Front Load Washers and how marriage works!

We did it!  We *finally* replaced our $80 Craigslist safety hazard washer and dryer with two front load Kenmore models from Sears!  Can I hear a giant WHOOP WHOOP!?!  Now we can throw things in the dryer and walk out the door without worrying about the dryer scorching our whites and/or burning down the house.  We can also do the wash and not worry about the washer trying to escape its slow demise by walking across the laundry room a la…

....who knew our washer felt "overloaded" and was trying to leave us?

…I didn’t know it was so unhappy!

Now we can also stay in the room while the washer is running and not have to hear the screeching metal-on-metal sound of the washer brake between spin cycles.  And now that we’ve run a few loads, we can actually SLEEP in the room next door without the whole house shaking when the spin cycle goes!  And we managed to go through the overwhelming appliance buying nightmare with our marriage and sanity intact!  All in all, it’s UH-MA-ZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Laundry before with crusty washer and dryer...

 

 

Our Laundry Room Aftter with our new front loaders!!!!

You’re probably wondering how all of it came to be.  Honestly, I have to admit when it comes to appliances I’m somewhat of an impulse buyer.  In other words, I didn’t exactly do a TON of research before settling on this brand, model, etc.  We’re fortunate that we live close to the second largest Sears appliance showroom in the country, so “doing research” just involves a whole bunch of wandering around, which is really kind of cool.  But here were the top contenders!

The Whirlpool Duets:

These are fine machines and really great for the budget conscious.  In fact, Younghouselove.com (one of my favorite go-to blogs) has been using them for several years with nary a complaint in sight.  They were slightly more money than the other models we looked at ($1200 for the set) and when we walked up to them they were just so “wee”!  I mean, seriously – I’m short (5’2.5″ on a good day), but these things were just abysmally SMALL.  They still had 4.0 cu. ft of space for both the washer and dryer, but they were laughably small, slightly more expensive and less cu. ft. of dryer space than some of the other moderatly priced sets.  And since they were so short, we would’ve almost HAD to buy the stands to prop them up to non-munchkin size, which would’ve drove up the price even further  Dr J and L-blogger verdict?: NEXT!

At this point, this is where the “marriage” part of this topic comes in because Dr. J and L-blogger had to do some serious “pouty-face” routines to get their ways.  Keep reading…

Samsung HE Front Loaders:

This was Dr. J’s personal favorite – mostly because it was cheaper.  However, when I looked at it, it seriously reminded me of an old school mircowave or telephone from the 80s and I just couldn’t get past that.  It was something about the black dials and read outs.  It also had a clock on it – how ghetto is that?!  What it boils down to is that I’m super sensitive about “techy” looking things in my house especially if I know it’s going to be around for a good 10+ years like a major appliance.  For example, I don’t like water/ice dispensers on my fridge door for that reason.  I can carbon-date a refrigerator ice/water dispenser like an archaeolgist dates fossils to within several years or so.  Therefore, there was just something “off” about this set that didn’t jive with my archaelogical findings decor sense.  Even though it was highly rated for noise and vibration, there were only about 10 ratings on the Sears website that we could find and that never bodes well with me.  Less people buying = less opinions = less chance that a fair opinion has been formed of it online.  L-blogger: NEXT!  Dr. J: SOLD!

LG  Front Loaders:

My mother in law has this set, which, of COURSE, means it’s PERFECT.  Well, not really.  But it does mean it’s been “family tested” – much like those cars that they insist can live through the throes of a toddler ripping out the upholstery.  Not that I’m insinuating that my MIL is a toddler – far from it!  But I consider her opinion pretty important when it comes to appliances, how they work, and honest appraisals of the good, bad, the ugly, etc.  She seemed pretty positive about them in ways that were important to me and so I thought they were worth a shot.  They were $200 more expensive than the Samsung’s, though, and that made the hubby nervous.  Really, for me, the big thing about this set was “the look”.  It didn’t look like an old school telephone or microwave.  It looked like a washer.  And, in the end, how things look is pretty important, especially in our sex-tastic laundry room (yes, THAT just happened – I just called our laundry room “sex-tastic” – no further comment).  L-blogger: SOLD!  Dr. J: NEXT!

So at this point, the hubs and I were literally hovering over these two sets (Samsung and LG) looking like sad puppy dogs trying to figure out what we wanted to do.  We had Sears Giftcards from Christmas that were burning holes in our pockets like our old dryer burned holes in our clothes (or it could’ve been our old dog, Tiki, who liked to eat our underpants, but that’s another story). We both wanted to get our way, which as anybody who is married basically means one of two things:

  1. Either the wife gets her way or
  2. Neither of you get your way.

At least that’s essentially what it means in OUR marriage.  And now that I’m a paying customer and workin’ hard for my money, I figure my opinion is pretty darn important so I stick to my guns and my opinion is important too and…and…

…ahem…

Salesperson:  Hey, have you considered the Kenmore Front Loader?

Us:  Uhh….no.  No, we haven’t considered the Kenmore…

Salesperson:  Well, it’s built by LG, so it’s exactly the same except it’s $50 cheaper!

(Dr. J suddenly becomes intrigued and begins stroking his beard in a professorial manner)

At this point, the salesperson touted it as a good buy, it was rated number one on the Sears website (which we checked via our iPhones and he was absolutely correct), it had a steam functionality built-in (unlike the Samsung or the LG), looked cool like the LG with all of the functionality of the LG, but without the price.  At this point, I said this to my husband:

L-blogger:  Well, it’s perfect because it’s not your favorite and it’s not MY favorite, so it HAS to be the one.

Dr. J and L-blogger: SOLD!

…and that, my friends, is how marriage works….

And what is the verdict on our new washer and dryer?!?  Well, we’ve had them for a week and are *so*in*love*!!  The creepiest part of this whole situation is that our clothes actually feel and look cleaner.  It’s creepy because it makes me wonder just how dirty and dingy our clothes were with the old washer and dryer – blech!  We love how QUIET they are, too!  All of the sales people told us to get one that was “rated for second floors”, but I think that was just a bunch of bunk in the end.  Compared to what we had before, these are ridiculously quiet, especially the washer.  I have a hard time knowing when it’s on, which is okay by me.

If I have a complaint at all it would be the steam cycle on the dryer.  The way it “steams” is just to squirt water onto the clothes while it’s in the dryer.  Not bad, but, hell I could do that by hand!  It is nice to have, but I don’t see what all the fuss is about to be honest.  Maybe it’s user error, in which case I probably should read the manual.  Oh, and with the way the doors are aligned, we actually had to swap our washer and dryer, but that didn’t end up being such a big deal.  It’s awesome when the Sears people install it for you – whee!

All in all, we’re soooo excited to have a new washer and dryer.  I keep saying, “You know you’re old when buying a washer and dryer actually gets you super excited!”  It’s so true!  It’s amazing how your tastes and priorities change as you get older.  And now our laundry room looks even hotter with the new set!  Before it was hot, but now it’s H-A-W-T hot!  Ya gotta admit….it’s pretty sex-tastic…and sometimes that’s also how marriage works ;-).

Pssst….if you wanna know more about how we “sexed” up our laundry room, then go ahead and click here and read about our Laundry Room remodel that we finished up last summer!! 

Cork floor Redux

I’ve missed writing, I’ve missed all of my readers, and I’ve missed working on my house this summer!  Where have we been?!?  Can you say “crazy is the new normal”?  Let’s just say that we’ve been busy spending time and money on everything BUT the house and so there isn’t much to report.  And to give you a slight glimpse into the craziness that has been our lives lately, I have to share this project that took us two months to complete and it’s probably one of the most inconsequential things we’ve done to the house thusfar!  Hilarious, right?!!  But here goes nothin’!

Do you remember awhile back when we installed the Cork flooring??  You can click on those underlined links over there to remind yourselves.  Go on, I’ll wait…..ok, enough reminiscing!  Basically, we have this huge upstairs hallway that just serves as a pass-thru to all of the bedrooms and our *now* snazz-i-fied upstairs laundry room (pause for a litle bit of eye candy mayhem!):

…but when we installed the floors oh, so long ago (nearly three months of “cork-i-ness” and I am still lovin’ it!!) we left a few items blissfully incomplete and decided that we would get around to it eventually with absolutely no rush needed.  Namely the shoe moldings and toe kicks.  Here are a few pics to show you the goods:

Hallway before shoe molding

Hallway after show molding

I know it’s hard to see…oh, and do you like our dog bowl get-up?  Seriously, our dogs are the most spoiled dogs this side of the Milky Way.  I had this brilliant idea to buy this boot tray from Ballard Designs as a method to corral all of our boots and shoes in a cute-sy Pacific NW kind of way, but when we adopted Tiki, we realized that her “drinking problem” (i.e. – gets more water on the floor than in her mouth) created a perfect opportunity for *my* beautiful boot tray to become an easier-to-clean drink tray – le sigh.  What I wouldn’t do to have a non-drooly dog – and she’s twenty pounds!!!!!  But I digress…..on to more befores and afters…

Hallway before shoe molding

Upstairs hallway after

Delicious shoe molding completed…and, wait…what’s that I see?  Wait, didn’t that vent used to be white?  Go ahead and look – I’m not stopping you!  Very perceptive, my young padawan.  When we had the white-ish/creamy carpet in this upstairs hallway (go here to see some shudder-inducing before photos) the floor vent was painted white and sort of receded into the carpet with no muss, no fuss.  But as soon as we finished up the cork flooring (which has brown-ish/red tones in it), that white floor vent stood out like Britney Spears at a MENSA conference and it was just screaming for a little makeover.  And it’s really nothing that a  little bit of $5 spray paint can’t cure (leftover from this spray-painting project from over a year ago, so this makeover actually ended up being F-R-E-E!).  It was super simple, too!  In fact, there were only 5 steps:

  1. Remove vent
  2. Give it a quick clean up (wet rag + dry cloth)
  3. Turn it over and paint the underside first – let dry

  1. Flip it over and paint the top – let dry
  2. Voila, you’re done!

…and since we’ve used this spray paint for over a year now on our towel holders, knobs, and faucets in our master bath with nary a chip in sight, we felt pretty confident that putting it on a floor vent (which gets some occasional foot traffic) wouldn’t be such a big deal!  And we were right!  It’s held up beautifully and looks just as good, too!  I admit, though, that this vent has no moving parts (it’s a return vent) and if it did, I might feel differently about spraying it on a vent that had wheels and pulleys, but that’s just me.

…and what about those shoe  moldings?  Let’s just say that Dr. J is pretty awesome and managed to take his time (per my request to just “take it easy” this summer) and just worked on that as he had the opportunity – hey, I’m all about putting my hubby to work, but after our laundry reno earlier this summer, we definitely needed a break!  And I think he did a fab job – check out his handiwork here:

…and for those of you who have ever cut shoe moldings/baseboard, then you know that my hubs did a pretty good amateur job!  Hey, I’m proud of him!  And even though it took us two months, I’m happy to report that we didn’t stress one bit having houseguests galore over this summer with and without shoe molding installed.  Lesson learned, ladies and gentleman – enjoy life, and NOT a perfect house.

Airing our dirty Laundry: Chapter 5 THE BIG REVEAL

These are my two favorite words in all of renovation-dom: IT’S DONE!!!  As in finito, over and out, roger, over!  That’s Clarence Over!  BASTA!  DONE!  FIN!  THE END!  THAT’S ALL SHE WROTE….you get the picture.  I should just remind you that our upstairs laundry room and adjacent hallway (which I walk through *every*single*morning*afternoon*and*night*) has been a construction war zone and tool graveyard for about two months now.  We started this process on Mother’s Day and are finally wrapping up the finishing touches just in time for the beautiful summer weather!  So when I say that many times this project tried my patience, I’m not lying!  It was easily the biggest project we’ve tackled to date with by far some of the most dramatic afters and we are *soooo* happy with it!  But seriously….what are we waiting for?  Let’s get to the before and afters!

Laundry Room Before Move In

Obviously needing some love, no??  Talk about a complete blank slate in this room!  We took the opportunity (before we even moved in the house) to punch it up a little and do a tone-on-tone painting technique that completely changed the character of the room.  We get by far the *most* compliments on this room’s painting scheme than any other room and we totally loved the results (well, this and the Guest Room, of course!):

Laundry Room Midpoint

…but after about 9 months of living with this storage-less box of a room with a piddly little hand-me-down bookcase as our only means of stash space, we *really* needed to reclaim some real estate and make it more usable.  We detailed all of our problems with this room a few months back, which you can read all about by clicking here.  Since that time, we have been spending most of our weekends and work nights installing cabinetry, re-wiring our laundry room for both electric and plumbing, installing sinks, faucets, and just generally giving this laundry room a 21st century overhaul and total makeover/renovation!  And did I mention we had to squeeze all of that functionality and style into a tight 9′ x 6′ room?  Enough jibber jabber, though – how about ‘dem apples?:

Laundry Room After!

Cabinets and counters and lights – OH MY!

We kicked off the Laundry Room renovation by exhaustively searching for cabinetry for our room only to find ourselves at the great Swedish escape of Ikea!  For the price, the selection, the warranty, and the ease of installation, you really can’t do much better!  And two months later, I have to say that we are soooooo pleased with our purchase.  They’ve already gotten a ton of use and are just as crisp, clean and gorgeous as the day they came out of the box!!

We were even able to get a “drawer unit” to store things like light bulbs, miscellaneous items and even some larger items like detergents and cleaners!  We have *so* much more space, in fact, that we were finally able to bring our extra paint cans inside and store them in a temperature controlled environment so that they don’t get “thick” from being stored in the cold garage over the winter.

…but since we had all this wonderful cabinetry, we wanted to be able to show it off a little  bit!  So Dr. J (the real brains of this bunch) completely wired the back wall for electricity (twice!  Which you can read all about here) so that we could install puck lights underneath the cabinets.  I can’t tell you how much easier it is to sort laundry now and we’re finding that our socks match *much* better now than they used to.  We no longer pair one navy with one black sock that you only notice when you are five minutes from leaving work….le sigh.

….and then we have our lovely new sink and faucet, bought for a screamin’ deal from Ikea and Overstock.com, which you can read about here.  Dr. J *also* had to rearrange some plumbing in this room to be sure that we could install a sink in here (there was a drain already installed, but it was in the wrong place.  You can read more about that by clicking here).  We decided to go with a smaller sized sink simply because the room is pretty tight and for the amount of hand washing we do (i.e. almost none), this was pretty much all we needed!  We’ve already used it several times and YOWZA!  We *love* it!  It’s also much nicer to clean out paint brushes in this sink as opposed to our nicer porcelain sinks in the upstairs bathrooms (our only option when we are upstairs painting).  And our cute little bar faucet fits so perfectly with the sink.  We absolutely *love* them both!

And then how could we forget the floors?!?!?!  Hands down the biggest change to this space and the entire upstairs hallway!  We had super cheap (both feeling and looking) vinyl flooring in the laundry room that did nothing to make this room feel warm and we also had about 200 square feet of white-ish, dingy, and stinky/smoky carpet out in the hallway that made the whole space feel dated and (worse yet) just plain dirty.  We ripped all of the carpet out and replaced it with cork so that we could have a seamless and cohesive look all throughout the upstairs hallway and laundry.   It instantly made the whole space feel more spacious, glam, and instantly historic!  Now everytime we walk upstairs, we can’t help but smile at how pretty these floors are!

So now I can safely say that I have the Laundry Room of my dreams and I couldn’t be more pleased with it!  Well, I’d love to get some better appliances, but that will come in time (we spent $80 buying those beauties on Craigslist – HA HA!).  We saved a boatload of money by doing *all* of the work ourselves, including my wonderful Father-in-law who helped out one weekend when I just needed a break and treated myself to some new shoes instead – thanks, Dad!!!!!  We love you!!  My husband did the majority of the work in this space with me just serving as backup catcher when needed and I can’t thank him enough for all of his hard work!  This space looks like it’s in a completely different house!!!!  All I can say is, I’m a lucky gal and he’s got mad skillz!  I am so proud of him and I have to say that we make a pretty good team :-).

But You Tell’Us!! How did we do?!!?  Have you tackled any major laundry room renovations?  They seem to be the choice place to renovate lately!  Share and share alike!

Want to check out all of the previous installments in our Laundry Room Makeover?  Click on Chapter 1 to read about how we formualted a plan to upgrade this room, Chapter 2 where we finally added some very functional cabinetry to the mix, Chapter 3 where we added electricity and plumbing, our teaser post, and Chapter 4 for the floors!

Airing our Dirty Laundry: Chapter 4, Pop the Cork!

Your patience will be rewarded, grasshopper.  You may have noticed that we have been MIA on the blog lately.  Call it a combination of being busy, celebrating a wedding anniversary (yes, ours!  Three years!), and just needing to avoid our house due to crazy Polyurethane fumes….let’s just say it’s been nuts!  Buuuuuuuuut…..

The floors are finally in and they look absolutely faaaaaaaaaab-uuuuuuuu-lous!  Cork floors, to be exact!  So pop the cork, my friends!  We have something to celebrate!!!  But let’s do a ho-hum before from way back when we first moved in the house:

…and an after…

Before (again, from when we moved in)…

after….

Delicious, no?  Obviously we still need to do some of the finish work (installing quarter round, touch-up paint, etc.).  But what about all of those questions I keep getting from people about Cork, what is it, why, blah, blah?!?!  Brace yourselves – here’s the nitty gritty:

What is cork?! Cork is actually the bark of a Cork Oak Tree, which grows in the Mediterranean.  Apparently, the cork bark can grow to a considerable thickness and is harvested a little like Birch Bark, if you can imagine that.  The tree is not cut down, so it is a renewable and sustainable product that has been around for centuries!  I.e. – no trees were harmed in the making of this product.  Gotta love that!

Why Cork? Well, lots of reasons actually!  For the sake of argument, let’s just agree that carpet is Lord of the Sith evil. Now that we have *that* out of the way, let’s just say that our carpet needed replacing and since there was a ton of it upstairs, we thought a good solution would be to just get rid of it entirely!  Well, that and, let’s just say that I totally stole the cork flooring idea from a million dollar home that we toured here in Portland about a year ago.  We walked up the stairs to find a mystery flooring that I had never seen before.  I asked the realtor, “What is this?!  Why does it feel different than wood?!  But it *looks* like wood….but it’s not??”  And the answer was CORK!  This house was owned by a young family with wee ones and I was surprised to hear the realtor completely talk up the product like it was the second coming!  It’s softer underfoot than wood, doesn’t scratch (though it does dent, but that just contributes to its rustic charm), it has a wood look without the wood price, and it’s surprisingly durable, warm, and has been used in everything from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water to the Library of Congress – and if it’s been around *that* long, you know it’s durable!  It has natural antifungal, antimicrobial, and hypoallergenic properties (which probably explains why it has preserved many a wine bottle for centuries now!), and it’s also quiet to walk on with sound dampening properties to boot.  It’s also “self healing” (I’m a little skeptical of this claim, but we’ll see) and fire resistant.  This million-dollar home had installed the cork from the top of the stairs all the way through to their kids’ rooms, playrooms, and even the upstairs Media Room.  I was sold!  Bring on the cork!  Now the only problem is holding me back from installing it everywhere….hrmm….

Why now?  Why not change the floors downstairs first? Well, honestly, we just do projects as we have the time, money, and the need.  At the mo’ (that’s young people-speak for “moment”, as in RIGHT NOW), our laundry room needed some serious love (and since it’s already taken us two months to get this far, you *know* it was in a world of hurt beforehand!).  Since the adjacent hallway is so large, we decided to just go ahead and lay floors all at once rather than buying the flooring product at two different times and trying to do a color match – NO CAN DO, DANIEL SAN.  It was definitely one of those, “While you’re down there,” kind of things…(*wink*wink*)

Where did you get your cork floors? We got them from Lumber Liquidators and spent just around $1K for everything including supplies.  Overall, it’s been the best decision we’ve made on this house so far and we absolutely looooooove them!

Who installed them? Why yours truly, of course!  Now while I would admit that hiring somebody would have been preferential to installing them ourselves, we decided that saving the extra $1,000 to do an installation was definitely worth it in our books!

Dr. J, removing the grody old carpet!

Where's Dr. J?

Yes, that's me with painter's tape on my chest. I'm a classy gal, what can I say?

Even Maggie got in on the action!

Covering the grody old vinyl with cork!

How did you install it?  Are they glued down? No.  The product is what is known as a “floating floor” product.  It has finished and sealed cork on top, cork on the bottom (that looks just like a cork board if you can imagine that), and a mystery product in the middle to hold it all together.  The cork on the bottom keeps it from slipping (and it’s sound dampening as well), and then the top is just the finish, which actually looks like “strips” placed together to give it a “wood look”.  Now, admittedly, we did cheat on this install a little because we had approximately 8 doorways in this space (4 beds, 1 bath, 1 laundry, 1 linen closet, and one stairwell opening) and so we did use a few staples in some surreptitious locations to hold ‘er in place – otherwise we would lay a piece, and then when we went to hammer in the next, the last one would come flopping off through the open doorway – kind of annoying.  Overall, we only stapled in the doorways to just kind of hold it in place and most of those staple locations are now hidden by lovely thresholds like this:

Even our grody vinyl flooring looks so rich and luxe with these beautiful thresholds!

….so no one’s the wiser…and, by the way, didn’t my hubby do a fabulous job of staining those thresholds?!  I’m so proud of him!!  It’s a vast improvement over those metal tack strips we used to have – blech!  All of those are gone now, btw!

Did you have to polyurethane the floors after install? Yes!  Three times!  With sanding in between each coat!  Both ways!  With three feet of snow and my brother on my back!  What a pain it was to not be able to walk upstairs for a full 8 hours after application.  We finally wisened up and used poly in the morning before work, painted ourselves out of the house, left the windows open, and spent our days in cube-land before returning home to a dry floor that wasn’t *too* fumey!  We even got the lower-VOC  kind and it was still pretty stinky and headache-inducing.  I would always advocate steering as far away from your house as possible after poly-ing something – those fumes are *not* to be messed with!  Especially if you have pets, kids, and/or small woodland animals.

How do you keep it clean? Interesting question!  Most cork and wood flooring products don’t like moisture (which is why it’s a perfect candidate for a hallway, family room, and/or a bedroom – I’d say it’s an iffy prospect in a bath though some people do it).  Most manufacturers recommend only “damp-mopping” it with a mild water/soap solution (I’m a big believer in using Murphy’s Oil Soap and/or Dr. Bronner’s for these types of applications).  To be honest, I will probably just vacuum and spot clean with a damp rag as needed since this space sees a lot of “use”, but not a lot of “dirt”.

So there ya have it!  Our first foray into installing flooring!  Sadly, we still have about 1600 square feet to go….le sigh….it never ends!

Wanna see out other Laundry Room installments?  Click on the following chapters to read more: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, and our teaser post! Stay tuned for the final reveal in the coming days!  Believe it or not, but it’s pretty much all finished!!

Airing our dirty Laundry: A little teaser post…

We’re back with another installment of the Laundry makeover series!  But this is just a teaser to let you know that we are *finally* onto installing the cork flooring!  But rather than give you the full reveal (which will probably take a couple more weeks due to work schedules, installation, poly-ing, timing, etc.) I thought I would give you just a little teaser post since everybody loves looking at Maggie flooring…

Purty, huh?  Especially when you consider that this is what we had to start with…

Ughhh….cream carpet in a hallway?  I’ll categorize that up there with hydrogen filled Zeppelins as one of the most stupendously UN-wise decisions of the past 100 years…..that and “unsinkable” ships, of course!  And while we were waiting for our floors to come in, we also went ahead and touched up the laundry room painting after completely ripping down sections of wall, but that really doesn’t warrant a photo just yet (whole upstairs = messy!).

Things are humming along….stay tuned!

Want to see the previous installments of our Laundry Room makeover?  Click here for Chapter 1, Chapter 2, and Chapter 3!

Airing our dirty laundry: Chapter 3, Water Works and E-lec-tri-ci-ty!

We’re back with another installment of our dirty laundry (and, hey, while you’re here, we have a few clothes that need folded and ironed, so anytime you want to get to that would be great).  If you’re just joining us, then you know that we have a Laundry Room that needs some serious functionality injected into it as in, an IV of functionality, STAT!  We’ve already tackled hanging some much needed storage cabinets and now we’re onto plumbing so we can install this gorgeous sink and faucet, and a wee bit of electrical work so we can do some under-cabinet lighting!  Brace yourselves, this could get a little technical!

The Water Works

Allow me to introduce you to this weird….”thing”….in our laundry room:

Drain stub sticking out of the wall

What is this plumbing related "Thing"?

…from day one of living in this house, we both thought, as cute as it was to have a weird “thing” in our wall, it might be a little cooler to have an actual “sink”.  I mean, we can’t really use this “thing”, can’t decorate it, can’t take it for walks….ya know, it’s pretty much useless.  So what precisely is this “thing”?  Turns out the “thing” was a capped off drain-line, that was already run for a sink!  So we were already part of the way there, with the sink drain almost in the right place.  Then, there were existing hot and cold lines about 3 feet to the left of where we needed them for the sink, so that was pretty close too.

Ok, quick plumbing lesson for everyone our there in blog-land – if you have a sink, a toilet, shower, or washer on one wall, then there’s plumbing in that wall.  And if you have plumbing in a wall, it’s pretty easy to route off of existing plumbing and do what you want with it rather than to have to plumb new, ESPECIALLY if you already have hot/cold lines running in that wall (i.e. if it’s only a toilet or a refrigerator, running the hot will be a bit more work because you obviously don’t need a hot water line to flush a ‘loo – just sayin’).  If you have to plumb brand new, just do yourself a favor and hire a plumber to take care of all of that for you – trust me, you’ll thank yourself later!  And while you’re at it, thank ME for helping YOU!  Muwahahah….

A’ la Alton Brown, the  hardware for the task:

  1. A saw capable of cutting CPVC, ABS, and PEX — I actually used two saws for the job, a hack saw and a jig saw, depending on the the pipe diameter and how much room around the pipe I was cutting.
  2. Something to cut the drywall.  I used an old drywall saw I got from L’s grandfather’s tool box a couple of years ago, but a utility knife, your fist, and persistence could work too.  I suggest the drywall saw.
  3. A stud finder.

And the software:

  1. About 10 feet of 1.5 inch PEX tubing suitable for drinking water.
  2. Gator Bite (I’ve also heard them called shark bite) connections: 2 T connections, 2 right angle connections, 2 shutoff valves.  I love these things!  More on why below …
  3. Water supply lines.
  4. Combo-Tee ABS junction for the “new” drain.
  5. A new transition for the ABS drain/vent pipe.
  6. Drain trap attachment to the ABS drain pipe.
  7. ABS compatible pipe cement

The very first thing you have to do is TURN THE WATER OFF!  To the whole house.  Trust me.  Just do it.  Don’t go cutting into drywall you think has water lines behind it without turning the water off as a precaution.  I hope I don’t have to spell out why that can be bad news!  One thing to keep in mind is that any connection that is inside the walls MUST have a permanent connection.  As in, no screw-on attachments on these steps!  The next thing you know, you’ve patched up the drywall, turned on the faucet, and a couple months down the line when the “screws are loose” you’ll have a whole mess of problems!

Drain Install:

I started by cutting holes all over the place so I could see what the existing plumbing was actually like.  Fortunately, the room was already set up for a sink (see referenced “thing” above), but it was just the wrong height!

I made a mess ...

My "access" holes. By the time I was done, there was even more drywall missing.

First, I cut out a small piece of pipe where I wanted to put the new drain about 18 inches off the floor.  I started by using the hack saw, and when it got too crowded for me to keep using it, I took the blade out and just used my hands (wearing gloves, of course).  It worked MUCH better than I thought it was going to!  Then I replaced the cut out “thing” Combo-Tee with a reducer coupling and installed a new junction lower on the wall for the sink drain.  After those two pieces were cemented together, I added the white end cap (also cemented) that can be screwed to a standard sink trap piece.  To cement the pieces together, follow the directions on the back of the pipe cement bottle.  Looking at the picture, you may wonder why there is a pipe going up AND the pipe going down.  Well, the down-ward leading pipe is the actual drain (where the water goes), the up-ward leading pipe is a vent that goes up to the roof.

On the left is how I cut the pipe, holding the hacksaw blade in my (gloved) hands. On the right is after I cemented on the comp-tee and the screw-on drain attachment

Water Line Install:

The next part was running the new water lines.  Now, our house is plumbed with CPVC pipe, which I really don’t like.  It’s kind of hard to work with because the lines are not flexible and it’s relatively easy to crack CPVC (which means they can leak if you make a mistake).  For these reasons, I decided to run the new lines using more flexible PEX pipes so it would be easier to snake the lines through the wall to the new location.  Luckily, you can buy Gator Bite connectors that can join CPVC to PEX (or even ABS) — these things are AWESOME!  Instead of struggling with pipe cement (or using copper pipes and literally playing with fire), the Gator Bite connectors slip on, and don’t let go.  They’re dead simple to install, and they’re good enough to put inside the walls.  I started by cutting out a 1/2 inch from both the hot and cold lines and joining the cut-out piece with the T junction.

Pic of the water lines, partially installed, using Gator Bites

Cut off a 1/2 inch piece of the CPVC water line, and installed a tee to run the new water lines.

Then I visualized where I wanted the new water lines to snake through the wall and drilled the necessary holes in the studs to snake the water lines through, and put those in too.  Finally, I put an elbow on the end of the line and the shut-off valve a few inches later (the shutoff valve is outside the wall).  After everything was connected (and the shut-off valves were OFF), I turned the water back on to the house.  Slowly.  Make sure to check for leaks BEFORE you patch all the drywall holes you made.  I’m glad I did!  The tee I installed on the hot water line leaked when I turned the water back on.  It was a simple matter of re-checking the connection (even though the Gator-Bite connections are dead-easy to use, I didn’t quite push one end on far enough, so it leaked), and then retesting.  But if that had happened AFTER I had patched the wall, I would have been in big trouble, especially when my wife got home!

Pic of the whole plumbing job.

Ran the water lines over to where I needed them. Notice how the PEX tubing can actually bend a little bit? Also, notice how I had to rip off the base-board to clean up the leak ....

E-lec-tri-ci-ty:

The last thing I did was run electricity to a new plug I installed on the inside of the cabinet for the under-cabinet lights.  I ran the power for the plug through a switch next to the existing switches in the room so I could turn them on and off.

Hardware:

  1. Steel wire pull (to snake wire through the wall).
  2. Wire stripper/snips

Software:

  1. About 20 ft. of wire
  2. New outlet (GFCI because it will be fairly close to a sink) and box
  3. New switch and box

Just like the plumbing, turn the power off BEFORE touching anything having to do with the electrical work!  I’ve been electrocuted before (hrmmm….that explains some things …), and aside from the weird tingly feeling it’s not something I’d like to repeat!  I started out by running the line from the new switch (next to the two older switches on the wall) down the wall, across the perimeter of the room, then back up the other wall into the cabinet.  While that was easy, it was also W-R-O-N-G (ralizing this might have had something to do with watching an episode of Holmes on Homes, my favorite Canadian Contractor, but I’m not sayin’).  It’s too easy to put a nail through a wire that is on the outside of a stud, and the wire ran right under the new plumbing I just put in.  Water + electricity = NO GOOD CAN COME FROM THIS.  After realizing my mistake, I ripped the old wire out and ran the wire UP into the attic (right along with the existing wiring) and over to the wall.  Once there, I drilled a hole in the wall header and dropped the wire down to the cabinet and installed the outlet.  Once that was done, it was a simple matter of attaching the lights to the under-side of the cabinets and running their plugs to the new outlet!

Mood pic of the under-cabinet lights

The new under-cabinet lights on the left, and the new outlet hidden inside the cabinet.

So now we can actually sort our blacks from our navys and install a sink, a definite laundry room must!

Now…..we wait for the floors to come in!  Sadly, there was a delay in ordering our floors (there’s always a delay when you do major room makeovers, so just hold your horses).  We are hoping to get those in the next couple of weeks and when we do, you can bet your bottom dollar we’re going to be doing the happy dance to get those installed just as soon as you can say “bend over and I’ll show ya!”  Lots of time crawling on our knees in the future….le sigh….

Want to see our other installments of the Laundry Room makeover?   Well, then click here for Chapter 1 and here for Chapter 2!  Stay tuned for floor installation and then the final installation of lower cabinetry later in the summer!

Airing our Dirty Laundry, Chapter 2: Cabinetry Conundrum

Cabinetry.  Buy it for looks, but it for life.  No, wait….that’s sinks.  Or is it faucets?  Well, regardless, purchasing cabinetry is always going to be a big-ticket/lifer item!  So when I say we were pretty thorough in our search, I’m not lying!  It took us 9 months of hoofing it around town to decide on what we wanted and I’m here to spill the beans on the whole thing!  Hang tight, I’ll try to keep the search to a paragraph!

We started at the traditional “reno on a budget” locale of Ikea, thought it too expensive, so settled on Home Depot/Lowe’s.  After price checking and budgeting there, we realized that wasn’t such a good deal either (and for lower quality laminated stock cabinetry to boot!).  So we thought we’d try the eco-friendly route of recycling cabinetry either via Craigslist, the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and the ever popular ReBuilding Center on Mississippi Avenue here in Portland.  While we weren’t able to find much in the way of cabinetry that was affordable, suitable, and/or repairable, I did have to hold Dr. J back from a few fun finds pictured below (and these are iPhone pics, so probably not the best quality overall):

Recycled molding - in great shape!

Reclaimed hardwood floor (Oak!) for a fraction installed new!

Old and newer-ish light fixtures with a few loos tossed in the background

As much as we didn’t want to have to spend the kind of money that our initial run-through at Ikea had us paying, we reluctantly decided to give it another shot and see if we were wrong before.  And, boy, were we wrong!  We designed an entire laundry space, including cabinetry, sink, and counters for a fraction of the price that we would pay at Lowe’s, Home Depot, and even some of our recycled options!  Here’s a little breakdown of how much this was going to cost us at each place:

  • Home Depot/Lowe’s was going to run us around $1500 for cabinets ($900), plumbing/electrical ($300), counters ($200), and any other incidentals we may have missed.  Home Depot/Lowe’s, we heart you, but your stock cabinetry wasn’t as pretty as Ikea’s (or as tall!).
  • Recycling cabinetry was somewhat of a mystery, but it was going to be a cool $600 for cabinets, but then we’d have to refinish, repair, and paint those cabinets, so we figured that was going to put us back around $700 and that was before plumbing, counters, and incidentals.  Recycling, we heart you, but you were too spendy!
  • Ikea was going to be roughly $700 (including cabinets, counters, sink, hardware, and no painting required!).  Ikea, we heart you and your clean new cabinetry that’s 39″ tall with no sanding, painting, and/or cleaning required!  SOLD!

Sometimes it’s good to be wrong!  Record this date for posterity as you’ll never hear that from us again… 😉

Ikea’s in-house computer kitchen designer (which is good for any space, including a laundry) couldn’t be simpler though I admit it’s a lot less confusing when you are in the store than when you are at home, but maybe that’s the point.  You can set up your room with all of your dimensions, including height, add your appliances (washer and dryer?  Check!), throw up some cabinetry, insert some sinks, and voila!  You then print out all of your needs on a few sheets of paper that you then turn into the associate who orders it and then you pick it up downstairs on your way past the Swedish meatballs and fish.  Easy peasy!

We took some advice from the Ikea sales person, Ellen (super friendly, btw!), and decided to split up our installation into phases.

  • Phase one would be assembling and installing upper cabinetry
  • Phase two will be plumbing and electrical (we need plumbing for a sink, outlets for under-cabinetry lighting and a switch, and an additional overhead light)
  • Phase three will be purchasing and installing our new flooring (anybody have a pair of knee pads I can borrow?)
  • And the final phase would be installing the floor cabinetry, counters, sink, finishing touches, accessorizing, etc.

So today’s venture is only upper cabinetry, but it was so simple to install, we can’t wait to buy the rest of the material from Ikea so we can finish the job!  Total time from unpacking the boxes to hanging?  About 4 hours – and I only helped with the hanging!  Fancy that!  It’s amazing how something like this:

….can transform into something like this:

….and that, my friends, is the beauty of Ikea!  Actually, let’s take a moment to analyze the photo above (where we “air our dirty laundry”, so to speak).  First off, can you tell how “cluttered” the floor of our laundry room is by this picture?  Dee-sgus-ting!  Actually, here’s a closer pic to show you our problem child in all its grody glory:

You can also get a better feel for how large our upstairs “hallway” is and why we want to switch out all of it for cork!  It will bring so much warmth, polish and cohesion to this space and we cannot wait!  It will also bring some much-needed texture to this space, which is a little tan on tan at the moment.

From this point on, the pictures are a little hairy – we have terrible light going on in this room, so we were really just working off of our flash, which just blows out all of our pics.  All apologies:

First you hang the bracket (which Ikea generously included)

Then you hang the cabinets on the bracket...

Then you clamp the cabinetry together and attach them with the (included) hardware...

...and then you hang your doors and measure for your hardware!

And that’s basically it!  Oh, and in case you’re curious why we put painter’s tape up on these cabinets, this is an important tip whenever you are drilling into anything that has to look pretty from the outside.  If you tape it, it will protect the wood from chips and breaks.  It’s also easier to measure and mark – you don’t have to worry about cleaning it off later!

The installation of the upper cabinets is done and we were even able to score ourselves some of those fancy schmancy “quiet close” cabinet hinges so we won’t wake up whenever somebody slams the doors shut.  That’s pretty useful since the laundry room wall backs up to our master bedroom – good for the future.

Sit tight for the big reveal – we’ve already moved onto electrical and our upstairs is a veritable war zone of cut up drywall, power tools, and dust!

Want to see Chapter 1 where we formulated a plan, then click here!  Stay tuned for more!