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Last summer we embarked on a little project renovating our Laundry Room. Isn’t it funny how home projects always take much longer than you anticipate? Between our busy work and family schedules, we were forced to do this one a lot slower than we would have liked. (And to note, most times I mention “we” in this post, it’s actually my super handy husband Mitch 😉
We love how the Laundry Room Renovation turned out!
Because we knew we’d be busy throughout the length of the project – with work trips and family trips in between – we decided to do the Laundry Room Renovation in phases. We wanted to be sure that after each phase we could move our washer and dryer back into the laundry room, to keep up with all our family’s laundry.
To do this, we started with the flooring. It was definitely a funny eyesore once the beautiful cement tile was installed but the old cabinets and ugly brown walls were still un-renovated. However, this allowed us to move the washer and dryer back in to do all the counter top and cabinet work, and really made the end of the project a lot quicker. Here’s the order and details for each phase of our Laundry Room Renovation:
1 – Flooring – Installing Cement Tile
We used a beautiful cement tile that Villa Lagoon Tile sent us. We looked at many different options but loved all their selection best. You can even design your own cement tile with Villa Lagoon – they allow you to customize all the colors of their patterns. Their tile came well packed, quickly, and there was no damage during shipment. We’d highly recommend Villa Lagoon Tile if you choose to do cement tile in your house.
Before installing we had to jackhammer out our old tile – this was a very loud project! Be sure to do it during the day so neighbors aren’t upset. Cement tile can be tricky to lay down, so we were very careful. Mitch laid out the tile pattern and cut lines on the floor with a chalk line to ensure we liked the layout before the tile was installed. Because the right hand wall in our laundry room is unobstructed, we wanted the pattern to hit cleanly along that wall (see below).
For the installation we used a standard thin-set mortar with a 1/2″ grooved trowel, giving us 1/4″ of thin-set under each tile. We used white for light grout lines. The tiles were also back-buttered to provide even better bonding. The tiles are cement and porous, so each tile needs to be soaked in water briefly before setting on the thin-set mortar. This will ensure the tile doesn’t wick too much moisture out of the mortar, causing the bond to be weak.
We used standard 1/8 “spacers to space the tiles as they were set and were very careful to apply only hand pressure! Many cement tile installations crack because the installers use mallets to set the tiles at the correct depth – this can cause microfractures that become more pronounced over time.
Because of the porous tiles, they need to be sealed before adding the grout and again after the grout. This will ensure they keep their finish for a long time and don’t soak anything up that is spilled on the floor. Villa Lagoon Tile sent us their own seal with the tiles. Be sure to ask your cement tile manufacturer what the best type of seal is for sealing their cement tile.
2- Building a Laundry Room Counter Top
The main benefit of having front loading washers is room on top to fold laundry. Before the Laundry Room Renovation, clothes kept falling between the washer and dryer, and worse behind it. It was such a pain. We wanted a countertop that covered both appliances and came directly to the surrounding walls so nothing could drop down – plus we love the look of it.
To start, Mitch used two standard 3/4″ thick sheets of finished birch plywood that were glued together and clamped for the counter top. We liked the raw finish of the birch and the look of the layers of plywood on the side, so the finish was simple! It is important to get this counter top shaped correctly. You want the two exposed sides to form a right angle and be straight, but the two sides on the walls need to follow the shape of the wall which is a little bowed and angled. To do this, we scribed the shape of the wall with an offset pencil directly on to the wood, then used a jig-saw to cut along those lines. Once we were happy with how the wood matched the wall face, we cut the two straight faces with a circular saw and guide to make them perfectly flush. The whole piece was sanded to 220 grit and finished with a few coats of polyurethane.
For the vertical piece on the side of the washer we used a standard 5/8″ MDF sheet because it is very dimensionally stable – also we didn’t mind using MDF because we knew it would be painted. This piece, along with a couple of other hidden framing pieces make up the structure that holds the countertop. There is a similar piece along the wall for strength and a long 2×2 running the length of the countertop toward the back to hold the countertop. There is also a thin 1/4″ plywood sheet at the back and underneath the countertop to prove the shear strength that the lower cabinet needs. This thin sheet has holes cut into it to accommodate the electrical, water, and gas connections.
We noticed when the countertop was installed that it was at the same level as the drain box for the washing machine. We bounced between a few ideas for how to handle this and settled on a small notch in the countertop to allow for the water connections. This was preferable to moving the box because if the box was under the countertop, we would have to move the washing machine out every time we needed to access the water access valves. A simple cover could go over the box on top of the countertop, but we didn’t like the feeling of clutter that it gave off.
3 – Installing Semihandmade Cabinets
The installed cabinets are off-the-shelf cabinets from Ikea. These were mounted and hung following the Ikea instructions. This process was very easy and took no time at all. For the cabinet doors we partnered with Semihandmade – Semihandmade makes custom doors that fit Ikea kitchen cabinets. And they are beautiful! Check out their gorgeous Instagram feed here – to see all the ways they can improve basic Ikea cabinets.
They came to our house unfinished and ready to be painted whatever color we wanted (you can also order them pre-painted but we wanted to color match the counters below). The color we used was Valspar Treeline. We love this color – it’s a muted hue of dark green. Semihandmade sent the four doors, a filler piece for between the cabinet and the wall, and a face piece for the exposed side of the cabinets. We couldn’t be happier with how seamlessly these cabinets installed! They were easy to install and look so lovely. They take Ikea cabinet boxes and make them look high end.
4 – Subway Tiling Main Laundry Room Wall
To provide a little visual interest we wanted to tile one wall in the room. I’ve been loving the look of square subway tile with dark grout, so requested that from Mitch 😉
For this tile, he used a 1/4″ square notched trowel and standard gray thin-set mortar to hang the tile. Like the floor, we spent a lot of time planning out the tile layout to ensure the grout lines were consistent and the tile cuts made sense and were centered in the open spaces.
The only challenge came at the ceiling level where we were left with a 1/2″ gap without tile. this space was too small to put a small piece of tile, so we found a very thin and flat trim piece that we could pin and glue in place and paint the same color as the walls.
5 – Painting the Room White
Once the tile, cabinets, trim, and floor were installed, we could paint the whole room! We love the feeling of all white in this space, especially as it contrasts with the green cabinets and natural wood counter top. We painted the walls, trim, and ceiling all the same color – my favorite white – Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore. I love this color because it doesn’t reflect other colors or take on other hues. It’s just white.
6 – Building Floating Shelves
The floating shelves are a relatively simple project that we made extra difficult by wanting the face of the shelves to match the raw exposed plies of the counter top. To accomplish this, we glue three sheets of plywood together and cut 1″ strips of this glued block of plywood.
These strips became the outside edges of the floating shelves. Each strip had a notch routed into the top and bottom of them to allow them to be built into a flush box with a 1/4″ sheet of plywood on the top and on the bottom.
A separate structure was built from 2x material and bolted to the walls with large lag bolts. This structure fit perfectly inside the finished box of the shelf without any play. The shelf box was simply slid over the top of the structure and screwed in place with small countersunk wood screws.
7- Finishing Touches and Decorating
To decorate our floating shelves, I wanted some simple items for a clean look. I also wanted things that actually belong in laundry room – no books or big decorative knick-knacks. I ended up finding some nice fluffy white hand towels, a large glass jar of liquid soap, a basket, a linen box, a small faux olive leaf stem, and some jars that I filled with powdered laundry soap. Overall I love the simple clean look of it. Much better than the gross yellow cabinets and brown walls we had in here before!
Because we are no pros at home renovation, this Laundry Room Renovation was a labor of love! We are so excited with how it turned out – and I’d love to answer any questions I can to help with your Laundry Room Renovation.
Also, I’m curious – have you ever renovated any rooms in your house? Message me or tag me @plumstreetcollective if you want to chat renovation 😉