Our Current House

The Laundry Room Is Done!

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts so honestly over the last few days after Thursday’s post updatePlease know that we’ve read every comment and are giving them lots of thought. Sometimes we get so caught up in “the response” that it’s hard to fully absorb what people are saying, really think about it, and address it in actions and not just in knee-jerk words. We aren’t glossing over things by posting this, but it gives us time to keep processing so we can be thoughtful and honest in return.

In the meantime…

The laundry room’s finished!

And we could kiss Lesley for her idea of carving out a new dedicated laundry room. It’s like it was always there! (Plus a new glass door at the end of a formerly dark hallway with light streaming in = angels singing sound effect to us).

When we last checked in, things were looking a little unfinished, but it’s amazing what that last 10% can do for a room. Our first steps were to add the missing filler, baseboard, toe kick, and crown that we had accounted for when we installed the cabinets (to bridge those gaps on the side, top, and bottom). Then it was on to adding the missing door casing, baseboards, and the new doorknob that ties into the rest of ours. Lastly, we had a party and the under-cabinet lights were invited (and installed).

Can I just say that the under-cabinet lights are my new favorite thing? I want to cover my house with them. I want to put on some R&B and bathe in a tub full of under cabinet lights.

They currently plug in behind the washer – you might be able to see the small white cord snaking down the left corner of the room above the washer – but we have a call in to our electrician to add a switch for them on the wall by the door. That way we can flick them on when we walk in instead of using the toggle switch on the cord.

They were sort of an impulse update back when we were buying our cabinets and they were TOTALLY WORTH THE IMPULSE. I know I’m type shouting at you but I mean it. If I were talking to you in person my voice would be raised and my hands would be flapping around. It was all thanks to a reader who mentioned it was easier to see stains and spot treat them before tossing them into the wash after she added some. In summary: Twinkies are not always worth the impulse, but under cabinet lights? DO IT.

When they’re off the room is still nice and bright from the overhead light, although we’d love to add a skylight or a some solar-tube someday.

After our finishing trims, fillers, and lights were in, it was momma’s favorite part. THE THINGS! Like the drying rack, the ironing board, some art, a laundry sorter, and everything that I got to basket up and stack and pile into the cabinets and drawers.

The laundry room wants to hug it out. Look at those outstretched arms.

We thought things on the shelf should largely have simple functions to make life easier, so there’s a basket for lost socks (currently housing a few of Clara’s) and a dish for change and other random stuff we find in pockets before things go into the wash (if you’re a certain aforementioned member of our family that might mean Legos, mom’s earrings, and and a few crayons for good measure). We also like the idea of keeping our everyday detergent out on the shelf so it’s easy to grab (you can see that in the wider shot a few photos back).

There’s also a mint green caddy to store things like lint rollers and dryer balls along with a mint green trash can which we ended up putting right on the counter for small things like balls of lint and tags from clothing or old washed-papers-from-pockets. The little fake-o succulent is just there’s to add some life to the laundry room – even if it’s faux real.

If you spin around to the wall opposite the washer, we have a drying rack. And it’s kind of a game changer. We used to just lay things outside on the daybed to air dry (or in the extra deep windowsill in the living room of our last house) so to have a devoted pull-out drying rack for hanging or draping things (or clipping them up) is pretty great.

I was leaning towards ordering one from The Container Store but then I saw someone saying it was meh and I saw this one on amazon with a ton of good reviews that swayed us. It boasts over 12 square-feet of drying space for hanging or laying items thanks to the pull out design that extends two feet out from the wall. It’s so nice to have this much hanging and draping real estate. I’m officially on the drying rack train now guys. High fives! I feel like we need a secret handshake or something.

Oh and it closes up like this when it’s not in use. Stealth mode.

Underneath it we have a three-bin laundry sorter from Crate & Barrel. John’s sister grabbed one a few weeks ago and raved about it so we took the plunge. It has only been a few days but we’re drinking the same laundry sorter Cool-aid. Picture us sipping it while cruising along on The Drying Rack Express with spare under-cabinet lights in my purse.

For the ironing board we debated everything from a mini-pull-out or fold-down wall or drawer mounted one but I prefer a full sized board and I like it to be out of the way, but portable. Sometimes I just like to iron in front of the TV. We’ve used this system of two large wall hooks secured with anchors to hold it up off the floor in our last laundry area, which worked well (remember our ironing board wars? They are so ON).

We decided to hang it behind the door on the wall (not the door itself since we worried that might rattle). The hooks stick out a little and would otherwise get slammed by the door so we got one of those small white doorstop things for the back of the door. Ignore that light switch near the door though (it’s the old hall light that we debated keeping just in case but it’s ridiculous back there so we’re going to terminate it when our electrician comes to add a switch for the under-cabinet lights).

For now the art on the left side of the room is just framed pages from a book called Time & Tide by Christian Chaize (it’s full of gorgeous photography). I still have my eye on something like this by Emily Jeffords though, so there might be some musical frames going on.

Speaking of the frames, they’re from Target. We loved that the wood tone tied into our baskets and the laundry shelf and counter, so home they came.

The other side of the room has a little more art – like a wood canvas from Help Ink that I love (it says Bee Kind with bees having a blast all over it). I also hung one of my favorite pieces of fabric (it’s an old handkerchief that a friend of mine found with the name Clara embroidered on it). Something about the old linen fabric and the embroidery whispered laundry room to me.

There’s also another print from my Tide & Time book that I clipped up with a wooden pants hanger. Seemed laundry-room appropriate. I’d love to clip up a Clara painting eventually, so we might have a little crafternoon bonanza ahead of us.

In my mood board I also had a printing press drawer (Clara and I collect heart rocks and I thought it would be so cute to display them in an old wooden drawer with all those tiny compartments for them) but we haven’t come across any that would work yet. They’re totally one of those I-see-them-in-every-antique-store-when-I’m-not-looking-for-them-but-they’re-sneaky-like-a-snake-when-I-am-on-the-hunt.

For the cabinet hardware we went with these simple octagon pulls from Lowe’s. We actually grabbed a bunch of options from Anthropologie (Fashion Show! Fashion Show! Fashion Show At Lunch!) but after holding them all up the simplicity and the nice heavy feeling of the Lowe’s ones won us over. We have two metals going on in here (I like a mix as long as each of them are present enough times to look intentional), so these guys are sporting the polished chrome look along with things like the rolling cart and the knobs on the washer & dryer.

On the ceiling we went with a flush mount light from our Shades of Light collection.

We had a whiter/cooler light bulb dangling from the fixture box before we installed this light, but switched it out for a warmer LED one that makes the room feel less cold (it brings out the honey tones in the shelf, frames, and baskets – and zaps some of the starkness out of the white cabinets).

The oil-rubbed bronze doorknob and similar coloring on the washer and dryer tied it in – especially since the washer and dryer also have chrome on them – so they’re sort of a bridge between those two metals that we mixed throughout the room.

 Look at John modeling the new laundry room. You’d almost believe he likes laundry…

Budget breakdown:

We think it would be really fun to have a realtor come and estimate what she might list our house for so we can see how much value this reno may have added (along with the other stuff we’ve done over the past year).

And since we’re listing stuff, I think our favorite functional updates are the laundry sorting cart, the drying rack, all the storage in the cabinets and drawers, and the added countertop/shelf surface we’ve gained. When it comes to things that make it feel the most upgraded, the tile backsplash, under cabinet lights, crown molding, and soft-close doors and drawers definitely elevated the room for us (so if you have a laundry zone that could use a little love, those might be nice add-ons).

Couldn’t leave without a little before & after action. Remember when this was our laundry area back when we moved in?


So. Much. Better.

Thanks for coming along on this winding and long-winded laundry room renovation, guys! It’s one of our favorite house changes so far since it’s literally a room that didn’t exist before. We’re more gleeful than… I don’t know… a pigeon with a hotdog? A dog with a blog? A kid in a candy store without adult supervision and unlimited funds? It’s up there.



That’s My Jamb (aka: How To Hang A Door)

Hope you guys had an awesome Labor Day. We split time between family and house projects which is pretty much our sweet spot. This week is going to be especially hairy thanks to having book stuff nearly every day, but we did manage to eke out a few things to share and hope to be back to normal next week (might not be as on top of comments until then either).

But back to my jamb. Or should I say my jambs? They don’t have casings yet, the leftover doorknobs will be upgraded to these backplated-versions, and one door still needs to be painted like whoa – but boy does it feel good to have two doors hanging on this side of the hallway. And because a bunch of you requested the full play-by-play, here’s how we added jambs and hung both doors – complete with details on carving out a spot for hinges and a doorknob.

Until last week, things have looked like this. The door-less laundry room wasn’t a big deal, since it actually made working in there easier. But the plastic drop cloth closing off the storage room was less than pretty and less than convenient.

Installing these two puppies gave me a whole new respect for doors. They’re a relatively complex operation, at least considering how much I took them for granted.

On top of the hardware (hinges, dooknob, strike plate) the doorway itself was made up of three separate trim pieces. All of which we’d be installing.

We debated purchasing a pre-hung door for the laundry room (one that comes already placed in a jamb, which saves you from having to carve out spots for the hinges and knob) but we had trouble finding one that matched the style we wanted for the storage room door, plus it was hard to beat the price on the slab (aka: not pre-hung) version. And since the laundry room door was an existing door that we’re reusing (it used to lead to the storage room), I’d be stuck making a jamb for that one anyway. So we decided to attempt making a jamb for that already-owned door first and if all went well (or at least okay) we’d proceed with hanging the other door from scratch too.

Well, not totally from scratch since Home Depot sells these $19 jamb kits for doors up to 36″ wide (ours are 32″).

Besides coming in three pre-cut pieces (two sides, one top) the nice thing about the kit is that the two side pieces already have a rabbet joint cut on one end so that the top piece can sit nicely across the two. Ours needed a slight trim to fit into the framed doorway, so I was just careful to cut it off the non-rabbeted end.

We propped up the door on the ground using some scrap wood so I could construct my jamb with gravity on my side. I leaned the side pieces in place, but couldn’t place the top piece until it was cut down a little bit.

I measured the width from jamb-edge to jamb-edge, but had to account for both the fact that it was sitting in the rabbet joints (so it’d need to be a little shorter than my measurement) and that I wanted to give it about 1/8″ of breathing room around the door too.

Once that was cut, I started the process of mortising/routing out the spots for the hinges on the jamb – since they need to be recessed into the wood to work. Since they were already attached to our door, I marked where the hinges should go on the jamb based on their door placement.

Once I had marked where on the jamb each one should go, I used a spare hinge to trace out the shape that needed to be routed out.

I purchased a compact router for $99 at Home Depot (it’s called a Rigid 1-1/2 HP Compact Router) and an $18 bit meant for work like this. I had done some of this work by hand before and it wasn’t super fast or super precise, so I decided it’d be worth the investment this time around.

Before taking my new router for a spin on the jamb, I practiced on a scrap board first. My freehand attempts weren’t great, so I started clamping some other wood scraps as sort of a guide. You can see how that worked out for me on the routed hinge spot on the far left of the board below. Muuuch cleaner.

When the time came to make my official first cut on the jamb, it came out awesome (if I do say so myself).

With both spots for the hinges cut, I could nail my three jamb pieces together. I used a 2″ nail through the side pieces into the top.

Here’s the jamb that Sherry and I pushed loosely in place within the framed door to the laundry room. You can see that we started the process of hanging this door before we did any of the backsplash (took us a while longer to tackle the glass one).

The next part is the most persnickety: getting every side of the jamb level and plumb. We did our best, adding shims – especially under the hinges – to help us adjust things where needed. Once we were satisfied, I nailed the jamb into the door frame on all sides.

I lost Sherry to Teddy at that point, but thanks to some shims under the door I could hang it myself by screwing the hinge into the jamb. Here was the moment of truth.

The moment was a bit of a whomp whomp because it didn’t work. Sad trombone. It was a little tight on the top corner.

I checked all my levels again, and it turns out that the top corner had slipped out of plumb when we turned our attention to the bottom. So I shoved a couple more shims in there to correct it and things were back in working order. Now that the door closed well, I could attach the strike plate (where the door latches), and nail in the stop molding around the jamb.

I was pretty darn happy with how it turned out, though it was definitely not speedy.

A little while later (we finished up the backsplash and the counter in between these two doors) it was time to wrestle this puppy into place (the glass isn’t frosted, it’s just covered in protective plastic).

Since the door didn’t have any hinges, I’d have to route out spots for them on both the door and the jamb this time. And since it’s a heavier door, I was adding three hinges. Instead of carefully clamping scrap wood each time around to guide my cut, I decided to make a template out of my practice board. Here’s where I marked where I needed to cut (using my jigsaw).

Here’s my wooden guide in action on the door, as I routed out the spot for the first hinge.

Once I had the three hinge mortises made on the door, I propped it up and loosely held the jamb pieces in place so I could mark the hinge placement on the side jamb piece. I also put some shims up top to ensure that I didn’t run into the same problem we had last time (having a tight fit up top).

With the hinges traced out on the jamb and my wooden template at hand, it was pretty quick work to route out the spots on the jamb.

I’ll fast forward a bit, since the process was the same from here the second time around – we nailed together the jamb pieces, brought them into the space, and then leveled, shimmed, and nailed everything in place. With Sherry’s help I got the door hung much faster this second time around… and it worked great! We were relieved. There were high fives and a fair amount of bad moon-walking.

Our dancing was cut short because this door still needed a knob. I bought this $19 kit to help drill the holes for the doorknob precisely. It wasn’t the sturdiest thing in the world, but it was worth the money just to have some instructions to follow – and the right size drill bits handy.

Basically it clips onto the door, using the strike plate as the guide for where it should go (of course, I had to add the strike plate first).

Then using one of two cross bore bits (depending on the one your knob requires) you drill a big honkin’ hole through the door, per the instructions.

Then you use the other bit to bore through where the latch will go.

If all goes well, you end up with something that looks like this.

The part it didn’t cover – and maybe this is just specific to the knobs we own – was routing out a spot on the end for the latch to recess into. I used my router freehand, so it didn’t come out perfectly but it does the trick just fine (we can smooth things out with caulk or wood putty before we prime/paint).

The victory was that it was hung, it closed securely, it stayed open when you opened it (some doors that aren’t hung level slowly close themselves when open), and it looked pretty – even in its unpainted film-covered state.

Since the wood floor was a little short of extending all the way to the door, I nailed in a couple of extra hardwood pieces to create a little horizontal threshold. We actually really like how it looks, so we hope it works with whatever flooring we end up with in the storage room. I do wish I had extended the wood flooring just an inch further into the laundry room so the tile didn’t peek through (d’oh) but I’ve been comforted by noting how many other thresholds/floor changes don’t align perfectly with the doors that I never really noticed before this project – so maybe nobody else will notice either? Until I pointed it out on the internet.

We plan to paint it when we spray all of the molding, and obviously the casings and such will go in when we do the rest of the room. We also ordered two more door knobs with the decorative back plates that we need, so they’ll match the other rooms off of this hallway.

We did tons of laundry last week for the first time since the laundry room door went up and it was AWESOME to be able to close the door. It really does make the laundry substantially quieter. But what we’re really loving is not having to wrestle that plastic drop cloth every time we go into the storage room. Life is good when the drop cloths come down.

It’s pretty exciting to stare down the barrel of close-to-done when it comes to this little addition of ours (if you can call the laundry room that, since it used to be unfinished space). On one hand it feels like it has taken us a while to get this far, and on the other hand it’s pretty amazing that this room wasn’t even drywalled a month ago – especially since our first and second houses’ kitchen renovations took us over four months each (and those were already finished rooms to start with). In the words of Dory: just keep swimming.