Life With an Architect: Thanks For The Laundry Room

Our laundry room used to really suck.  I am not an ungrateful person.  I had a laundry room.  I didn’t have to go to a laundrymat unless I was washing the blankets or quilts that fit our King size bed.   I thought it sucked that we had all that space and no place to fold or hang laundry as we got the job done.   It is still the same long narrow room.  It no longer has a recycled plastic accordian door, unpainted drywall.  It’s just not at all ugly anymore.

I don’t really like to fold clothes in the rest of the house, but I couldn’t really do much in there about folding and hanging the laundry.  We moved into our house five and half years ago.  So I did wait for this remodel for a while.


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The cabinets are recycled.  They were once in the kitchen as upper cabinets, but they weren’t convenient for me so we took them down and saved them for this project.  Dan refinished them and created the network of shelving that wraps around the corner and the panel that covers the plumbing behind the washer.  He has a little more trim to put up on the shelf beside the washer.  This is because when he got close to having figured out and refinished all those cabinets and had built the shelves, our 5 year old Maytag DIED a cruel and expensive death.  So after much research of rebates, efficiency, repair frequency and pricing, we bought this hot metallic red number.  The slight difference in size and configuration caused a bit of trouble in fitting everything.
Now I have good storage for my vases, the laundry detergent, bleach and all that other stuff is behind closed doors within reach of the washer.  Nice. So Nice!

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Since we first remodeled, we painted that door red and added better storage. See pictures below.

After all that work with the vertical grain fir cabinets was accomplished, there was the building of the folding surfaces.  We used a two sided plastic laminate from the Ikea, and with the help of the gigantic equipment our neighbor has in his cabinet making shop Dan fitted the entire design to the wall, attaching it in the back and leaving space for a laundry sorter beneath the table plus other additional storage.  The main table is six feet long.

Did I mention all the painting!  There is no window, so the sunny, but not too bright yellow keeps it modern, bright and clean looking in here.


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The shelves are also from Ikea.  The brackets are the same design as the wall hooks we put up over head for dividing our hanging laundry for each person.  Some of the track lighting that Dan installed to bring light to every spot that we need it while doing laundry shows in this photo.


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Here’s a closer look at the cabinets & shelves.  It’s so nice not to have to cram vases in here and there wherever I could find a little space.  Now when I bring flowers into the house I know exactly where the vase I want is located.  One more little instance of suffering has been averted!

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The laundry room is on the bottom floor of our home at the foot of the stairs and is just beyond the Field of All Buddhas.   Of course, it seems appropriate to me since it is as if it was the Compassionate Buddha, or was it that fat, laughing Buddha, as Dan that ended another minor source of my suffering (in the laundry room) and it is he who I have to thank for this indulgent wonderfulness.


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To educate yourself for the feeling of gratitude means to take nothing for granted, but to always seek out and value the kind that will stand behind the action. Nothing that is done for you is a matter of course. Everything originates in a will for the good, which is directed at you. Train yourself never to put off the word or action for the expression of gratitude.

Albert Schweitzer


Thanks Honey Bunny!

More About Remodeling Toad Hollow

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Life with an Architect: Soul of Beauty, Intelligence & Craft

In September of 2010 I got a bonus and took myself and my husband, Dan the Man, down to Bellingham Millwork to look at flooring.  Thus, began our saga.  I love this place, but it is a place that trouble goes to find its beginnings.  The kind of trouble that involves inspiration, design arguments and hard work and more time than any architect will ever own up to the project taking, I promise.    Millworks

Once, when we were new to our home, I thought we would put vertical grain Douglas fir flooring in our bedroom.  I was dreaming.  It is too soft a wood unless you don’t mind scarred and severely scratched floors.  So we looked at just about everything.  Because we have radiant heating in our floors, it is necessary to use engineered wood flooring.  I have learned that when you get it installed, there is no visible difference.   We decided on a good hard cherry floor. This is a photo from the website of the manufacturer.

American Cherry Elite by Kentwood

We have a lot of details in our house that are Vertical Grain Fir and we are very consistent in carrying through the same details for baseboards, window and door framing and many built in features that Dan has designed and constructed over the years.  Once we decided on the flooring, the plan for the remodeling was discussed for months before Dan could begin.  Any changes to any other feature in the master bedroom had to be taken into consideration.

Here is the incredibly ugly bedroom that we bought in November 2004.  I think it really takes the cake for ugly.

From the deck...

That door on the right went to a ‘walk-in closet’ that was too narrow to walk in.  You can see the room has good bones and wonderfully soaring  12′ ceilings with two skylights.  Dirty looking greyish Berber carpet from the big box store matched the quality of the cheap track lights that were jammed into the corners of the highest part of the ceilings.  The cheapest skinny moldings were around the doors and used as baseboards.

Here’s another view from the foyer. You can see the bathroom door next to the closet.  You can also see that in addition to the color of dried blood, baby diarrhea was chosen to accent its architecture.

View 2 2004 master bedroom

Living in this room convinced us that we needed to change it.  We were unable to center the bed under the skylights because there wasn’t enough room to open the closet door if we did.  That notch they made to accommodate the closet simply cramped the room and did nothing useful in the closet either, which needed reconfiguring. And there were five doors, counting the two French doors that lead out to the covered deck.  Where can you put furniture in such a room?

It didn’t take long and we realized our new home was both generally short on closets, and specifically in our bedroom, there just wasn’t enough wall space for dressers to make up for the lousy closet in the corner.  Plotting a change commenced shortly after we moved in but various events pushed remodeling our bedroom away from the top of the list of remodeling plans.

Once I had enough money for the flooring it was time to begin.  Dan is retired and all of our remodelling has been pay as you go so that we could stop at any time if we had other needs arise.  And Dan is the one who has done 98% of the work with heavy bits assisted by our neighbor’s son, Nate McConnell, who works in his father Gene’s cabinet making business.  He may be young, but he is knowledgable and creative when Dan needs help with something big or heavy and he has good ideas for alternative ways to accomplish things.  His father has been indispensable at times when Dan’s tools are inadequate to something that we need, or when Dan needs a better idea for how to build or finish something. We’ve got fine neighbors.

Things started with demolition, as they always do with remodeling.  That notch was removed and so was the doorway. Lighting was arranged around the perimeters of the room and installed both in front of, and inside, the new closets which flanked the French doors.  The chandelier was installed earlier and shades were removed to protect them.  I can’t stress highly enough how much you have to protect what is done from what is being done when you remodel.  One of those shades cost $30 to replace.

be gone doorwayThe closets begin


This is the other side of that wall!  A new closet is born, with entry from the bathroom.  All I lost was one wall hook.  What I gained was a lot of shoe storage, lighting and a wonderful cedar lined closet!   Since this photo was taken the towel rods and switch plates have been added.

The other side of the wall

There are multiple shelves overhead and beside the hanging space, using the soaring heights of the space for storage of suitcases and extra linens & blankets.  And Dan added that sweet mirror and lighting with an outlet so I could style my hair someplace where I could actually see what I am doing without my glasses.

drawers & hanging      Lighting


And of course, there are more closets! Another one for me, and one for Dan, who here is taking down protective paper from the staining of the closet.  We started with selecting the floor, but it is the LAST thing that gets installed as you can see in these photos.


Taking down paper


Closets 2

   Pottery Display

This was a test of the lighting and depth of the pottery display we decided to have between the wardrobes.  It creates a kind of nook for my Craftsman Rocking chair too. There will be collection of pots.


Closets near completion  Day 3 of floor installation

The floors are all done but for the last bit glued down and the trim will all be going in very quickly. The last photo is Dan visually fitting the next course. Next, a peek into what’s nearly finished, first my closet, then Dan’s.

My wardrobe  Closet 3

  • “Defining craftsmanship far more broadly than “skilled manual labor,” Richard Sennett maintains that the computer programmer, the doctor, the artist, and even the parent and citizen engage in a craftsman’s work. Craftsmanship names the basic human impulse to do a job well for its own sake, says the author, and good craftsmanship involves developing skills and focusing on the work rather than ourselves. In this thought-provoking book, one of our most distinguished public intellectuals explores the work of craftsmen past and present, identifies deep connections between material consciousness and ethical values, and challenges received ideas about what constitutes good work in today’s world.”

From Yale University Press regarding Richard Sennett’s book The Craftsman. 



Dan the Man