September 24, 2012 by Decorum DIYer
When we moved into our home five years ago, this is what we greeted us in the fourth bedroom after months of undergoing a constant clean-out by family (As a reminder, we purchased my husband’s paternal grandparents’ house).
Yes, you saw that correctly. There is a washer and dryer in there! Oh yeah, and a big mess. But, as I have explained before, this photo, like the others, was taken amid a massive clean-out and after two years of the home being vacant. However, even after we moved in, we were undergoing mold abatement and asbestos removal in the basement, so the laundry room needed to stay on the main level. I’ll admit, having one’s laundry room on the same level as the main living area is quite nice. However, it did look a little scary in there, even after it had a good purge. Here is what my laundry room/office (fourth bedroom) looked like after we had been living in our home for a few months. Now, be kind, we were very busy with other more important projects, and oh yeah, a toddler with a severe biting habit. I’ll be sure to provide a post on that episode of our lives in future, but I digress. Check out this hot mess!
One weekend I was really bothered by our messy laundry/office that I decided it needed a mini makeover. I really do believe and experience the saying, “a cluttered room, a cluttered mind”. I took it upon myself to buy a gallon of paint and get to it. I didn’t have much time, nor any budget to speak of, so I rounded up things from around the house to make our then laundry room more cozy. You know, a place one wouldn’t mind doing laundry. I stayed up all night and pulled it together. For awhile, it looked more like this:
I know it isn’t Pinterest or ‘Better Homes and Gardens’ worthy, but it made a world of difference to our family. All of the mess was sorted and found homes in rightful places. The room was now more practical. We managed to make this tiny 8.5′ x 11′ room function as a laundry, office, and media/play room. Given the short time and meager budget, we didn’t bother refinishing the floor. Eventually I added an area rug, but even without, it is a small transformation in terms of aesthetics and function. I’ll walk you through the changes in more detail.
Besides the lack of clutter, the paint color is the most noticeable change. I have an affinity for coastal environments (well, I do live in Maryland), so I gravitate towards natural hues, especially blue and nautical themes. Behr’s Smokey Blue was the perfect choice for me and it matched the dark blue in the striped curtains that I already owned. The Smokey Blue also had a grayish quality to it that help blur the line of the massive, overbearing washer and dryer. I painted the ceiling a light tan with leftover paint I had from the kitchen’s ceiling. The white trim color and dark, chocolate-y brown (closet exterior) were also extras from previous paint projects.
My husband (he’s the brawn of this operation), kindly placed the futon we inherited from my parents in the room for me. Although, there was much under-the-breath mumbling and cursing coming from my husband when I initially asked that he move the futon from the basement to the laundry room. If you have a husband, you know all too well to what I am referring. The futon was lonely sitting in our unfinished basement and it was the perfect solution for both seating and housing an overnight guest. Mostly, I used it to sit and fold laundry whilst watching my favorite British comedies on PBS. Some people have their soap operas, I have my ‘Brit Wit’. The futon mattress is actually black, so I used a simple white, fitted sheet to brighten up the futon a bit and provide a nice backdrop to the bevy of earth-toned and blue pillows. The pillows also added quite a bit of comfort. The print above is one of my husband’s and my favorites. It is both coastal/nautical and Asian. Two aesthetics to which we both gravitate. We had it hung in our last house and couldn’t wait to find a spot in the ‘new’ home. The striped curtains were originally hung in our eldest son’s bedroom, but they found their way into the laundry room/office when I changed out my son’s curtains for something less stripe-y (Sorry, I’m like Don King, I just make up words as I go along.). Again, all of these things were items I had in storage (a.k.a. the unfinished basement) or strewn throughout other parts of the home. Here is a better angle of the futon’s arrangement in the room:
Across from the futon, the wall leading from the entry, are the massive, but incredibly efficient washer and dryer. If you want to get technical, I guess the cost of these two fellas would ramp up the budget of the mini makeover, but they were necessities, as the washer and dryer that were in place when we purchased the home were not in the best physical condition. The good news, we were able to buy these at a great discount, as they were returned to the store for the simple reason that the original purchaser didn’t like the color. Also, we were able to take advantage of the government’s rebate for high-efficiency appliances. I’d tell you how much they cost, but I honestly cannot remember. I do recall that they were quite a bargain. Anyway, here is the washer and dryer in place. In addition to the necessary ‘lost sock’ basket and sewing box, the television (yes, with dvd AND video – a necessity with a toddler in the house) found a new home above the dryer. I thought about mounting it on the wall, like hospitals do, but then thought it sounded like too much work and an added expense that wasn’t necessary.
Next to the washer and dryer and closest to the entry, is the desk and computer. There really wasn’t any space for a formal desk and thankfully we finally upgraded the same year to a slim Mac, so an inherited sofa/console table was the perfect scale. To add more function and to utilize every inch of space, I also placed our rolling end table/file drawer underneath. Rounding out the storage for envelopes and to provide a bit of a display area, Chris (again with mumbling) erected my freshly painted shelves and brackets above the desk area. The shelves and brackets were under each long, bedroom window in the home when we purchased it. I didn’t like them under the window, as being a statuesque 5′ nothing, I had fears of poking my eyes out with the corners of the shelves (we have those wide, but high on the wall, windows). Also, the tiny rooms almost force one to place the bed along the window wall and I was afraid that the children would climb up and injure themselves, if the shelves remained under the windows. Originally the shelves were an odd, orange-y, honey, color, so I painted them the same white as the trim. The brackets are wrought iron that I spray painted a hammered silver. I would have spray-painted them white, but hammered silver is what I had on hand from a previous project. The sailing prints were a wedding gift and hung in our previous home’s office. The wood desk chair on casters was a Craigslist find for $20. I had intentions of spray painting it white eventually, but never got around to it.
The closet became more functional with the addition of some of the shelving stolen from the windows and from other closets in the house. It doesn’t look neater, but it was able to store plenty more. Basically, it served as a linen closet, media storage, and the lower half as a home for the laundry bins on casters. I figured that if I was in the room often, or especially if I entertained a guest, no one, including me, would want to stare at dirty laundry. Like the other closets in the home, I removed the dysfunctional bypass doors and hung drapes – the striped ones of course. I also made the odd decision to paint the closet bump-out the same deep chocolate brown as found in the drapes. I guess I felt that there wasn’t much else a dark brown in the room.
Lastly, I spray painted the existing ceiling fan in the same hammered silver finish as the wrought iron brackets and painted the blades with the dark, chocolate-y paint I used on the closet bump-out (again, leftover paint from another room’s project). The globe was replaced by stealing it from the nursery’s ceiling fan. Don’t worry, Claire eventually received a new globe for her naked ceiling fan.
In summation, as I have said, this mini makeover is nothing to brag about, but it did make my life much easier. I didn’t mind doing laundry as much and I had plenty to keep me company when I did. The room actually became one of the favorite places for us to hang out, as it functioned much like a den or family room would in other, much larger homes. I have a thing about watching television in the main living space (some people refer to it as a parlor or formal sitting room), so I was happy not to be on display to the neighbors as I folded my laundry and watched my British comedies.
The lesson is that sometimes taking a little effort and a gallon of paint is all that you need to make a space in your home better for you. It may not be the most stylish, but improving function in any space makes your home feel bigger and cozier. Please share any projects that you have tackled on a limited budget or timeframe. Or, tell me about a project you think you just might tackle that only requires the bare minimum to make a huge impact. Until my next post, happy painting!