Our Finished Laundry Room Makeover (Before & Afters)

With the addition of a light fixture and shoe storage this past week (and deciding to nix a window covering for now and just frost the window when we convert the carport into a garage), we just had one last item on our tig ol’ bist (which is how I would imagine Missy Elliott would say “big ol’ list”):

  • Frost the side door for privacy <– seen here
  • Remove the narrow shelving that gets blocked by the open door <– seen here
  • Remove the old plantation shutters that block much-needed light <– seen here
  • Craigslist the old un-energy efficient stacked top loaders and snag a killer deal on new Energy Star front loaders <– seen here
  • Caulk a big ol’ crack in the ceiling <– seen here
  • Paint the odd brown quarter round near the baseboards glossy white <– seen here
  • Redo all the dinged up trim (also in semi-gloss white)   <– seen here
  • Paint the walls <– seen here
  • Replace our dryer hose with a safer all-metal one <– seen here
  • Add adjustable built-in shelving in that nook next to the stacked washer & dryer <– seen here
  • Prime & paint the upper cabinetry <– seen here
  • Replace the hinges and knobs on those upper cabinets <– seen here
  • Hang the ironing board to obscure the giant metal fuse box <– seen here 
  • Add other functional storage near the door for shoes <–seen here
  • Make a new light fixture <– seen here
  • Add a window treatment (maybe a homemade one?) <— will just frost it when we convert the carport to a garage
  • Hang some art to keep it cheerful (and add storage for Burger’s leash)

When it came to what to put on the wall besides the hanging ironing board, Sherry and I bounced around a lot of ideas throughout the whole laundry room process. And ultimately we decided we need something else bouncing around in there: light. Lucky for us, we snagged this awesome $10 mirror at a neighborhood yard sale a few weeks ago. Coincidentally, it was the same one where we got our twig & berry art – so imagine us walking home carrying two big frames and a heavy mirror while pushing a stroller and walking a chihuahua. Yeah, that’s how we roll.

We decided it was perfect for that big blank wall next to the door, since whatever went there had to be relatively flat or risk getting slammed by the door (which is why the narrow open shelving left by the previous owners made us nervous so we removed it and frosted that side door for privacy).

Anyway, the mirror was perfect. Except that hanging it was going to require some planning because my screws in the wall would have to be perfectly placed thanks to this “do not hang with wire” warning (complete with accompanying illustration):

So I tore a piece of printer paper in half, and taped each piece partially over each hook (with that tape facing the mirror) and partially hanging out the sides (with that tape facing away from the mirror). Basically, I gave the mirror dinky paper wings.

And yes, my Dr. Pepper shirt is campaigning to become The Official Shirt Of Doing Projects With (Or In Front Of) Mirrors. That or I just wear it a lot.

Back to the winged mirror. First I poked a hole right through where my screw would need to go:

That way when we held up the mirror in place (making sure it was centered and level) we could slap the exposed pieces of tape against the wall and have an instant guide for where the screws needed to get a-screwed:

I definitely recommend two people for this method. One to hold it up (me) and one to step back and make sure it’s placed well/not wonky (Sherry). After that step it was also Sherry’s job to hold down the taped wings as I pulled the mirror away from the wall to ensure that they successfully separated and remained in the right spots (as opposed to shifting or unsticking as the mirror was pulled away).

After quickly drilling through my guide holes to make small pilot holes, those paper wings that we had taped to the wall came down and a heavy duty anchor and screw soon took their place on each side:

Just as I had hoped (but didn’t expect), it worked and the mirror was hanging in no time. Total shocker. Quick tip: never expect that something like this will work on the first try because you’re practically ensuring that it won’t and you’ll be pissed. I went into this expecting it to take a fortnight (which resulted in “pleasantly surprised John”).

Sherry and I are still a bit undecided about the finish on the mirror. Our usual instinct was to paint it white (or ORB, or even the same deep teal from the built-ins), but lately we find ourselves appreciating a mix of finishes more and more. And letting “old pieces” add to the collected feel of a room without always slapping paint on them right away. I know, another shocker. So, for now, we’re living with this crackled gold dealio. Although down the line when we get stainless appliances in the adjoined kitchen it might look clashy and call for a paint job. We’ll keep you posted.

So far our random $10 yard sale mirror is turning out to be an AWESOME addition to the room. Not only does it allow for that last look at ourselves before heading out the door, it also reflects a lot of additional light into our windowless kitchen. Heck, it even makes the laundry room look bigger too thanks to “visually doubling” the space when you stand in front of the dryer (now the room seems to go on and on).

But that’s not our only addition to the laundry room walls. We also hung two textured frames (from the Pottery Barn Outlet a few years back – they used to live in our old office slash guest room). And we decided to use them to proudly display some of our favorite family pictures above our new shoe cabinet. As for Burger’s leash, we just tucked it into a white bowl from the kitchen. Oh and we got that pink vase on sale at Target for $7. I actually found it myself and recommended it to the wife since it reminded me of the colors in our ironing board cover. Who knew I had that in me? The laundry room is evidently helping me branch out in ways that I never imagined.

But back to the art. I actually owe my mom for inspiring the framed family pics. She always had a collage of family photos tacked up in our laundry room growing up and I loved looking at it. Functional spaces like laundry rooms can so quickly become just that – functional – so it’s easy to overlook bringing something personal in. Wow – how lame was that last sentence? To put it in less “TV decorating host” terms: it doesn’t hurt to look at a cute baby while, well, washing diapers for said cute baby. And the rest of the fam doesn’t hurt my eyes either.

The top pic is a family portrait (Burger included!) from our Outer Banks trip last month. And the bottom is one Katie Bower snapped the last time we visited her in GA. Lucky for us, the yellows in each pic accidentally work nicely with the room’s colors scheme (although we’d probably hang them up even if they clashed because they’re favs). Oh, and next to the top frame is a little iron bee (you know we love us some bees) that we got a while ago while thrifting in Delaware. And once again, we opted to leave it as is (even though we mentioned painting it white in the thrifting post). That, my friends, is our form of rebellion. Yup, we’re bad. Bad to the bone.

Wow, just realized that wall comes from a lot of states. Pictures taken in NC and GA, frames purchased in SC, and a hook found in DE. Though the miscellaneous keys are for things like local PO Boxes and family members’ homes – so that kinda ruins the streak. Oh well.

And with that fine ladies and gentlemen, we are calling the laundry room COMPLETE… for now at least. So let’s take one more look back at how we got from before

…to done (for now):

It’s actually the first room we’ve made this much progress on. Quite possibly because it was only about the size of a bathroom stall. Oh well, you know we’re all about taking the whole house makeover thing one tiny project at a time.

And for all you number crunchers out there, here’s the whole budget breakdown of all of the updates we’ve made in the past few weeks:

  • New Energy Star front loading washer/dryer: $388 (well, really $638 but we craigslisted the old set for $250)
  • Frosting film (Home Depot): $18
  • Paint and caulk: $0 (already owned)
  • Built-in shelves (supplies from Lowe’s & Home Depot): $74
  • Ironing board cover (Etsy): $24
  • Ironing board hooks (Lowe’s): $12
  • Cabinet knobs (Hobby Lobby): $8
  • Shoe cabinets (Ikea): $38
  • Clothespin light fixture (homemade here): $34
  • Mirror (yard sale): $10
  • Family photos (CVS): $1
  • Frames (Pottery Barn Outlet): $0 (already owned)
  • Iron fly hook (thrift store): $0 (already owned)
  • Laundry basket (Target): $0 (already owned)
  • Pink vase (Target): $7
  • Other accessories like bowls & baskets: $0 (already owned)
  • TOTAL: $624*

* which is pretty thrilling considering our new front loading washer & dryer alone were originally $1198!

Oh and we don’t factor in the cost of things that we have leftover from previous projects or already own since they’re usually already “counted” in other budget breakdowns (ex: the wall paint we used was already counted in the kitchen painting breakdown, so using the remaining paint for this project and saying “$20 again” would be double-counting). But a few folks commented to say that it might be helpful to mention the cost of those already-owned items in case someone at home was planning to do the same thing (but had to buy everything from scratch) so adding about $25 for some caulk & a quart of paint, $25 for frames & accessories, $3 for the plastic laundry basket, and $5 for the iron bee hook that we found thrifting should do it (for a grand total of $682).

Thee cheers for appliance deals and DIY built-ins and ironing-board-covers-as-art and thrift store hooks and clothespin chandeliers and all the other odd calls that we made for our tiny laundry room. And now I’ll toss in this awkward monkey-toed picture, lest you forget just how narrow this space really is:

And so ends the laundry room makeover. We’re currently enjoying diaper-washing-day a little too much. And my mom and dad saw our clothespin light in person and proclaimed it “the coolest thing we’ve ever made besides Clara.” Which got us all awkward and blushy. Have you guys done any laundry room revamps lately? Or made any cute babies? Or done some owling on a windowsill? Apparently owling is the new planking.


  1. Sandy says

    What? You guys didn’t paint a mirror??? Blasphemy!

    It looks great! I love the photos by the door, it’s kind of nice to see your family before you step out and as you step in…

  2. says

    L-O-V-E it! That mirror adds great texture and definitely works to make the room appear larger and brighter…I’d love to hear just how much brighter the kitchen is with it as well. I’m sure I’d find myself doing more laundry than ever with that great new room!


    • says

      It definitely brightens up the kitchen thanks to reflecting light that comes in through the frosted door! Paired with the lighter walls in the kitchen (as opposed to the dark paneling) it’s definitely more cheerful in there now! But we still have a long way to go when it comes to the kitchen. Haha.


  3. Rachel says

    Hey y’all! Just wondering if y’all are planning to do a book signing in Richmond when your book comes out. I can’t wait for that book!!

    • says

      Aw thanks Rachel! I’m sure we’ll be planning things like that down the line- we’d definitely love to meet up with lots o’ locals when it’s out! We’re actually moving right along on the 250+ page manuscript (insane!) so we owe you guys a post about that whole process. The book itself is due out next fall (2012). We can’t wait.


  4. says

    Yeah, I think I’d paint the mirror… But once it’s done, it’s done, so I think it’s a good idea to live with it for a bit, and see if you like it or not. Plus it looks like a big job to tape it all out round all those protruding bits and I’m lazy!

  5. debbie c says

    This room is so sweet! It came together so well, the chandy is the crowning touch! Such a good feeling when a room design is complete!

  6. jane says

    ooohhh, I love it! I wasnt so sure of that color when you first painted, but I love how it came together!!! WOW!! Our laundry area is in a dark basement. I should paint the area like that to just make it more enjoyable and cheery while I am down there.
    Have you made any decisions on your WE leaf duvet?

    • says

      We’re definitely leaning towards selling it on ebay and posting the link for everyone, so the second we get it together we’ll share that info!


  7. Darnetha says

    I love the mirror, by the picture the color goes great with the new light fixture you guys made. I started a long time ago trying to spruce up the ol’ mud room/laundry room, but it just quickly turned into an after thought. But you all have inspired me to start that project up again. Thanks!

    • says

      Yeah, I think that’s why we’re so happy leaving it for now! It definitely goes with the blonde wood in the clothespins and the light baskets on the built-ins.


  8. Amanda says

    Have you guys thought about adding a sky light to bring some “additional light into our windowless kitchen”? There are some awesome pictures of kitchens with sky lights on Pinterest and having one (or two) in your kitchen would make such a difference! Maybe over the island you guys plan on putting in.

  9. Stacy says

    I like the room but would like to see the mirror in a more eye catching color…turquoise? A bright blue, white…not sure but not digging the mirror as is.

  10. Heather W says

    Love the Laundry room! I have two random questions though on your Baby Center post you mentioned the 3M picture hanging velcro and I was wondering where you purchase this and second where in Target did you find the sale vase. Our Target got remodeled and I haven’t beeen able to find the vases????? Your help is much appreciated.


    • says

      We’ve found that 3M velcro at places like JoAnn Fabrics or other craft stores usually (maybe Target in the hook aisle or Home Depot or Lowe’s?). Hope it helps! As for the vase, it was on an end cap near the frames. Hope it helps!


  11. Michelle says

    So glad you didn’t paint the mirror! That’s old Hollywood Regency Faux Bamboo style! Nice! I have some old pieces of it handed down from my Mom and Dad that’s from the 60’s. I love it and this from someone who hates gold furnishings.
    Btw … i want to live in your laundry room, so stinkin’ organized! Thanks for all the updates. ;-D

    • Elizabeth says

      I love it as well…hope it doesn’t get painted! Painting it would take all the dimension out of the frame finish.

    • says

      Yeah we’d love for it to work once we add the stainless range hood and appliances in the kitchen. You can easily see that side of the laundry room while sitting where the future island will go, so we’ll have to see how it goes!


    • Elizabeth says

      I think it would still be fine…I have a gold federal style convex eagle mirror right next to my kitchen with silver hardware and brushed steel lamps.

      Mixing is good in my book!

    • Pamela says

      I agree wholeheartedly Michelle! Hollywood Regency is amazing & sooo classy. The gorgeous mirror doesn’t scream “gold” at all, but has a fabulous understated elegance which requires no paint. Love the organic bamboo look, too, which ties in with the light fixture. What a score John & Sherry! Your beautiful laundry room, with the interesting elements & finishes totally works…

  12. says

    I just posted our laundry room makeover… still in the works, but it’s coming along! Our room is long and narrow too and we used a ‘runner’ type rug from TarJay. Oh, and when you frost the paned window – the frosting spray paint works WONDERS! We did the film on master windows and spray paint is a lot easier (although stinky).

    By the way – you take awesome pics. :)

  13. Leah says

    It looks so great! I love how it turned out.

    Another easy(-ish) way to hang pictures with dual brackets is to put a piece of painter’s tape across the back and poke holes where the hangers are. Then just pull the tape off the back and put it on the wall.

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