Shopping & Thrifting

Our Laundry “Room” Redo Is Officially On

There’s nothing like having a newborn to make you appreciate having a nice spot to do laundry. Ours functions just fine, but I’d say it still falls a bit short of “nice” in the looks department. So we’ve decided it’s major overhaul time.

Things have made minor progress since the beginning. Blue trim was painted. Old blue bi-fold doors came off. Flooring was replaced. Hallway walls were painted. And, oh yeah, we unexpectedly had to buy new appliances.

I actually bothered to spray those bi-folds white back when we painted the trim and doors upstairs and they’ve been living in the storage room ever since. Once every few months Sherry and I talk about re-hanging them and always end up in the same place: “but it’s so nice to just have it open and not have them in our way.” I think we’re just fans of small spaces that are open as opposed to small spaces that are closed off (with the exception of bathrooms of course). Heck, in our first house we even demo’d out the bi-fold wall in favor of a more open laundry setup.

We often rely on Phase 1 updates to inexpensively improve rooms like bathrooms and kitchens while we save up & plan, since they can be a lot pricier to fully redo (and can call for tons of function/layout/material decisions that we like to think through) but this small laundry corner should be a lot more affordable, especially since we already have new appliances. So as long as we can both get to a place where we’re 100% sold on our approach, we’re ready to get down to business right now.

But getting to that 100% sold place isn’t always easy. There has been a fair amount of debate about what we really want from our laundry area since deciding it would be our next project. Sometimes I think the most important part of DIY is thinking. Not to the point that you never do anything and keep re-hashing everything until your house stops moving forward at all and you’re frozen for a year in place – but enough thinking so that you’re not rushing into the whole “doing” part without being sure about your approach/materials/layout/etc. So this weekend we had fun with the family, went to the best neighborhood party ever, and did a whole lot of thinking. Not an ounce of doing. Unless you count tile shopping, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

First we heavily considered this:

Option #1: Why not take some inspiration from our first house’s laundry makeover for our current laundry situation? Sure, the cased opening is more nicely finished in this instance, but it still cuts off a lot of the laundry area and creates lots of a dead space beside the appliances (since they have to stay centered in the opening). Plus getting rid of it and shifting things over will give us room for more storage both on the wall and below. Here’s a rough idea of what we considered:

Having that wall out of the way would also be a good invitation to pretty-up the space. We really want to add a tile backsplash to bring in some texture and bounce around more light in this dark end-of-the-hallway, and a floating shelf along with some upper cabinets and a nice light fixture could go a long way.

Here’s a shot of the other corner, which is where we were thinking a base cabinet with drawers would go after everything shifted over. It would add more storage, plus we could top it with a small piece of countertop (maybe remnant granite?) for more surface area.

In the floor plan we noted the possibility of a door. We thought a pretty door with a large frosted pane in the middle like this would still let light in (and could be left open for a nice breathable feeling while doing laundry) and it could be closed to dampen sound and seal off the room when things are running. We both like the idea of making it more of a laundry room and not just a laundry spot-at-the-end-of-the-hallway.

We also think it would help that long part of the hallway feel less cavernous, but we aren’t 100% sold on adding it yet. For one, we may end up liking the look of the finished laundry wall so much that it seems silly to pay money to hide it behind a door. And the sound of the washer/dryer haven’t bothered us since upgrading them, hence our resistance to rehang those old bi-folds.

The big vote against this idea is…. we’re both grappling with the idea of having two doors to pass through to the storage room – especially once that space becomes a finished TV room/bunk room. Right now as it stands, you’d walk down the hall and open a door at the end of the hall to enter the bunk room/TV room, but if we added a frosted door in the hall to make the laundry nook into a bona-fide laundry room, you’d have to walk through the laundry room to get to the room beyond it. That could be weird, right?

Which brings us to…

Option #2: Leave the cased opening as it is right now, and work on the back wall (add tile, floating shelves/cabinetry, update the lighting, etc). We can always add nicer bi-fold doors down the line to close things off if we’d like, and even if we don’t, it’ll have more of a finished nook-look than just being an open laundry area at the end of the hall (we think the framed out trim feels more polished than something that’s all open might). The nice thing about choosing this option is that we’re not tied to anything until we’re sure. We can work on that back area, and if we suddenly have a moment of clarity about removing the cased opening and adding a frosted door in the hallway down the line, we can (meaning Option #2 can easily morph into Option 1). And if we just want to re-hang some nicer bi-folds later, we can do that too. Or leave it open. The world is our oyster.

And seeing inspiration rooms like this one (found here) confirmed that choice. If a little laundry nook with bi-folds can look this good, well, that’s pretty convincing.

UPDATE: There have been a bunch of questions/suggestions for everything from adding a pocket door behind the guest room or stealing the guest closet completely to moving the washer & dryer to where the current storage door is and adding a new door where they currently sit (or adding a barn/sliding door), so check out the comments for explanations on all of those possibilities. 

And since I mentioned tile-shopping, here’s what Sherry rubbed her face all over we debated. Even though it won’t really be a wet area (other than damp clothes – we don’t have a sink or anything) we both were inspired by the room above and a few others that we’ve seen with tile. After thinking about other alternatives (like painting a stencil or hanging some wallpaper) tile felt like the more “luxe” option – and it’s something we know we can DIY pretty easily. Not only will it add polish, it’ll bounce more light around, which is definitely what this dark alley at the end of the hall needs. And since we’ll only need a small amount, we can splurge on some slightly fancier options, like…

1. This mini-subway look in marble was really elegant and classic looking, but we both wanted to try something a little less basic.

2. We liked this fun small scale hex tile, but the deep colors made us worry that the laundry room would feel darker instead of brighter.

3. This one was amazing in person, but at $20 per square foot it was the priciest one we looked at by a long shot, and we thought the scale might be a bit large for such a small area (it would be amazing on the back wall of a giant shower though).

4. You know we love penny tile, and this shiny milk-colored option was really charming, but we wanted to try something new since we did penny tile in our last kitchen.

5. We always like white lantern tile (we had fun using something similar in a showhouse bathroom) but the bright white color wasn’t exactly the same as our washer/dryer, so it made them look off/clash by comparison.

6. We really loved this herringbone patterned tile, and the light marble looked like it would reflect a lot of light without being too shiny (the finish felt extra luxe in person). We also liked the scale (larger than #4, smaller than #3) and we also liked that it had a variety of tones and looks great next to our white washer & dryer.

Spoiler alert: That’s is the one we got. It felt really high end, the price was right (after the 10% off YHL10 coupon code it was around $12.50 per square foot), and they only had a few boxes of it left, so we were so lucky to get to it before it went out of stock.

So that’s what’s going on with the laundry room. Here’s hoping we can figure out the whole shelves/cabinetry thing, and get started on tiling. What did you guys do this weekend? Family stuff? Travel? Tons of thinking? It’s kind of an important DIY detail, right?



Photo Finish

Our master bedroom has moved leaps and bounds over the last few days in terms of not looking like a big empty room with a bed in it. And by leaps and bounds, I mean frames and curtains. And more frames. Plus a few more frames after that.


Before we started putting a bunch of holes in our walls, this is what the room looked like (and what it has pretty much looked like since we painted it nine months ago). It was in desperate need of curtains at the very least, but we’re not done with those yet, so just ignore those and let’s talk about the frames.


We had long talked about doing a gallery wall over our bed, and after stewing on it for a few months we decided we wanted to go with big dark frames (gasp! not white ones?!?) with nice mats. We have a gradual goal of amassing nicer frames in the house as we go (some real wood ones with nice big mats with glass and not plexi) so after shopping around at a few frame places, these large wood ones from Michaels fit the bill best. At $39 each for the biggest ones and $29 for the slightly smaller size, they weren’t cheap – but thanks to a two-for-one sale, it took the average down to $15 to $20 each, which is closer to what we spend for cheaper frames of that size.


Once home with our original frame haul, Sherry cut a bunch of templates out of leftover rosin paper that we had from projects like this and this, and we taped up a rough, mostly-symmetrical arrangement.


Neither of us was totally sold on it. It just felt a little too perfectly lined up. So Sherry took a stab at loosening up the rows and columns a bit. Kinda the gallery wall equivalent of unbuttoning the top button of your dress shirt. It instantly looked more relaxed and casual than the more formal/balanced arrangement that we had tried first.

Next it was frame-hanging time. Considering the number of them (at this point we had 17), it wasn’t too bad. These frames hang nicely on one or two nails each (there’s a groove on the back lip of the wood frame) and since we had worked out their placement with paper templates it was pretty simple. Since the arrangement is somewhat mirrored from one side of the bed to the other, we used a laser level to make sure the frame on the left side was at the same height of its sister on the right (and we used a yardstick to make sure our side-to-side gaps between frames were about the same).

After we got the initial set of frames hung, we liked where it was going… but the whole thing was feeling a little too much like a stripe across the top of the bed, so we picked up five more frames to fill the space above each night stand for more of a full-wall-of-frames look. So when it was all said and done, we purchased five of the larger frames (they’re 11.5 x 14.5″ with an 8 x 10″ opening in the mat) and seventeen of the slightly smaller 16.5 x 16.5″ size (some of which had 8 x 10″ openings and some that had 5 x 7″ openings). Note: We later realized that the bare spot on the top left (by the curtain) felt off to us, so we inched a few frames around to make it more balanced looking (you’ll see that tweak three photos below this one).

Although we’re big fans of putting just about anything in a frame, we had been looking at our family photos and realized that we had a lot of special-to-us photos that we wanted to properly frame, so a wall of family photos was the goal here. It felt especially right for a more personal space like a bedroom, and we had never seen many of these photos printed out in a nice large size like 8 x 10. So we picked a bunch and placed an in-store pickup order on Target’s website (which we discovered was cheaper for 8 x 10s than our usual go-to, Shutterfly).

Here’s everything all framed up. We really liked going with colorful prints instead of black and white ones, especially on such a dark wall. They’re a nice balance of classic/handsome (wood frames & crisp white mats) + cheer (colorful family photos). And we like how the bolder prints tie into the colorful pillows and our headboard.

The process for picking photos was pretty straightforward: we scrolled through our family photo folders in iPhoto (we have one for each year, ordered chronologically) and flagged our favorites. That produced WAAAY too many options, so we whittled it down to the 22 we needed by choosing favorites from the favorites (for some reason it’s easier for us to pick top choices from the group than decide which ones to nix).

We didn’t keep any sort of color scheme in mind (there’s every color in the rainbow going on) but we did seem to subconsciously choose photos that looked more like a moment in time than a posed everyone-stare-at-the-camera shot. I think maybe we knew that a whole lot of eyeballs staring out at us might feel strange. So most of them feature people looking down, at each other, off to the side, etc. There are only a few with eyes that actually looked at the lens, like the Teddy beach shot in the top left corner.

It wasn’t until we had everything hung that we realized a few other commonalities emerged. We stepped back and laughed about “all that water.” Turns out around a third of them feature us on the beach or in some other form of water (the lake, a pool, etc). It’s probably because a lot of our favorite photos were from trips we took. We actually counted six different states being represented in our photos (from Alaska and Hawaii to Florida and Delaware). Another funny realization was that three of the photos in our gallery were taken on the very bed that they now sit above. So we’re apparently a family who likes to travel… or stay in bed.

After we were all done hanging and framing everything, our formerly nondescript bedroom wall had sort of morphed into a photographic celebration of our family, which has been pretty awesome as the first and last thing we look at every day. In fact, as much as we loved the frame hallway in our last house (we didn’t think we’d ever love a frame arrangement more), our new family-gallery is right up there with it.

Oh, and even though it looks like those pictures behind the lamp are impossible to see, they’re actually some of the ones we see the most from bed and/or when we walk into the room. It’s all about the angle y’all.

We hope our new family wall will encourage us to keep breaking out the camera and documenting family moments. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be the nice camera. We realized almost half of the pictures up here were from our iPhones or our old point-and-shoot.

Clara was napping when we finished hanging everything, so we stole the opportunity to give Teddy and Burger some brother time in front of the camera. And knowing our penchant for framing the photos taken on this bed, there’s a chance this shot could end up on the wall at some point. So meta, I know.

We can’t really picture the “before” of this room in our heads anymore without pulling up the actual before photos…

… but we’re certainly grateful for how far it has come. It’s looking a little busy to us right now, but we think a few other to-do list items should hopefully fix that. We’d like a better bench at the end of the bed and a proper set of end tables so we can use the dresser on another wall. We also still have to finish the curtains, need an overhead light, etc. Slowly, slowly.

Anyone else doing bedroom updates? Or hanging a collection of family frames? Have you noticed any subconscious themes afterwards, like a love of water, travel, or being in bed? What about eyeballs? Are they all staring out at you? Do they follow your every move, Mona-Lisa style?