen and accessed from the mudroom, so the two rooms tie together nicely now.
I love that soft shade of white so much that I had more of the same paint mixed in a matte finish for the walls.
The panels were already primed white, so painting white over white eventually had me questioning my eyesight and my sanity. I used a roller and then carefully backbrushed each groove and panel. Of course multiple coats were needed. Or were they? I couldn’t really tell.
I never actually finished the job, Chris just told me it was time to put the paint brush down and step away.
A Sink Base
The sink base we ordered for the laundry sink is the same brand, style, and color as the base for our kitchen sink.
We put the sink base, still in its wrapping, temporarily in place so we could get a sense of how deep the countertop will be and how we should space the open shelves.
For months, we’d had the floors covered to protect them. But now we were finally able to uncover them. It was nice to see those beautiful refinished concrete floors that Kenji had worked so hard on.
I had ordered discounted shelves from Home Decorators long before we’d even finished planning our laundry room remodel.
It was so exciting to finally see them on the wall.
Chris thought ahead on this one: Knowing that we would be hanging these shelves, he’d earlier noted where the wall studs were located, and he placed additional bracing inside the wall so that we’d have something solid to screw these shelves into.
And then he mapped it all for future reference.
All so I could have my pretty shelves. I’d ordered these shelves because, well, they were a screaming deal. But more importantly they are shallow enough not to obstruct the window.
With the appliances placed against this wall, I’ll need a stepladder to reach almost anything stored here. So these shelves will store things I won’t need often – like shoe polish or jewelry cleaners. And these things can be in attractive containers or baskets.
I’ll stash the things I use often in the sink cabinet – and in a nifty new corner cabinet that my brother Dan will be building for us. It will fit under this window on the opposite side of the laundry room.
So the sink base has been hustled back out to the garage for the time being and, just a few days ago, Chris reinstalled our washer and dryer.
I wanted to hug them.
The washer and dryer will stay in their present locations. The sink and sink base will go between them. We considered other options such as stacking the washer and dryer or placing them side-by-side and putting the sink by the window.
But, right or wrong, we are hung up on the symmetry we’ll get by placing the sink in the middle.
There is more to come, including lots of little details like a drying rack over the sink, new window coverings, a new light fixture, all kinds of hooks, and more shelves on other walls. But here are some of the bigger items:
A stainless steel deep sink will go in the sink cabinet.
We’ll install a countertop over the washer/dryer and around the sink. This should pull everything together and provide lots of space to fold clothes.
A Corner Cabinet
Dan’s corner cabinet will give us storage without obstructing the flow of the room or taking up too much floor space.
A Built-in Ironing Board
This will probably go on the wall next to the dryer.
Before and Afters Coming
I still haven’t shown you what the laundry room looked like before all of this started. Just for fun, have a look at the little mess that used to be where the new corner cabinet is going.
Once the remodel is finished (or close, anyway) I’ll post more before photos. So stay tuned!
Posts on this blog are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.