Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Laundry Redux

Back in the basement!  After pricing out painting for the main area of the basement and the kitchen, we also had a few contractors give us bids for the laundry room.  They were way more than we wanted to spend (like $5,000).  So we decided to just DIY it as best we could.

Before we started, this section of the basement was totally unfinished, which wasn't a big deal except that (1) it was super ugly and (2) you have to walk through the laundry room to access the guest room.  So we were basically inviting people to stay with us and then making them venture through the ugly bowels of the house to reach their guest quarters.

By "unfinished and ugly," I mean concrete floors and dreary, beige and green walls (not exactly what I'd call a winning combination). Our plan was simple: cover the ugly walls with beadboard, give them a cheery coat of paint, slap some adhesive vinyl tiles down on that concrete floor, and add some glossy white trim to make it all look finished.  Or at least as finished as a basement laundry room room with the furnace and water heater in the middle of it can look.

So here are the BEFORE pictures.  As you walk in to unfinished part from the finished basement, you face the washer and dryer.

Doesn't the green accent wall just really add something special to the space? This picture also best captures the oppressive BEIGE that was all over the basement.
Looking back toward the entrance to the finished part of the basement.  This is Cooper's eating nook.  That gray wall on the left leads to the guest room.
To the left of the washer and dryer is the biggest part of the room--it's where the furnace and water heater are.  The former owners also left a refrigerator down there and we put our small deep freeze next to it.

Fridge and freezer pulled away from the wall to allow access to hang the beadboard.
And they left a (very heavy) antique desk which we decided to keep because (1) I think it's cool and would like to refinish it and make it a crafting sort of space (2) it would be a pain in the butt to haul out of there.

Zuzu and baby playing with wires in the space where the craft desk normally sits.  Safety first!
I don't have any other angles in "BEFORE" pictures because David was in charge of taking them, but you get the idea. The walls were ugly, the floor was bare, dirty-looking concrete, and the whole room just felt dingy.  The ceiling remains unfinished--it's low enough that I think a dropped ceiling would feel too low and I don't feel the need to make the room feel completely finished and polished--it is a basement, after all.  But we did do just enough to spruce it up!

First, David and my dad built a plywood platform for the washer and dryer.  This served two purposes:  it leveled out the base so they weren't off balance (the washer had a tendency to wander a bit in the spin cycle before), and it raised them so there's not so much bending over to transfer laundry from the washer to the dryer (much like the expensive drawer bases you can buy at the store).  It is a little bit tall for a folding station, but I rarely fold laundry in the laundry room anyway (it's one of those chores I like to do in front of the TV--especially if it's a little more time consuming, like stuffing diapers).  But it is a nice surface for folding/stacking when necessary.

You can kind of see the platform and cabinet that David built around the washer and dryer. Or you could if Cooper, Zuzu, and David weren't all blocking it.  You can imagine what an enormous help Zuzu was with the painting.
David covered the walls with beadboard to make them uniform and make it feel more like a real room. We chose a soft aqua-blue paint for the walls--Tidewater by Sherwin Williams.

Tidewater is on the large swatch on the bottom right. It's second from the top.
Going on the beadboard! Also pictured: laundry on a drying rack.
I edged while he rolled to get the paint up on the walls and then while he was painting, measuring, and cutting trim, I got to work on tiling the floor.  The concrete floor is no where near level, and it's designed to dip toward the drain located on the floor.  Unless we wanted to spend a considerable amount of time and money leveling it out, we knew ceramic tiles weren't a viable option.  The washer drains just below its plywood platform and the basement tends to be super humid in the summertime (we run a dehumidifier down there), so we needed a floor covering that could handle a bit of moisture without getting completely wrecked.

Considering our budget and the basic needs of the room, we decided to go with peel and stick vinyl tiles.  We chose a medium gray that contrasted nicely with the pale aqua walls but felt so much fresher and cleaner than the dingy old concrete.  I thought I wanted the larger 18" tiles, but they weren't available in the pattern I wanted, so we ended up going with the standard 12" square, which worked just fine.

We ended up going with the bottom tile even though it was dark because it had the most texture and felt the most substantial of the two grays.
A friend of mine had warned me that she'd done peel and stick tiles in her basement and the adhesive didn't hold up very well, so we took the extra step of prepping the concrete with this stuff that's supposed to improve the adhesion.  It didn't take much time to roll it on and it made me feel like we were being thorough, but of course there's no way to really know if it will make much of a difference.

I started tiling on the plywood platform, which was perfectly level and pretty square, so it was a good place to practice, especially since the tile would all be covered up by the washing machine and dryer.

In progress.  
Tiling the concrete was a bit of a different experience since the concrete wasn't always level and was actually quite uneven in a few places.  But I made it work!  My hands were sore and my fingernails were all broken by the end of it, but it was well worth the hard work (even the bruised sits bones and knees from crawling around and sitting on concrete).  I think even more than the walls, the tile transformed the place by making it feel clean in a way that the concrete never did.

Bare concrete. But a clear shot of the platform and the cabinet. A utility sink is on our shopping list and will go in the space next to the washing machine.
There was a method to my madness.
It took an entire weekend of peeling, sticking, cutting, peeling, and sticking, but in the end we were quite satisfied with the transformation.  Our paint and tile made everything feel so much cleaner and brighter (even though the tile was about as dark as the concrete floor had been).  The contrast is lovely with the blue walls and white trim, and even without a finished ceiling, the space is SO much nicer.


Washing machine, dryer, unmatching rug.
Cooper's hungry.  As usual.  That weird green thing is his food dish--it forces him to eat slowly because he has to work around all those green nubs to get at his kibble.  Keeps him from scarfing his food down in .5 seconds. He's not impressed.
View from the desk/refrigerator area.
Here's the view of the furnace smack-dab in the middle of the room.  This is why the room will never really feel "finished," but as you can see, we could definitely improve the functionality (and cuteness) of the space.
So, as I said, eventually we're going to put in a utility sink next to the washing machine, and I'll get some heavy-duty metal shelves to put by the door and replace the not-as-sturdy white plastic ones.  I picked up a few accessories last weekend--a banana leaf laundry hamper, a couple of plastic bins for the shelves, and a soft-sided bin (just because it was so cute!).   I'm still on the hunt for a replacement rug to go in front of the washer and dryer (the placeholder rug is too small and all the wrong colors), and I want to get some fun art for the wall.  I also may whip up a little valance curtain for the window above the washer and dryer, and David wants to build in in the breaker box so all the wires aren't so exposed.

The desk area is going to be fixed up to create a little crafting/wrapping station, which will be really nice when it's all finished, but will take some planning on my part.  I also think I'd like to refinish the desk, but that project seems a bit daunting.  Maybe this summer?

freezer, fridge, part of the desk, and wild Zuzu.
Keeping it real with the lack of organization so far.  I need to get some pegs for my pegboard!
Zuzu is crying because I closed the closet doors for this photo. #reasonsmytoddleriscrying You can also see David's weight machine is hanging out down here.  We think that it may get relocated eventually, but we'll see.
Evidently, Zuzu really wanted the closet doors open so you could see this. Yes, I tiled the entire storage area, too. And yes, it is crammed it full of stuff.  Most of these bins are full of outgrown baby clothes and baby stuff (not kidding).
Anyway, we'll be tweaking the laundry and crafty sections of the room and I'll be scoping out some accessories to cute it up, but overall I'm really glad that we plunged ahead with this little makeover.  Of course it ended up costing more than we wanted it to--we were aiming for around $500, but the room itself is so large (roughly 12'x19', plus the storage closet that's probably 12'x6') that buying the beadboard and floor tile added up quickly.  Still, I think it was a good investment since it has already made the chore of laundry far more enjoyable.  And I happen to live with two of the biggest laundry generators on the face of this earth, so I appreciate the improved facilities.

If you're wondering what's through this door...
It's our St. Louis Cardinals-themed guest room! Don't you want to come visit?
And by the way--Zuzu spied this swing in the storage closet and decided it had to be relocated for the use of Big Baby.

Putting baby in the swing.
And starting it up.
Obviously, Rerun will be in good hands.  Zuzu is totally ready to babysit!

Oh, wait...

She looks pretty comfy here. And poor Big Baby was flopped unceremoniously on the floor--you can see her feet in the bottom corner of the photo. 
I'm thinking we may need to hold off a little bit on leaving Zuzu in charge of babysitting.


  1. I am so inspired by your home improvement posts! Our laundry room is off the kitchen and is still painted builder white and is generally an eyesore. Which is a problem because it is RIGHT OFF THE KITCHEN. I think some paint and flooring would help my annoyance level tremendously. Your room looks beautiful!

  2. what's up with the Christmas wreath on the guest room door? and was there really nothing covering the studs in the walls before? I feel like I would remember exposed studs and wires, but maybe not.

  3. Wow! What a fabulous job! We used those adhesive tiles on our kitchen and small bath at our old house. They worked out really well. I love the colour palette you chose as well. Very fresh for a laundry area.

    I agree in not wanting guests to walk by a dingy laundry area. You really changed the entire look of it!

  4. WOW little changes=BIG DIFFERENCE! Way to go! it looks awesome! Totally inspired for my basement bathroom/laundry room redo! Currently I have a mish-mash of paneled walls. Literally one is wood, one is marble and one is a different faux-woodgrain. Classy. But yours looks amazing!

  5. @Brandon/Uncle Bubs:
    (1) That's not a Christmas wreath, that's a St. Louis Cardinals wreath.
    (2) The exposed studs were covered with pegboard and one smalls section of ugly paneling, which David did not capture in his "before" pictures.

  6. This was a great before and after! Can't believe how much of a difference those changes made. Instantly looks more modern and warm.

  7. omg. That is Big Baby for sure. Who knew there were so many options for sizes of baby dolls.

    I have never thought to paint beadboard. Smart cookies, you guys.

    I love it. Like, looooove.

  8. I wrote a long comment and then hit the back button on my phone. Fail. But all I was saying was that I'm was going to comment on the beautiful paint color and how awesome it looks, but was too distracted when you showed Cooper's dog bowl. What an amazing an interesting concept. I wish I thought of something like that. Do you think it helps him? Roscoe inhales his food, but I've never really thought that it's problematic. He sometimes coughs a little bit after he eats, but that lasts for like five seconds.

  9. Wow you guys are so impressive!!!

    Btw the 'toddler climbing into baby equipment' thing NEVER ends, especially when the baby is actually there. Luke was just sitting in Matt's INFANT CAR SEAT the other night just hanging out? Crazy.

  10. I love it!! And your guest room is decorated?!! You should see the stark barrenness of ours!! I'm so jealous of your skillz.

  11. The basement looks great. Seriously impressed, especially by the beadboard and tiling. I need to get my act together and check some things off my DIY list that I resolved to do for 2014.

    Random question: did you like your baby swing? If so, what brand/model is it? I'm due with my 2nd but got rid of our swing after my 1st was done with it because it took up way too much space. I like the smaller look of this one.

  12. Oh NO! I'm going to have to warn Dennis about the Cardinals room. He is not going to be pleased :)