Laundry Room: The 500 pound sink

This post could also be titled, “Working with what ya got”, or “Lipstick on a pig”, but I chose to go with something more literal. Like many houses built in 1920s, ours has a massive 2 basin laundry sink. It’s made of concrete, with a pipe base support that is poured into the concrete foundation. So it’s not going anywhere unless we wanted to pull out the sledgehammer, commit to a lot of manual labor, and shell out a thousand bucks on a pretty new sink, or fifty on an ugly plastic one.


The sink was a bit of an eyesore, but it is a really useful utility sink and serves as the drain for the washing machine. It has two huge basins (the entire sink is 4 feet wide and 2 feet deep), and has been great for washing out paint brushes and all the other DIY related washing activities I throw at it. Thus, he got a little makeover to match the new and improved laundry room.

First, I painted the outside of the sink. It had been painted about 14 times, so I thought why not add another coat? The laundry room is very white and gray. I wanted to add a little bit of color with the sink. I chose a deep blue gray, Mariner by Martha Stewart. I then tackled the legs/supports. Their most recent paint job was burgundy and was not doing them any favors. They got a coat of matte black acrylic craft paint and they look a million times better.

sink painted

And now for the true eyesore…the inside of the sink and the faucet. I used a stiff brush and all 120 pounds of elbow grease I had to scrub the heck out the basins. I revealed the light gray concrete as well as a metal lip that covers the top edge of the sink. I also revealed some hairline cracks. I used concrete caulk and a putty knife to fill them in and prevent them from getting worse. I then sealed the entire inside with some Sealer’s Choice Gold I had lying around.

The faucet proved to be the most difficult part of the sink project. The faucet was mounted to the wall, or in this case, rotten wood boards that leaned against the wall. I say “leaned” because the nails that had originally been used to attach the boards to the concrete walls had rusted out.

We detached the faucet from the boards and the pipes, and pulled the boards out. I replaced the boards with a fir 2×8 that I sanded within an inch of its life, stained with Minwax Early American, and sealed with 3 coats of Minwax Polycrylic on all sides. (I was attempting to match the color of the oak countertops, Early American seemed to fit the bill in the store, but is a little too dark in real life).

While the new board was being glued in place, I tackled the faucet. Some poor soul decided that painting everything white would make the faucet and pipes look much better, and while I believe that almost everything can be remedied with a coat of white paint, a faucet is not one of them. I simmered the faucet in water for 30 minutes and scraped off paint and a lot of grime. This process was repeated 4 times. (Apparently lots of people thought painting a metal faucet was a good idea). Once I had scraped most the paint off, I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed with steel wool to reveal the nice silver metal.

faucet before and after

We then attached the faucet back to the pipes and screwed it into the backer board. And with that, the sink project was complete.

laundry sink after

laundry sink after

We also replaced the waterlines to the washer with steel braided lines. They are apparently better than the black rubber lines (less likely to burst), and they have the added benefit of looking much nicer.

The laundry room is now 90% done. We still need to add a ceiling and finishing touches (shelves, trim, accessories). We are aiming to be done by Christmas. Whereas, most people have an advent calendar, we have a “days till laundry room completion” calendar. 21 to go…


Laundry Room: Planked Walls

The walls of our basement laundry room are the poured cement foundation. The “finished” part of the walls has a thick layer of plaster texture. The unfinished part was the raw cement, painted on parts, badly textured by a previous owner on others. Needless to say, something needed to be done to cover up the multiple textures of the dungeon-esque walls. Drywall is great, but I have been wanting to do a planked wall and the laundry room walls gave me a perfect chance to try it.

Planked wall

The planks are 1/4″ plywood underlayment cut into 6″ strips. They are nailed into studs on one wall, and furring strips on the exterior wall with the windows.

planked wall

We nailed the planks up with our brad nailer (aka the best $30 I have ever spent). I then primed and painted them white (Popcorn by Martha Stewart). I caulked the gap where the planks meet the wall and in the corners, to give a seamless look.

Once the plank walls were up, we were able to frame out the window. We are really lucky that our basement windows are completely above ground; actually poured into the foundation. The two sides and the bottom are concrete and there is no true top. The original wood windows sat flush with the interior wall  leaving a ledge on the exterior of the house. When we replaced the rotten originals, we chose to have the window flush with the exterior and the ledge on the interior.

Craftsman window

We framed the new interior box out with 1/2″ MDF painted on both sides. Since the windows are above ground dampness shouldn’t be an issue, but I like to be extra careful.

The actual window frame, or trim, is 1×4 pine left over from when we made our bed. I wanted the trim to be similar to the rest of the house, which is a simple craftsman style. I used this tutorial from The Family Handyman for installing craftsman style trim.

The trim part was much easier than I thought it would be. Caulking all the tiny gaps and nail holes was harder than the trim itself.

We now have to replicate the planks and the window trim on the other side of the room. Hopefully it will go quick since we already have some practice at it.

Laundry Room: Ikea Cabinets

I finally entered a new level in home renovation adventures: Ikea Cabinets.

As with assembling anything from Ikea, there were some curse words. But, it was relatively painless and the end result looks great.

Ikea laundry room cabinets

We chose the Ikea Akrum cabinet frames in white with Applad door and drawer fronts. The Applad is slab door in a white semigloss finish. It’s a really nice finish and fits the simple, clean look we are going for in the laundry room.

Ikea laundry room cabinets

The laundry room is very long and narrow. To maximize the space, we used a carousel corner cabinet and set of drawers on the short side. We left an open space in between the corner cab and the next cabinet, to allow for a space to sit while folding my freshly laundered towels.

Ikea laundry room cabinets

The next cabinet is a door and drawer combo. I planned on using the shelves for holding laundry baskets, and the drawer for small laundry stuff (scissors, lonely socks, etc.)

On the opposite wall, I used a base cabinet, and a 12″ deep, 39″ tall upper cabinet directly on top of the counter.

Laundry room ikea cabinets

I had seen similar set-ups in kitchens that I really liked, so I decided to go with it in the laundry.

The counters are Ikea’s new Akerby countertop. They discontinued my fave Numerar in Oak and Akerby is a close second. The difference between the two is Numerar is solid wood; Akerby is particleboard that is covered with an 1/8″ layer of oak. Having the Numerar in the kitchen, I can not see a huge difference. The Akerby is a tad lighter probably due to the fact that it is prefinished with a hard wax and my Numerar is oiled. Bottomline: They both look really great and are a super cheap wood countertop option.

We still need to add filler pieces (in between the wall and the base cabinets), toe kick, and handles. Those things will really finish off the cabinets. One step closer, a hundred to go…


Cabinets: Ikea Akrum with Applad fronts

Countertops: Ikea Akerby in Oak

Laundry Room Update: New Floors

The laundry room renovation is moving along slowly. Hopefully it will be finished by the end of the year. Today I’m going to share the most rewarding and biggest change thus far… the floors!

I hated the existing laundry room floor. No matter how many times I swept and vacuumed and mopped, it was still filthy. The tiles were cracked and uneven and freezing and terrible. I am a happy lady that I never have to see or step on them again.

The existing floor was applied directly over the poured concrete basement floor. 95% of the tiles were stuck down really well. So, I chose new peel and stick tile flooring that could be applied directly over the old flooring. But first, the floors needed a bit of prep work.

I first cleaned the floor really well, twice. I then used Henry 549 FeatherFinish Patch and Skimcoat to smooth any divots in the old floors, as well as transitions where bare concrete met old tiles. When applying the FeatherFinish make sure to smooth it out best you can with your putty knife (no ridges or bumps) to save you work later.


Now to the new flooring…

Last summer I found this peel and stick vinyl flooring at Home Depot marked down to something like 80 cents a square foot because it was being discontinued. I bought as much as I could, figuring I would also be able to buy some more online if need be.

Turns out I was short by about 15 square feet and the 12×12 tiles were no longer available (but they are now as I write this post, 2 weeks after finishing my floors, argh). To save on tile, I did not tile under the cabinets and used some extremely similar colored tile in a few places where it will never show.

I decided to do a bricklayer pattern starting from the center of the doorway being that it is the most visible part of the floor.

Most blog posts I read with happy bloggers using groutable peel and stick vinyl made the installation look wonderfully fun and easy. This was not the case for me. It was hard, dirty, sticky, messy and took almost a week from start to finish. Maybe it was because I let my tiles sit for a year and the adhesive oozed out the edges. Maybe it was because my floor was badly poured in 1920 and then badly covered with vinyl tile in 1950. Maybe it is because the basement is where my DIY dreams go to die. Or maybe it was because I am a wimp. But I thought it was really hard and I like being truthful.

Here are some tips on the installation that I think make it less of a sticky, messy, and tiring job.

Try and make sure the room is warm. When I started, the room was cold, as were the tiles. It was almost impossible to pull the paper backing off of the tiles, and the tiles themselves were rock hard. My room is pretty unlevel (severely slopes towards the floor drain) so the tiles need a bit of give in some areas.

About a quarter of my way through, I started using a space heater to warm the tiles up a bit. The paper backing comes off much easier and the tiles become a little flexible which helps them to mold to the floor.

After putting a tile down, I rolled it with a heavy marble rolling pin and sometimes had my 200 lb. husband stand on the tile for a couple minutes.

For some stubborn tiles with corners that did not want to stick, I heated them with a hairdryer and put something heavy (paint can) on the them overnight.

Once all the tiles were stuck down I grouted them with the recommended grout and let ‘er dry.

The new floor was totally worth the work. It looks and feels great and makes a huge difference in the room.

laundry room floor

laundry room floor after

The floor around the drain I plan to paint a similar gray to the new tiles. It is sloped a little too much for the tiles to work and I plan on putting a bench there so no one will ever notice. Okay? Now stop judging my gross floor drain.

laundry room floor

I still need to paint around the drain and add some baseboard but I’m happy to have a clean new floor to drop my laundry all over.

You may have noticed cabinet frames in the first pic. Because who likes to complete one project at a time? Cabinet post coming soon, unless I start another project in the meantime…


Tile: TrafficMaster Ceramica 12 in. x 12 in. Resilient Tile Flooring in Concrete

Grout: SimpleGrout Premixed Grout in Delorean Gray (using 1/8″ spacers)

Laundry Room

As the weather gets warmer, I’ve got renovation on my mind and the laundry room is first on the list. In its current state the laundry room is cold, dingy, and slightly creepy. This spring we plan on replacing the windows and patching the walls so that we can add all the pretty things you see below.
ash and orange laundry room
1. Color on the walls. I’m thinking of a nice blue/green/gray. I found this swatch listed in the 26 best Grays from House Beautiful. It’s Benjamin Moore Palladian Blue.
2. Adding some much needed light. The IKEA Foto light would work, but I’m thinking of hacking some clamp lights from the hardware store for the same effect.
3. Some pretty storage baskets. These Threshold Baskets at Target are great.
4. I plan on leaving the exposed copper pipe unpainted for nice contrast with the blue green walls.
5. Wood countertops. I’m a big fan of the IKEA Numerär countertops in our kitchen nook and would like to use them in the laundry room as well. They add some nice warmth and color to the room.
6. Open storage. At $14.99 it doesn’t get much better than the IKEA Hyllis shelving unit.
7. New floors. We bought this groutable vinyl flooring on closeout last year and can’t wait to put it down.
8. Classic white cabinets. IKEA Akurum cabinets with Harlig or Applad plain white doors.