Our Laundry Renovation (and my Tradie Recommendations)

Today I’m finally sharing our laundry renovation on here! I absolutely love our laundry makeover. If you were to ask me which renovation project in our house has given me the most satisfaction, I have to say I think it would be this room. And I don’t even LIKE doing laundry.

This is my favourite before-and-after because I love how it used to be a dark, small, grotty, mostly non-functional room that we didn’t enjoy being in; a room that also didn’t have any built-in storage. Now it’s still a small room, but it’s functional, has built-in storage, it feels light and clean and we actually LIKE being in here now. We haven’t done anything crazy on-trend or ahead of the curve or anything like that; we’ve kept the look really simple and used a really basic neutral colour palette and materials; but it’s still a room that makes me so happy.

House-Nerd-laundry-makeover-renovation-70s-house
AFTER. Photos by Heather Robbins.

Remodelling the laundry also didn’t cost a huge amount (in my opinion) yet it definitely improved our house overall. When we changed our mortgage plan lately, we had to have our house professionally valued and I know that the laundry was one of the rooms where we ‘scored points’.

Here’s a look at what it looked like before – very typical 1970s laundry with adjacent toilet – not a powder room so let’s call it a half-bath to sound fancy – and to attempt to distract you from those tiles. I’m sure lots of you have seen those exact same tiles somewhere or might even have them in your own house. Some people love them; they never grew on me… and we had our laundry like this picture below for years!

BEFORE

There were four things we wanted to achieve with the laundry renovation:

– Add storage to a room that didn’t have any.
– Make the space feel light and bright.
– Make the toilet nice for visitors to use and create a nice wash-up area for them.
– Create an area where we could change and bath a future non-existent baby.

Yep, I know that last point probably isn’t on the usual list of things when people make a laundry design brief! However, one of the downsides of our 70s house is that the bedrooms are REALLY small. (The room that is now Little Nerd’s bedroom is only 2.8m by 2.7m. I sigh enviously inside when I visit friends’ houses and the kids have lovely big rooms!) Long before we even had a kid I could tell that packing a cot, a recliner, some kind of side table for a bedside lamp and a change table into one of the minor bedrooms was going to be difficult.

When I was pregnant a few people were like, “Really? You’re going to change the baby in the laundry?” and I would be like, “Yeah why not? It will work.” 
“Then where will you fold your laundry?”
“On the dining table or on our bed.” (Where I have always folded it).
“But where will you do your ironing?”
“We don’t iron!” (Much to my mother’s wrath. Seriously, I think the only time we iron is for a wedding or a special dinner).

Some people did point out to me that when you take a baby who needs a night-time change out from a warm room like a bedroom and into a cold room like the laundry that the cold will wake him up completely and he’ll be difficult to resettle. We just didn’t do this. When Little Nerd was still sleeping in our bedroom in his bassinet we kept nappies, wipes and a change mat stored on the shelf underneath it and we just changed him on our bed. Even though a handful of people warned me that ‘boy babies will piss all over you the moment you whip their nappy off’. What can I say. I like to live life on the edge. Fortunately we (and our linen bedding) escaped remarkably unscathed.

Anyway the whole laundry room/baby change station actually worked really well. I didn’t set this up for these photos, but when we had this room set up for Little Nerd we had nappies up on that little shelf so they were easy to grab, a plastic-covered foam changing mat on the bench and a box of wipes. We changed Little Nerd in here for ages and it was fine. An advantage was that if any baby clothes were particularly messy, it was easy to just strip them off and soak them or chuck them straight into the washing machine, and we washed him in the sink all the time. Or if he was really dirty we could just chuck him straight in the sink and give him a hose-down.

House-Nerd-laundry-makeover-renovation-70s-house
Cane baskets on shelf from Kmart. Mirror from Target. Wall hooks from IKEA. Hanging planter from Kmart. Flowers from Floral Army. Hand towel from Canningvale. Photos by Heather Robbins.

I think you have to work with your house and its restrictions, and do your best with what you have and set it up to suit your family (which is why we still have a coffee and tea-making nook in a corner of our lounge room). It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t look the most stylish or if it’s not the ‘done’ thing. I have friends whose older house doesn’t actually have any kind of designated meals area or dining room or even internal space for a dining settle so they eat meals outside where they’ve built a beautiful, protected patio and have an outdoor heater there too. It works for them and it makes the most of the house they have. Whatever works for you and makes the most of the house you’ve got – do it!

Now, those of you still awake after reading all that, back to the laundry itself!

House-Nerd-laundry-makeover-renovation-70s-house
Natural cleaning products by Second Natural Botanicals and Murchison Hume, flowers from Floral Army. Photos by Heather Robbins.

The custom-made cabinets were about $1500 (from my fuzzy, baby-warped memory) from the awesome guys at Chesleigh Fine Furniture. I know I could have gotten a little bit more storage by taking the overhead cabinetry the whole length of the room, but with our toilet adjacent to the laundry, I wanted the laundry sink to act as a ‘powder room sink’ with a mirror for guests. (The REAL reason; now guests can check if they look pretty for us in the laundry mirror without having to go into the family bathroom which means I don’t have to clean the bathroom every time visitors are coming over).

House-Nerd-laundry-makeover-renovation-70s-house
Polytec cabinets with Laminate benchtop. I spray-painted the brushed chrome cabinet handles with Dulux Duramax in Matt Black. The baskets I found at the Melville markets, the vintage oil painting I bought on Etsy. Natural cleaning products are from Second Nature Botanicals and Murchison Hume. Moisturiser by Ellier Olive Oil Moisturiser. Candle by Clean Slate. Photos by Heather Robbins.

House-Nerd-laundry-makeover-renovation-70s-house
The cabinet doors are Polar White Polytec melamine, the benchtop is Laminex in Seasoned Oak. I didn’t want to spend at least two or three grand for something like CaesarStone or EssaStone, and I wanted a timber benchtop, but the guys at Chesleigh wouldn’t do a wood benchtop for a wet, small and humid (from the dryer) room for worry it would warp. They recommended laminate. But the interiors snob in me at first felt a little uneasy about teaming a natural material like travertine with a cheaper, ‘faux’ material like laminate, something that until then I’d always felt “should not” be done. I think there are two things that tend to happen when it comes to mixing an inexpensive ‘faux’ material (such as a laminate that is meant to look like wood or marble, or lino, with a real natural material (such as stone, timber, marble, engineered stone etc). I think either:

a) the beauty of the real material highlights the cheapness and faux-ness of the ‘fake’ material and
OR
b) You get away with having splashed out on one thing because all-in-all everything works well together and the ‘real’ material becomes the star.

So ordinarily while I would not go for a laminate benchtop, I think it ended up looking fine here. Well, I think it did! And the Laminex bench has been so hardy. So no regrets! I wanted some kind of open shelving in the room to break up the cabinets a bit and the white melamine open shelves were cheapies from Bunnings and cost about $20. The big trough – I got the biggest one I could find, for baby baths – was from Bunnings.

House-Nerd-laundry-makeover-renovation-70s-house

The mixer is from Dorf and we liked it so much we bought the same one in matt black and chrome when we later did our kitchen renovation (it is the Vixen mixer) The spout is detachable – perfect for washing babies. We got ours from Parkwood Plumbing Centre where we buy almost all of our fittings.

The floor tile is honed travertine and the tiling was done by our tiler friend Mark Petit of On the Mark Tiling. He has done work on a lot of some of Perth’s most high-end builds and he is a perfectionist who pays the utmost attention to the smallest details. Despite my haranguing him, Mark doesn’t yet have a Facebook page or Instagram as all his work comes through word of mouth so if you want to get in touch with him his number is 0411 822 691.

The pendant light is from Crompton Lighting. It is the Alana and I love it. I really wanted a small, pretty light over a downlight and am so happy I managed to sneak a pendant in. (Our next house will have high ceilings so I can have pendants in every room).

House-Nerd-laundry-makeover-renovation-70s-house
Replacing that horrible old door and falling-apart fly screen was MOST satisfying. Look how horrible it looked before! We found this relatively inexpensive timber-and-glass Woodcraft door from Bunnings that I painted white. You can’t tell from this photo, but beyond the solid door was a creaky falling apart flywire door.

With the room being windowless and really small I really wanted a full glass door to bring in as much natural light as we could get. The door was installed and shaved back to fit our frame by Tim Phillips of TJP Carpentry. My usual carpenter was unable to work and I was looking for a new one. By dumb luck I got an email from a lovely House Nerd reader saying she had a recommendation for a great carpenter, and Tim is now about to start on our big Scyon cladding project in January! He is an excellent carpenter with tons of experience on all kinds of projects. Don’t steal him away from me before we finish our cladding project k).

Oh! I almost forgot but we also got a new flyscreen/security door. That was not cheap but worth it. It was $770 from Safeguard Industries.

The splashback tiles were left over from our ensuite reno – big white rectified ceramic ones and they were from Milano Stone. The floor tiles are vein-cut unfilled noce travertine – same we used in our ensuite renovation here – and Mark sourced them for us. That colour is also commonly known as honey travertine.

House-Nerd-laundry-makeover-renovation-70s-house
Wall hooks from IKEA. The pestemal Turkish towel is from a small business I love called Ravens Landing. Photos by Heather Robbins.

The wall hooks were from IKEA but now I can’t find them on their website so they might be discontinued – these hooks are just as nice if not nicer.  IKEA have a lot of decent, inexpensive wall hooks.

House-Nerd-laundry-makeover-renovation-70s-house

House-Nerd-laundry-makeover-renovation-70s-house

The wallpaper in the toilet was my first trimester pregnancy handiwork using an old French dictionary I found at the markets for a few bucks. I remember I was so tired I would glue up maybe four or five pages at a time and then have to sit down and rest, which is possibly why I look so deathly in that photo. DIY anything in first trimester is stupid but we do it anyway! The toilet shelves my sister and I made from recycled jarrah sleepers and Bunnings brackets (which we somehow managed to do without a hammer drill, it was painful) and you can read that post here. It’s all about storage in this house! Cramming storage into every possible space we can.

To save a little bit of money, we gutted and waterproofed the room ourselves… see what a mess it made! Every time I see a photo of gutting in progress it transports me right back to the day we did it and I can smell the tile and brick dust and remember that horrible limey residue feel of it in my skin. And I grouted. All these renos and I feel like I have become a half-decent grouter. It makes me feel like I’m icing a very big cake.

House-Nerd-laundry-makeover-renovation-70s-house

So there you have it! My personal favourite renovation project. Have you renovated a laundry? Were you happy with it? Would you have done anything differently? Or are you about to? What are your pet peeves when it comes to your current laundry? Maya x

 

Maya-Anderson-House-Nerd

Author: Maya Anderson

When Maya Anderson was thinking of a name for her homes and design blog, nothing seemed more fitting than House Nerd. Obsessed with everything to do with houses, renovating and interior design, Maya is a features journalist by training with a background in print and a focus on homes and real estate. She has been renovating her 1970s house since forever, loves dogs and can eat her body weight in dumplings.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • I love your laundry, Maya, for the exact reasons you pointed: there is nothing trendy, yet, it’s beautiful, airy, timeless, and super practical. And that’s what great design is all about: when form enhances function.

    And I also think that laminate is an underrated product. It’s super hard-wearing, relatively inexpensive, and it comes in so many different styles it’s almost impossible not to find something suitable for any room.

    As for the fact it’s a “faux” material, well: engineered stone is not real stone, melamine doors are not real timber doors, and even tiles are, for the large majority, a man-made material. I think we should all stop that super snobby (and not even justified) approach to countertop materials, and focus on what works for one space and budget. Your laundry is a perfect example.

    And finally: I am so going to get the same tap as yours in my future laundry and kitchen reno 😀 Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you Nelly! 🙂 And – very good points re: the stone. I think I am so accustomed to the Australian way of thinking (especially from having seen all those expensive houses for The West were engineered stone was all that was ever used) that stone/engineered stone is the only way to go for benchtops that it took time for me to break through that and overcome my snobbery. Laminate IS so good though and so hardy (and comes in so many nice colours). One of my friends is a chef and she wants to renovate her kitchen but do laminate benchtops again – she says it’s so practical and she can’t imagine having a kitchen without it.

      And yay! You will love the tap! I am so happy with it and wouldn’t hesitate to buy it again for another reno project.

  • I had my baby change mat on top of a chest freezer in my laundry for all 3 kids. It worked great. And yes – easy access to water and a quick trough wash if needed! As you say, work with what you’ve got and what suits the way you want to live. Your laundry is lovely and practical – great work!

    • Chest freezer change table! Good idea! We’ve recently moved our chest freezer from our sunroom (which we knocked out) into our back shed, just because we don’t have any room for it in our house, but I hadn’t thought of making it do double-duty as a change table. (And bonus, all those freezer meals for tired newborn parenting days are close at hand). My sister-in-law lived in a small apartment with her first baby and never had a change table, just a mat underneath the bed that she pulled out – she said it worked fine. There is no need to buy clunky furniture if you really don’t have the space! Thank you for the lovely compliment too!

  • I love the new laundry door, it all looks fantastic. When we baby sat our niece, we changed her in the laundry, seemed like the natural way to go. We don’t iron either, we should though!

    • Haha Lee, I know what you mean by feeling like you should iron… the only thing about not ironing for a while is that when it’s not part of your life it doesn’t feel like it’s important! I would much rather cook than iron. Or just buy clothes that don’t need ironing 🙂

  • Your laundry looks lovely, Maya! It’s funny how a little storage and functionality makes such a huge difference.
    Our laundry door out to the clothes line is too narrow to fit a standard laundry basket through without turning it long ways – really not great on my sore neck and shoulders, and I’m always grazing my knuckles when I forget. Fixing that door is number one on my lotto list, and the first thing I tell people about when they decide to build a new home!
    As for changing babies, we used to have a two-storey unit with a full powder room downstairs. For daytime changes I placed a change mat on the bench in the loo (we had another one upstairs) and some days the only time I had a chance to use the facilities was at the same time as I dealt with our little guy’s nappies… It sounds weird and it freaked out a few guests, but poo is poo and it was super handy when he was clingy!

    • Thank you Carmen! It has definitely made a huge difference – makes day-to-day life just that little bit easier (and tidier). I distinctly remember feeling very gleeful as I put our cleaning products into those nice new cupboards. Ugh sorry to hear about the knuckle grazing :-/ (I do that all the time in our narrow garage!) I hope you manage to get it fixed. As for using the loo while changing little man’s nappies and freaking out guests…. hahaha. It’s not crazy, it’s multitasking! I remember days Little Nerd was so clingy he wouldn’t even let me put him down. I learned to hold him while sitting on the toilet. You gotta do what you have to do!

  • Well done! It looks amazing! I am about to start on our 1980s laundry room. I might copy your pendant light idea. 🙂 Also I was wondering what the length of your benchtop including trough is. I like the way you have your cupboards but wondering if it would fit in our laundry. Ours is small.

    • Hi Jane! Thank you 🙂 The length of the laundry benchtop is 2200m and 64cm deep. The trough is 58cm across. We had the cabinets and bench custom-made to fit the room and they did a really nice job. I definitely think if you find a good cabinetmaker they should be able to help you design something that works for your smaller laundry.

  • I will start our laundry in the near future, and my bungalow home has a small narrow laundry and toilet.
    Love the cupboards and the little detailed shelfs. The cabinet benches were a delema for me, and you have solved my problem. Sometimes you just need someone to put things in perspective for you, to unmuddle your ideas of grandeur, and budget. The glass door and screen is also what I need.
    We will do most of it ourselves. I will go for different door handles, or maybe none at all, as I fear I will get caught on them.
    Luv your toilet wallpaper idea, no need to take something to read now, lots to look at. MAnifique!

  • Maya, it’s frustrating – I cannot find a single thing you did that I don’t like! You will have to try harder!!! Your laundry room is amazing – it feels more like a hotel room, minus the bed. I would gladly take your Before laundry room because I do my laundry in an unfinished part of the basement – absolutely nothing glorious about. I would like to renovate it but my bathroom will have to come first. That more of a dream than a real plan though. And your loo wallpapered with pages from an old dictionairy was my fave since you posted it about first.

  • Maya
    Love your new laundry. We are in the laundry Reno planning stage atm. I quick question – where did you locate the power point and washing machine taps. Ours are located above the existing washing machine and had assumed I’d just cut some holes in the new bench top To connect the machine which will be under the bench (of course!). Yours look much neater with those hidden. Were there any special considerations that you had to take into account? I’m making a bench top using marine grade plywood with old pallet timber (planned and sanded to a smooth finish and varnished) glued and nailed to the plywood. I’ve done a test piece and it looks great – just hope it is robust enough for the laundry. Cheers, Mike

    • Thank you Michael! See where that little oil painting is sitting on the benchtop? You can’t see it in my photos, but there is a power point there. That was an original power point (for plugging in the iron, not that we iron, I must admit!) and directly beneath it, we had our electrician add another power point specifically for the washer and dryer – it sits just under the benchtop. Our original taps WERE located kind of in the middle of the wall – but we had those capped off and now the washing machine taps are under the sink (we had a hole drilled into the left-hand side of the sink cabinet for that purpose). I know what you mean – I wanted that really neat tidy look, plus with such a small space it was important to try to make the most of it and I didn’t want to see tubes everywhere. It was a little bit of an extra expense, but worth it (I think!) That was the only special consideration we had to take into account – and it was less complicated for our electrician and plumber to do than we had thought, which was a bonus 🙂 Marine grade plywood and pallet timber benchtop sounds gorgeous. I’m sure it would hold up well? I think eventually we will replace the inexpensive laminate one we went with and I would still love to do timber!