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.
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!
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.
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!
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).
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
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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