Turning the Tides on the Laundry Room

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I’ve always hated doing laundry in the basement – or as I call it, the dungeon. In fact, I hated it so much that my husband ended up taking over the majority of laundry duty – even before I became chronically ill and he took that, and other household chores, over completely. When your husband is doing all the chores it’s not a bad problem to have, but it was time that we leave the laundry list of excuses behind and renovate the space. With me being ill, my husband bravely took on the challenge of doing the entire basement project by himself – without his “partner in grime” to lend a hand. I’m so proud of the progress he’s made and I’m even looking forward to doing laundry there once I’m better!

Our laundry machines are 25+ years old and still going strong – thanks to a little technical intervention from my husband every once in a while. We’ll probably never be able to completely solve the mystery of what happens to our lost socks, but we have what it takes to do something about spiffing up the space!

We have about 700 sq. ft of unfinished usable space in our basement (minus the tiny furnace room and cold room). We started with the laundry room first because we weren’t sure how we would ultimately use the space. When we finally decided that we would split the rest of the basement between a craft studio for me and a man cave for my husband, we could finally move forward with planning.

I’ll be getting into the transformation of the rest of the basement in future blogs – and even provide a tutorial on how to lay engineered floating hardwood floors – but for now I wanted to show you the progress of the laundry room to-date.

Here’s the raw space we started with:

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Tackling the renovation in stages is a great idea when you’re doing all the work yourself and have limited time on the weekends and after work, however things should ideally be done in a certain order to save both time and money. Although our first step should have been to plan the entire basement and map out all the walls, lighting and electrical, a few years ago the government was running a rebate program and my husband jumped on the opportunity to complete the insulation and moisture barrier first. We reaped the benefit of getting money back, however once our plan was finalized my husband had to go back and take down half of the insulation around the perimeter in order to run the electrical wiring for plugs and light fixtures.

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In our area, a homeowner can apply for an electrical permit and my husband was able to do all the work himself and get the necessary inspections. With taxes, the permit cost $328.83 – which may seem like a lot, but I think it is priceless for the peace-of-mind that comes with getting a stamp of approval on something as important as electrical work. I wouldn’t suggest you take on electrical work yourself unless you know what you’re doing and get a permit for the work so you can have it inspected by the City. There’s no sense in messing around with fire – figuratively or literally speaking!

My husband found the sink, counter and lower cabinets at the Habitat for Humanity Restore so he could complete his rough in plumbing. Like bringing home a stray dog, I didn’t warm up to it at first but after my husband explained that the sink alone would have cost us $300 new, it began to grow on me. It was actually only supposed to be an interim measure, but I like that there’s a pull out garbage on the right side of the cabinet and tons of drawer space for fabric softener sheets and detergent etc. The size is perfect, the storage is useful, it’s well-planned and the sink is a big and deep, so we’ll likely keep most of it and reface the door and drawer fronts to match the upper cabinets.

Basement Laundry_bof

Cabinet is a Habitat for Humanity Re Store Find

The upper cabinets are Ikea boxes. We used Akurum – the predecessor to Ikea’s new Sektion line of cabinets (these uppers were only 12” deep vs. 15” now, but I actually prefer having 3” less depth on the uppers so things don’t get piled behind and out of reach). Installation is a breeze because the cabinets come with a rail system that each box attaches to and it can easily be done with only one person. My husband built the door frames out of left over wood from another project and routed them out around the edges so I can insert a decorative glass panel in the future.

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Installing uppers

The backsplash was our next decision. I originally thought we should install a simple plain 12” x 4” white subway tile in a herringbone pattern, but when we went looking for tiles both of us spotted this 6″ x 6″ patterned tile and immediately fell in love with it:

Patterned tiles are hot right now.  I absolutely love the real encaustic cement ones that are hand made, but this porcelain one is a great compromise: you get the look without the cost – or weight!

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Patterned Porcelain Tiles (6″x6″)

I was still torn about which direction we should go with the tile so I thought in order to visualize how each option would look, I would bring all the elements into Photoshop and “mock it up”. Mocking it up was one of the best ideas I’ve ever had (it also makes me feel like I’ve contributed something to the renovation as it will save us from potentially making a costly mistake by choosing the wrong finishes). Somehow looking at a picture of the finished product makes a huge difference over just looking at a single piece of tile propped up against the wall and then guessing what it might look like in its finished state!

Here’s a picture of what the laundry room looks like to-date (before flooring, glass inserts and refacing of lower cabinets):

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Here’s the comparison of how each tile backsplash MIGHT look – with the hardwood flooring done, glass inserts in place and the lowers refaced in a dark wood to match:

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Patterned porcelain and classic herringbone mock-ups

I think hands down, we both prefer the first option; I like the subtle colours and the pattern brings a lot of interest to the space. We’re just waiting to get a real sample of the tile in hand to make our final decision.

What do you think? Do you have a preference? If so, leave your comments below!

Once we get the tiling done, I can’t wait to reface the lower cabinets so it looks more cohesive with the uppers. I’d also love to replace the laminate counter top with something like quartz; maybe one day when the budget allows. You’ll see the final transformation once we’re done so stay tuned for the big reveal!

Update 03/05/16:

We ended up purchasing the grey porcelain patterned tile and my husband installed it today! Here’s a sneak peak of it in progress while it’s drying and waiting for grout. I think we made the right choice!!

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