Nummer House: Laundry Closet Overhaul

So I don't have a real laundry room in my new place. It's actually a closet in the dining room, which is fairly common for ranches like these that were updated in the 1980s. At least that's what the guy who sold me the house. I don't mind, though. The great thing about being single is I have much less laundry than the average family. I don't really need a whole room dedicated laundry worship.

When I moved in, the previous renters had taken the washer and dryer with them. Meaning, I've been hoofing it to the Laundromat for two months now. Not the worst thing in the world, especially since I found a Laundromat in my neighborhood that is solar-powered, offers (good) free coffee and was playing Modest Mouse when I first walked in. I wasn't planning on getting a washer and dryer until tax time at least.

The bad part about this plan? Well, life. When things get busy, work gets nutty and my projects take over my free time, there's not always time to haul off for three hours to wash my crap. So when I got to the point where I'd run completely out of towels, socks and undies--all on the same awful morning--I began thinking about how to make this happen sooner than later. Within days, I applied for a credit line at a home improvement store and ordered brand new beauties to be installed within a few weeks. Yay! The only problem? The laundry closet needs, um, a bit of work.

Here's the closet as it sits in my dining room.

Weird bi-fold doors that were also on all the other closets in the house.

Decent, if not filthy, storage cabinets above.

But the floors...

...and the walls. Seriously fucked. And now, with a brand-new washer and dryer on the way, this mess I was putting off suddenly became a priority. Greeeeeeeeat.

So, a game plan was needed. And fast.

1. Clean, clean, clean.

The dark marks look like something burned, but it's more like grease stains. I attacked it with all purpose cleaner and a shitload of paper towels. Soon it looked like this.

2. Assess the damage.

There had been water damage to the floor at some point, especially in the front left section. The chips in the floor in other areas are partially wear-and-tear scuffs and partially self-inflicted after I performed some exploratory surgery to assess the condition of the subfloor. I watched YouTube videos on replacing damaged subfloor, but after really digging in, this 10 inch by 6 inch section in the front was the only part that may have needed replacing. I chipped away at the subfloor in that section and found the water damage did not go all the way through. It was not rotting. Good news.

3. Deconstruct.

Beyond the floor, there was other weirdness afoot.

This weirdness specifically. A closet rod, iron hanging thing and a cabinet with strange placement. Everything in this part had to come out, including the awful bi-folds.

Ahhhhh. So much better. I plan on building in open shelving in the part where the cabinet was removed.

4. Prep for flooring and paint.

More cleaning happened. Filling screw holes happened. I thought about pulling up all the old sheet vinyl, but it was so steadfastly glued to the subfloor that I gave up immediately and decided to just tile right over it.

I also went in with a pry bar and carefully stripped out all the shoe molding from the floor. I'll remove the nails, paint it and tack it back in in a few days when I get my fancy nail gun delivered (#sawsandshit) to hide the rough cuts of the vinyl tile install.

5. Design it!

So I needed some paint. I thought about just getting in there with the white I'd used for the hallway, bathroom, and living room, but the cabinets are already white. Like dingy white. I thought that putting white paint next to them would only make them look dingier. Something dark that would go with the deep charcoal I'll be painting the dining room with. A call to Ali was placed for some advice. In the midst of a her showing off her newly-mounted flatscreen in her living room (nice work Mr. Eyebrowz), we talked about color inspiration. I decided to use a painting that will hang in the space as a jumping off point.

This is "The Devil Whale" by the AMAZING artist Jen Lobo. Is it one of my most favorite things in the entire world. I pulled the paint color directly from the deep ocean tones she painted.

The color is "Moonlit Pool." I was so excited was I saw the color after the paint was mixed that the paint department people looked at me like I was b-a-n-a-n-a-s.

I'm also upgrading the cabinet handles. I found these pretty (and pretty cheap) handles online. 

I'm a fan of the shape, but they'll get the same chalkboard matte black finish that this lovely doorknob in my bathroom got the other day.

For the flooring, peel-and-stick vinyl was decided on pretty quickly, mostly because you just, like, peel and stick it. I think I can handle that. Ali said to go with white, and I was ready for it. But the black peel-and-stick was on sale. That sealed the deal. 

5. Add flooring.

I put on my Awesome Cover Songs playlist and got to work. 

And though the whole process went very quickly, I did have a strategy. I laid whole tiles in one clean line across that ran flush with the subfloor. Since the machines will cover 80% of the floor, I wanted the front to be the best-looking part. Oh that carpet. It's so bad. I apologize you have to look at it. It's time will come, I promise.

I laid a second full row behind it. Then I started making cuts. I simply lined up the tile and scored the edges where the cut was to be made. I used an extra tile as a straight-edge guide and scored it, then snapped the tile at the cut line. There was only three weird cuts and I only screwed up one tile. 


You can see in the upper left portion a line where you can see the old floor coming through. I actually slipped on the shinynew surface of the tiles and inadvertently pushed the tile into place while trying to catch myself from banging my head. Oops. Thankfully, the washer will completely cover it.

All in all, it took just 45 minutes. Not too bad for such a high-impact change.

6. Paint.

This is after painting my first coat. 


Are you excited about this color? I'm excited about this color. Pretty goddamn dramatic if I do say so myself. 

I'm also thinking of adding a vinyl graphic to the space, since it's too small to add any real artwork. What do you think about this mockup using a graphic from DavisVinylDesigns? Yay or nay? I'm torn. Let me know your thoughts in comments.

I'm putting the second coat on today if I can get off the couch after yesterday's marathon session, but the final reveal will come in a few weeks once the machines are in, the cabinet handles have been installed and the open shelving is in place. And not to worry. I will hang a floor-to-ceiling curtain covering the entire opening so my guests won't have to stare at Tide pods while enjoying meals at my imaginary fancy dinner parties. Why "imaginary," you ask? Well...

One project at a time...