Storage space saves marriages. Okay, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic. But storage space is rarely a bad thing.
Which is why Chris and I recently took on a little rainy-day project: Revamping a small walk-in closet to make it more efficient.
But before we even get started, I have to apologize. Because this closet, with its tricky lighting and tight space, was really hard to photograph. So please excuse these grainy photos.
Too Much Bedding, Too Little Shelving
Our TV/guest room has a daybed with a pop-up trundle. I love it because it makes the room so versatile for guests. It can be a twin-size bed, or convert to a king-size bed, or we can set up the room dormitory-style with two twin beds. Any other time, it’s the comfy daybed where I watch TV.
But all this versatility means that we need to store bedding for a king-size bed and two twin beds.
And this is what led to the closet looking like this.
Occasionally, our TV watching was interrupted by an avalanche of precariously stacked bedding falling from the closet shelf.
Putting a Blank Wall to Work
It was pretty easy to see what the problem was with this little closet.
There was only one shelf on the south wall. And the west wall was blank except for an ugly drain pipe.
So we decided to extend the existing shelf by eight inches and add another shelf above it. And then add two 10-inch-deep shelves to the west wall.
And when I say “we,” of course I mean Chris. Here is yet another instance where he did all the heavy lifting while I followed him around with a camera.
The result was two L-shaped shelves.
I didn’t want the shelves to look new. I wanted them to look like they’d always been there. And I think Chris achieved that.
Painting and Unpainting
Once we knew where the shelves would go, we removed them so I could paint the closet a cleaner white.
And while we were at it, we thought, we might as well spray paint the ugly drain pipe white to minimize its impact. I didn’t want to paint the small copper pipe behind it. Painting copper just seems wrong to me.
But there was something we wanted to un-paint: The hardware on the little pocket window had received many coats of paint over the years. Who paints a window chain? Apparently everyone.
The chain and latch look so much better now that the paint has been stripped.
Moving Back In
Bedskirts, mattress covers, quilts, blankets, sheets, pillows, shams: There is space for everything now.
And that little blue dresser that sat piled high in the closet before? We put it back. It is now almost empty, so it will serve as overflow space for guests to unload their suitcases.
Above it, a little surprise for guests: A vintage mirror. An extra mirror is always a nice touch in a guest room.
(I was tempted to style the top of this dresser for the photo – until I heard my little voice of reason say, “Oh please. It’s a closet!”)
Not the most glamorous home improvement project in the world, I know, but I’m happy that there is just a little less clutter at our house.
Before and After
Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.
I have plans to refresh our TV/guest room a bit: A new rug, new curtains, and fresh paint. It should be a fun little project.
But one thing I don’t want to change is that pop-up trundle daybed. It’s been a while since we bought it, but it is a lot like this one on Amazon. The mattresses were not included, and we added our own headboard.
It’s finally time! Today I’m taking you on a tour of our completed laundry room remodel.
If you’re a regular visitor (hi, Mom), you know that this remodel has stretched on for months, and I’ve been writing posts as the project progressed. If you’d like to get caught up on past posts about the remodel (which was done in conjunction with our mudroom refresh), here is the list:
And at the end of this post I’ve listed sources for, and information about, some of the products that we used in this remodel.
The laundry room measures only 7′ X 7′, so our goal was to make the best use of the space without overloading the room. The house was built in 1927, so I wanted the laundry room to be a mix of old world charm and modern efficiency.
Although my husband Chris and I came up with a detailed plan for the room, Chris did most of the actual work. My brother Dan gave us the initial push we needed by brainstorming with us about how to bring the plan to reality. Dan also helped to reroute and replace the plumbing – and later in this post you will see the beautiful built-in that he made for the room.
Now we’re inside, and this is what the north wall used to look like.
I liked having a utility sink. But there was very little surface space for folding clothes, and ironing in here was too much of a hassle because the only electrical outlet was up on the wall behind the appliances. As for storage, there was a little recessed wall cabinet, but it was very difficult to access. Things stored in there were quickly forgotten.
Here is how it looks now.
I think the space actually looks bigger now.
The appliances are 36″ tall, so the new sink base cabinet, which matches our kitchen cabinets, had to be customized to be taller than an ordinary base cabinet.
The quartz countertop had to be 38″ high – but that’s only about two inches higher than your typical kitchen countertop.
And it’s 33″ deep, which is almost 10″ deeper than a kitchen countertop. So there is lots of space for folding clothes and doing other projects.
Of course, with the deeper countertop, the upper shelves are not easy for me to reach without a ladder or stool. Our initial plan called for cabinets instead of shelves, but cabinets would have been just as difficult to access. And any shelf or cabinet that we hung near the window could only be 8 inches deep or it would obstruct the window.
So the shelves hold things that we don’t need often – like shoe care supplies.
A basket of rags sits on a lower shelf within reach.
And the shelves are a fun way to display a few vintage items.
And no matter what time it is anywhere else, it’s always 2:00 in our laundry room.
Chris remembers this mid century clock from very early in his childhood. Recently he brought it upstairs from the basement to repair it, and I stashed it in the laundry room to get it out of the way. And here it stayed – the perfect round object to go in the middle of all the straight lines on the north wall.
Chris has a plan to get it running again, but either way I love the way it looks in this room.
I thought about finding some way to conceal the valve box, but I turn the valves on and off every time I do laundry. So it’s fine.
We chose a stainless deep sink to use with a Delta faucet.
The East Wall
In the northeast corner, we hung hooks for a couple of vintage coat hangers – one that we found inside the kitchen wall during our kitchen remodel (and that we later realized the original home owners must have brought with them from England). The other belonged to my German grandfather.
This is what the east wall used to look like.
The little area behind the door, only 14 inches deep, was a mess.
And this is how it looks now.
I came up with the idea of an L-shaped shelf above a tool rack. Chris used a couple of leftover shelves and made it happen.
The portable space heater from the before photo isn’t needed anymore because Chris added ducting and a heat vent to the room.
And it all tucks neatly behind the door.
Originally I wanted a built-in ironing board, but then I realized that I was too in love with the new wall paneling. I didn’t want a built-in ironing board to detract from the look. So a tabletop ironing board hangs behind the door, and I just take it to the counter to use it. This little downgrade saved us a few hundred dollars, and it’s probably just as easy to use as a built-in.
The South Wall
I didn’t get a before photo of the south wall, but this is how it looks now. Not the best photo, but I had to climb up on the countertop to get it.
The Southwest Corner and the West Wall
The southwest corner was a cluttery embarrassment. Only close family members were allowed to see this.
(By the way, Chris is proud of me for getting both toilet plungers into the before photo. Yeah, I really got my point across with this shot!)
There was a lot stored here. I found new homes for the things that didn’t really belong in the laundry room. And there would be some storage in the new sink base cabinet.
Still I knew we’d need more storage, and I wanted it to be easy to reach. A rectangular- or square- shaped cabinet, placed in this corner, would eat up too much floor space – and ruin the flow. We realized a corner cabinet would be perfect here.
Dan has built many cabinets for himself, so he offered to build us a corner cabinet – one that would match the sink base cabinet.
The little top drawer is very convenient, and there is a surprising amount of storage here. It works nicely in this corner, with the countertop fitting just below the window frame.
I used a portable wooden drying rack for years. It would collapse at unexpected times, and it was a pain to store. I find myself using this wall-mounted rack all the time.
So this was the west wall before.
And this is the west wall now.
I went with inexpensive matchstick roller blinds for now, and I’m enjoying them. But I may get something else for the windows in the future since these aren’t very easy to roll up and down.
The washer door clears the corner cabinet – barely.
Even air space counts in a room this small. Between the two windows, we installed a stainless retractable clothesline.
It stretches across the room, giving me seven feet of space to hang laundry.
It’s high enough not to strangle us when we walk in, yet low enough for me to use easily. I love it since I have so many items that I would prefer to air dry.
The Light Fixture
With the windows, this room gets tons of natural light. We did hang a vintage light that we had in storage.
I guess I lied when I said this project was done. This room still needs a small towel bar. But we are very happy with the way it turned out. It’s functional, it works hard for such a small room, yet it’s has a cheerful, airy vibe. I love spending time in here – even if I am just folding clothes.
I hope you enjoyed the tour. In case you’re interested, I’ve listed a few things below that are either the same as or similar to products we used in this remodel.
Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.
These Radiance Fruitwood Imperial Matchstick Bamboo Shades are very similar to the ones we installed in the laundry room. But as I mentioned above, ours are a little difficult to roll up and down. Their quality matches their modest price. Still I love the way they look. They do let a lot of light in, which is what I wanted for the laundry room. But of course that doesn’t work for every situation.
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:
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. And some time later, the porch was enclosed and became a mudroom.
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.
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.
In this post, I’m hoping to solve a mystery – and I’m sharing a fun little DIY decor project.
And the two are related.
Mysteries and Secrets
Our 1927 cottage has many mysteries and secrets.
For example, if you’ve been reading along for a while, you know that we’re in the middle of a laundry room remodel. Well recently, while working on the heating system, my husband Chris found a secret chamber under the laundry room. We’d always assumed the laundry room was set on a concrete slab. Turns out it has its own little basement.
And this isn’t even the first secret chamber we’ve found.
But today I want to talk about the laundry room’s mystery cupboard.
The Mystery Cupboard
This is how our laundry room looked before we started the remodel.
Note the innocent-looking recessed cupboard above the washing machine.
Although lately, during the remodel, it’s been looking more like this.
Anyway, here is the inside of the cupboard. Pretty rustic.
Can’t see the top? That’s because there isn’t one. This cupboard goes all the way up to the unfinished attic.
So is it a laundry chute? Probably not. After all, who would want to climb far into the unfinished attic to deposit laundry only to have some of it land on that little shelf at the halfway point.
It also stretches to the left behind the wall for several feet, so it’s larger than it looks.
Its inconvenient location above the washing machine meant that I needed a stepladder to access it. And since it’s recessed into the wall, I practically had to climb into the cabinet to get anything back out. So I avoided using it.
My theory is that this is just oddly shaped extra space that the builder wanted to keep accessible in case anyone needed it.
But what do you think? Do you know what it might be? Help me solve this mystery!
Whatever this cupboard is or was, our plans for the laundry room do not include it. No, it will be covered over in the remodel. And if we should ever need to access the weird empty space behind the wall, we can still do so from the attic.
But I was sad. That cupboard door was kind of cute. It was also a piece of the house’s history – however weird that history might be. I wanted to repurpose it. But what should its new role be?
A DIY Chalkboard
My friend Sandi is a very creative person, and she had a great idea: Turn it into a chalkboard. At the time, Sandi didn’t even know that I’d been looking for a chalkboard for our kitchen. Perfect!
Cleaning the Hardware
It was a simple project. We removed all the hardware pieces from the cupboard door and soaked them in acetone to remove the paint.
After that, the hardware pieces were clean but they still had a patina. I was happy that they didn’t look brand new.
A Chalk Ledge
Chris cut and attached a piece of brick molding to the bottom of the door to serve as a chalk ledge.
Painting the Door
I sanded and cleaned the cupboard door. I painted the frame, the edges, and the new chalk ledge with the same white trim paint we used for the kitchen.
After the paint dried, I used masking tape to ensure a nice clean profile for the chalkboard paint, which would go in the center panel.
I’d never worked with chalkboard paint before. I used FolkArt Multisurface Chalkboard Paint by Plaid¹. I followed the instructions on the bottle and on the Plaid website. This included conditioning the chalkboard with chalk – something I will need to re-do from time to time.
To evenly apply the paint – which has a slightly gel-like consistency – I used a paint edger². Then I back-brushed the paint with a paint brush. (I have found that paint edgers come in handy for all kinds of paint applications beyond just edging.)
Reattaching the Hardware
Chris reattached the hardware, and the chalkboard was ready.
Now the hardware is just for character.
This chalkboard was long overdue. Since we shop for groceries at several stores and a farmers market, keeping lists of what we needed from each place was cluttery and difficult – especially since these lists often went missing. Keeping lists on our phones didn’t work either.
But now, as soon as we realize we need something, it’s a few steps to “chalkboard central” to write it down.
I’ve been trying both chalk and chalk markers to see which I like better, but I’m not completely happy with either. So I’m thinking of ordering some white chalk pencils I found on Etsy.³
I have found that wiping the chalkboard with a damp paper towel works better than using a chalk eraser. We’ll see how all this holds up over time.
I’m happy now. Not only is the little cupboard door still with us, but it’s serving an even better purpose than it did originally.
Before and After
You know how I love my before and after recaps.
Before (photographed upside-down).
All posts on this blog are for entertainment only and are not tutorials or endorsements.
This post containsaffiliate links, which means that I earn a small commission on any purchases you make by following these links. This does not impact the price of your purchase.
This time we learned that the laundry room is built like a battleship.
When my husband Chris tried to remove the lower half of the north wall to access the old plumbing pipes, he was in for a little surprise: What he thought was a plaster wall turned out to be mortar and mesh.
I’d never even heard of mortar and mesh. We learned that, back in the 1920s, inch-thick mortar with a strong wire mesh backing was typically used for walls that were going to support tile.
Since the only tile in the laundry room is a subway tile baseboard, we are still wondering why the mortar and mesh was used.
Removing that wall took some extra time, patience, and swings of the sledge hammer.
But Chris is persistent.
He exposed the wall and was able to remove the old rusted pipes.
The 90-year-old drain pipe was also rusted. It needed to be removed.
The basement staircase is behind this wall. This is where Chris made another discovery: The drain pipe had been fully encased in concrete.
He used a hand-held jackhammer to unbury it.
The Plumbing and Wiring
Last weekend, Dan installed the new pipes and drains.
Previously, the washer drained into the utility sink. With the new configuration, the washer and the utility sink will drain separately.
This new plumbing is a sight for sore eyes.
Dan also installed three electrical outlets on a wall that originally had only one.
As you can see from the above photograph, the old subway tile baseboard survived the demo process. We hope to keep it intact and work around it.
The laundry room was unheated. We had a space heater we used in cold weather.
So while Dan worked on the plumbing and wiring, Chris worked on adding a heat vent to the laundry room.
This meant pulling the fridge out of its alcove and cutting a hole in the alcove wall and in the floor of the wall between the laundry room and kitchen to bring a heat vent up from the basement.
Bringing a vent up through this space will be tricky business, and Chris is still not 100% sure it will work. It will be so nice if it does.
All the essentials are being put into place before the fun aesthetic work can begin.
But we are also working on refreshing the adjoining mudroom . So while the guys have been battling mortar walls and plumbing connections, I’ve been playing with pretty colors.
The Mudroom Repaint
When we moved in, the mudroom walls were a pale yellow. For a long time, I thought it was a nice color for this cheerful, light-filled space.
But the mudroom was starting to look tired. It was time for a change.
Choosing the Color
Since the mudroom was once an unenclosed back porch, its walls are the same rough stucco as the exterior of the house. I think this is a fun feature.
White is such a popular color right now, but I just couldn’t picture it for those textured walls.
So in this post on Remodelaholic.com, I found a Benjamin Moore color I liked called Pale Oak. It was said to have a warm gray undertone. I hoped the Pale Oak would play nicely with my new trim paint – a warm white.
The Power of Prep Work
Whenever I begin a new paint project, I’m immediately reminded of two things:
(1) I still hate paint projects; and
(2) The prep work is the most important thing. The mudroom walls and window casings had many gaps, cracks, and imperfections.
The molding around the back door was raw wood, which has always bugged me. Next to it was a large seam in the wall and a hideous piece of baseboard trim.
So I scrubbed, sanded, spackled, caulked, and primed.
After that, painting was a piece of cake.
The Pale Oak is an airy, barely-there color. I think it works nicely with the new charcoal floor.
I didn’t paint the beadboard ceiling because it looks fine to me. The cracks give it a vintage look that works with the 1930s parrot light.
But the parrot light will be stowed safely away for the time being, and the floor will be covered with Ram Board to protect it during the laundry room remodel.
Note: If you think you’ve seen this parrot light in another post of mine, you’re not imagining things. We have an identical parrot light hanging over our kitchen sink. That one came out of my childhood home. We found this one at an antique store in eastern Oregon. So of course we bought it!
What the Heck is That?
Have you been wondering what this plastic-covered hole in the laundry room wall is?
It’s pure weirdness – and a bit of a mystery to us. I’ll talk about it in my next post, and I’ll share the cute little craft project that came out of the weirdness.
Note: All posts on this blog are for entertainment only and are not tutorials or endorsements.
One thing I love about old houses is that they always have their quirks. Our 1927 cottage is no exception.
In my previous post, I shared the little project that kicked off my mudroom revamp. But what I didn’t mention is that the mudroom was originally just a covered back porch – and it connects to the laundry room.
Why is that weird? Because before the back porch was enclosed (which probably happened in the 1930s or 40s), the laundry room was completely isolated from the other interior rooms. In order to do laundry, one had to go out the back door and then through a door to the right that opened into the unheated laundry room. The laundry room door even had its own deadbolt.
All this to say that the mudroom and laundry room were treated as outdoor spaces and given a concrete floor. I never paid much attention to this floor – except that I found it impossible to keep clean.
So when we recently decided to move ahead with refreshing the mudroom and remodeling the laundry room, we had to do something about that floor.
Beloved Scruffy Floor
We could have put laminate or tile flooring over the concrete and maybe even installed an in-floor heating system. But that would have meant covering an original feature of the house.
Strangely, I really liked that scruffy old concrete floor. It was stamped into large squares like a sidewalk. It looked so solid and substantial.
For some time, I had been noticing the beautiful, industrial-looking stained concrete floors in some of the restaurants in town.
We have some charming details planned for our upcoming laundry room remodel, and I felt that a rustic, industrial floor would balance out the charm and keep things interesting.
But how to find that look – and how to get it right? Chris and I believe in doing projects ourselves if we know how, especially if we enjoy the task. But we also believe there is no shame in recognizing those times when we should just bring in a professional.
And I have to admit that watching him work was more fun than trying to do it myself.
First Chris and I had to agree on the type of stain we wanted. We looked at the samples that Kenji brought but, wanting a bigger picture, we also visited several of his finished projects. We eventually came to the conclusion that we wanted a mottled charcoal stain with a matte finish.
As Kenji said, we wanted “character.”
Cleaning the Floor
One thing I like about this company is that they do their best to be environmentally conscious. Kenji cleaned the floor thoroughly but didn’t use acid.
And later in the project, when the stain was drying, we smelled fumes but they weren’t horrible and seemed to dissipate quickly.
The Skim Coat
After cleaning, Kenji applied a resurfacing skim coat to the entire floor. This gave the floor some texture so that the dye would settle in the low spots for that mottled look we wanted.
I was a little alarmed that the seams in the concrete were completely immersed. But I didn’t need to worry.
A White Base Coat
Then he painted the floor white. He did this to give himself a blank canvas on which to work. Then he carved out the seams so they were visible again.
Kenji applied a coat of stain, and after it dried he came back and asked us what we thought. It wasn’t quite dark enough, so he applied a second coat.
Then he applied the matte finish. It had to dry for a few days before we could walk on it.
But we love the results.
The color and texture give the floor the character that Benji was talking about.
The floor is now too sexy for the rooms. But we are working on that.
Of course there will be some maintenance. Kenji gave us a special cleaner to use and, depending on how much wear and tear we subject the floor to, we will need to touch up the finish every so often.
As with any nice floor, I plan to put small rugs in the high-traffic areas.
Will this floor really work with what we have planned? You will know as soon as I do. So stay tuned.
Before and After Recap
We went from this . . .
*All posts on this blog are for entertainment only and not intended as tutorials or endorsements.