With a major laundry room renovation about to launch, we look at some laundry room ideas to help us figure out which direction we’d like to go.
Do you remember the good old days before the internet? Remember when the kitchen was just a place where dinner was cooked (and those meals didn’t have to be uploaded for all to see and “like”)? Remember when the laundry room (or laundry closet) was just a place where clothes went to get clean?
Well, thanks to Facebook and Pinterest and Instagram, those care-free and halcyon days are over. Every room in the Modern American House has undergone, or is undergoing, an aesthetic renaissance. Unfortunately, renaissances don’t come cheap.
The ultra-high-end chef’s kitchen has been a Big Thing for a while now, and many have been conditioned to think Wolf stoves and Sub-Zero refrigerators are actually worth their outlandish prices. (Don’t get me started on that.) Not content with just kitchens and living rooms and bedrooms, the highfalutin’ Style Rangers of Blogland have decided laundry rooms should look like McMansions. The once-humble laundry room has been twisted into some sort of all-inclusive, 5-star destination resort for panties and sweat socks. Have you seen the laundry room pictures floating around the blogosphere? Jeezum H. Crow! I was searching for laundry room ideas on Pinterest, but I had to check to make sure I hadn’t mistakenly typed, “Taj Mahal” by mistake. You’ve never seen such perfection! It’d be blasphemy to soil their gleaming surfaces with grimy jeans and smelly socks and faded five dollar t-shirts!
I don’t want to wash my underwear in that room. I want to put on a tuxedo, uncork a bottle of Bordeaux and eat Beef Wellington by candlelight with Handan!
So it was with some trepidation that we embarked upon a laundry room
renaissance renovation of our own. We want to make some pretty big changes, but we don’t want to take a second mortgage to do so, and it has to look “cool” enough for us to throw it out into the cold and judgmental cyber-world. How would we compete with all that social media perfection? How would we build our own Tide Mahal?
Let’s have a gander at what we have now, and then we’ll look at our strategy.
I could only find one realtor photo of the original laundry room. Really, it was a laundry closet off of the mud room. The closet had two swing-open doors. The washer and dryer were installed when the house was built in 1996.
One of the first things we did after moving in was to upgrade the washer and dryer. The washer was on its last legs, anyway. Something inside had broken or shorted, and it was jerry-rigged with two toothpicks and a shiny quarter to keep it operating. Sounds weird, but it worked. Besides, the tub was rusty. Handan took one look inside and declared it time to buy new machines. Since the machines we bought were modern and, frankly, looked pretty bad-ass, we decided to remove the doors. That Closet Maid shelf was an eyesore, so we removed that, too.
Then Handan bestowed me with my very first project: a wooden counter over the machines with two pull-out drying racks. That project was the tiny little ball of snow that would eventually snowball into The Navage Patch. It was the first thing I built from scratch. I built a frame from 2x4s and 4x4s and then made the top out of shiplap. Now, shiplap may already have been hot due to HGTV and Chip and Joana Gaines, but I had just returned from years overseas. I hadn’t heard of HGTV or those two Texans, so my choice of countertop was not in service of the latest trend. Notice the detergent stains on the wood. I didn’t know enough to seal the wood back then.
I didn’t know nuthin’!
Nevertheless, I was proud of what I had built – especially of my custom-designed, custom-made, artisanal, hand-crafted sweater-drying rack.
I don’t think it’s ever seen a sweater. [Oh of course it did! Only once or twice though, hahahaha – Handan]
Okay, as far as laundry rooms go, it’s not bad, I guess. But I’m a guy, so what do I know?
I don’t know nuthin’!
Apparently our laundry room is an affront to the senses and an insult to laundry rooms everywhere. It is a bad laundry room. And there’s only one thing that can cure a bad laundry room.
A big hammer!
Handan had already thought the whole thing through. Her brain lives in the future, where it’s always busy making plans and cutting deals. My brain is hopelessly mired in the present, where it loafs around, and can usually be found singing to itself and wondering what’s for dinner.
When this week began, we had no plans to start a laundry room renovation. It was a plan in her mind for some future time. But then, just as Athena was plucked into life from the brow of Zeus, our laundry renovation was happening, and it was happening now.
Her plan had hatched.
First and foremost, we’re going to remove the wall (A) that is framing the old laundry closet to gain more usable space. You can’t see it in the picture above, but the water pipes come in from the wall on the left, and they stick pretty far into the closet. We want to pull those pipes back flush with the wall and house them in a proper enclosure.
We want to move the washer and dryer over to the wall on the left (B), turn them 90 degrees (so they would be facing where the coats are now hanging) and stack them. That would require the dryer vent to be moved.
We’d like to build an enclosure around the stacked washer and dryer, and have a tall, narrow, pull-out cabinet next to them to keep our detergents and other laundry supplies. To the left of the washer and dryer (C), we would like to have a utility sink installed. The overall look would be similar to the picture below, except where they have a doggy bed, we’d have a sink.
When we remove the two pieces of wall that frame the closet, it will expose some of the sub-floor. Since we don’t have any extra flooring, we’ve decided we’re going to remove the existing engineered wood flooring (D). Underneath the existing floor is a tile floor. In fact, the whole first floor has tile underneath the engineered wood! Just another little surprise from a house that’s full of ’em.
We’re also planning on moving our dogs’ food and water bowls into the laundry room from the kitchen, so we’ll want something tougher and more scratch-resistant than the existing floor. The first floor of our house has the same flooring everywhere except the master bedroom, the guest bedroom and the guest bathroom. Everywhere else is the same engineered wood floor. In many places, huge end gaps have appeared, and overall, we’re getting a little tired of the existing crappy engineered wood floor. We have decided that we will change the flooring on a room-by-room basis, starting with the laundry room. While we were browsing around Home Depot earlier this week (some people browse malls or clothing stores, we browse Home Depot and Lowe’s), we discovered their line of LVP (luxury vinyl plank) flooring. I’ve never had reason to pay close attention to flooring, so I was unaware of the recent advances in vinyl flooring. I always equated vinyl flooring with the linoleum floors that were all the rage in the 1960s and 1970s. I had no idea that such beautiful, durable floors existed. And they are cheap! And they are so simple to install!
Handan and I knew right then and there that we wanted it, and the laundry room would be the best place to have it!
[One Day Later]
Okay, you know the sound a car makes when it’s going like 80 mph and it slams on the brakes? Yeah, play that sound in your head right now.
Because everything has changed.
What a difference a day makes!
So we did a few “scratch tests” on our little coaster-sized test pieces. I thought they performed reasonably well. Handan thought otherwise. And then there’s this:
Look, it’s stuck on there pretty good – we had to really pry it off – but that’s one thin piece of plastic standing between your foot and the underlayment beneath.
And then we started thinking about resale value. Hardwood floors add value to a house. Downgrading to vinyl will ding the value a bit. We didn’t want to risk it.
So then we set our sights on tile. And really, tile would have been such a good choice – almost perfect – but for one crappy little detail: we couldn’t find a color and style that we both loved.
Not in Home Depot.
Not in Lowe’s.
Not in Tiny Tim’s Tile Town.
A few options came close, but when it comes to flooring or any other major renovation, “Yeah, I guess it’s pretty good” or “this one’s not too bad” just doesn’t cut it.
But a wondrous thing happened at Lowe’s. Handan had wandered off into Lighting to pick up the new ceiling light (F).
While she wandered the luminous lanes of Lowe’s lighting, I heard a siren song calling out to me. In a trance, I wandered through stacks of shag carpet samples until the song resolved itself to be the Cali Bamboo Flooring Display. It was beautiful. I was smitten.
“BABES!” I shouted into the cavernous abyss of Lowe’s. “BAAAAAAAAABES!”
A small head poked up from the steel racks of hanging lights and looked around like a timid meerkat in the Kalahari Desert.
I gesticulated wildly for her to join me. She must have thought I was having a seizure. She grabbed the light and ran my way.
“What is it, my babes?” she said. “Are you okay?…oooooooh.” Her eyes glazed, and her mouth hung open.
I smiled and nodded.
“Ahhhhhhhhhhh…” she continued.
“I know, right?” I said. “I want it.”
“Let’s get it.”
Okay, we did make the decision right then and there, but first we spoke to a nice saleslady about the product, and then we went home and did a whole bunch of research.
And then we bought it. We picked a color called Antique Java. Here’s what it looks like in someone else’s kitchen:
Bamboo flooring is more than twice as hard as the hardest hardwood floor, it is pet-friendly and the Google gods say it can withstand pooled water for about 24 hours without worry. We’ll need to rip up the tile that’s under the floor now (the same tile that we removed from the guest bathroom when we renovated it) and replace the sub-floor, but it will be worth it in the long run. We’ve also decided that we will use bamboo flooring in the rest of the house, as we tackle each room, one-by-one.
Once the washer and dryer have been relocated, we’ll have some open space where the dryer had been (E).
We have some big plans for that wall. But first, instead of plain, painted drywall, we’re going to install a faux brick wall which Handan will whitewash or paint white. We’ll put the same brick wall behind the sink as well (C). It’ll make a great backsplash. Back to the other wall (E) – it’s a perfect spot for a window to let in some much needed natural light.
I know that Handan is dreaming of a laundry room filled with ethereal light, like this one:
Of course, we all know how they get that light, right?
Our house doesn’t have nearly enough windows, so any additional natural light would be welcome. We may put a wall sconce next to the window, or we may install some other type of mood lighting in that little area. We haven’t decided on that part yet, so you’ll just have to wait and see!
Next to where the sink will be is our basement door.
Currently, it swings into the mud room / laundry room. We’re going to change it so it opens into the basement staircase landing. This will make the laundry room feel bigger when the basement door is open – a pretty common occurrence, since I’m often working down there.
To the right of the new window, next to where the coats currently hang, I’ll build some shelving, probably similar to the unit shown in the picture below. It would match well with the light we bought, and it would be very similar in style (if not in size) to the one we built for my office. The shelves would be a great place to add a touch of green. Perhaps a faux plant or two? Maybe even some real ones, eh? With the window, at least they’d have a fighting chance. I keep telling Handan that I want to place a picture of me on the top shelf and surround it with worshiping dust bunnies collected from the dryer’s lint trap, but for some reason, she’s not seeing eye-to-eye with me on the idea. Women. They just don’t understand.
I once said in one of my very first posts on The Navage Patch back in 2015, that both Nature and Handan abhor a vacuum. Empty space tends to be filled. Of course, Aristotle and I were talking about 3-dimensional space – like a room. But the same holds true for the 2-dimensional spaces: walls, cabinet sides, etc.. So it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that Handan is preparing some printables to hang wherever she sees some wretched empty space. It also shouldn’t surprise you to learn that she will be sharing those printables with you!
Of course, if you’re a betting woman (or man), you’d do well to put money on Handan changing her mind about some aspect of our plan and going with something entirely different. Hey, it already happened with the floor! Time will tell, so stay tuned to see what happens next!