How Electricity Ruins Everything

Well, I promised you that I would be back today with an awesome addition to our laundry room. Unfortunately, my plans have been thwarted by dumb electricity. I mean, who needs electricity in the laundry room? Don’t we all wash our clothes on a washboard?

Basically, the area where I planned to drill in some screws is apparently filled with electrical lines. Or so says my stud finder. I’m still hoping that it changes its mind, but no luck so far.

Let me just tell you about my plans because I still think it’s a cool idea and maybe someday America will lose all power and I will finally get my chance to achieve my dream. One can only hope…

A few months ago, I saw this very cool home at Brick House that had this clever solution for hanging up clothes sans closet.

Pipes! I loved how industrial this looked and I knew it would be a great solution for our laundry room (not).

Later, I stumbled into this adorable nursery at Apartment Therapy and gasped (in my mind only) when I saw this photo:

Pipes, painted coral and gold, holding up curtains? SO COOL.

I’m sad just thinking about it. I tried moving it in different configurations and using two different pipe sizes, but I just couldn’t find a way to make it work and have it look good. I’ll find another way to hang up wet clothes, but I’ll also have to find another use for my pipes and floor flanges.

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(I also have a third pipe. Bigger than these two and just as useless.)

My cool clothes hanger was supposed to be installed below the small cabinet on the left:

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Oh well.

I’ll need to find another use for my pipes. Perhaps they can become legs for my jewelry cabinet, a la Brick House’s dipped legs.

Fortunately, a little elfin worked very hard to cheer me up today.

silly baby

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New Rug Leads To Some More Hard Decisions

My life is so hard.

We just found the perfect rug for the laundry room… and that forced me to make some hard, life-altering decisions. But now I look back on it and realize that it was the best thing to ever happen to me.

Okay, enough with the silliness. LOOK AT MY NEW RUG! YAYYY

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The rug is from Urban Outfitters. I really enjoy their rug selection – the rugs are always well-designed and reasonably priced. I’ve been checking their website constantly, hoping for a suitable rug for either the laundry room or the green bathroom.

I was really thrilled to find this rug – the colors are PERFECT for the laundry room.

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The blue on the rug is a CLOSE match to our walls… it’s basically a shade darker of the same color. It’s serendipity, I tell you.

And the dark gray… you know it. Goes perfectly with our dark gray cabinets.

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I’m frustrated that I can’t get a photo showing both the rug and the cabinets. Close your eyes and visualize the previous two photos on top of each other. That’s what my laundry room looks like! YAYYY

Of course, a new purchase for the house ALWAYS leads to more decisions that we need to make. I’ve been thinking about choosing fabrics for the laundry room for a while, but wanted to wait until we got a rug because it’s easier to find fabrics to go with a rug than to find a rug to go with fabric choices.

For now, I needed to find two fabrics for these two purposes:

fabric locations laundry room

I just went straight to Tonic Living, because I really like their fabric selection. There are many other online fabric shops, but they have SO MANY FABRIC CHOICES that it’s easy to get overwhelmed at these sites.

I still got overwhelmed at Tonic Living with all the great fabrics, so I just narrowed it down and down until I had several choices. Then I put them all around a photo of my rug. I used the Pages application for this step.

fabric dump

clockwise from bottom left: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

As you can see, I also put a dark gray background at the top and a light blue background at the bottom to see how the fabrics would look with our two main colors in the room.

Then I chose my four favorite fabrics and played with them:

fabric choices 1

fabric choices 2

I really like both choices, but I liked the second one slightly better. I did a mock-up of the whole room in Pages just to see how everything would look together, along with some more additions to the room that we’ll make in the coming weeks.

laundry room design 1

This really helped me visualize the room. I played around with all kinds of fabrics, colors on the shelf, the colors for the shelf itself and the folding counter, the hanging bar, etc etc. I finally landed on this design and it has been NICK APPROVED. YAYYY

I just had to torture myself some more and do the other side, too:

laundry room design 2

That little door with the hole in it will house our cats’ fancy litter box. The design isn’t final yet – it all depends on Nick’s progress there and what he figures out as he goes along. That part will be his project.

After all of this hard work, I feel an odd sense of peace. The path has been set – we just need to walk it. YAYYY

I’ll order the fabric samples just to make sure they look good in person ($1 each at Tonic Living) and continue trying to figure out a lighting solution for the room. I’m leaning towards buying a metal pendant from a big box store and spray painting it yellow.

I’ll be back on Thursday to show you another little addition to the laundry room! We gotta hang it up first (that’s a hint). YAYYY

Laundry Cabinets: Covering Up Gaps and Installing Molding

After we installed our laundry cabinets, we were left with two gaps – a huge one on the left and a sloped small gap on the top.
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Here’s how we covered up these gaps.

We cut a piece of wood to fit in the gap between the wall and the cabinet and painted it gray. So much painting. My painting clothes are covered with Web Gray. I’m so sick of Web Gray at this point.

Nick’s parents flew back to Pennsylvania and we were left behind to finish up the project on our own.

Nick pushed up the wood piece into the gap. We originally thought we would glue the wood piece to the cabinet, but the fit was so tight that we figured glue wasn’t necessary.

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Nick used a piece of wood to hammer on to make the wood piece flush with the cabinets. If he had hammered straight on the cabinets, we would be left with unsightly marks.

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All flush and ready to be screwed in!

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Yes, there’s still a gap at the top, but we’ll get to that later.

A note – our cabinets are solid, solid wood… VERY solid. Thus, we had to pre-drill all new holes. Here, Nick’s pre-drilling the hole where the screw will go in.

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Janella woke up from her nap so she joined into the action. But she apparently was still tired… She was reaching for the drill bits and yawned just as I took this photo!

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So cute. I look forward to having her hang out with us with her toy tools when we’re working on DIY projects in the future. So fun!

The last step was to put in molding (or moulding, which is the UK spelling that’s used in Northern U.S. Since we’re in Texas, I’ll spell it molding. Yes, I googled it).

Here’s a dumb and low-quality photo (thanks, Photobooth) of me holding up a primed but not yet painted piece of molding to show you its shape.

Photo on 2012-06-26 at 22.44 #2

We cut the corner edges using a saw and a plastic miter box. You don’t need a huge miter saw for this simple project. But that doesn’t mean I want one as a gift in the future (hint, hint).

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See how the molding covers up the gap perfectly?

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Next up was putting in the finishing nails. We were scared to do this part… and I really wished that we had a nail gun. In the end, I do think a nail gun would have been MUCH EASIER and efficient and would have given us a prettier result.

Nail gun, another possible gift in the future, cool? We could have rented a nail gun but this was such a small job that it wasn’t worth the price of rental.

We got this small hammer and a box of 1-1/2″ finishing nails. Some tutorials out there say to get 2-inch nails, but this worked just fine for us.

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The hammer, however, didn’t work so well. We quickly abandoned it in favor of a regular ol’ hammer. The process DID put some dings in our ceiling, but that was easily covered up with minimal drywall putty and touch-up paint.

We used this thing.. a nail set, I think it’s called… to drive in the nails some more to sink it lower than the molding.

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It worked okay. The thing is, our cabinets are SOOO solid that we actually had to pre-drill the holes before hammering in the finishing nails. Ugh. Another reason I really wish we had a nail gun. Newer cabinets might be easier to hammer in than the ones we have.

Then we filled in the holes with wall putty… because I just DIDN’T FEEL LIKE priming the holes, which I would have to do if I used wood putty. But it doesn’t look perfect. So… I will go back and cover them up again with wood putty, prime, and paint sometime later in the future. When I detox from all the painting I did. But this is a BIG IF because you really can’t see anything unless you look at the nail holes closely.

After lots of touching up on the ceiling, the walls, and the cabinets with lots of weird body bendings on my part…

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WE ARE DONE!

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The only thing I’m not sure about is the piece of wood that we added on the left. Should I caulk the space between the wood and the cabinet to make it look like one piece? Or would it look funny in the end?

Nick says we should just leave it, but I’m not so sure. I’ll decide later.

So happy that part’s done. We tossed our towels and stuff in these cabinets and it’s amazing how much these cabinets can hold!

There are even plenty of space left and we’re still planning on adding more storage solutions to the room. We do have lots of things, such as toilet paper and paint buckets, hanging out in random places around the house that I would love to transfer to the laundry room.

The laundry room is far from done, but the cabinets were a HUGE piece of puzzle and the room is now FUNCTIONAL. So happy.

What about you? Would you have done some things differently? We’re still new to all of this, so if you have any tips for molding or covering up gaps or installing cabinets, share them in the comments!

How To Install Cabinets (or at least, how WE did it)

After refinishing the cabinets, it was time to install them.

At first, we weren’t sure how we would do it. I did some research on the internet, but so many “tutorials” were vague and made a lot of assumptions that the reader would know how to do a lot of steps.

We kept on putting it off… until Nick’s parents visited us in June. Nick’s dad, Anthony, is a whiz DIYer. He refinished his whole basement, built a deck and a porch, and did countless projects in his home and everything looks professionally done.

Anthony, move to Austin, pretty please?

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First, he found all the studs and we tried to figure out if we could just use the studs to drill in the cabinets. But since I wanted the cabinets to be arranged in this way:

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The studs just wouldn’t match up. We devised a solution with two long strips of wood. We drilled them into the studs and then drilled the cabinets into them. It worked perfectly!

Here is Nick marking out the stud placements on the strip of wood (I think we used white wood for this).

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Since the bottom strip of wood would be shorter due to the small left-most cabinet, we had to put in a strong anchor to make up for the lack of a stud in that spot.

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Here’s what it looked when the strips were drilled in and ready.

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We left the top strip naked of paint because you wouldn’t be able to see it when the cabinets were installed and I painted the bottom strip because… you would still be able to see it. You’ll see what I mean in later photos.

Nick’s mom, Sandi, jumped in and helped hold the cabinet up while Anthony did the drilling.

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There were already holes in the upper part of the cabinets that Anthony just used again to drill in the screws.

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We did two screws in the top and two screws in the bottom.

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We added the second cabinet and we tried our best to push together the two cabinets. We used a tiny clamp for this, but it worked okay. After we were all done with this project, Nick and I bought a pair of bigger and heavy-duty clamps so we wouldn’t be stuck with these tiny clamps anymore. Oh well!

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Then Anthony screwed together the sides of the cabinets to make sure everything was secure.

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The screw was put between the two little holes you see here – they’re for the cabinet door hinges.

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Then we put up the third strip – the smallest and also painted gray – for the bottom of the small cabinet.

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Some more drilling.

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Finally done with this step! All the cabinets are up and I’m happy.

But…. BUT. Look at the small cabinet…

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Do you see it? Of course you do. There was a huge gap between the side of the cabinet and the wall. AND the ceiling sloped up so there was another gap at the top of the cabinet. How annoying.

Come back on Friday to see how we covered up the gaps. It’ll be the last post on the laundry cabinets for a long while, I promise. I think.

Refinishing Old Cabinets

The saga of the laundry cabinets is so long, I’m dividing it up into three parts.

Today, we’ll talk about how I refinished the cabinets. On Wednesday, we’ll discuss how we installed the cabinets. Finally, on Friday, I’ll show you how we covered up all the gaps and finished it off with molding.

Here we go!

This is what we started with.

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The cabinets had dirty white paint that was sloppily applied.

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Paint spilled over the edges and the brush strokes were obvious.

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I took my detail sander and sanded off the paint drippings on the edges. I wish I had an orbital sander, which would have been a much more efficient tool.

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I thought I would sand off all the paint, but it was too thick and it kept on clumping up the sandpaper. So, I just focused on the edges and smoothing up the brush marks as best as I could.

In the next photo, you can see what the edges looked like before I sanded them on the left side of the sander, and the sanded down edges on the right side.

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After a LOT of sanding and going through several sheets of sandpaper, I was finally done! Well, eh. Done with the first step, at least.

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You can see how all the sand built up in the edges of the cabinets. I vacuumed them out with a vacuum (I need to buy a shopvac soon) and cleaned them up as best as I could.

Unfortunately, the cabinets STILL weren’t ready for paint. There was thousands of holes and dings that I had to fill up with wood filler. This was almost as fun as doing my taxes. No, doing my taxes was SO MUCH MORE fun than filling up all these tiny holes.

The next time I buy used cabinets, I will be sure to check for tiny holes. If there are too many of them, I will pass on them because of how long this step took me in the refinishing process!

But again, all that work and time was worth it because in the end, the cabinets were (mostly) smooth and looked like new.

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To reach that point, I used oil primer (two coats) and two to three coats of Behr paint color-matched to Sherwin Williams Web Gray. I used a foam roller and a high-quality brush.

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Come back on Wednesday to see how we installed the cabinets!

Before and After: Laundry Room Cabinets

The saga of the laundry cabinets is a long one. Luckily for you, I won’t discuss it now. I will go into all the details next week.

For today, I present you some instant gratification! A simple before and after.

This is what the cabinets looked like when we bought them from a Habitat For Humanity Restore.

Peeling old cream paint, filthy both inside and outside, and many dings and other defects all over that required wood putty. Lots and lots of woody putty.

This is the wall in the laundry room that waited SO long for the cabinets.

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I can’t find a true before photo that shows you the inefficient shelf and clothes hanger rod that were there before, but this is the best I could find. The shelf was too shallow, so towels kept on falling off and a little cat kept on making the situation even worse.

And today, it looks like this!

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Never mind the stuff on the machines. Focus on the cabinets. And the pretty knobs! The knobs are from Hobby Lobby.

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The cabinets make me so happy. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s all worth it.

I’ll discuss later about the other things that we’re working on in that room and what things we want to change (the ceiling light, for one).

But for now… let me bask in the cabinets. You are done, cabinets. D-O-N-E.

9 Things I Learned While Painting the Laundry Cabinets

laundry cabinet before

Before... with a bad paint job and 1,000 weird holes.

all sanded down and ready to go laundry cabinet

All sanded down and ready to go! (and the 1,000 holes have been filled with wood putty)

first laundry cabinet completed

It's a darker gray than what is shown here... but it's done!

Well, I had the whole weekend and what did I complete? One cabinet. Sans door. Out of three cabinets. But to be fair to myself, I did do a whole lotta of sanding, wood filling, re-sanding, more wood filling, san.. you get the idea.. on all three cabinets and four doors.

I also wanted to complete one cabinet first to see if the primer and paint could completely cover the old (badly-applied) paint. So far, so good…

Sanding, wood filing, priming, and painting aren’t very exciting activities and they can take forever, so you get a lot of time just thinking. Which can be dangerous for people like me, because sometimes I rehash the same thought again and again and again and again…. It’s so annoying to be me sometimes.

What did I think about while working on these cabinets? I thought about the things that I’ve learned, that I’m learning right now, things that I wouldn’t do again, and things that I was glad I took the time to do.

And of course I just had to share them with you. Here we go…

1. Bring the light into the garage.

I can only find the time to work on the cabinets after 6pm and seeing as that it’s winter (summer, hurry up already!) it’s already dark outside by the time I even think about putting on my painting clothes. At first, I just made do with the garage light but I was upset the next day when the paint dried and I could see all the imperfections. So I bought a floor lamp into the garage and it really made a HUGE difference!

2. Don’t put the lamp near the garage door (aka outside, aka where all the bugs are)

I think this one is self-explanatory. I had to quit my priming last night when stupid bugs kept on flying into the light and falling on my freshly primed cabinet and quaking to death. And I think I saw a black widow. Nick killed it. Texas… it’s warm (it was 80 degrees yesterday!), but it’s full of bugs and spiders. Especially in the springtime… Ulkghuuuu. Summer, hurry up already!

3. Inspect used cabinets thoroughly, no matter how much of a good deal they are.

I mean, open the door, look at the shelves, look at everything. The cabinets looked like they were in great shape, other than being dirty and suffering from a bad paint job, so we were thrilled with the price we paid for them ($55 for all three cabinets). But remember what I said about the 1,000 holes? Yeah. They were everywhere. I have no idea what the previous owner was doing with these cabinets! Holes in the bottom, holes at the top, holes at the sides, holes in the doors. All drilled in for some purpose… I think? I filled them all with wood putty, so they should be all covered up and undetectable once they’re all painted, but still! Hours of my life… gone… because of these 1,000 holes.

4. If you use a foam brush with primer, work slowly and with patience (if you have any).

Many blogs say they use a foam brush when applying primer and I always thought, ugh! I tried that before but it didn’t work well. But this time I just didn’t want to ruin another brush with oil primer, so I just looked at a foam brush in its eyes and told it that I would try my best. I took my sweet time and was gentle with that foam brush. And it worked great! And once I was done… throw away! Bye! No washing! Except for my hands… which brings me to the next point.

5. Wear sexy doctor gloves when working with oil primer.

Yes, you can wash the oil primer off your hands with olive oil (true story), but it’s gross and a waste of good olive oil and not really THAT effective. Just wear latex gloves. If you’re allergic to latex, there are latex-free gloves. And if you’re breastfeeding? When the little baby screams for food, you just pull them gloves off and wash the latex reside off your hands and become food! Easy.

6. Just do it. Or you’ll wish you did it… for the rest of your life.

I had a few moments of staring at a hole that I had overlooked and thinking, “I don’t care anymore. Just leave it. Nobody will notice.” This also was my thought every time I saw a little ding here and a paint splatter there. But I just knew I would only see these things and not the things that I did right when they were done and up in the laundry room. Just buckle down and do them. The first cabinet I finished… well, there’s a little ding in there and I completely didn’t see until it was all done. I am pretending that it doesn’t exist (it totally doesn’t exist! it’s not there!) and I refused to make the same mistake with the other cabinets. Thus, all the sanding, wood filling, etc etc etc that I did this weekend.

7. Tack cloths are a gift from heaven.

Tack cloths aren’t new to me, but I really realized how wonderful they are this weekend. I was getting sick of how my tack cloths were getting so dirty so fast that I just tossed them aside and used wet wipes instead and then paper towel to dry up. Then I was ready to paint… but I still could feel dust laying on the wood and smiling up at me. I took a swipe with a tack cloth… ALL GONE. They really do work. If there’s a LOT of dust, I do the wet wipe, paper towel, and then tack cloth. And if there’s a LOTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT, I…

8. Just vacuum the dust up. Even if you don’t have a shop vac.

I was getting really frustrated at all the dust that built up in the corners of the cabinet. And when I turned it to paint another side, all the dust would come out and land on my fresh paint job. So I vacuumed it. Ahhh. It’s more fun to vacuum up sand dust than it is to vacuum the carpet. Because I hate our carpet. And I’m beginning to love our laundry cabinets.

9. Putting tape on wood is evil.

I really dislike the person who had the cabinets before us. They put tape on the back of one of the doors and that tape must have been 10 years old or something. There were four pieces of tape and I tried taking them off but the sticky-ness stuck around. I had to sand them off. Sanding worked, but still. Don’t put tape on wood. Please. Thank you. I hate tape on wood almost as much as I hate winter. Can summer please come now?

Well. If you’re looking for me tonight, I’ll be in the garage.