When we moved into our current house almost three years ago, one of the things I was most excited about was that we would have a real laundry room. In our previous house, the washer and dryer were in the garage. That in itself wasn’t bad at all, but when you go through the amount of laundry that we did with three very small children, the laundry would pile up and there was no specific place to put it other than in baskets on the garage floor or our bedroom. I was thankful to have a place in the new house for all the dirty clothes, and clothes waiting to be folded to hang out. We moved into our current home in the first part of September 2017. Hurricane Irma, a storm that was predicted to hit as a category 5 storm, decided to come through 10 days later. We were faced with some tough decisions about whether we should stay hunkered down in our new home, or hit the road. We decided even if the storm wasn’t as dangerous as the weather people were forecasting, we knew there would probably be mass power outages. I have a screenshot on my phone of the projected path right over out little town. The thought of trying to survive in the sweltering heat and humidity of September in Florida with no air conditioning, refrigeration or basic conveniences was too much to handle so we hit the road. I’m so glad we did because it ended up being a really thrilling and exciting yet still exhausting trip. Our family, my parents, my brother and his then girlfriend (now wife), and my sister and her two daughters (her husband is a pharmacist and had to stay behind for work) all caravanned up to the safety of my grandmother’s house, and later our Aunt and Uncle’s house in Tennessee. In the hours before we left Florida we had to walk around the entire house, filled with boxes that weren’t even unpacked, and try to dump each one of them out to take pictures for insurance purposes incase our new home was levelled by the storm. One of the saddest moments was when I walked into my new laundry room. I hadn’t even had the opportunity to get good use out of it, and there we were, facing a grim possibility that we might not ever see it in that good condition again. When we arrived back at home after those few touch and go days, we were happy to see that everything was in its place. An enormous oak tree was uprooted in the center of our neighborhood along with some other downed trees but none of the homes had any severe damage. Our house was intact and we were so thankful. You’d think with that sigh of relief and excitement to get our new house set up, we would have had the laundry room in working order pretty quickly upon our return. Nope. Here we are three years later and I am just now coming up with a system and design that will work for our family.
Now that the kids are a little bit older and can fold their own laundry, it makes the design aspect a little bit easier. I don’t have to design a laundry system with babies or toddlers in mind, that have yet to develop their folding skills. When it comes to laundry, they’ve reached the level of maturity that they’ll remain at until they move out. Laundry self-sufficiency! Except washing because we ain’t no fools. 😊 Our main needs are storage for clean clothes we haven't gotten around to folding yet, space for dirty laundry, and storage for laundry essentials like detergent, dryer sheets, etc. We also wanted to have room to walk around even with all of those things being stored in there at the same time. This sounds easy enough but it took me until now to come up with a system that will work in our very small space.
Having a two year old washing machine conk out on you is not ideal. The washing machine we had came with our house, and we were the first occupants of the home so we expected it to last for a good while. Wrong. Spending several hundred dollars on a new washing machine stung but it gave me an idea. I measured the space and realized that if we could get a stackable washing machine and dryer, we might be able to get some better use out of the space. As it was before, there was no way you could walk around in that room if you had more than one or two baskets of laundry waiting to be washed or folded. That meant that the laundry waiting to be folded spilled over into the master bedroom, which left it looking messy. And that kind of chronic mess makes me…angry.
After we purchased our stackable washer and dryer we moved the machines to the corner closest to the door which freed up an entire wall. A few years ago, I made some industrial looking shelves out of steel plumbing pieces and some wood shelving laid across them. Those were my inspiration for a countertop design I wanted to install in the laundry room. I was ready to start!
If you don't care about supplies or the process, feel free to to skip to the before and after pictures. :)
LOWE'S SHOPPING LIST
Galvanized plumbing pipe (1 inch diameter, 48 inches long) x4
Floor Flange Fittings (1 inch) x8
One piece of untreated white wood, 2x4 (8 ft long)
Edge glued board (16 inches wide, 6 ft long) x2
Edge glued board (16 inches wide, 4 ft long) x2
Pine board (6ft long, 4 inches wide, 1 inch thick) x2
Elmer’s Wood Glue
Box of trim screws (#8, 2 inches long)
Box of wood screws (#10, 2 inches long)
Box of wood screws (#8, 1 inch long)
Minwax wood stain (small cans) in Early American and Weathered Oak
Helmsman Spar Urethane in clear satin
1 gallon of Valspar 2000 paint in Swiss Coffee (satin)
1 sample can of Valspar paint in Dark Kettle Black
* I mixed the blue/teal color on the bottom of the laundry room by using some dark teal/blue sample cans and old white paint I had. The actual color is close to a Valspar paint color called Firmament.
Let me start off by saying this laundry room was designed around trying to use some materials I already had. My actual shopping list wasn’t that long. Those were the materials that I used, but I already had a lot of it from other projects we had done.
Let’s get to it!
1. The first thing I did was paint the entire laundry room white using Valspar 2000, Swiss Coffee in a satin finish.
2. I calked any gaps around the floorboards.
3. Once the paint dried I used my stud finder to find the studs behind the drywall, and used my wood screws to attach the untreated 2x4 to the wall at the height I wanted my countertop to sit.
4. Then I took my two pieces of edge glued board (16 inches wide and 6ft long), glued them together as close to flush as possible, and clamped the sides down to dry.
5. Once the glue dried, I unclamped the wood, sanded down the edges and cut the excess inches off on the end with my circular saw. This part of the counter would run the length of the free wall, minus about 16 inches in order to fit the width of the countertop that would run at a right angle.
6. Next I attached the 6ft piece of pine to the edge of my glued shelf board to use as a ledge to cover where the plumbing flange’s would sit under the countertop. I used the trim screws for this part since they are thinner and less likely to split the wood. This part is optional, but I used my router to round the edge of the countertop so none of my kids hit their heads on the sharp edge.
7. Then I lightly stained the wood with a mix of Minwax Early American (use sparingly) and Weathered Oak.
8. After the stain was dry I applied one coat of the Helmsman Spar Urethane and let it dry. Once it dried, I lightly sanded it down with some fine sand paper, and applied a second coat. I did the same thing again and then applied a third and final coat.
9. Once the first countertop was finished, I brought it into the laundry room and used the galvanized pipes as a prop for the front part of the countertop while I screwed the back part into the 2x4 that was already attached to the wall.
10. I hand screwed the flanges into the galvanized pipes on both ends, and then used my drill to screw the flange at the top of the pipe into the bottom of the countertop using 1 inch wood screws. Once I attached all the flanges/pipes to the bottom of the countertop, that part was completed and the countertop was supported.
11. I did the same thing for the smaller piece of countertop that ran on the adjoining wall. That piece of countertop was only supposed to be about 16 inches wide, by 34 inches long. I used the other two pieces of edge glued board that I bought which were 4ft long and 16 inches wide. I glued the boards together and then cut them to size with my circular saw. After that just repeat steps 5-9.
12. Once the countertops were installed I painted the bottom part of the wall underneath the countertops a blue/teal color my mixing some old paint I had lying around. It turned out to be a very similar color to “Firmament” by Valspar.
13. Next I took my sample can of black paint and used a sponge brush to make different length black lines all over the wall over the counter.
*I installed an optional shelf at the top of the wall that was purely for decorative purposes, although I suppose you could use it for some kind of small storage space. That was made from smaller galvanized pipes (8 inches long I believe), end caps, flanges, and a rough edge piece of 2x6 pine.
I made the “Dirty Laundry” and “Clean Laundry” prints myself on the computer and had them printed at a local printer for less than $15. And that was that! I was pretty determined to get all of this done because I was so excited to have my laundry room in working order after the last three years of unorganized laundry chaos. It took me about two days working on and off.
If all goes as planned, we will use the countertop for dirty clothes baskets. We'll have a towel basket, colors basket and whites basket for us to toss the dirty laundry into. Under the counter, each person in the family will have their own laundry basket. The clothes will be sorted into the correct basket as they come out of the dryer and each kid will fold and put away their own clothes as a part of their morning chores. At least that's the theory. And after all this work, if my system doesn't work out like that, I may just start leaving the laundry around our yard until they comply. :)