Who Cares About the Laundry Room?!!

I do.

Deeply.

In Silicon Valley it’s actually quite a treat to even have a dedicated laundry room. Most homes have washer and dryer hook-ups in the garage. Our last rental house was this way and it was always a bit of annoyance to me that my clean laundry sometimes piled up in the dusty and dirty garage, sometimes overflowing out of the baskets onto the floor. When we bought this house I had all kinds of heart eyes over the fact that it came with a laundry room. It obviously was walled in from the garage sometime in this houses torrid past(permitted or not, who knows?) and the bisque walls and ugly linoleum didn’t exactly thrill me, but it came with build-ins and a door, so I was over the moon!

As much as it’s a a feat to have a laundry room in the crazy Bay Area market…it’s even more unlikely to find a home with a walk-in pantry. It’s just not done. This house was no exception. No pantry. Zero. Zip. The amount of kitchen cabinet space simply would not do it either. So for 2 years in this house we cultivated a highly disorganized system of food storage between some cabinets in the kitchen, some build-ins in the laundry room a few steps from the kitchen, and some cabinets in the garage. It was exceptionally frustrating as we would often over-buy or not realize we had certain foods until they went bad.

And this, my friend, is where our tale begins. Just over a year ago on a sunny summer day when my sister and her family(including her brilliant contractor husband) came to stay with us for a month…

Of course, I had always thought about a pantry and where we could fit one in our kitchen layout, but try as I may, I could not figure out how to make it work. Our kitchen layout is just not conducive to adding a pantry. Only a few days before my brother-in-law arrived, it hit me that the solution might be just outside the kitchen in the garage. More specifically, right off the laundry room. Our house layout is such that the kitchen/dining room is adjacent to the laundry room. You open a door in the dining room, step down into the long narrow laundry room on the right and go straight through another door to get into the garage. The owner of this house simply walled in a portion of the garage to make the laundry room but instead of walling in the whole bottom 1/4 of the garage, they just walled in what was needed for the laundry room leaving a small nitch to the side of the laundry room that remained a part of the garage with a built-in tool bench and cabinets. It hit me that walling this in as well and adding a door in the laundry room into it would provide the perfect space for a walk-in pantry separate from the garage. When Jared arrived I had planned only on asking him how much something like this would cost, but Mark and I were both so excited about this project(Ok, let’s be honest, really it was just me) that we decided to go for it and hire him to work on it during his stay with us. He jumped at the idea and I proceeded to convulse with joy for a solid month as he worked on it in his free time and I say the pantry of my dreams take shape.

{Fair warning- I never bother to get out my real camera for shots during so you are about to see a lot of crappy iPhone photos that don’t do this project justice. Sorry!}

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(the old tool bench nitch in the garage that is about to become walled in to create a pantry)

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(The pantry walled in, the doorway from the laundry room into the pantry)

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I chose a more “build in” approach rather than free shelving. I also sprung for the faux plank plywood to back the shelves. White, white, white. Nothing says clean and simple like white. It’s the perfect amount of space and and we can see all the food we have easily without losing things in the back. It has been life changing!

When that project was finished we were left with a finished pantry except for the floor. It was concrete and connected with the laundry room. I knew I wanted to replace the laundry room linoleum to make the two rooms seamlessly connect with one flooring but I waited for the rooms to speak to me and tell me what that flooring should be. I considered painting and stenciling the cement floor but that would require me to remove the existing linoleum and subfloor in the laundry room which seemed really difficult. I considered tile but it was a large enough space the tile would be expensive and I have never tiled before so I was hesitant to have my first time be in this situation. Plus, I knew whatever I chose would need to be a fast install since we would have to remove the water heater and washer and dryer for the duration of the install. Linoleum won.

I looked into several kinds of linoleum including what was available on the shelf at home depot and quickly learned that linoleum is almost always really UGLY! I decided I wanted to avoid the kind of linoleum squares that you have to grout between. In my experience grout becomes dirty over time and I hate the way it is so difficult to clean. That left me with custom cutting a large piece of seamless linoleum to fit my space which I liked more and more as I thought about it. It’s not a huge room and I was told that you don’t really need to adhere the linoleum to the floor as intensely when it’s a solid piece like this, it will lay flat on it’s own and you secure it with the baseboards.

Now…to find a linoleum I don’t loathe…IMG_4551

It turned out to be a linoleum I didn’t just not loathed, but really LOVED. I have a special attraction to marble hex tile and this linoleum looked so much like actual tile I was sold. It was more expensive than I hoped but worth it for the ease and quickness of installation vs. tile or pieces of linoleum. I ordered enough to do one seamless piece through the entire laundry/pantry(It failed, more on that later).

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(What the pantry has looked like for over a year since we ripped out the built in cabinetry next to the washer to create more room for a utility sink on the other side.)

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Once I had all my ducks in a row it just came down to timing- I needed a free weekend when I wasn’t weighted down with tons of work or other distractions. It finally worked out in August that I had an entire weekend to use. I started bright and early Saturday morning moving everything out of the laundry room, tearing out the existing trim, assembling my supplies, shopping for trim, paint, and other odds and ends at Home Depot, and finally luring Mark into helping me move out the washer and dryer. We left the water heater for later since we would have to turn off the water main for the entirety of it being disconnected. I spent the rest of the day painting the room, changing it from a dirty bisque to my favorite white- Benjamin Moore “Simply White”. It took just two coats and it already looked worlds better. It took all of day 1 to get the room just empty and painted. Why does painting always take longer than I plan?

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Day #2 started bring an early with me trying to figure out how to put a subfloor down in the pantry to match the level of the laundry room’s thin subfloor. I didn’t have an appropriate saw for the job but the plywood I used was so thin a box cutter did the trick. Then we moved out the water heater and I was on a tight schedule to remove the existing linoleum and paint behind where the water heater had been and cut out and install the new linoleum before leaving for the circus with my kids at 12pm. Eep! The most time-consuming part was creating a template using resin paper and duct tape of the space to use for cutting out the linoleum to shape. I knew that it had to be just right or the linoleum would not fit and cutting it wrong would be an expensive disaster. Once I got it done though, I went to lay it out on the linoleum to trace it and cut it only to find that the linoleum company had shorted me bu 4 inches making it impossible for me to cut out the linoleum for the whole space in one seamless piece. I had to decide quickly on another solution so I ended up cutting one piece for the laundry room and one piece for the pantry and planning a seam for the doorway between the two that would need a threshold to cover it. It was not perfect but I am learning more and more as I DIY our home that as long as I can figure out a solution to the problem, I can work through almost any project. Nothing ever goes completely according to plans.

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After the linoleum went in, Mark and I quickly moved the water heather back in before I left with the kids for the circus and mark worked on getting the water working again while I was gone. When I got home I jumped right back in cutting trim for the three doorways and and non-wood baseboards all around. The evening ended with the washer and dryer back in place and all the trim installed but not yet caulked or painted. I also added these fabulous set of wood and iron shelves I found at HomeGood weeks ago and bought not knowing where they would fit in my house. I thought about them as we put the washer and dryer back in place and knew instantly they belonged in here.

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Monday was a fun day because I shopped at Ikea hoping it would have a good solution for the space next to the washer. I was hoping for some kind of shelving unit for laundry baskets or a butcher block counter I could use to build a countertop area with laundry sorting underneath. I was lucky enough to find one item that met both those needs and fit the space perfectly- a kitchen island/cart with two shelves beneath and a butcher block counter. I raced home and put it together and it was the perfect addition. I also added a sheer blind from Ikea to the window.

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The room sat like that for a week before I could muster the desire to caulk and paint the trim- one of my least favorite tasks. Then, in the middle when I had to run to OSH for more paint I found the perfect light fixture! I hadn’t really planned on replacing the existing florescent light fixture in the laundry room as it did it’s job and I didn’t want to spend any more money on the room, but while browsing our local OSH, which is under construction and has a lot of items marked way down to get them out of the way during renovations, I saw this beauty on sale and asked an associate if there were any more in back since I couldn’t find any on the shelves. He said no but that they could sell me the floor model for 25% off. I happily agreed and waited over an hour for someone to get it down for me. When I took it to the register expecting to pay around $30 for it, I was happily surprised to find that it was marked down to $15 + 25% off. Score!!!!

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After the caulking, patching, painting and a myriad of other finishing touches you don’t realize need to happen until you are making your 4th trip to Home Depot in a day for one thing….

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…and after a fight to install the light fixture that I don’t even want to go into…

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It is done. I had plans to extend the built in cabinetry with some shelves to cover the horrible hole at the end and make it even with the doorway, but I am just done. So for now that end to the project will wait til I feel up to the challenge.

I love the way the room feels so clean and bright now. White paint has magical properties I think.

I know it may seem silly. We have a mountain of upgrading projects in our home that are more visible on a daily basis to us and guests alike. But this project seemed like a great opportunity to take something that simply was not functioning for me the way it should and turn it into one of my favorite rooms in the house. Plus, our house as a whole stays more organized now that we have a pantry and our laundry room is a room I enjoy keeping clean and tidy. It no longer feels like just just an extension of the garage. It feels like a dedicated space. It also has all of my favorite things: white walls, white furniture, touches of natural wood, black accents, statement light fixtures, and touches of green. It was a relatively easy and low-cost project for home much improvement it provided.

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…And thus ends the tale of the laundry room/pantry project. Don’t you just love happy endings?

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About Meghan MacAskill

Sharing the adventures of raising three daughters, owning our first and forever home, and working in our dream careers. Our life is a roller coaster of many ups and downs and we are here to share the highs, the lows, and everything in between!

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