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You’ve followed along with some of our big home renovation projects this past year. Luckily, Lowe’s sponsored this video, so we were able to transform our old and outdated mudroom/laundry room into a clean and modern space that is both, beautiful and functional. 

  1. Decide on Design Elements
  2. Clear Out the Space
  3. Make Some Shelves
  4. Mount the Sink
  5. Attach the Faucet
  6. Put Down Underlayment
  7. Lay Tile
  8. Add Lots of Storage

1. Decide on Design Elements

This is often the hardest part of a room renovation for people that aren’t professional interior designers. Scouring Pintrest and other people’s mood boards can be overwhelming and leave you paralyzed with options. Most importantly, found that it was best to start with a list of things that didn’t work about the space. Besides being the room we enter in the house from the garage, it was also our laundry room. This domestic crossroads became a space that was part cleaning area, part muddy clothes pile, and part deep storage space.

We wanted to declutter this space by making dedicated spaces for hanging jackets, long-term storage, and laundry management. In addition to creating functional spaces in the room, we wanted to do a general face-lift to the room that was finished in 1983. The linoleum needed to be replaced, old MDF shelves needed to be thrown out, and some fun storage solutions needed to be made.

Along with perusing the aisles at our local Lowe’s store, we found that there was a massive inventory of products and fixtures on Lowes.com. My wife and I spent many nights choosing paint colors, tile designs, and room accents, all of which was made easy by searching Lowe’s inventory. To save on project cost, we decided to re-use the large set of cabinets and long countertop that was already in the room. We planned on painting them a more neutral color and adding some modern hardware as a budget-friendly way to maximize storage space without having to rebuild cabinets.

2. Clear Out the Space

We had to make the room a blank slate before we could remake it. That meant moving out the washer & dryer, removing the cabinets and counter top, ripping out the cheaply-made shelving, and disconnecting the old, plastic service sink. Next, the old linoleum flooring had to be chipped away so I could clean up the sub-floor before laying tile.

While the room was empty, we painted the walls and changed some light fixtures. I know that we would have to do some touch-up paint at the end, so we went ahead and painted the walls with some Valspar paint & primer in one. Now that the room was wide-open, it was time to get to work making the wall-hung elements while we waited for tile.

 

3. Make Some Shelves

While we waited for the tile to arrive, I began on the shelving. This project called for three shelves, two over the washer & dryer, and one more as a taller shelf with a hanging rod suspended underneath. All three shelves would be in the same style, some beefy cedar 2x4s suspended by some super minimalistic steel brackets. I know, I must be going through my cedar and steel period.

This build was fairly easy, cedar from Lowe’s comes as an actual 2×4 and the sides are pretty straight. I had to do a little bit of milling to get the boards ready for glue-up. I made the three shelves and applied a few coats of polyurethane to protect them. The brackets were made out of flat steel stock, also from Lowe’s. We drilled some holes for the attachment bolts, scored the steel, and added some simple bends so that a tab could be attached to the wall and another could support the shelf. I reinforced those bends with a weld, ground them down, and added a coat of black enamel.

To add the hanging rod, I made another set of bracket in the same style that would hang below the one shelf. Josh designed and 3d printed some robust attachment fittings for a 1 3/8″ poplar dowel. The shelving looked super awesome, simple, and clean.

4. Mount the Sink

First off, some of these titles are extremely under-representative for the amount of work it took to complete that portion of the project. “Mount the Sink,” implies (as I originally thought) that the new cast-iron laundry sink would simply hang on some studs and attach to the existing flexible water lines. This. Was. Not. The. Case. This particular sink needed a lot of preparation before installation, something I found out after it arrived.

This beautiful, rustic sink is heavy, and when I ordered this fixture, I was unprepared for the amount of specialized components it needed. The sink had to be mounted to a horizontal stud that we had to add to inset into the wall (which needed drywall repair as well). Once we hung the sink, I realized that the sink drain was an atypical size and had to special ordered. Josh and I went to our local Lowe’s and pieced together the right fittings to mate the special, 3 1/8″ drain to the existing plumbing.

5. Attach the Faucet

At this point I was ready to add the faucet…under-representative again. The faucet that fit this rustic sink was supposed to secure directly to two, hard-mounted water lines that extended through the sink. Like most houses, we had water lines that came out of the bottom and connected to the old faucet by some flexible, braided hoses. To connect the water, we would have to get longer hoses that would fit behind the sink, make a 90-degree turn through the sink holes and it had to support the weight of a metal faucet.

Josh made quick 3d-modeled solution to this irritating and complex problem. He made a two-part bushing that would fill the sink holes and slide together as you tightened the faucet to the water line creating a tight and secure mounting point. We printed it on our Lulzbot Taz 6 with the MOARStruder so the part was almost solid plastic. After a few quick iterations, the faucet bushings fit perfectly and the sink was all done! To clarify, the fixtures are beautiful and with the proper amount of research into the installation needs, they would have been mu ch easier to install.

6. Put Down Underlayment

Here is the most under-representative title ever, Lay Tile. Oh boy, there is so much that goes into laying tile and each step needs a level of dedication for the whole thing to be successful. There are some basic chapters to laying tile; laying the underlayment, applying mortar, laying the actual tile, adding grout, and sealing the grout.

We selected a movable membrane underlayment from Schluter that the tile would sit on. This plastic material from Schluter needed to be fixed to the subfloor with mortar. It creates a barrier between the wooden floor and the tile above so that any wood movement wouldn’t translate to the tile. Josh and I mixed up some mortar and laid down a new bright orange underlayment. Using this system had some specific needs. We had to use non-fortified mortar and a trowel meant to work with this type of underlayment.

7. Lay Tile

Next, we mixed up the mortar for the tile. My wife and I decided on grey half-hexagonal tiles from Emser. I could arrange the shapes in a triangular/star pattern for a really cool design. My designer eyes didn’t realize how much my work laying all of these small tiles would be. Not only was it tedious work, but the space wasn’t large enough and the pattern was so specific that I really had to do this process alone.

Once I had laid the last tile (make sure you order 20% more tile than you think you need!), I mixed up the grout we had chosen. Grout comes in many colors, and I chose a darker grey than the tile. I filled the tile gaps with the grout and cleaned off the surface as I went. We did have to go back and clean off dried residue later, so be prepared to do that. The next day, I sealed the grout and stayed off the floor for the recommended time period. It was a lot of work, but the space looked amazing!

8. Add Lots of Storage

While I was laying tile, my wife was painting the old cabinets. She used a power sprayer to apply primer and a coat of satin black furniture paint from Valspar. It went on in one really nice coat and I was super impressed. We moved the cabinets in the room and added the updated hardware which made the cabinets look modern and elegant. Next, we reinstalled the 8 foot-long counter top and mounted them to the walls.

Furthermore, we brought in the bench I made recently out of the Basswood slab and hung a line of coat & backpack hooks on the wall. With the washer & dryer in place, I could really see how awesome this room looked. There was tons of functional storage and beautiful fixtures. Although, there was a blank space above the bench that we decided to fill with some cubbies.

My wife really liked the idea of some floating boxes that we could put small items on. Taking it one step further, we liked the idea of making them into text message bubbles and putting in interchangeable messages on them. Josh designed up a simple text message shape and we made one large box and one small box. They were hung on the wall with a french cleat and I cut out a sweet but nerdy message from Star Wars on the vinyl cutter.

I Can’t Believe It Looks This Great!

In conclusion, I, like many homeowners, went into this project thinking that some parts would be simple and some would be much harder. I realized that each element had its own set of problems that needed attention and that there were very few “simple” tasks.

Things like “hanging a sink,” needed wall shoring, rerouting a vent line, specialized drain lines, and custom mounting fittings. “Laying tile,” needed more material than I had planned, and we almost didn’t finish the floor because we ran out of tile. It was really comforting to know that most of the problems could be solved by going to our local Lowe’s and getting help from the people there. And if they didn’t have exactly what I needed, I could order it quickly online and it could be delivered right to my house.

I have to give my sincerest thanks to the team at Lowe’s for allowing us to renovate this older space into a beautiful and functional room that fits the needs of my large family. If you want to find out more about the materials, products, or fixtures used in this project, just click the links.