Laundry room, the final frontier.

Let me remind you again why I’ve spent 4 weeks telling you about my laundry room. It was gross. I hated it. My workout buddy Becky Chekan is a kitchen designer. She offered to help me make it positively dreamy (her words, not mine).  I said yes.

You can read about the process here, here, here, and here.

But seriously, you may be saying to yourself, why the heck does this matter so dammed much?

I’ve been told that some people have emotional attachments to cars.  They think that it’s not worth it to spend time driving to and from work every day in a car that they hate. Other people will spend hundreds of dollars on running shoes, because uber comfy runners add value and enjoyment to their daily work out (and possibly actual measurable increases in performance).  My laundry room was an unnecessary misery for me, and after living in the home for 11 years, I finally decided to throw some money at it to turn it into something I would enjoy spending time in.

Please don’t judge me by my filth. I forgot that I promised to post before photos.
Seriously, look away.  Let us never speak of this again.


Clearly I could not have done it without the help of a designer. I know this because I had tried many times to make the space better, but I lacked the vision to take it all the way.  I was so caught up in how ugly it was that I couldn’t see that it needed 8 sheets of drywall, 3 coats of paint, 2 new light fixtures, a set of drawers, and a countertop to take it to the next level. Becky was able to create a plan of the finished product, and then help me get here.  She even helped me shop for the items that would work for my space and my budget.

She helped me out of the goodness of her heart, but she did it well because this is her job.

This is my shameless friend plug: If you have a project like this, consider bringing in a professional designer, such as Becky. If you’re in the Ottawa area, give her a call, or swing by Urban Home Design & Custom Kitchens on Stittsville Main Street and have a coffee with her and chat about your ideas.

You had better believe that I’ll be hiring Becky again for my next project. I mean, I never did get around to cleaning out my garage this year. Oh, and you’d best believe I’ve started saving my pennies for a new kitchen.

But back to the laundry room.

I can’t believe how close we got to making the space look like her design:

The Plan
The reality. Pretty darned close to the plan.
If you’re not excited about a place to store your laundry soap that’s in reach of the washing machine, then we are very different people. 


What I got out of the room, other than a warm and fuzzy feeling that comes from a beautiful and functional space, was a large work surface for folding laundry or crafting things, storage in the cupboards, drawers, and pantry, storage on the shelves, a fun wrapping paper thing, a place for my ironing board, a place to hang wet clothes to dry, and organization for paint mountain.

Paint mountain? More like paint mole hill!

I’ve spent more time in this room in the past month than I might have in the past 10 years. All it needs now is a radio.

I consulted with local realtor, Aron Cheney, of Keller Williams VIP realty, to find out if and how we’ve improved the value of my home by undertaking this project. Below is a lightly edited synopsis of our conversation.

Q: How do we attribute value to small home renovations such as my laundry room update?

 A: There are 3 ways to assess the value of home renovations:

 1. Cash return evaluation:

To make this an accurate real-world valuation, you would need to consult with multiple professionals and obtain quotes on the labour and material costs.  30% mark up on materials and $40/hour labour are for example purposes only:

 ($800 in materials + 30% markup) + (aprox. 30 hours of labour @ $40/hour) = aprox. $2240, with retained earnings of $1440 (total – cost of materials)

2. Value added return evaluation:

By doing this type of renovation, you are improving the likelihood of a Buyer making an offer on your home. When you improve an aesthetic aspect of your home, you send a message that you care about the home. The Buyer will translate that sense of care to other parts of the home, perhaps forgive aspects that are in poor repair and, in turn, pay more. You will increase the relative number of buyers who will be interested in buying your home and increase the relative price they are willing to pay (relative to what they would be had you not done the renovation). When it comes to market value, this what minor repairs and renovations are for, in my opinion. Low cost, high labour, low skill. The payback comes when you go to market and the effects are difficult to quantify but they are real.

 3. Homeowner Enjoyment value:

 You can’t easily put a price on it, but its highly valuable. The value of the lived-experience tends to outweigh the potential for cash profit down the road.

If you have any questions about Ottawa real estate, the value of your home, or whether or not you’d look good with a shaved head, please contact Aron at

I learned a lot with this project, and I’d like to share some of this new #knowledge with you:

  1. If it feels dark and dingy, add more light. This made so much improvement to the feel of the space.
  2. Just clean the damned thing. I hated it so much down there that I would never ever ever clean it.  The dust bunnies had a harem of concubines. The dirty laundry sink was unfit for anything other than washing paint brushes. All it took was a good scrub (or 3) to bring it back to a reasonable state of cleanliness.
  3. While you’re at it, level the wobbly things. Things come with adjustable feet for a reason. Use them. Don’t forget to clean down here while you’re crawling around on the floor leveling things (like that laundry sink).
  4. If you’re not sure where to start, empty the room of everything you can lift. Once the room was empty, I could start to see what Becky had in mind. When it was full of dirt and crap, I thought it was hopeless.
  5. Let it go. Whether it’s 5 boxes of hardwood flooring left over from 6 years ago, or paint cans without labels, if you haven’t used it like you intended, sell it, give it away, or pitch it. Whatever you do, don’t put it back. You don’t need it. LET IT GO.
  6. Don’t believe everything you see on Pinterest.
  7. Do believe some things you see on Pinterest. Yes, you can write on an enamel surface (like a washing machine) with a dry erase marker. It’s a great way to remind yourself of what you’ve washed that might need to be hung up to dry.
  8. Measure twice, and then measure again, and then maybe again. Ask yourself if you’re really sure of your measurement. Maybe you should check it again.  Don’t cut anything until you’re absolutely ready to live with your decision.

And finally, what I spent and how long it took:

$40.00  – Drywall
$110.00 – Restore (lower shelves, tall pantry cupboard)
$275.00 – Ikea (shelves, counter, light fixture, hardware, rugs, accessories)
$50.00  – Miscellaneous hardware (screws, lumber, etc.)
$25.00  – Wiring and electrical material
$150.00 – Designer
Free stuff –  paint, some lumber, some drywall, some hardware, a light fixture, 3 existing cabinets, existing shelf hardware, some accessories.
$650.00 – Total cost (plus labour)

Total time: 8 days spread out over 4 weeks
Day 1 – measure
Day 2 – empty the room
Day 3 + 4 – drywall and prime
Day 5 – shopping, painting
Day 6 – electrical and some assembly required
Day 7 – installation
Day 8 – touch ups and finishing touches

What I bought:
IKEA Grundtal drying rack x2
IKEA Lilltrask countertop
IKEA Lack wall shelf x2
IKEA Ekby Osten shelf x2
IKEA Hulsig Rug
IKEA Tross Ceiling track
IKEA Betydlig curtain rod hook x6
IKEA Elvarli hook
IKEA Fluns magazine file
IKEA Tjena box x2

So that’s it.  We’re done. I’ll get back to filling mason jars with delicious things and baking bread and reading old cookbooks just as soon as the weekend is over and the laundry is done.


Almost done

We worked all day to get the laundry room nearly done. It didn’t go quite as smooth as we had hoped, thanks in part to crooked walls, slopes floors, recycled cabinets, and general human error.

But we ended up getting to about 90%. I don’t know how you did in school, but if I got a 90 in anything, I would brag about it to anyone who would listen. What I’m saying is that if I never finished the few small tasks that are left, I’d still call the room a success.

By the way, it helps to have handy friends. If you don’t have any, you should really get some. No, you can’t have mine. If you ARE the handy friend, you are a champion. Bring your tools and I will feed you every time you fix or build something for me.

With the help of my handy friends,  we (they) built up the short bank of drawers, secured the cabinets, installed the counter, hung shelves, hung drying racks, and put up hooks for the ironing board and a little wrapping station that Pinterest told me I needed to have.

As I said, we’re at about 90%. I still need to paint some trim, touch up the walls, and possibly paint the floor.

However, it’s so pretty that I wanted to show it off.

Hopefully by the end of the week it’ll be all done. I’ll update the budget and post some final photos, along with a list of what we bought, and what it all cost.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s Sunday night and I need to do the laundry.

Laundry room update #2

The cupboards have been given 2 coats of paint, as have the new walls, and all of my clothes and exposed skin. 

We wired up 2 new light fixtures with only 2 trips to the hardware store. I “some assembly required” some IKEA shelving to make paint mountain my bitch. It only took half a pot of coffee and 1 toenail. 

Later today the counter is going to get a haircut so that it’s ready for its first date with the laundry room. 

Still to do: 

Install the cabinets, countertop, and floating shelves. Install shelves above the washer and dryer. Possibly paint the floor. Put on the cabinet hardware and hang the drying racks. Make it look pretty. 

Oh, and pro tip: if you’re going to brave IKEA on a Saturday, take a friend and a tape measure. I may live in Canada, but I still measure length in inches. 

Paint mountain, you don’t scare me any more.