Aug 10, 2014

Making a Functional Laundry Room in a Tiny Space (with a Sliding Wall!)

Our laundry room is more of a laundry "nook" - it's a space in the basement squeezed in beside the hot water heater and the furnace. The basement is fully finished, so if we wanted to rearrange things it would be a major undertaking. There are always things you think you'd have done differently, but really, there was nothing wrong with the basement, so we were happy to leave the walls where they were.

The first thing we did do when we moved in was to remove the laundry sink and replace the old side-by-sides with stackable machines. We also had the local utility company move the water heater closer to the back wall instead of it being in the middle of the room. That freed up a lot of floor space. By "a lot" I mean that we went from 4 square feet of cleared space to 9. Break out the noisemakers, it's a party down here.

Always keep in mind that a renovation isn't about making a space magazine-worthy, it's about making it functional for you. We didn't need counter tops or cupboards, cute sayings or jars of clothespins. We needed an open area. We like to hang most of our shirts to dry, and hanging clothes takes up a lot of space. All we had was a 3-foot rod with a shelf above it for detergent, fabric softener, etc. We would end up hanging the clothes from any available place - water pipes usually. Most of the time it looked like we were running a t-shirt business on the side.

laundry room makeover before
laundry room makeover before

So, while renovations were going on upstairs in the bathroom (p.s. I am sooooo close to showing you the finished room!), we did this quick weekend project - that stretched into a week because I decided to paint everything.

First I removed the old shelf and hanging rod and patched all of the holes in the wall. The area around the door had never been finished, so Tom put up the few pieces of missing drywall, I mudded it and gave everything a fresh coat of white paint. There is an open space above the door that can be used for storage, so instead of drywalling over it Tom installed a small door to cover it. The door latches closed and is nearly invisible if you aren't looking for it. Trim around the door finished it all off. I forgot to take a before picture, but the doorway on the other side of the furnace looks the same. Some day we may get that end finished as well.

drywall and trim door before

drywall and trim door after

We determined that we really needed two clothing rods, one above the other, to give us double the hanging space. But that would mean we couldn't have a shelf for cleaning products. I didn't really like having the bottles up so high anyway - some of them are heavy and lifting them above my head wasn't fun.

The narrow wall along the side isn't used, so we bought three wire shelves to mount there and hold the bottles. That was all well and good until we realized that when clothes were hanging they would block access to the supplies.

After a brainstorming session or two, we came up with the idea of a sliding wall. Tom cut a piece of 1/4 inch plywood to the width of the wall and about 4 feet high, I painted it white so it would blend in, and we mounted it to the wall with heavy-duty drawer slides.

drawer slides sliding wall laundry room
sliding wall laundry room

Tom installed a home-made wooden track to the floor to keep the "wall" in alignment. The wire shelves mount to the sliding wall, and we added a simple handle to make it easier to pull in and out. I'm so excited about the wall, I could probably write an entire post just about this part.

sliding wall laundry room

For the rods, we wanted the top one to extend out farther than the bottom one, so that longer clothing would still hang freely instead of draping on top of the bottom rod. Tom built two sets of brackets from 2x2 lumber and mounted them to the back wall. The bottom rod sits about 12 inches from the wall, and the top rod is at 20 inches. Since the sliding wall on the side is only 4 feet high, we were able to extend the top rod all the way over to the side wall, giving us another 10 inches or so of hanging space. The top rod is attached to the side wall with a rod flange to add extra support.

hanging rods laundry room
hanging rod laundry room

The raw wood looked a little unfinished so I painted the brackets white and stained the rods Jacobean brown (Minwax). We now have plenty of space to hang everything, and clean clothes are no longer rubbing up against the water heater and furnace. We put a 4x6 rug down so you aren't standing on the cold cement floor, and the laundry baskets slide under the hanging rods like they were meant to be there.

hanging rods laundry room after
hanging rods sliding wall laundry room after
hanging rods laundry room after

This has completely changed how we feel about doing laundry. I'm not saying we're fighting each other for the chance to do it, but it sure helps that it no longer looks and feels like you're entering a dungeon.

Have you made any small changes around the house lately that have had a big impact?

Jul 19, 2014

This Caught My Eye...

Since Tom won't let me start any projects until the bathroom is finished (I did sneak in a bit of work on the wainscoting before he stopped me), I'm just going to have to appease my need to DIY by looking at what other people are doing around the 'net.

Denise at Frazzled Joy made over some drawer pulls for her master bathroom rather than buying new ones from Hobby Lobby. I like hers much better. They're chunky and rustic, and I love the crisscross detail. I'm a twine addict so I might have to steal this idea myself.

Laura over at A Nurse and a Nerd refinished her Adirondack chairs - with deck stain! So smart! Last summer I sanded, stained, and sealed our deck furniture and it's peeling already. So frustrating. I'm going to have to get myself a bucket of stain. And the chocolate shade she chose is gorgeous.

I've been trying really hard to eat healthier this year, but this cookie dough fudge recipe from Bekki at Domestic Mommyhood could make me cave. Tom eats ice cream all of the time, but I never want any - unless it's cookie dough flavour. I will never say no to that. Maybe if I cut the fudge up into tiny, little pieces it wouldn't be so bad. I have willpower...don't I?

About a month ago I hung a shelf in the front foyer to give us a place to toss our keys, coins, sunglasses, etc. as we came in the door. I'm not really happy with it - it's a little too pre-fabricated for me. I think I'd like to try something more rustic, like these shelves that Colleen from Lemon Thistle installed in her (new!) kitchen. She used Ikea brackets, but subbed in real wood boards for the pre-made shelves. Real wood for the win, every time!

Do you think dreaming about these four projects are enough to keep me happy for a while? Or maybe they're just increasing my itch to get back out to the garage and get dirty.

Jul 17, 2014

Bathroom Reno - Tile Is In, We're Nearing the End!

Have time for another bathroom update? Sick of my bathroom updates? Me too. (If you'd like to see it all from the start, check out these links: onetwo, and three.)

We are just a couple of days away from having the tiling and shower enclosure finished. There have been some real hiccups with this job over the last few weeks. We lost three days with a combination of Canada Day and the contractor needing time off for personal matters. Then there was a miscommunication on how we wanted the shower wall tile laid and the first row plus the curb had to be removed and redone.

wooden grey polished porcelain tile 12x24

Then, then, we ran out of wall tile with only twelve left to put in. So much for a 10% margin of error. And the tile company didn't have any more, in any of their locations. That was a However, with some pushing and begging for them to keep looking, they found that one location did have 24"x24" tiles (ours are 12"x24") in the same pattern - old stock not on the floor anymore - so we hot-footed it across the city - about 45 minutes away - and grabbed them up. The contractor will cut them in half and they'll be just like the others.

wooden grey polished porcelain tile 12x24

We now have all the tile we need, the last ones should be laid today, and then everything will be grouted tomorrow or Monday. Can I get an "Amen"?!

wooden grey polished porcelain tile 12x24

Overall it's looking pretty good. The bathroom floor is dark brown tile that imitates wood planking. The contractor didn't realize that I wanted it staggered like real wood floors and I just about had a heart attack when I saw how he planned to lay it (with the only seam being a zigzag down the centre of the room). Thank goodness he was just dry-fitting it and it wasn't installed that way.

wood plank tile 8x36

The wall tile colour is called "Wooden Grey" and I love the wavy pattern. It's not quite a grey, not quite a brown, just somewhere in between. I want to keep taking close up pictures and just stare at them. We went with a subway tile pattern rather than stacked to give it a smoother look overall.

wooden grey polished porcelain tile 12x24

Once it's all done we need to paint and install the vanity and toilet. We also want to put in a new light fixture over the sink but we haven't picked anything out yet.

We're so close now, I can almost taste it! Though to be honest, am I looking forward more to having my bathroom back or to taking a vacation once it's done?


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