Cleaning, Organizing, & Eco

So Fresh & So Clean, Clean

Well, our new washer and dryer have arrived! And we promised to share how the installation went, what we did with the floors under them, and how we like them so far (that’s where things really get interesting). We realized a few days ago that we’ve had a whole bunch of different laundry situations. In our first house we had front loaders with a counter

In our second house we had stacked front loaders with cubbies next to them

… and in this house we’ve had top loaders with cabinetry above them. Here are the new guys sitting pretty (although not quite as pretty as the others since we haven’t tackled the rest of this nook yet).

Honestly, each of these setups have had pros and cons:

*Note: We got some questions on Friday’s post about why we don’t bring our appliances with us when we move. It seems to be one of those regional things. Here people tend to leave them, but it’s not like you leave nice ones without getting anything in return for them – it’s just factored into the listing price here (a seller can command a higher asking price by saying “there are new top of the line appliances” which obviously add a lot of appeal/value).

But now onto our new washer and dryer! When it came to delivery, the guys were really nice, although I did realize about half-way through it that I needed to lay down a dropcloth to protect the runner, even though they wore those nice little shoe-booties (the runner was getting dripped on by the old appliances as they came down – but it was thankfully nothing I couldn’t just wipe down to remove). With the booties/dropcloth combo it looks like a slip-n-slide situation (I begged them to take off their booties because I was afraid they’d fall) but thankfully they went slow and steady and all was fine. Turns out I’m just a worry wart.

You might remember that we couldn’t wait to get the old appliances up and out of there so we could finally replace the old pan under the washer and remove the remaining carpet scraps that were sitting under the dryer.

We decided that laying down some thick 3/4″ plywood (which is the same depth as our hardwoods) would be a nice way to give that particle-board subflooring a more finished look – especially since we could stain it to match the floors so well (we used one coat of Dark Walnut followed by three coats of SafeCoat Acrylacq to seal them). We actually added plywood under our last washer and dryer (more on that here) since we heard it was easier on them to have reinforced flooring (something about them lasting longer) so we’re hoping it gives these a leg-up.

As soon as the guys carried our old appliances downstairs we ran up into the laundry nook for a quick floor presto-change-o, which we did in a blind panic because we knew it would only take them a few minutes to get the old ones downstairs and the new ones upstairs. First we had to remove the old carpeting, which was more secure than we expected (John actually had to scrape up the staples in a mad-dash after we yanked up the carpet and underlayment). Look at him go:

Then we had to get the boards down. Here’s the first one going in. We had pre-measured them and stained/sealed them beforehand so they were all ready to slide into place when the appliances came up.

The second one went right in after the first, but there’s still a small gap that we have to fill where the molding jutted out too far for us to get a flush result. We hope it’ll look nice and complete once we slide that missing piece in (we’re just going to cut one more slice of plywood and stain it to match). Wish we had time to prime and paint that blue trim hiding in the nook while the old washers were out, but it might have to wait for a rainy day…

When you step a little further back, you can hardly tell it’s not the same hardwood flooring running under those appliances (we didn’t photoshop the crack out of this pic, it’s just barely noticeable from this distance). And we’re really happy with how well the color matches. We also plan to add some nice white folding doors (there were some blue ones hanging there originally) so that’s another reason we thought the subtle flooring change should work really well.

As for leak protection, since these guys are on the second floor (and we REALLY REALLY don’t want them to cause damage to anything below them, we were sure to place the washer in a plastic water-catching basin and also upgraded to those nicer reinforced steel water lines instead of the plastic ones.

The crazy thing is that during installation there was actually a small leak where it was attached to our water line, but we caught it while the installer was still here, and he ducked back there and fixed it by tightening things a little. The lesson? Check those lines!

So now onto the fun stuff: how we like our new washer and dryer! Well, we LOVE the dryer so far. It has been quieter, has a much larger capacity, doesn’t shrink things nearly as much as our older one did (that one practically “burned” things and this one has a heat sensor so it doesn’t over-dry). I also love the charming little chime sound it makes when it’s done (which can still be silenced, but it’s so much better than the loud buzz that our old one made).

We also really like the digital setup of the washer and the dryer. It’s easy to see things, like how long each cycle still has left.

The washer’s capacity is also really awesome. It fits a lot more than any of our previous models (especially the old one we were replacing).

And now for the womp-womp. Remember how I worried that bad things happen in threes? Well, our new washer is broken. I’ll pause for effect, as I quietly weep into my dirty laundry pile. The installation just included starting it to make sure there were no leaks when it filled up, but they didn’t stay to watch it run a full cycle (which is completely understandable… that would be close to an hour of washer-watching time).

So imagine our surprise when we ran our first real load of laundry well after they had pulled out of our driveway and heard a crazy-loud grinding sound during the wash cycle (whenever the agitator is moving, there’s this jarring metal-against-metal sound). We even captured it on video, which does no justice to how loud it is – you can hear it all the way from downstairs with the TV or radio blaring.

I woefully called Home Depot to tell them we already had a problem and they told us to call Maytag, who told us they could get a tech out in seven days. Ack! A full week without a working washer after buying a new one and expecting it to run without issue? I sweetly asked if they could get that service call moved up a bit since we were expecting a working machine upon delivery (our laundry had built-up a bunch already, so the prospect of another seven days of waiting stunk) and they said we could call Home Depot and see if they could do anything. I explained that I called them first, but would try one more time.

Well, when HD heard it was going to be a week until Maytag could make a service call (which might not even fix things, it might just diagnose that I needed a new machine, which then had to be ordered) – I could feel them trying to work something out for me, which I really appreciated. They had mercy on my sweet laundry-missing soul and agreed to take back the first one and deliver a new one on Thursday.

I’m really happy with Home Depot’s customer service (I’m sure it’s a lot easier for them to just say “call Maytag, it’s a mechanical issue that they’re supposed to handle) and I have to be honest that I wish Maytag had been able to come out for a service call within 48 hours or so, which is what I expected when my brain reached that “oh snap, our brand new washer is broken” moment.

So that’s where we are. Still sleepless in Seattle washerless in Richmond, but we love our dryer and the new flooring under it. And here’s hoping that by Thursday I’ll be whistling while I work that new washer. I’ve never looked forward to doing laundry this much in my life! Have you guys had any unexpected delivery or new-appliance issues? We’re happier than ever that ours have a one-year warranty given this little curve-ball, but we hope this third house snafu means we have all of our bad luck out of the way for a while…


Sidenote: We’d love to see you guys this weekend at the Richmond Home & Garden Show! We’re speaking at 2pm on Saturday and Sunday (with a book signing following Saturday’s talk). You can get half-price tickets online right here. Oh and they gave us the shock of our life when we were driving down the highway and saw our giant faces on a billboard.

Seriously, we screamed so loud it probably scared other drivers. It’s exciting, unbelievable, and terrifying to see your own mug that big.



So It Turns Out I’m Monica Geller

I get questions like those pretty regularly. And my answers are usually all strained and sputtery like this:

But ladies and germs (oh my gosh, I just turned into my dad for a second there), I finally got annoyed enough to do something about it. So here’s how I tamed the previously untamable chaos that was “the craft closet” (*cue the spooky sound effects*). Here’s my shameful but kind of hilarious before shot of the guest room closet. I swear I didn’t mess this up to have a better after, it actually looked like this for months.

And here’s the “how you like me now” after. In the always applicable words of Jay Z… “GET YOUR DANG HANDS UP.” Ok, you might be at work, so I’ll just wave mine around for you.

Why are my craft things in the guest room closet anyway? That room has the prettiest view in the house, along with gorgeous afternoon light – so I’d love to creep in there and sew/paint on Sunday afternoons. I’d also love to eventually bring in a dresser or desk that can accommodate my sewing machine so the room can truly multi-task (we do host guests occasionally, but we love using rooms more often if we can).

Let’s get a little closer to the chaos first though, shall we? Does it not look like The Rolling Stones stayed here and trashed it like a truly fabulous hotel room? Except with more hello kitty.

This is the view if you stepped into the closet and turned right (there’s a little alcove in there that got just as full of floor-covering junk).

Not to mention all the craft supplies that had collected downstairs on the dining table (which actually looked a whole lot messier, so to see the true before shot of this in 3D you can check out this house tour video).

The first step of any organizing project of mine involves chocolate. So I had a few Hershey’s Kisses (dark, don’t try to tell me that milk chocolate is as good as dark chocolate because we’ll get into it) and then I got down to business. First I dumped out the paper bag that had a ton of craft supplies in it since our move 7 months ago. Yeaaaahhh… it was time.

Next, Clara helped me assemble one of my two secret weapons for this closet: a Raskog cart from Ikea. Initially I had planned to buy a bunch of those plastic bins and drawers at Target, but I realized that buying two larger and more substantial (not to mention cuter) items might help me keep things under control better for the long haul. Storage areas like garages and attics tend to spiral out of control for us – especially if we use a bunch of cheap plastic systems that can get overfilled, jammed, and broken, so… know thyself.

Then I took a few days off the project (painting the nursery jumped to the top of the list) but eventually I turned my focus back to The Closet Of Doom and brought in this folding shelf that we’ve had for 8+ years (it’s originally from Bed Bath & Beyond I think) for that alcove on the right. I figured going vertical instead of spreading things out all over the floor made a lot more sense.

The other Ikea item we bought was this white five-drawer cabinet, which I spotted in the as-is section for 25% off. I totally played it cool you guys. Just kidding, I sprinted over and grabbed it like the hamburglar making off with some tasty treats. The fact that it had five awesomely smooth (read: non-plastic) drawers of various heights made it perfect for supplies like paints, brushes, sprays and paint pens – and the already assembled thing was a total bonus. I actually think it’s cute enough to be out of the closet, along with the cart – so perhaps down the line if I get a little sewing desk going on the other wall of this room I can slip the cabinet under it with the cart next to it or something.

The rest of the stuff in the closet are things we previously had – like that hanging fabric cubby thing (from Ikea years ago) and that ceramic planter where I shove all of our wrapping paper and tissue paper. And as for the rolling cart…

The hanging cubbies are devoted to gift wrapping stuff, like:

And the wooden shelf thing that I shoved in that corner alcove is now housing all of my fabric in old Ikea bins from a few years back (yes, I have TONS of fabric thanks to Clara’s photo project, even though I’ve made her a quilt, a birthday banner, a table runner, a beanbag, and all sorts of other random things… so… I smell more projects). Most of it used to be piled in the storage room but it feels so much more organized and accessible right here. There’s also room for the sewing machine to sit on the floor in front of it, but I thought I’d leave that in the guest room for a hot second because I’d love to set it up in there to encourage myself to actually sew with it. So we’ll see if I can figure something out soon. If not, it’s back in the closet for him.

But let’s get to my favorite part. The drawers of our slick little white cabinet. The top drawer is full of various acrylic paints (along with some small containers of varnish/sealant, and some ceramic paint).

The second drawer houses all of my brushes, stamping tools, paint pens, and colored sharpies.

The third drawer contains various test pots of paint (I use these guys surprisingly often for random projects like this, this, this and this) along with a few larger cans of spray sealers.

The fourth drawer has all of my art store supplies, like my oil paints, watercolors, watercolor pencils, charcoals, and a few random things like a small set of markers and clothespins.

And the fifth drawer is where I have stampers, ink pads, stickers, decals, washi tape, and other supplies like twine or string.

Oh and that top shelf of the closet has a wire bin (from Target about 3 years ago) full of fabric pouches. Apparently I have a hoarding problem with those, but I love them for keeping Clara’s toys contained (all of her plastic animals in one, all of her tiny legos in another, etc). They’re also sweet for “wrapping” various gifts for friends in two seconds flat (no tape or ribbon required). And the blue box up there has been my sewing box for years. It has thread, needles, extra bobbins, scissors, a seam ripper, etc.

I’m also planning to add a few hooks on the inside of the door so guests can hang things there since the bar is full (we rarely host anyone with things on hangers, so those should do the trick).

Yes I’m still waving my dang hands around. It’s pretty unbelievable that such a ridiculous mess of a closet is currently home to 0.00 chaos. But you might want to check back with me in a few months. These things can go one of two ways…

Does anyone else have tips for organizing craft supplies, gift wrapping paraphernalia, or tons of fabric? Who else is channeling Monica Geller with a closet full of insanity? Let’s commiserate.