I hope everyone had a relaxing and enjoyable holiday season despite the pandemic and being unable to visit extended family and friends! After some time off from my full-time job and a few finishing touches on some of our house projects, I’m back to you with another simple update you can accomplish in your own home with fairly inexpensive tools.
Back in September when I took some vacation time, my mother helped me rip down wallpaper, scrape away the popcorn ceiling, and repaint my main bathroom and laundry room. After the each day’s events, much wine was consumed, yet we managed to finish up without causing too much damage!
Over the Christmas and New Years holiday I put the finishing touches on my laundry room project, and I’m finally ready to share my accomplishments!
At first glance, my laundry room was…unremarkable. A slightly off white paint had been used to cover the hideous wallpaper, and the trim (at least, what remained of it) was beat up, cracked, and the same outdated stain color of the rest of the trim in the house. The only storage solutions were a set of beat up cabinets that smelled mildewy and contained warped, splintering shelves. The ceiling was horrific popcorn that caught dust and had taken on a slight yellow tinge.
Even though it was a mess of a room, it is spacious and has plenty of potential to be a beautiful yet functional space. The previous owner also installed waterproof vinyl flooring at some point, so we only had to deal with the walls and the popcorn ceilings.
The first thing we did was tear out the old cabinets and burn them. This revealed the hideous “Thanksgiving Plaid” wallpaper the original home builders had likely installed 41 years ago in 1979!
The wallpaper obviously came out, as well. It was so old it came off quite easily, peeling off the wall with little effort on our part. After we took off the wallpaper, we patched a few strange holes in the wall, sanded away globs of glue, and then turned to removing the popcorn ceiling.
Although popcorn is not difficult to remove (all it takes is water in a spray bottle and a scraper), it’s incredibly messy. It likely took my mother and I 20 minutes to remove the popcorn from the ceiling, but it took another good 30 minutes just to vacuum up the popcorn, and even after the project was complete I was still vacuuming and mopping the stuff up. We also removed an outdated white track light fixture in favor of something more modern, then patched up the gouges and screw holes in the ceiling.
Once all of the patches in the wall and ceiling dried, we painted on a good layer of primer. Next, we painted the now smooth ceiling a flat ultra bright white to reflect light throughout the room, then painted the walls in Behr’s Urban Green, a warm green shade that felt clean and welcoming.
We weren’t able to replace the trim immediately due to a temporary shortage, so the room went without for about two weeks, but once it was back in stock at the store we trimmed the room out in bright white “Colonial” style MDF base moulding and door casing. We decided to use rosette ands corner moulding because we didn’t really want to attempt cutting angles and didn’t have the correct saw for it, anyway!
To replace the cabinets, we opted for open shelving with decorative baskets to contain cleaning products and laundry items. The shelves were made from thick, heavy barn wood we removed from our 1939 barn that I pressure washed, sanded, and coated with a high gloss polyurethane. I was so happy to be able to repurpose a piece of our farmstead’s history in our home!
The shelves were the most difficult part of the entire project because of the amount of time I put into cleaning and preparing the wood! It took 30 minutes of sanding to get each board smooth after years of being abused in a barn, and I used at least 4 coats of the polyurethane for good coverage and future protection. And, my god, this old wood is HEAVY. Lifting the wood up onto the brackets had me sweating profusely and cursing horrendously when I gouged my newly painted walls wrestling them into position!
Despite the difficulty, I feel like the shelves are an incredibly unique piece that add character to a room with a rather mundane purpose. The baskets make it easy to hide cleaning products and other “junk” that I would rather not have to look at when I’m not using them, and the products with pretty labels I can proudly display!
If you tackle your own laundry room update project, don’t forget the small details! We swapped the old tan colored floor vent for a decorative oil rubbed bronze replacement. It’s a small change, but the $10 was worth it! I feel like it helps solidify my farmhouse theme, adds interest to the space, and the old vent cover was broken and was rusted stuck at halfway open, anyway.
Additionally, try using a large basket to contain your laundry detergents, bleach, and fabric softeners on top of your washing machine. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can even put your products in decorative containers, but I wasn’t feeling ambitious so just stuck them inside a basket to keep them contained when my washing machine starts to shake because I stuffed too many clothes in it. I feel like it keeps them looking organized and somewhat cute, at the very least!
Even though it’s a laundry room and not necessarily glamorous, don’t be afraid to decorate with neat pieces! My mother is an accomplished crafter and painter and made me a decorative sign for a blank wall, and my mother-in-law gave me an antique washing board I cleaned up and hung above the dryer.
All together, this updated probably cost us around $200. Most of the money was spent on the new trim, the new light fixture, and the hardware for the shelving. We also purchased a pneumatic nailer for the job, but I didn’t include that in the total price since this will be used for multiple other projects, like replacing the trim throughout the rest of the house.
Costs we avoided was casing for the window because it’s old and needs to be replaced soon, so I didn’t want to spend money on casing to have to tear it off again and potentially damage it when it comes time to replace the window. I also briefly considered replacing the laundry sink with something that has a cabinet for storage, but due to the amount of projects we still have left in the house I decided to just leave it so I don’t feel bad about splattering it with paint and staining it with other construction materials!
If it’s not in your budget to replace trim, you can fix gouges with wood filler, prime with a really good primer (I like Killz All-Purpose), and paint. MDF trim is also a less expensive option than hardwood, won’t warp if it gets wet, and is a little easier for DIYers to use since it won’t split when you’re nailing it in place. It’s my choice every time!
What do you think?
How do you like this simple update? Do you think you can tackle it? You don’t have to spend much money to have a beautiful and functional laundry room!