Putting the Laundry Room Back Together!

Remember how I’m crazy and putting in my second laundry room in this house in the space of 5 years? Fun times with fickleness.

Step #1 was demolishing the chimney. We’ve discussed this. It was painful but worth it: otherwise my options were to have the machines side-by-side next to the chimney with no sink (where my floating desk was) or stack the machines and have a sink but no other work surface really, or demolish the chimney and have side-by-side machines and a sink. The last option won out, but left a big hole in the floor, the ceiling, and about a foot and a half of missing wall from floor to ceiling! Cute.

Step #2 was getting the electrical in place. Evidently I did not take pictures of this, but that doesn’t mean it just happened by magic! The room had two existing outlets, but a washing machine requires a dedicated 20-amp circuit and a dryer requires a dedicated 30-amp circuit, so both had to be brought up to the room. Luckily, this was very uncomplicated: my old laundry room was further away from my electrical panel than the new one, so it was just a matter of turning off the power to those circuits, pulling the wires back through part of the basement and up the new chase (where the chimney used to live!) and into that back wall. This kind of stuff is actually super simple to do yourself with the slightest amount of know-how, but of course if you have any concerns at all or even dead wires make you queasy, hire a qualified electrician. Duhzville.

Once that was done and my electrical boxes installed, it was on to Step #3: drywall!

Typically I would have tried to patch the missing section of plaster left by the chimney demolition, but in this case I had the depth on my baseboard to add another 5/8″ thickness to the wall, so I opted instead to just drywall over the whole wall. The biggest reason for this is noise: luckily my machines are pretty tame, but I’m still moving big laundry machines to the second floor, basically in the middle of the house, and on a wall that backs to my bedroom, so some additional sound-proofing seemed to be in order!

I wrote several months ago about the line of Purple XP drywalls, and National Gypsum was kind enough to supply the drywall for this project so I could test it out. This is the SoundBreak XP, which is essentially two high-density gypsum boards with a goop in between that blocks sound transmission that would otherwise occur through the wall. It’s also mold and mildew resistant, which is nice now that this room has plumbing! My thought was that leaving the remaining plaster behind it should provide additional sound insulation too, but otherwise you’d probably want to insulate the wall if things are all opened up.

Working with SoundBreak differs from more standard drywalls in a number of ways. First—both sides of the board look the same, but only one side (clearly marked) is supposed to face out. Second, SoundBreak should be installed vertically—not horizontally! Huh! I think it may be to keep seams contained only to where they’re backed completely by framing members. Third, SoundBreak—due to that layer of goop—cannot be scored and snapped like regular drywall can: you have to cut it with a saw! As you might imagine, this is very dusty and ideally should be done outdoors with a good respirator. A circular saw is best for straight cuts, but we were working in tight quarters and used my handy little oscillating saw to get the job done. Fourth, it is HEAVY. I can lift a sheet of 1/2″ lightweight drywall without too much effort, but I cannot lift a SoundBreak board—so be warned that hanging is likely a two person job unless you have Hulk-like strength.

And, since you asked: YES covering up that fabulous Hygge & West wallpaper was a sad moment. Don’t take it personally, wallpaper, I still love you so much! That being said, I still have an entire roll of it (first floor powder room, anyone??), and it’s still in production, and…ya know, there are worse sacrifices. There’s something I sort of like about hiding it behind the drywall, though, like a little time capsule! It’s gonna be OK.

Here you can see the part of the baseboard I had to patch. It’s behind the dryer so I’m not SUPER concerned about it being perfect, but…ya know, I want it perfect. In part because I do not trust myself and now that there’s no chimney in here, this room can actually fit a twin bed…QUIET DOWN, VOICES IN MY HEAD.

Also, that piece of plywood is covering the big hole in the floor where the chimney used to be! Without it, you could stand in the attic and look all the way down to the basement floor, which is just an odd new experience to have in your own house.

ANYWAY. Once the drywall was up, I patched the missing piece in the ceiling and then enlisted Edwin and his mudding and taping skills to get the walls and ceiling ready for paint. The finishing work here isn’t anything crazy, but he can do it so quickly and well that it usually feels worth it to save myself the headache. Normally you’d apply paper or mesh tape and 3 coats of joint compound to the seams and over screw holes, but I like to overcomplicate literally everything and skim-coat the entire wall as a final step, too. I find that this gives new drywall just enough irregularity once painted to match adjacent plaster walls, since those are never so perfectly smooth!

It’s getting there! It’s getting there! Luckily I had a scrap of baseboard that was large enough to patch in the missing section, and old pieces of subfloor to patch the floor. It’s nice when the house provides the material to fix itself! The patched floorboards are the same dimensions as the originals, but the joints are tighter so things don’t quite line up. Don’t care! It’ll be covered anyhow by the dryer, but I don’t really mind funny staggered patches like that in wood floors.

Speaking of wood floors, now is the part where I openly admit: I cannot have white painted floors. My god, they are not for me. Some people (Swedes, primarily) seem to have no problem keeping white painted floors looking great for years, and I admire them. But the combination of dogs and a house under construction and frequently using the window in this room a couple years ago as an entrance while Edwin and I tore down additions and worked on restoring the exterior of this side of the house left these floors pretty destroyed and terrible looking. Even before that, they drove me crazy. Never. Again.

But…remember how I mentioned that this renovation is really just about getting the major players in place without draining significant funds, time, or mental energy? I mean that very seriously. For a while I was so hung up on needing to install a tile floor or run the wood flooring from the adjacent room into this one that I would get overwhelmed by the whole project. It would cost a lot! It would take a while! And it’s such a COMMITMENT and I don’t even really have a fleshed out design plan for this space so I don’t even know what I want! And I refuse to let this become a big project so I don’t even really want to have to know what I want! WOE IS ME!

THEN I realized I could actually just re-paint my fucked up white floor and nobody was likely to die as a result! Isn’t that something!

Sometimes reigning it in is difficult for me. Like all the time.

So. I patched a bunch of the larger gauges with Bondo, caulked here and there, chose a color off a paint chip (seriously, why in the world I think I can do this but would never advise anybody else to is beyond me), thoroughly cleaned the floor, and painted it!

Immediate Uh-Oh I Hate This. The color is a color-matched version of Farrow & Ball’s “Setting Plaster” and it’s roughly the color that would result if dried Bondo and a Band-Aid procreated. As a frequent user of both, this was not exactly what I had in mind.

While I stewed on that, I painted the walls and ceiling. I did not exactly think this through—I actually intended to just paint the new wall and touch-up just where necessary in the rest of the room (because restraint!), but once I got into it I realized how much everything would really benefit from a fresh couple of coats (because perfectionism!) so I ended up repainting the whole thing! Had I decided this beforehand I probably would have gone with a different color, butttttttt whatcha gonna do! On the plus side, I still had enough leftover paint from the first time around to eek out two coats! The paint is Clark + Kensington flat finish, and the color was called Casa Blanca but I cannot find it on the internet for the life of me and I think maybe it’s no longer part of the color deck. I’ve had the can for 5 years; who knows.

Unexciting color choice notwithstanding, there’s nothing like a fresh coat of paint. Even at this stage the room felt kind of…pretty?

I repainted all the trim Benjamin Moore Simply White which I’ve used all over the house (and also had the paint already!) and then forged ahead with the floor, figuring worst case scenario I’d just call this the primer and do something else…and then a great miracle occurred! I LOVE it! Context, man. It changes things. By the way, that’s the little teeny closet door for the little teeny closet under the attic stairs. It’s one of the cutest things in the house and makes me happy. Also, the laundry room is going to have its very own little closet! For stuff and things!

So. My quick n’ easy just-make-it-function laundry room got a little more TLC and time than I was even intending to give it, which honestly at this point I was pissed at myself about. BUT! It really feels like a whole new space, and ultimately I think I’ll be happy I went the extra mile for it.

Or, ya know, at least like a few blocks.


63 Comments

  1. “Swedes, primarily” it’s quips like this that keep me a dedicated reader. I will never have your energy when it comes to home project (but I can pretend I could do all sorts of wonderful things and make witty comments as I go).

  2. So exciting! I love the floor color. It’s very ballet slipper (the leather practice ones not the shiny satin performance ones.) also, it’s so nice to have you back and writing again.

  3. 1) I saw the purple in the first image and went “oh, that’s the drywall, the drywall from the thing with Kim and Scott, cool!”
    2) I am not sure about the floor colour but I have learned that what I need to do is trust you and wait to see the whole thing together because it is always, always different than I imagined
    3) I love that you’re already hedging your bets about what if you needed to someday repurpose this room for a bedroom (“DANIEL NO.” “Daniel yes!”)
    4) I am just so gosh darn happy whenever you post. And happy for you that you will soon have functioning laundry again! That is a nice thing!

  4. Looking good! What do you think they used this room for originally? And what’s your plan for the plumbing? I’m surprised I didn’t see see it before you buttoned up the chase. Sidenote: How’s the ceiling height in your attic? If it’s good, like future bed/bath good, may as well run a 3″ drain line and 3/4″ pex all the way up so you (or some appreciative future owner) could use the space someday.

    • I don’t know what this room was originally! People have suggested that it may have been a sewing room which I guess was fairly common in houses this age, and does make some sense given its modesty (it’s the only room with a window sill instead of a nice panel detail, baseboards are a simpler profile, etc) and the amount of natural light that comes in from that nice big window! But that’s about as good of a guess as I have!

      Plumbing will come up through the floor, though toward the exterior wall rather than where the chimney was. The closet below it is gutted so everything can be run that way! There’s a joist at the top of that wall, so running a plumbing vent in the wall cavity wasn’t really an option without some weird boxing-in or lowering the ceiling a bit and I didn’t want to do either.

      Attic is….honestly, I don’t know. The longer I live in this house, the less and less I can envision using the attic for anything other than storage and, god willing, someday an air handler and ductwork for second floor A/C. I did consider running 3″ all the way up to the laundry room in case THAT ever becomes a bathroom, but then I…didn’t, haha. It’s all just PEX and PVC…cut it out and start over if the need ever arises, I dunno!

  5. I experienced near physical pain looking at the pictures of drywall being installed over that beautiful wallpaper. All that work! For nothing! I know it had to be done, but ouch. I loved that little office. Writers often advise each other to “kill your darlings.” Maybe that’s a saying that applies to home renovation too?

    • Well, not nothing! A few solid years of enjoyment and appreciation, and a little wallpapering experience to roll over into the next papering venture!

      I think it totally applies—I’m SO NOT trying to endlessly renovate this house, but sometimes you put a lot of work into something, love it but recognize it’s not really serving you the way you’d like, so you change it! Like an essay or a novel or a blog post or an email…it’s just a collection of parts you can swap around, rearrange, discard, and rebuild into something better! Sometimes those decisions are easier than others though, of course. :)

  6. … and quips like “We’ve discussed this.” that are so head-turningly endearing, too. I also now like the floors after seeing the ballet practice slipper colour reference. Black accents will make the room come alive … lots of what you did before. And yeah – why not have us all imagining along with you – the dragging of the laundry room furniture to yet another even better spot so you can create a great guest or kid’s bedroom. It’s the journey!

    • Anything could happen, ha! But I really hope that never happens. Luckily this house actually has a nursery, so I think we can all rest easy that THIS laundry facility is here to stay, kids or not!

  7. But you didn’t tile! Or continue the floor from the adjacent room! So, really, you’re still keeping it simple! :) Plus, it’s cute. And cute is the best.

  8. Lovely post! In one of the early pictures before I started reading, I thought, hmmm lavender walls—really BOLD choice, Daniel. (And, so NOT in your color palette, so whew, that wasn’t the paint color). Laughed OUT LOUD and had to read to Dad the “…it’s roughly the color that would result if dried Bondo and a Band-aid procreated.” You are so casually funny and entertaining, LOVE YOU.

  9. It’s a good thing you gave us some foreshadowing with the powder room + wallpaper hint, because otherwise I think I would have cried for that wallpaper. I so loved when you did that little office.
    My laundry room (buanderie in French, doesn’t that sound schmancy) is in a dark and scary basement, and I have to haul everything up a bunch of steps then down steps to get it outside to dry. Because nothing beats sheets dried in the sun. Your room looks so happy and CLEAN already, it looks like a place where clothes would wash themselves. If that should happen, please come and do your magic here.

  10. I get SO happy when I see a new post from you! It’s like getting your favorite catalog in the mail, or your favorite episode of a show is on…..Yay!
    I can’t wait to see the finished laundry room and I think the floor looks really nice!

  11. i get SO excited whenever i see a post from you. ALSO. just wondering, if for you to embark on a project you have to tell yourself “just keep it simple and functional” and then you actually make it magical and amazing along the way. But if you tell yourself “it has to be perfect and live up to all the unrealistic standards in the stupid online design world” it NEVER gets off the ground. Kind of like when you set out to go for a run and tell yourself you only have to make it a couple blocks and then you can walk, but once you get going you can run the whole thing! I think i’ve ventured into the royal “you” here….lol

    • So I CANNOT relate to the running reference (is that what it’s like for running-inclined people???), but I totally get it for this kind of stuff! It’s a funny time we live in…I don’t even use Pinterest for exactly this reason and barely read blogs (shhh don’t tell), but even just instagram often makes me feel so overloaded with “inspiration” that it’s stifling! So yes, the simple and functional mantra is definitely helpful because it takes that self-imposed perfection pressure off. And it doesn’t mean it won’t be pretty or cute, it just doesn’t have to be like THE ROOM TO END ALL ROOMS. I think it’s a lot more fun when you aren’t super concerned with it all being *just so* and just figuring it out as you go, which is totally this room. Plus, it’ll just keep changing over time—right now we’re just heading toward a starting point!

      • YES! That is 100% what running is like (for me at least, and i know i’m not alone. lol). it’s just convincing yourself to start, and then it just kind of happens. Momentum or physics or some such nonsense i suppose. lol.

  12. I’m excited to see how this all turns out! Laundry rooms and powder rooms can be the most fun, because people tend to slack on the decorating “rules” and just do what they really want.

    In the pictures at least, the floor color looks really nice with the walls, and has a great vintage vibe. Buuuttttt….. my general feeling on light colored painted floors is they have all the same problems as a white painted floor. It’s gonna look messy and filthy in a week. Did you consider something like sheet vinyl? Super easy, super cheap, and no commitment down the line. There are some great patterns these days, and the vintage, simple vibe works well with an old fashioned styled laundry room.

    What color do you think you would have gone with if you had planned to repaint the walls? I think the light color looks beautiful as it is now. Wondering if you had visions of something more dramatic if you had planned ahead?

    • Tis true! Although, I do think white is PARTICULARLY unforgiving…other (even light) colors seem to be able to handle a little dust and dog hair without immediately looking completely heinous! I didn’t really consider sheet vinyl, although I did briefly consider laying down a thin subfloor and VCT I still have leftover from the old kitchen/laundry, but ultimately you can’t really beat $40 in paint! Plus it still leaves the option of something more permanent down the line, like a really awesome patterned tile or something. I just can’t prioritize that expense right now!

      As for paint…I’m not really sure! There’s this grey I kind of wanted to try out, or white walls with a great color on the trim and floor (I considered some kind of really saturated saffron kind of color) but I think it’s probably best if I don’t think about it too hard because I’m not repainting this room!!! (yet)

  13. I need to see inside the little closet. I love this little room

  14. Your room and floor looks great!

    BTW I agree re white painted floors, but I do love white oiled floors (very Scandi)—they don’t have the hard opacity of paint but give a lovely misty mood to the room. We did all the floors in our Dutchess Co house in Nordic White/ White from Rubio Monocoat and I love them. In retrospect, because the wood is red oak, I would have lye-treated them first as they initially came out pale pink, but going over them again with the white pre-tint and white oil got rid of that. With three cats and one dog we do get a lot of visible hair and dust bunnies, so I end up vacuuming every other day.

    • YES!! I love LOVE white-washed, lye/soap, bleached, etc kinds of floors (except when they’re done badly, haha)—I think the texture of the grain (and the fact that it’s not just a plane of STARK WHITE) makes it much, much more forgiving. And so pretty. I think constantly about trying to pull it off with the wood floors in my house when I can finally refinish them! Honestly in terms of showing dirt and dust and stuff, I don’t feel like it’s any different than staining them dark.

  15. I went from “uh” to “WOW!” on the floor paint. It’s gorgeous.

  16. I don’t how you do it. Every time I see your next paint color it always seems just right. I have been trying to paint my bathrooms gray for a month and every paint is too blue or brown or too dark. Is that paint you just did your laundry room with gray? Its so wonderfully subtle against the white baseboards.

    • Oh man, I know that struggle WELL. I assume you’re asking about the walls, yes? Floors are definitely kind of a soft dusty pink. The walls are definitely among the whites in the color deck, but do lean a subtle grey-pink that I like and I think is enhanced a bit by the moldings which lean more yellow. If you’re looking for something quite light…Ben Moore has a color called Lacey Pearl that I’ve seen be PERFECT light grey with a pink-y undertone (in a good way!!) but I’ve also seen look weirdly lavender in other light…greys and whites are the hardest because it’s all about the light in the room. When in doubt, I always go warmer than I might even think I should even when I take the time to paint up big swatches…too-blue greys never seem to improve by painting a whole wall or room, but ones that seem too warm/beige/brown often turn out just right! It’s so hard, don’t be discouraged!!

      • This is wonderful advice. Thank you! I’m going to keep this in mind as I embark, yet again, on trying to find a white/light grey for my living room/dining room.

  17. Maybe a little rug to protect the floor when the room is all set up?

    Love what you’ve done, ballet shoes and all!

  18. Ok, but . . . do you ever feel like you’re walking on the skin of pinkish newborn baby in there? I mean, that room turned out great but the floor color is giving me serious flesh vibes! No? Just me? Carry on then.

  19. I actually LOVE that floor colour.

  20. Thank you for your posts. I like the energy that comes from your writing and essentially from your work! It is very inspiring.

  21. You don’t have to post this but I’m in Amsterdam right now and your flash up side ads are in Dutch and I can’t even tell what they are for. I guess I never thought about that. Funny.

  22. Love your posts, I am giving myself official permission to ditch work for 20 minutes to read your blogpost with a cup of coffee AND write a reply. I like the floor color, looks very traditional to me (I am swedish after all). Pink subtones are a very good choice I think, it matches the traditional pigments very well. So much that can look great with it. I am not a fan of painted floors for maintenance issues, but for a room like this it is perfect. I tore down a semi-wall downstairs and the two floors (pine and plastic fakeboards) did not match. A grey coat of paint and large wool-rugs keep it nice until I get to insulating the floorboards and ripping it all up. I hope you get to have some coffe outdoors as well!

  23. Oh lala, so funny really: “The color is a color-matched version of Farrow & Ball’s “Setting Plaster” and it’s roughly the color that would result if dried Bondo and a Band-Aid procreated.”.
    I love you Daniel, you made my day (even so this is all synny today here in Ibiza)

  24. Daniel – it’s so good to have you back.

    That’s all.

  25. Yeah, I presume a rug will cover much of the floor to protect that paint, something synthetic, of an easily washable indoor-outdoor variety, something that can be hosed off. I had a bamboo rug in a kitchen once that worked great to protect the wood floor (and add a little cushion underfoot) – the kind with the thicker almost 1/2″ bamboo slats (not the skinny stick kind of mat that are like those roll-up bamboo window shades), that also worked well in a room where I frequently splashed water on the floor. (I can’t hose stuff off in the city, but I did scrub food stains off that bamboo mat with soap and water, and it worked fairly well.)

    And then I thought instead (or even in addition to a rug) that once you have decided on this or another color for the floor with some finality, you could maybe give it a clear sealing coat of something(?) over the paint to protect it – something like I’ve seen people put over a cheap vinyl tiles square floor they had painted a design on top of.

  26. I love the blush color. Ballet slipper is a much better name than what I called it when it was in a house we were renting. I referred to it as Skin Suit since it was on all the walls of the master bedroom and made me feel like I was living in someone’s skin. On the laundry room floor, though, it’s a good choice.

  27. The room looks good. But. I actually really liked the lavender color of the drywall! In that first picture I thought you had painted the room that lavender and I thought How pretty! It goes surprisingly well with the dark grey and lightens it up without diminishing the impact. Maybe in another room……

    • Haha, don’t count on it!! I like to think I’m equal-opportunity when it comes to color, but I kind of hate purple! All shades! I don’t know why!

  28. When I saw the post this morn I screamed inside my head: The wallpaper! I decided to go to New York and slap you silly. Then I read you had another roll. Oh joy! You are so lucky.

  29. New posts make me giddy, more than anything for the experience of reading someone else’s internal monologue / arguments with self about perfectionism that validates my own neverending mental soundtrack.

    Me to therapist: “I’m just frustrated I’m not better at dialing back this perfectionism and letting things be.”

    Therapist: “Is it possible you are being a perfectionist in your quest to conquer perfectionism?”

    Also your writing style is so honest and breezy I feel like I’m getting updates from a friend (even though I’m totally a 100% internet rando who came to you originally through some strange, twisted, Pinterest-induced link following journey.) You rock.

    Would love an update on your opinion of the sound muffling capacity of the fancy drywall once the room is operational. We are considering closing off our dining room from our living room to make a 3rd bedroom in our small open-concept urban apartment, but I am concerned about noise from living room and kitchen making the bedroom really noisy. This fancy drywall intrigues me as an option. :)

    P.s. I’m slightly colorblind (it’s a spectrum!) and once selected a color from a chip I though was the most bland, neutral beige and on the wall it looked like the color of caucasian flesh tinted with a drop of pepto-bismol.

    • Thank you so much, Jeanne! I will absolutely report back on the efficacy of the drywall! We got to experience it in a lab setting (with insulation in the wall) and it was pretty striking and quite impressive how much sound it really did block.

  30. That a fine effing line between getting it done with a few extra blocks to please ourselves vs. overwhelm and paralysis. I know I myself need a broader line. Good job reigning it in, it’s going to look fabulous!!

  31. Good for you. I love that you gave an intended “spiff” to a neglected or overlooked part of your house. You’re going to be surprised how much you enjoy it.

  32. I love you and your house, except you keep making me want to quit my job and just redo my whole house. Which would probably end in me going broke and my husband killing me. Also, now I need to find a room in my house where I can put a light fixture just like the one you have. Bedrooms that get terribly hot in the summer don’t actually need fans, right?

  33. So happy to see a new post so soon! I laughed out loud more than once and my cat gave me side eye. It’s great to have you back posting with more regularity. You’ve got many loyal fans out here!

  34. I think the floor color is saved by the tiniest hint of blush. It looks really pretty!

  35. I had to laugh @ the Swedish floor reference. I live in a pretty traditional 20’s bungalow, but the women who lived here prior redid the 2nd floor all white. One big-ass room with built-in drawers/skylights, and a cube-like bathroom thrown in at an angle to separate the bedroom-ish space from the office-ish space. I love it, but swore when I had it repainted that I’d have the floors done in a light gray…for the exact same reasons you outlined.
    I clearly do not have your paint-choosing abilities because dammit that gray is pretty close to white, and subject to all the filth that entails.
    Uh, next time….
    BTW the purple that I have in the wallspace behind my bedstead is preeetty close to that of your drywall. Love purple.
    Different strokes!

  36. Awesome progress – it’s looking great!

  37. I love the blush pink floors! the color kind of matches your blog background color.

  38. My first thought of your last picture was “pretty.” No other word to describe it. I then immediately pictured a blush toned floral pattern. I know that you will do something completely different and add little touches of accessories that I never imagine, but are impossibly cute. Great work on your mind control issues.

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