Wednesday, October 19, 2016

20 Laundry Room Update: Lowering Hookups & Installing a Counter

We made some jumbo sized progress in our laundry room this past week and I am ridiculously excited about the changes.

But before I dive in, let's chat about laundry rooms for a moment. How do you feel about them being a combo of function and fabulous? I know there tends to be a lot of debate on this subject, as the task of laundry is a little mundane and tedious and how pretty does a laundry room really need to be? On the flip side of the coin, some families (mine included) spend ridiculous amounts of time on laundry every week, making the space almost as busy as the kitchen!

I personally think a laundry room should be fabulous as long as it is functioning big first. We have a large laundry room, and for that I am extremely grateful. I know the size alone is a blessing, and the fact that we are able to utilize the space for much more than just laundry is a bonus. I can use it for sorting/folding clothes, as a cleaning supply hub, storing our extra linens and beach gear, sewing, organizing my painting supplies, etc... This room works so hard for our family, and I really want to give it a little lovin'.

With that, this project has been on my wish list since we purchased our front loading washer and dryer over ten years ago! I loved the washer and dryer instantly, but didn't love that all of our connections for water and power were at a level above the pair of machines. It caused instant visual clutter and I would find myself putting more clutter in front of the hookups to hide their unsightliness. I wish I would have known just how easy it was for us to move these items lower so we would have done it long ago!

The clutter was one thing, but the primary reason we wanted to lower the hookups was to add a solid surface folding counter above the washer/dryer. We had been trying to use a smaller counter behind us, but that counter sort of became a catch-all space and wasn't really ideal for spreading out and folding large loads. A deep, large surface would be a huge improvement to the functionality of the room.

Our utility sink was beyond its prime so that was the first to go. Eventually we will have a small snack bar in the adjoining den, and we will need a place to wash a few dishes. And of course, hand washing specific clothing and project supplies will happen in this room as well. So we made plans to add a 36" cabinet paired with a large, deep sink.

The wall behind the sink was typically dirty and challenging to scrub clean, so we will finally be installing a backsplash tile. I am also thinking of doing both an open shelf and a cabinet above. The counter for the washer and dryer is so deep, that really any of the upper storage will be for items less frequently used. And because our laundry room can feel a bit dark, we are planning to add a sconce for some additional lighting.

But let's take a step back and take a peek at a before...

To begin with the planned update, the first step was to find a base cabinet and take a bazillion measurements. The cabinet allowed us to have just enough room for our washer and dryer and 2-3" of built-in counter support around each machine. I liked that there wouldn't be any gaps or wasted space, and that the supports in the center would ensure the large sized counter wouldn't sag or bow down the road.

Speaking of counters, there was a lot of back and forth on the type of counter to install. Because we are now obsessed with our Cambria kitchen counters, quartz would have been my first choice. But as much as we use the laundry room, it just seemed a little bit much... especially when cost started factoring in. I will splurge on counters in a kitchen, even a bathroom, but I was OK sticking with a less expensive option in our laundry room. We plan to add two wood shelving pieces to the room so I ultimately opted for a laminate counter for the sink/washer/dryer setup. We brought our overall dimensions to Home Depot and put in a custom order for two pieces of countertop in Formica Neo Cloud finish. To select the depth, we figured how much room we would need for the hookups in the back, as well as where we wanted the face of the washer and dryer to show. Our washer has a pull out drawer for pouring in detergent/bleach/softener, so we opened that to be sure the drawer would be accessible to its fullest while still tucked under the counter. We ultimately landed at a counter that was 30" deep (and 24" deep for the base cabinet).

Another laundry room blessing is that we have full access to our electrical, gas, venting and water supply on the back side of our laundry room wall (inside of our utility room). Bryan knows just enough to feel confident in handling the movement of these items on his own, especially because we have family members who specialize in the electrical and plumbing industries on call. After he measured and determined the new location for the hookups, he shut off our water and power supply, cut the plumbing and used his multipurpose oscillating tool to cut the new box shapes from the sheetrock.

We removed a bit of length from the PVC pipe below the hookup box, and also moved it to the side a bit. It is important if elbowing these pipes, not to use a 90 degree piece or air pockets can form and create a back-up (so we used two 60 degree pieces). We had to add PEX tubing for the water line to the hookups, and the fool-proof way to do this quick and easily was with our Shark Bite pals. Although these little buggers are a bit pricey, they are SO worth it due to their ease of use.

They just snap on to the cut tubing, and create a watertight connection to the new length of tubing (allowing us to extend the overall length and lower the hookup box).

With the boxes now lowered, we were able to patch the walls on the laundry room side.

Once the walls were coated, sanded and dry, I gave them a couple coats of white paint/primer. I am not fully committed to the design of the remainder of the room, so I just splashed the white up for now.

OK, time to install the cabinets and counters. Starting in the far corner of the room, we shimmed and installed the sink base cabinet first.

From there, we added a ledger board for the counter, using a stud finder to be sure it was being reinforced along the remainder of the wall.

For the support walls of the washer and dryer, we combined two pieces of smooth 3/4" plywood together to create a 1 1/2" thick support. The wood was cut to the correct height and depth with our circular saw, combined together with construction grade glue and screws and then sanded... Then it was affixed to the base cabinet with more screws and shims to ensure levelness.

We repeated this step for the center piece, and used the multi-purpose tool to cut out a notch to insert the support into the ledger board. We reinforced with heavy duty L-shaped brackets on both sides at the top, and again into the studs at the floor.

And one more time on the far end, screwing into the wall studs.

You will see above that we pre-drilled some pocket holes into this piece prior to screwing it into the wall. These holes were added to all of the support pieces give us a way to screw up into the counter top. This is also why this Kregg Jig continues to be one of our favorite tools. Insert heart eye emoji here.

You will also see in the piece against the wall that we were initially going to finish the faces of these boards with an iron on edge tape. This would have worked just fine, but we ultimately liked the look of adding a full piece of trim board to the faces instead. More on that in a minute.

Above you can see the washer/dryer cubbies taking shape, and prepped for the counter install. I didn't get a photo of this, as I was standing on the top of the counter pushing down, while Bryan was under the counter attaching it through the pre-drilled pocket holes.

You know when you grab for your level and then hold your breath? Well, we let out the biggest sigh of relief! Everything ended up level in all directions. #cheers!

With everything installed, we used glue and our brad nailer to affix 1x2" boards to the two ends and a 1x3" board to the center.

This really finished off the faces of the supports and bridged any small gaps within the washer/dryer cavity and the machines.

With everything installed, I got to work with caulk and wood filler to clean up all of the nail and screw holes in the entire piece. Lots of sanding later, it was time to tape and paint!

Again, for now I went with white; two coats of Behr Marquee Ultra Pure White in satin applied with both a brush and smooth roller. I have some ideas for this space that need refining, so although everything is going white right now, color is coming!

It is worth mentioning that we still have work to do on the sink base cabinet and counter. We plan to reinforce the counter with extra support to hold the weight of the new sink and reduce any bowing, fix the doors (they are a little wonky) and add a decorative toe kick. But for now, we are celebrating the install of the washer and dryer and the fact that we have been using it with zero leaks!

And a final view of the depth and height difference. I had a hard time finding any detailed photos or tutorials for this project, so I wanted to be sure to share ours with as many words and photos as I could muster up.

This is the beginning of something fun; a true blank slate for tile and wallpaper! I absolutely can't wait! The counter is a simple enough pattern that it should remain versatile for many years, and the large surface area is already my new laundry bff. And no need to send out a search party for me when I go missing over the next few days, I will be right here catching up on all of the laundry that piled up while working on this project.

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Monday, October 17, 2016

32 IHeart Kitchen Reno: Checking In

A reader recently asked (and kindly reminded) me about our kitchen and where we are at with things. And honestly, since my last update, not much had changed until very recently. And with no changes, I didn't really know how to approach a kitchen update... In the same respect, I feel so awful that many of you have been waiting on that "final reveal" we all love, and that I have yet to deliver.

It's been awhile since we have sat down together to have a good heart to heart chat. So today I thought I would pop in to say, full renovation updates and photos are coming! I just don't have an exact time frame. Things are finally moving again and I am crossing every last appendage that we are able to finish without any additional snafus.

It has been a little discouraging for me to watch us start out strong and then run into roadblock after roadblock, each one slowing us down or setting us further back. There have been so many beautiful kitchens that have started and finished around blog land, and with each one, I had let myself feel a little smaller. It caused me to stress, lose sleep, lose weight, lose my mind (which looking back is a bit silly but honestly it really wasn't good for my anxiety)... There were a few delays that were not entirely in my control, and I realized that I needed to take a break from worrying about the space and shift to enjoying it. I just should have made sure to update you all, even if that meant letting you know I had no update. Instead, I just let it become a giant elephant in an unfinished room. I am really sorry about that.

We have learned SO much since we began this kitchen, dining and living room renovation. We ripped down a wall, stripped everything back and rebuilt a lovely space with our own hands; everything from installing the cabinets, flooring and moulding to putting in an incredible beamed ceiling. I still plan to share all of those lessons learned in an upcoming post, as I hope we can save others some of the troubles we were faced with along the way. On the flip side, living in an open concept design has impacted our lives for the better in so many ways, and I can't wait to talk more about that as well!

In the meantime, here is the CliffsNotes version of where we are at this very moment...

We ended up needing to have a portion of our island completely reconfigured/redesigned. There was a lot of back and forth over quite a few months, and because the cabinets were custom made, it took some time to receive the updated pieces as well. We also opted to wait quite a few months for a new-to-the-market downdraft ventilation to be released (because two different previous models didn't end up working out as planned). Everything is here now and ready for installation, and our island counters were just sent back to the fabricator to be modified to fit the new changes. I am so happy and relieved to finally have some resolution to a problem we had been troubleshooting for almost a year, and to be moving forward again.

In terms of the remainder of the space, it's been really great for us to just live in it and get a feel for how things have changed with the updated living arrangement. When we revealed the living room for the One Room Challenge, we still hadn't even installed floors or trim just outside of the camera view. We posted live each week, we rushed furniture arrangements, decisions, purchases, and styled shelves still tacky from fresh paint. In the moment, I was just so ridiculously happy to have a partially finished and furnished space, that I think I was blinded by a few choices I had made during the process. And I don't beat myself up for that... I can't go back in time and I am all about learning and moving on. But that is why we haven't done much in the space since, other than move around a few pieces of our furniture to try out some alternative layout options. I know now more than ever that it just isn't worth rushing a finished space for blog content, it doesn't allow me to truly understand our needs or to think as intentionally about my decisions (which ultimately can translate to costly mistakes). And probably why I started to fight the need to always have a room "reveal" vs. just working on spaces organically.

Now that the kitchen side issues are being worked out, we did realize we have enough room to add a second sofa in the living room side (wahoo!) and my dear friend Grace offered some great ideas and advice for me to finish things off while creating harmony within the newly open concept design. I am still nervous to commit to a backsplash decision (thinking bold), but that is my last dilemma at the moment and it feels so great to know that the end is in sight.

I could gab on about this project for hours, but I hope to break up my thoughts into a few posts once the island is re-installed and functioning as it was meant to be from the start. In the meantime, just know that I am endlessly grateful for your encouragement, ideas, support and comments checking in on the progress. It hasn't been easy living in an unfinished space for so long (especially for someone who likes things done quickly, correctly and thrives when everything is in its place), and even harder doing it publicly. But you all are the best support system a gal could ask for. Truly. I hope the final photos of the entire space are worth the wait for us all.

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