Thursday, March 14, 2013

Laundry room makeover, Part 1

Fair warning - this isn't much of a makeover.  But looking at other examples on the internet, the laundry room ideas out there seem to be universally underwhelming, so I'll throw up this post anyway. 

As I mentioned previously, we don't have a laundry "room" per se.  We have a 45-square-foot void space between the kitchen and the garage into which laundry equipment and a whole bunch of other things have been unceremoniously stuffed. 

Still, after I got that new artistically-correct light installed recently, I decided to brighten the place up.  The door is usually open and that space is visible from our kitchen, so it ought to look like something short of a hot mess.

I got the idea that we needed mirrors in our laundry room.  It's so claustrophobic, and we spend a lot of time working in there.  Something needed to make the place feel less like a rubber room.  Every time I walked into it, I felt like I should be reaching for a straightjacket instead of an apron.

Photo from Wikipedia
 I settled on IKEA Lots mirror tiles.  Ten bucks for a four-pack.  Can't beat that.  Not the most sophisticated choice, but it's a laundry room. 
Measure wisely, grasshopper, because the ones I bought proved to be neither exactly 30 cm nor 12 inches square, a fact that becomes very important if you decide to set them with tight tolerances. 
In our initial build contract, we ordered our laundry room constructed without any shelves, a directive that subsequently proved impossible to communicate to the tradesmen.  They assumed it was a mistake on their work orders and they built it with shelves anyway.  And then they had to rip them back out and repair the drywall. 

The problem with laundry rooms is that most builders put in a generic shelf configuration which is woefully inefficient.  We needed to customize it because our house is small and we can't waste space.  Retrospectively, I regret not installing Elfa Platinum in there, because I have that in our kitchen, our pantry, and our dining area (more on that later).  But because we had to complete the initial laundry room configuration ourselves prior to moving in (and we were simultaneously closing on the sale of our previous house), we just picked up whatever plain mesh shelving was available at Lowes and slapped it in there, for lack of time.

So - our shelf configuration had been previously determined.  But remember in this other post, I said that nothing comes into our house that isn't built as a cardboard mock-up first. Or a paper mock-up if it's a wall element.  I did my usual paper mock-up thing to settle on a mirror tile configuration that worked with the shelves that were already there.
Cut-up brown paper bags get the job done here: initially I thought maybe I'd just run the tiles up the blank space above the clothes dryer, maybe something like this.  But that didn't look right. 

Continue it above the microwave?  Underwhelming. 
Wrap it around the adjacent wall?  Too disjointed. 
I ended up settling upon this configuration - not too much, not too little, fairly cohesive placement. 
These are the tools needed for this simple DIY job. 
Beware of your orange peel wall texture, grasshopper.  Even with the paper bag squares being temporarily placed using masking tape, some still peeled off.  This is not good when hanging breakable mirror tiles using adhesive pads. 
I did this number with masking tape to pull off any loose texture pre-emptively before adhering the tiles. 
I was reminded of the book The Paper Bag Princess, which was one of my daughter's favorites when she was young.  Taking the paper bag squares down from the wall one by one, I marked a guide line and a center tick so I could get these things lined up properly.  And simultaneously I prayed that my now-teenaged daughter will never, ever forget the vital lessons in feminine perspective that were conveyed so fabulously by The Paper Bag Princess
If you screw up the alignment of the first tile, you've got nowhere to go but down. 
Midline tick mark erases easily afterward.  I didn't get these absolutely perfectly level and parallel, but they are within a millimeter, which looks good enough from a distance.  Especially in a laundry room. 
By the way, the LOT tiles come with pretty generous adhesive pads.  I'm writing this about five days after doing the project, and none have come loose, despite the annoying orange peel wall texture (don't click that link - you'll just end up annoyed). 
Here's the mirror tiling result.  In this 2-D picture, the mirrors appear to amplify the appearance of clutter that seems to characterize every laundry room I've ever seen, whether it's had a "makeover" or not.  But in the 3-D experience, the mirrors do give the illusion of a bit more space, which is a relief.  It's an acceptable trade-off. 

Yes, that's my camera-holding yoga arm visible in the mirror as I tried with incomplete success to squeeze out of this frame.  In sooth, the blogger tried unsuccessfully to "fade" out of the photo like the main character in the award-winning work The Graveyard Book. My daughter and I read over two hundred young adult novels together before she became a teenager who is too cool for that sort parental unit participation. 
Laundry rooms universally look cluttered because they have to serve a specific purpose which is intrinsically difficult to de-clutter.  This, by the way, is our solution to managing detergent slop.  The microwave oven becomes a handy drip pan supporter.  We use multiple paper plates as a drip pan so that when the top one gets soggy, we can simply peel it off and there's already a fresh plate underneath.  And we place the measuring cup on a wash cloth which we just throw into a batch of laundry when it becomes soggy with detergent drips. 

Little things, but any procedure that helps me to avoid additional clean-up tasks is helpful. 
Here's a view that includes the snazzy new light we installed.  I used a lot of baskets for storage here in order to contrast with all that metal.

This area rug has separated squares which echo the placement of the mirror tiles.  Cross-referencing is king, even in a lousy laundry room. 
This configuration won't entirely make sense until I explain my rationale for the opposite side of this room as well.  I'll save that for a near-future post. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'm forced to moderate comments because the spammers have become too much for me to keep up with. If you have a legitimate comment, I will post it promptly. Sorry for the inconvenience.