Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Labor Day is No Picnic for a Hive of Busy Bees; A Laundry Room Makeover

I know. Traditionally, Labor Day is supposed to be a day of rest for those in the work force. A last hurrah before the end of summer. Picnics, lazy days, walks in the woods. Not at our house. We generally find a big project to do, and take advantage of the long weekend.

I mentioned previously that I was eagerly anticipating the 8th annual BIG yard sale. People come from miles around. I'm not usually a yard-saler, but I was hunting for something in particular. I love our home. I still remember the first time that we looked at it. I knew that I wanted this house to be ours. We had always lived in a small house. We've never had a large kitchen. As a matter of fact, our kitchens have always been shoe box sized. With four children, that was difficult. Well, this house has a kitchen that I am more than content with. It also has a huge dining room. It even boasts a large laundry room. But, there is no coat closet, and no basement. We've always had a basement. Oh, how I miss that.

Anyway, with no coat closet, and seven people under one roof, we have no place for coats and shoes, but in the laundry room. I store the off season coats in our master bedroom closet. But the shoes, that's another story.

If you are in my laundry/mud room looking out to the porch, this is what you see:

Do you see them? The racks of shoes? They stay there year round. In the summer, they hold flip flops and hiking boots, old tennis shoes that are used for yard work and gardening, and roller blades. In the winter, they hold the same hiking boots, and play shoes.

So, I was in search of an antique cupboard of some sort. Something cute that could stay on the porch, and house the shoes.

I didn't find one, but I'll keep looking. I did find some other goodies that I'll share another time.

When I called Verne and told him that I had a plan, I told him that I would like for the two of us to go to the yard sale, and then to the home improvement store. We've been planning a project for quite sometime, and I had finally saved the money for it. Since we had the long weekend to work, I figured that we could get everything accomplished. I had to work most of the day today as well, but we are done!

Remember we have no basement. Our laundry room is where we enter our home. So does everyone else. If there is a knock on the front door we know that it isn't someone that we know very well.

Upon entering the house, this is what you see:

Not very attractive, is it? Washer, dryer, two hot water heaters, a laundry folding table, laundry baskets, a litter box for the cat, and more shoes. In the winter time you'll also find a rack full of coats.

By the way, this is the only room in the house that we have painted. The color doesn't look right in the pictures. It is a lovely terra cotta color. The floor is ceramic tile. It is bone with the same terra cotta color in it.

At my request, Verne built me this wonderful coat rack shortly after we moved in three years ago.

So, why the trip to the home improvement store? Quite simply because I am tired of looking at two hot water heaters, and everything else. I'm embarrassed when anyone comes in. Grandma has reminded me that it is the laundry room, but she is thrilled with the makeover!

So, why two water heaters, you ask? Well, when Grandma came to live with us, we turned our attached two car garage into two bedrooms and a bathroom. We had a 40 gallon hot water heater, and six people. We had run out of hot water occasionally, and decided to replace the tank with a 100 gallon tank. Our neighbor, who was helping us remodel, suggested that we just buy a 50 gallon tank because our original tank was only two years old. He told Verne how to hook the tanks together so that one does the heating, and one simply holds the hot water! Genius! We are never out of hot water now. While one tank is being used, the other is heating.

Call your husband into the room, as he may find this interesting!

So, as normal, the cold water runs into the first tank. The hot water runs out of the first tank, and into the cold side of the second tank. The hot water then runs from the hot side of the second tank into the house. It's a big loop.

The only drawback? Two hot water heaters sitting in my laundry room. Ugh... the plan? Cover the eyesore up. Make space where there isn't any. Mission accomplished!

First, Verne installed a six foot long counter in place of the laundry table. He built shelves under it. Now, all of my laundry baskets fit under the shelf, and the cat's litter box sits on top of the shelf. This saves space and keeps Daisy the Wonderdog from getting into the litterbox! Another genius idea!

Next, he built the skeleton of a folding screen to hide the hot water tanks. He stained it and polyurethaned it as well. He is so handy. And all mine! (0:

This project called for a trip to the fabric store. Or shall I say, stores? I called around on Monday morning and to my delight none of them were closed for the holiday. The girls and I met the call of duty and dragged ourselves to the stores. Oh, the choices! Surprisingly, I found a good many fabrics that would match my terra cotta walls. The hard part was finding something that I loved.

At last we made a decision, and I rewarded the girls with a Dairy Queen Blizzard for their inspiring opinions. I didn't partake.

Upon arriving home, the girls took the the laundry off the line that I hung earlier in the day.
A lovely sight; clean laundry, and beautiful girls!

The boys were washing the house from top to bottom. They did a fine job. I think that Collin enjoyed spraying Mac with the hose more than the actual work. Go figure!

I quickly got to work at the sewing machine. I made a skirt for under the counter to hide the laundry baskets, and the litter box.

Next, I made panels for the screen to hide the hot water heaters.

Finally, I made curtains for the window. This room receives a great deal of sunshine, making it hot. Hopefully the curtains will help with that.

the finished curtains

before the skirt

Above the counter, there is a shelf. It held a plastic ice cream bucket full of plastic bags from the grocery store. We reuse them in the bathroom garbage cans, and when we clean the litter box. The bucket is always overflowing. There is also a small bin for wayward socks, extra throw rugs for the laundry room, and a dish pan that Grandma occasionally soaks her feet in.

Not anymore! I made a smart looking plastic bag dispenser. The dishpan fits under the counter as well.

The room is now beautiful. A lovely screen hides the water heaters, and a skirt hides the laundry.

Closeups of the fabrics. The screen is a perfect match to the wall color, but also has some yellow flecks.

Collin loves the new bag dispenser. He was so impressed that I made this.

If you look in the pictures above, you'll notice this picture hanging above the dryer. Autumn drew this for me when she was five. I've had it hanging in every house since then. These are the things that truly make a house a home!

To view more of my home, you may look under the category, In My Home.

You make click on any of the pictures to enlarge them.


Jennifer said...

What a great Labor Day Home Improvement Project!

I love all those ideas :o)

I put a "skirt" on my desk b/c that's where I store all of my craft supplies for scrapbooking and stamping. It's so handy, and nobody ever knows what's under there :o)

Hope you have a great week!

Sheri said...

Tracy, what beautiful improvements! I especially like the curtains you made to cover up "things." What a fabulous idea!

Christy said...

Cute!! I love the water heater idea, and the screen as well.

In our first home the hot water heater was in our kitchen-it was a huge, beautiful kitchen with a water heater and avocado color fridge!

I looked and looked for a screen to hide it, yours is beautiful!!

Anonymous said...


You made a large laundry room and home entry into an amazingly beautiful space, Tracy. I *love* the fabrics used for the window, folding table and screens.

You've challenged me to do something creative with my itty bitty laundry room.

Oh, I don't have a basement either. Virtually unheard of in California. Friends of ours visited from Minnesota and were shocked to learn there's no basement. Upon learning that they asked, "So where do you put all your stuff?" haha...you don't *keep* stuff!

Penless Thoughts said...

What a great job!! It looks wonderful. So neat & tidy.

Rebecca said...

I don't know why I was SO enthralled in this post, but I was. I was leaning right into the computer, eyes fixed on all the photos and glued to the words.

GREAT job! I can't say it enough. Your whole FAMILY did a phenomenal job.

My family (and my sister's family too!) all tend to do 'LABOR' on Labor day as well. This year it was canning for me, since my hubby was at work. Besides, we don't OWN our home so there isn't THAT much we can do. I look SO forward to the day when I can do things like this! Maybe that is why I was so intrigued! :-)

The fabrics you chose were a perfect match and so complimentary. Everything looks LOVELY. GREAT job Tracy! I LOVE your laundry room-and wish I had it for my own.

Oh yeah. And that picture looking out onto your LONG porch. Oh man. I was drowning in my own drool there. I have ALWAYS dreamed of having a wrap around porch. :-)

Short Stop said...

I am totally amazed, but have no idea why because you are so talented and creative that you thinking up this plan and doing this should not at all be surprising!

The room looks MAGNIFICENT!!! The pictures tell the whole story! GREAT ideas, Tracy! :) Thanks for sharing!

Rachel said...

Tracy, GREAT JOB!!! It looks really good. You were so creative turning a nice space into a very attractive space!!!

randi---i have to say said...

Wow! You have a nice big laundry room! It looks great after your weekend makeover! The movement of the catbox is a great idea. Our dog used to snack regularly out of the catbox--gross!

So, I have a question for you, Tracy. Does your hubby have your face tattoed on his arm? I can't quite tell from the picture! If so, I think that is so sweet!

Tracy said...

Yes. That IS me on his arm. He takes me everywhere he goes! He had that done about 13 years ago. The other arm has a band with the names of our children inside it.

Gena said...

That room is so beautiful! What a difference your weekend made. I also love your fabric choices.

Beck said...

It looks AMAZING! All of your hard work has truly paid off - great job!
And your kids are BEAUTIFUL.

Kelli said...

Oh WOW! That is an amazing makeover, Tracy!! I love the wall color and the fabric you chose is perfect! I really love the curtains you made too! Everyone's hard work payed off for sure...you all did a GREAT JOB!

Jodi said...

Tracy, this was such a fun post; I felt like I was following right along with your project. :o) It's funny ~ I was just giving my laundry room a good cleaning yesterday and thinking of things I could do to spruce it up after reading Susan P.'s post (and seeing her pretty laundry decor) a while back. Now I'm doubly motivated. :o)

Your wall color is showing up a beautiful, warm, welcoming color on my monitor, and your fabric matches it perfectly. Lovely ~ lovely!

Anna S said...

Tracy, you and your family did an awesome job! How wonderfully rewarding it is, improving and beautifying your own home.

Jen in MS said...

I love it!! Thank you for sharing your ideas! I was trying to think of something very similar to do around our hot water heater, so I'll be showing this to my husband!

Your new room looks great!

Momma Roar said...

Way to go - how awesome! And I thought we accomplished a lot with mowing, laundry and washing the truck!

It looks wonderful Tracy!

Sharon said...

I love your laundry room makeover!

liz said...

Wow! It looks great!! I love, love, love the color of your walls. You did such an awesome job. Enjoy your newly organized room.

Karen said...

Whoa! You truly had a "Labor" Day week-end! You guys are so smart! I showed Gordon the water heaters, (that's part of his work) and he was impressed as well! Tracy, your sewing projects are so impressive.
I love all the pictures, and the kids are just cute as can be. ;0)
Why didn't you have ice cream, I'd like to know????? You certainly worked hard enough for it!

Stacie said...

Wow, Mrs. K
THat looks awesome! Pretty fabric too! And I love Autumn's picture ;) She told me before that she drew that. Nice Laundry Room Makeover!!!! Bye

Lori said...

Looks wonderful.
Your husband did a great job.
You are very talented. Love the curtains that you made to hide the shelves and hot water heaters.

Sometimes you just have to get projects done when you have time...even if it is a holiday.
We do the same thing here too.

Anonymous said...

Fabulous makeover! I love the new countertop and skirted area but especially love the screen to hide the hot water heater. I have lived with an unsightly hot water heater in my kitchen for 17 years. We are planning to go to an instant heat system so I will finally be free of the ugly thing in my kitchen corner but I wish I had been so creative as you are!
It all turned out very nicely and I know that you will really enjoy it. :-)

Christie Belle said...

Oh it turned out WONDERFULLY!!! It's a thousand percent prettier. Y'all really did an awesome job. You really took "Labor" day seriously:)

Diane @ A Watered Garden said...

What a GREAT Labor Day Make-Over. I am SO IMPRESSED!!! Good job guys! Yes, I am with you on missing a basement. We haven't had one since 1979...and it keeps a person honest, doesn't it? Ha! No where to hide all thought things you don't want to deal with! (Unless, of course, you grab an unused room upstairs and make a "Texas basement" of out it-turning it into a storage room. ugh! That's my next decluttering project!!) Congrats on your "new look"! Blessings, Diane

Mrs.B said...

Wow Tracy, that looks WONDERFUL!! Want to come and do mine?! (o;

Teresa said...

Isn't it wonderful what a little fabric and tons of creative thinking can do- great job.

Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

Wow, this was a doozy of a creative concealment! You concealed in a major way and it looks GREAT! I am so glad you shared this for my CREATIVE CONCEALMENT post, it is exactly what I was hoping for. Clever and budget friendly ways to hide the less attractive things in our homes! You did a great job, and it is very inspiring!

Thank you!


Darla @ UltraBeautyBoutique said...

Very cool! A little "mistreatment" of fabric goin on there! ;)

Jen r. said...

What a difference! It looks amazing! Jen R

Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates said...

Such good ideas! Your laundry room really looks wonderful!