Laundry room update #1

Laundry room update: still dark, still dirty. If you haven’t already, read the origin story here.

Even though the optimistic part of my brain was sure that everything would be absolutely, 100% done by now, it of course is not. There has been progress though, which is exciting.

Becky came by last weekend and measured everything. I was so tempted to clean the room out before she got there. We’re close friends. Really close.  For example: last week I needed her help in the gym when my bra strap came undone and nearly let loose a deluge of cleavage substantial enough to take out a small village, and she was there for me, to touch my sweaty shoulder (shutter) and help do my strap back up in my time of need. That’s friendship.

As close friends as we are, I was not entirely comfortable inviting her to see my messy, disorganized laundry room with its dirty rug and spider webs and chaos; however, an important part of having a space that works for you is building it to suit your needs. My needs include a place to house my 100’s of mason jars and Costco sized jugs of laundry soap, a place to hang my wet laundry, and a place to store some craft materials that will facilitate the once or twice a year I feel the need to play with a glue gun.

If I had emptied the laundry room of all its contents before she arrived and scrubbed it clean from top to bottom, she might not have seen that paint can mountain is a real thing that needs to be tackled, or that the marks on the top of the washing machine are from glue from a craft project because my washing machine doubles as a craft table. I might have said “mason jars” and she could have pictured 12 of them instead of 124. So I swallowed my pride and I didn’t pre-organize the room. She saw my mess. She saw the spiders that live in the corners. She saw it all.

Without judgment, she measured the space and took some pictures. We took a quick look around to see what I had on hand to use. We talked about wants and needs. We talked about my budget (as close to $0 as possible).

Part of fixing-up the laundry room up includes hanging drywall on 2 already framed walls, and we’ve  called in my neighbourhood handyman to do the job. It’s not worth the marital distress that couples drywalling would have brought on. I’m not including the cost of having the drywall hung in my budget, but it’s likely the most significant expense for the whole damned thing. It’ll also go the farthest to making the space feel less creepy, so it’s definitely worth it.  I’m hopeful that the drywall will be up, taped, mudded and primed by the end of this week.

Since her visit to my laundry room of shame, Becky has made the plan for the space which started with a basic sketch.  We knew at the start that I didn’t have enough existing cupboards to do everything we wanted, so she established how much leftover space I had to fill, and I went off to the local ReStore and picked up a set of drawers that are approximately the same height and depth as my existing cupboards and a tall pantry cabinet to house the mason jars. It was way less intimidating to shop for these pieces when I knew what sized items I needed to look for. Oh, and I texted her a million pictures of the things I was looking at, and I got her okay before I spent any money.

Oooh, drawers. Think of all the crap I can hide in these.
No assembly required. Win.

After I bought the extra cabinets, Becky finished the plan and sent me a bunch of pictures of the final design for my approval.

Like this, but with an unfinished ceiling, and way more concrete.

I mentioned a few more things I’d like to add to the space to make it more functional for me. We did some online shopping and have figured out that almost everything else we need to buy will come from Ikea.

The next steps are as follows:

  1. Drywall install
  2. Paint lower cabinets with paint from paint can mountain
  3. Paint floor
  4. Go to Ikea
  5. Some assembly required
  6. Installation
  7. Bask in the glory of the new room
  8. Do the damned laundry

Dirty & Clean


Why is my laundry room the dirtiest room in my house? It’s dark and dreary and dusty and damp and I don’t actually know how anything comes out of it looking or feeling clean.

I’ve had makeover plans for it before. I’ve haphazardly strung an extra light up thinking that illuminating the problem will make it go away. I put up some shelves because I needed storage, but the shelves were already in the basement for a reason (that they were recycled Ikea and barely held together and entirely not worthy of being anywhere else in the house). I put down a rug because the concrete floor make my feet too cold, but now it’s dirty and covered in cat hair because I never want to vacuum down there because who the hell vacuums their creepy cold basement laundry room? When we renovated a bathroom last year, I even kept the cupboards we took out with the plans of making them useful in the laundry room. So far they’ve made it to the basement, but haven’t been installed or given a countertop.

Basically every time I’ve tried to make it better, I seem to have made it worse.

I spend a significant amount of time down there.  We’re 2 active (read: sweaty) people with 2 furry animals. We create a lot of laundry.  All of this is to say that I spend a lot of time in the weirdest, grossest room in my house, all the while being upset about how weird and gross it is, but not actually having the vision to change it for the better.

My workout partner, Becky, recently uprooted her whole life and left her job and went back to school to become a kitchen designer. She graduated with honours and quickly got hired by a new design firm. I’ve seen her work. It’s gorgeous! Becky and I often talk about tearing apart my early 90’s kitchen and making it modern and beautiful, but the current kitchen still works and I really don’t have the cash to take on an upgrade like that.

We also talk about how she’s new to the design industry, and that the shop she works out of is adorable and new and possibly the best new thing on Stittsville Main Street, but that business is building slower than Becky’s overachiever personality is comfortable with.

So, what do a girl with an ugly room and her friend the designer with a little bit of extra time do? Clearly we’re going to makeover the laundry room.

Because here’s what I learned: You can hire a designer to design for you, and once you’ve paid for that design work (aka ‘the plans’), you can make it happen however you want.

She’s going to come over and assess my current situation. She’ll measure and we’ll talk. She’ll see my haphazard shelves and my curtain rod / drying rack, and my stash of mason jars that need a home, and then she’s promised to draw up a beautiful and functional design. I’m going to return my empty beer bottles and look for change under the couch cushions and scrape together a little bit of cash. Then, because Becky is my very good friend, we’re gonna attempt to implement her design with the existing contents of my house along with some help from a local reusit store and we’ll see how close we can get to actualizing her design, and take the dark, gross, and creepy feeling out of my laundry room.

I’ll post pictures and a breakdown of what we spend. I’m too embarrassed to post any serious ‘before’ pictures, because right now it would be more like ‘before she ever cleaned that disgusting room’. Instead, why not check out Becky’s shop, Urban Home Design & Custom Kitchens on Facebook. Or instead you can sit there and imagine spilled laundry detergent on a concrete floor, if that’s more your thing.

I’ve never been so excited to do laundry as I am right now, and we haven’t even started yet.

Blowing out the candle

A few weeks ago my incredibly awesome teenage niece got her high school student card featuring a expectedly terrible headshot. She’s a pretty amazing person, and she handled the whole thing with way more grace and confidence that I could ever have wished for when I was her age. In short, she rolled with it, embracing her awkward teenage self.

Too cool for school.
In an act of solidarity I dug out my old student cards which clearly showed how very dorky I was in high school and posted them to twitter for my niece (and all the rest of the world) to see.

I keep such very important documents in a cosmetics case that my mother gave me. She inherited from her grandmother and it’s one of my cherished possessions. It’s also the place I keep things such as old passports, old ID cards, the lock of hair my mother kept from my very first haircut, and other sentimental gems.

As I was digging through the case I came across my mother’s university ID card, her old passports, letters that she had written me, letters that The Mick had written her, and a photocopy of my father’s birth certificate. That’s where I paused.

See, The Mick just recently celebrated his 80th birthday. He has been reminding me of its approach for the past year and a half. It’s a significant birthday, quite a milestone, complete with me forgetting to send him a card, and him calling me at 2pm because I had not yet called him to wish him a happy birthday. I felt terrible. He was hurt. Happy birthday.

He was born in 1936. I have a hard time conceptualizing what life in Toronto must have been like back then. He’s told me stories of his parents and about his life as a child but I just can’t seem to really imagine either him or Toronto way back then. Back before the CN tower. Back before the subway. Hell, back before the suburbs.

His birthday was at the front of my mind when I saw the copy of his birth certificate folded up at the bottom of the box. I had seen it before. I had even talked to my mother about it. It, along with his marriage license, were some of the documents that the private investigator that my mother had hired had turned up about him. Why were they important? Well, aside from his very Jewish middle name that I can’t pronounce and always forget, it shows that he was born in 1937, no 1936.

I once asked him about his birthday and this birth certificate as I had come to understand that they didn’t,in fact, match.  He told me that when he wanted to start working he needed a birth certificate as proof of age, and when he set about getting one he lied about his age in order to have his birth certificate show that he was old enough to work. This seemed entirely likely to me, as a child of the 80’s, because in the time before ATMs, cell phones, and desktop computers, I could see how you would have been able to tell this lie in the 1950’s and get away with it. He is also my father and I wanted to believe him, so I never questioned the verity of this statement.*

However, when everything was coming apart in my parent’s marriage (likely when she was going through the family court system for a divorce), it somehow came out that he was not born in 1937 as he had told her, and as his birth certificate clearly showed, but rather in 1936. 

This was never much of an issue to me. I was far older than I like to admit when I realized that my mother had been saying she was 27 years old for yet another year, so the fact that I didn’t actually know how old my father was didn’t bother me much. My mother; however, at some point in the mid-eighties, found herself married to a man that she never really knew. He excelled at keeping secrets. He was comfortable with the duplicity required to live a double life. My mother didn’t even know his real birthday.


* In fact, sitting here typing this, it never even occurred to me to check the issue date of the certificate. Was it issued in the 50’s or was it issued in the 70’s when my parents met and married? I’ll be rushing home tonight to check.  

Update: the certificate was issued in 1972, which I believe was before my parents met. I’m seeing The Mick this weekend, and I’ll be sure to ask him.