How can it be week two of the Spring 2018 One Room Challenge™ already?! I feel like we put our heads down, got to work, ate all the Doritos, looked up and a whole week has gone by! This is the very reason we love this challenge: it lights a fire under us to take the room by the horns and get. it. done. As much as we love home improvement, we are but human and almost always feel some degree of burnout mid-project. Having a supportive, noncompetitive community such as this to share in our room renovation is more uplifting and motivating than we can describe with words. We are so very grateful to Linda of Calling it Home, the creative brain behind this challenge, the team at House Beautiful who helps keep it humming along, our fellow participants who are ever-supportive and just the nicest group of people we have ever had the pleasure of working alongside and of course you, our readers, who encourage and motivate us to keep sharing our progress. So thank you. Thank you all so much.
So what have we done this week? Well, since hearing the shot at the starting line last Thursday, we’ve managed to put a big ol’ line through the following items on our list:
My sweet parents took our little guy for the weekend so we could buckle down, live on simple carbs and karate chop that list. Thank you, sweet parents! We started by removing everything that was getting the boot: the faucet, sink, countertops, upper and lower cabinets across from the W/D wall and dog wash basin. All of these items will either be reused in other areas of our home (like our basement workshop) or donated. With one wall’s cabinets gone, the room immediately felt twice as big. The dog wash area had only a drain (no water source), so removing it was as simple as cutting out the fixture and plugging the drain pipe. We then moved on to laying our new luxury vinyl flooring. The warm gray veining that runs through this tile is so timeless and reminiscent of honed marble. It lightens up this dark corner of the house while still having enough presence to ground the space. We landed on this flooring material because we want the floor to be as noise-deadening as possible given that this also serves as our laundry room and is open to the rest of the house. Traditional tile can amplify noise. Tile is also harder-not to mention colder-on the ol’ bones and we wanted a softer and warmer place on which to pad. The fact that this particular flooring could be laid right over the top of our existing floor and had a simple click-lock installation were the heavy whipping cream and cherry on top! Laying the new floor over the old one gained us some welcome height that creates a more comfortable transition from the mudroom to the hardwood flooring in the kitchen and beyond. Although we are no strangers to laying traditional tile, this was a very welcome time-saver in this tight window we have to complete this project! With each gentle tap of our mallet, the new floor stretched swiftly before our eyes.
Typically we prime and paint the walls before installing new flooring but in this case, we were unsure how long the floor installation would take and we wanted to complete the noisiest task prior to our son returning home from his sleepover with Grandma and Grandpa. Thankfully, the flooring was such a simple undertaking that we quickly moved on to priming and painting by Saturday afternoon. Seeing the heavy terra cotta and brown tones disappear on each surface as we worked was beyond gratifying. I joked with Marco that someone could have been axed in the previous color scheme and the authorities would never find the evidence. He said I went “too far” but I think I caught a smile. Tip number one when working together for 16 hours straight in a room the size of a porta potty: maintain a sense of humor.
Before we started priming, I wiped the walls down with a wet rag to take care of the years of dust and dirt that had accumulated in this hardworking space. I’ll pause here to proclaim yet another reason I love lighter-colored walls: the dirt can not hide so you are better able to see when a surface needs cleaning! I know-I’m a clean freak nerd for getting this excited over that fact and I’ll fly that flag with pride all day, e’ry day. We then moved on to patching and texturizing all of the screw holes, dings and dents where the cabinets had hung. The previous homeowner had painted the room after the cabinets were installed, therefore there were thick lines of paint between the countertop and upper cabinets that had to be sanded down and texturized as well. Due to all of the aforementioned prep and the deep wall color, this was not the fastest paint job we’ve ever completed. It took one coat of primer with about half the wall surface area needing a second coat and two to three coats of paint to completely cover the dark terra cotta color. But man was it worth the effort. The amount of light pinging around this windowless space now is wiiild! And for those wondering, we used Benjamin Moore Simply White in a flat finish.
Here you can see where we closed up the original mudroom opening:
We also took this opportunity to finish all of the drywall work around the opening to the mudroom. Hot tip: three-year-olds are hard workers.
Buoyed by the progress with our layout, floors and walls, we giddily moved onto building our coat and shoe storage area. If you recall from week one, our hanging space in this room consisted of a 2.5-foot pole hung above a dog wash basin in which we stored shoes. If you haven’t figured this out already, both Marco and I are more type A than not and having the shoes piled in a jumbled mess like that was just not cool with us. We craved organization and order. We wanted our outdoor apparel hidden from view when gazing into the room from other areas of our home. Less visual clutter equates to less stress in our household. Know thyself, am I right? Conversely, when standing in front of the storage area, we wanted full view of its contents. Fumbling with another door in this high-traffic, relatively narrow zone didn’t sound like a great use of space. So we came up with a solution to give us the best of both worlds: build a floor-to-ceiling partition to hide our stuff from most vantages while leaving the front open for ease of access.
To build the partition, we used MDF that we primed with Zinser B-I-N shellac-base primer. Note: When working with MDF, it can not be primed or painted with a latex-based product until it is first sealed with alcohol-based primer (like shellac). The reason for this is that MDF swells when it absorbs water (and water composes a significant portion of latex-based products). If latex is used first, MDF will disintegrate like a soggy graham cracker in a drooling toddler’s fist. And no amount of post-snack tub time can fix that hot mess. After we primed our MDF (you can see the primed partition in the photo above), we painted the panel that faces the interior of the storage area Ben Moore Simply White like the rest of the room (the exterior panel will be painted black). This will keep the interior light and bright to allow us to better see the contents. Further upping the visibility factor is our shelf selection. We went with the alabaster-toned prefinished shelf material from Menards. A lot of thought went into our storage needs and we landed on a shelving configuration that accommodated everything from hats to tall boots. We do live in Wisconsin after all. It’s still snowing (in April!) as I type this! New bench sneak peek!
The last component of our mudroom that we worked on this weekend was our message center. I mentioned in week one that the counter immediately to our left when entering from the garage was a clutter-catchall. After ripping that out, we needed a spot to keep us organized and allow us to get out of the door efficiently (and sanely) in the morning frenzy. We put our heads together-heck we even took input from our preschooler-and landed on a hardworking space, catered to the specific needs of our family. This little spot incorporates a calendar, two rows of sectioned cubbies for smaller items like keys, wallets, phones, etc., an art display area for our little’s latest masterpieces (aka macaroni glued on construction paper) and a dry erase section for promoting creativity (so we can eventually move past the macaroni glued on construction paper stage). I LOVE Stendig calendars. If you’re not familiar with Stendig calendars, they incorporate these super cool, visually dramatic and bold graphics:
They are simple yet impactful-that’s my design sweet spot right there. I tried to find a Stendig to custom-fit our message center but kept coming up empty-handed so I made my own (pics coming soon!). After applying three coats of dry erase paint and letting it cure for several days, I used 4.5″ vinyl letter decals and striping tape typically used for car detail work to create my calendar (grazie Marco for that superb idea!). This material should give us some added durability insurance as we write and erase messages, month after month. I’ve been using this message hub for a few days and wow has it been a game changer! Goes to show you don’t need a lot of available square footage to make a big impact on your daily life!!
We could honestly stop here with this room. I mean, the transformation thus far is pretty amazing. But if the remaining items on our list have half the impact of those we’ve already completed, we can’t wait to see them through completion. I’m not gonna lie. It feels a wee bit daunting to see the large number of items remaining on that list. But! Like I said, you all are keeping us so motivated. And we are incredibly grateful for that! We have a whole bunch more in store for you. Come back next Thursday to see how we create visually taller ceilings by raising our upper cabinets, upgrade the heavy oak cabinetry to bright white, install a beautiful new butcher block countertop and more! We’ll leave you with this side-by-side before and in-progress shot. Baby, you’ve come a looong way.
Now please go show the other ORC™ participants some love! There are some pretty amazing things happening at the hands of some pretty amazing people! Happy start of week three, friends!!!
Shriek! We made it! And we’re still alive…and (happily) married!!! What a…May 9, 2018