Updated on October 13, 2012
I got this little canvas for free from a friend — it had a painting on it but I covered it up with three layers of gesso.
Since we’re working (very slowly) on the laundry room these days, I decided to do a simple art project that would go perfectly in the room. And what’s more perfect for a laundry room than WATER?
I did a few rough drafts and tried different painting techniques (I use the word “techniques” very loosely here).
After a serious art consultation with Nick, we decided that we would go with the ombre water drop. We also really liked the one with the colorful graphic shapes, but we didn’t want to hide it away in the laundry room. I’ll do a different version of that for some other room later.
I set up my painting station in the living room…
Yes, the laptop is part of my painting process. I like to watch shows on Hulu or Netflix when I paint.
First, I drew out a water drop shape using a blue-colored pencil and then painted the space around the drop with white paint. Then I mixed blue paint with lots of white paint to make this light blue color and began at the top.
(Sorry for the flash photography in the previous and next photos. It was getting dark in the day when I was finishing this project up.)
Then I just worked my way down the water drop by mixing in more blue paint to make it darker. To make the layers blend in together, I dipped the paint brush in water and then brushed the space between two different layers. It worked great.
Since I’m not a real artist, I didn’t have an artist palette tray, so I mixed paint on a zip lock bag. I tried using paper first, but paint soaked into the paper. I bet that my mom is groaning as she reads this. She’s the real artist in the family. Sorry, mom.
But now I’m not sure where to put it in the room. At first, we were planning to put it under the hanging bar, but we realized that the wet clothes might ruin the painting. So, now I’m thinking about putting it on this wall next to the shelf and the cabinets:
Another option is to put it on the shelf, like so:
I’m not sure. I’ll leave it there for a while and figure it out later. But the important thing is that I really love the painting and it was so easy to do!
A few days later, we introduced Janella to the wonderful world of paint!
Most of the paint went into her mouth instead of on the papers that we gave her, but no worries, the “paint” is actually one part water mixed in with one part flour and food coloring. Here’s her first masterpiece:
Maybe she’ll be the next… Kathi! (that’s my mom’s name)
Updated on October 13, 2012
When the cabinets were done and installed, we immediately knew that there needed to be a shelf underneath the cabinets. There was just too much empty space on the wall.
Luckily, I already had two LACK shelves on hand — we originally bought them for the office but ended up not needing them, so they’ve been hidden in the guest room’s closet for years and years.
(This is actually the other shelf, not the exact one I painted. But it’s the same thing. Ignore the cat.)
But the shelves are black and that wouldn’t look good. So I decided to paint it.
It was pretty easy, even though the shelf is not wood. I simply primed it with spray paint primer (around two coats) and sanded it lightly between coats. Then I rolled on the same paint I used on the cabinets. Easy peasy. It was so EASY because the shelf had no indentations or bumps to worry about, like the cabinets did.
I wanted to protect the surface of the shelf because I knew we would be putting things on it and I didn’t want the paint to scratch. Also, if we spilled laundry detergent or anything, I wanted it to be easy to wipe up with a wet cloth.
I thought of doing several coats of water-based polyurethane, but we had such bad luck with the nursery dresser that I was afraid of opening that can of worms. Instead, I reached for this:
Several blogs say that they use this stuff and it works great for them. And I love spraying things, so much easier than using a foam brush or something.
There were splotches and shiny areas and dull areas. I tried spraying it again and again and again and again… I think I did around five to six coats. It made no difference — the splotches simply changed their positions, taunting me.
I suspect that it was too hot to use the protective spray paint — it was around 90 outside when I did this in my garage. But I can’t control this hot Texas weather. I just can’t. Believe me, I tried. My mind is not powerful enough.
I decided to just go ahead and buy polyurethane in a spray paint can. I chose the satin version to hopefully reduce the splotchy problem. Why not try something new?
And if it still ended up splotchy, I would just break the shelf. Good plan.
I sanded down the now-ugly splotchy shelf, added a thin coat of gray paint to cover everything up, and then sprayed on the polyurethane in the same garage and in the same outdoor temperatures.
IT LOOKS PERFECT. No buts here.
I did three coats, waiting at least 30 minutes (up to an hour and a half, according to the directions) between coats.
I highly recommend the spray paint polyurethane. It is so gratifying and easy and the results are great. I might try the glossy version later, but right now I’m happy with the satin.
The LACK shelf is really easy to install, so I’m not even going to show you how. However, there’s a little trick that Nick did that I liked — he installed the middle screw (along with its anchor) first, put on the support frame, and then used a level to make it level, then marked all the other holes. That made it even easier to install.
Here’s what the laundry room looks like today.
The painted LACK shelf turned out so great that I’ll keep this in mind in the future if I want floating shelves in a very specific color. It’s very easy to do. You don’t have to be limited to the colors that IKEA has — you can paint it any color in the rainbow!
I also spray painted the mason jar lid (find it on the shelf) because it was an ugly mixture of red and gold. It was originally a bottled spaghetti sauce. At first, I sprayed it yellow and it looked awful. Like McDonald’s. So I sprayed it silver instead and I like it much better.
What the jar lid looked like before:
A stupid easy and simple upgrade. It was definitely worth the couple of minutes I spent on this!
Oh, the mason jar holds our laundry detergent. Because our laundry detergent comes in this ugly monster container. IT MUST BE HIDDEN.
The three candle holders I just put on the shelf randomly to fill the space but I think it looks great and it serves a function — as a place for me to toss in coins, receipts, and other random stuff I find in our (Nick’s) pockets.
Unfortunately, I think the shelf draws attention to the plugs and outlets below it.
I’ll add a folding counter on the top of the machines and hopefully that’ll help somewhat. Maybe we’ll add some art propped up on the folding counter? Pretty boxes or baskets? We’ll figure it out. And let you know, of course.
Posted on September 27, 2012
Lying stud finder be damned, we now have a clothes drying bar in our laundry room that’s made of piping material!
Here’s what the laundry room looks like today.
The room is looking better and better every day. Although, it would look even better once I finish washing all the sheets that are lumped on the floor and conveniently not shown in this photo, but let’s pretend I didn’t just tell you that.
A closer look:
I do wish that we could have gotten a slightly smaller pipe, but the next size down was way too small for this space. This will do!
It was stupid easy to make. First, I measured the space and then sat myself down on the floor (seriously) in the piping area of Home Depot and figured out the pieces I needed. I got two pipes in two different sizes, two flanges, and one elbow. It totaled to around $25 dollars, I think… maybe less.
Then I took them home and assembled it. But the pipes felt very dirty… they felt sticky and oily. I suppose they added something to them for piping purposes, I don’t know, but I wanted the stuff off. My clever Nick suggested that I use our bottle of Goo Gone… and it worked VERY WELL.
See how much dirt it removed in only a few swipes:
When I was done wiping it all off, I had a few handfuls of blackened towel paper and a shiny, clean hanging rod made of pipes.
Then it was time to install it. There is a stud at the perfect location of the back flange, so we just drilled in three screws to hold it against the back wall. Why only three screws? The fourth hole was hidden behind the cabinets and thus unreachable. Since we drilled into a stud, I’m sure it’ll hold.
On the other wall, we had to put in four strong anchors. I did the drilling… to prove to you that I do the drilling sometimes around here. When Nick lets me. *rolls eyes* Macho boys with their macho tools. (Nick, I’m kidding, I love you and I love how you put up with my house project ideas!)
And that’s it!
But not quite. Because I just need to obsess over every detail…
Do you think I should spray paint it???
Black? Dark, dark gray? Teal like the cabinet pulls? A prettier silver? Yellow? Gold? Or something unexpected, like coral?
I don’t know. What say you?
So sorry how things look like around here on this blog. Ugh, I know, it’s ugly. We’re currently under construction!
Posted on September 25, 2012
I’m going through a bitter divorce.
A divorce with this thing:
It’s a stud finder made by Stanley.
I think it has multiple personalities and its dominant personality is that of a rebellious toddler who can’t make up his mind.
It tells me different things every time I put it on the same spot. It will tell me that a stud goes on for 12 inches when it’s only 3 inches or so wide.
Worse of all, it had me thinking that I couldn’t do a little project I was excited about. Remember when I told you that I couldn’t put up my pipe configuration in the laundry room to act as a clothes hanger? Well, the stud finder actually lied to me. There’s no electrical wires up there, so I was able to install the pipe, finally! I will show you pictures of that tomorrow.
But today, I want to talk about always reading reviews before you buy any tool. I just went to the Amazon page on this exact stud finder and was not surprised by the reviews there. I only wish I read them before buying it!
Some of the reviews say my sentiments EXACTLY.
“I now wish I’d have spent the extra money and gotten a better product.” This. The stud finder was one of the cheapest we found at our hardware store and we thought it would be fine. But it’s given us a lot of aggravation that was not worth the price tag. We’ve got to stop our habit of buying the cheapest thing and thinking that it’ll work just as well as something more expensive. We’re 30, for Pete’s sake. We’re supposed to be grown-ups.
However, I don’t want to automatically assume that more expensive means better quality. What to do? I’ll make sure to read reviews before buying anything, especially tools!!
Another review said, “I can’t wait to get rid of this cursed, evil thing.” Yep.
Rant over. What about you? Have you had bad luck with any particular tool or product that made you wish you had checked their reviews beforehand? Or have you changed your mind on buying something after reading bad reviews?
Posted on September 21, 2012
Hello one, hello all!
Welcome to our new spot on the internets.
There’s a lot of updating to be done around here – link fixing, home tour updates, and so on, but they’ll all get done in good time. Just a FYI – many of the links go to the old site, at www.whatthevita.wordpress.com, but they’ll all be updated soon.
I just thought it was time to have our own URL! It feels good. Just like buying a new house, but slightly less expensive.
Please update your subscriptions and feeds to reach this site instead of the old one!
While you’re already here, I wanted to show you our new rug…
It was a total impulse buy (that doesn’t sound like us?!) but it was such a good deal and we’ve been looking for a good outdoor rug for some time.
I found it at Joss & Main (that link is an invite in case you’re not a member). I’ve been a member for some time but never bought anything until now. And we’re so happy with the rug, even though we thought it would be more teal than a blue color.
We can’t wait to have a patio to lay this pretty rug on! We might put it in our game room in the meantime, because it’s just too pretty to be kept rolled up and hidden away. Let’s hope it’ll fit, since the rug is HUGE! It doesn’t even fit in our guest room/play room.
We’ll be back right here next week! Lots to update you guys on. See ya then…
Posted on September 6, 2012
Well, I promised you that I would be back today with an awesome addition to our laundry room. Unfortunately, my plans have been thwarted by dumb electricity. I mean, who needs electricity in the laundry room? Don’t we all wash our clothes on a washboard?
Basically, the area where I planned to drill in some screws is apparently filled with electrical lines. Or so says my stud finder. I’m still hoping that it changes its mind, but no luck so far.
Let me just tell you about my plans because I still think it’s a cool idea and maybe someday America will lose all power and I will finally get my chance to achieve my dream. One can only hope…
A few months ago, I saw this very cool home at Brick House that had this clever solution for hanging up clothes sans closet.
Pipes! I loved how industrial this looked and I knew it would be a great solution for our laundry room (not).
Later, I stumbled into this adorable nursery at Apartment Therapy and gasped (in my mind only) when I saw this photo:
Pipes, painted coral and gold, holding up curtains? SO COOL.
I’m sad just thinking about it. I tried moving it in different configurations and using two different pipe sizes, but I just couldn’t find a way to make it work and have it look good. I’ll find another way to hang up wet clothes, but I’ll also have to find another use for my pipes and floor flanges.
(I also have a third pipe. Bigger than these two and just as useless.)
My cool clothes hanger was supposed to be installed below the small cabinet on the left:
Fortunately, a little elfin worked very hard to cheer me up today.
Posted on September 4, 2012
My life is so hard.
We just found the perfect rug for the laundry room… and that forced me to make some hard, life-altering decisions. But now I look back on it and realize that it was the best thing to ever happen to me.
Okay, enough with the silliness. LOOK AT MY NEW RUG! YAYYY
The rug is from Urban Outfitters. I really enjoy their rug selection – the rugs are always well-designed and reasonably priced. I’ve been checking their website constantly, hoping for a suitable rug for either the laundry room or the green bathroom.
I was really thrilled to find this rug – the colors are PERFECT for the laundry room.
The blue on the rug is a CLOSE match to our walls… it’s basically a shade darker of the same color. It’s serendipity, I tell you.
And the dark gray… you know it. Goes perfectly with our dark gray cabinets.
I’m frustrated that I can’t get a photo showing both the rug and the cabinets. Close your eyes and visualize the previous two photos on top of each other. That’s what my laundry room looks like! YAYYY
Of course, a new purchase for the house ALWAYS leads to more decisions that we need to make. I’ve been thinking about choosing fabrics for the laundry room for a while, but wanted to wait until we got a rug because it’s easier to find fabrics to go with a rug than to find a rug to go with fabric choices.
For now, I needed to find two fabrics for these two purposes:
I just went straight to Tonic Living, because I really like their fabric selection. There are many other online fabric shops, but they have SO MANY FABRIC CHOICES that it’s easy to get overwhelmed at these sites.
I still got overwhelmed at Tonic Living with all the great fabrics, so I just narrowed it down and down until I had several choices. Then I put them all around a photo of my rug. I used the Pages application for this step.
As you can see, I also put a dark gray background at the top and a light blue background at the bottom to see how the fabrics would look with our two main colors in the room.
Then I chose my four favorite fabrics and played with them:
I really like both choices, but I liked the second one slightly better. I did a mock-up of the whole room in Pages just to see how everything would look together, along with some more additions to the room that we’ll make in the coming weeks.
This really helped me visualize the room. I played around with all kinds of fabrics, colors on the shelf, the colors for the shelf itself and the folding counter, the hanging bar, etc etc. I finally landed on this design and it has been NICK APPROVED. YAYYY
I just had to torture myself some more and do the other side, too:
That little door with the hole in it will house our cats’ fancy litter box. The design isn’t final yet – it all depends on Nick’s progress there and what he figures out as he goes along. That part will be his project.
After all of this hard work, I feel an odd sense of peace. The path has been set – we just need to walk it. YAYYY
I’ll order the fabric samples just to make sure they look good in person ($1 each at Tonic Living) and continue trying to figure out a lighting solution for the room. I’m leaning towards buying a metal pendant from a big box store and spray painting it yellow.
I’ll be back on Thursday to show you another little addition to the laundry room! We gotta hang it up first (that’s a hint). YAYYY
Posted on August 23, 2012
We went to a Salvation Army store hoping to find a pusher for our then 9-month old baby girl and left the store with a new/old retro sofa!
Who would have predicted that would happen? Not us. We were not in the market for a new sofa at all, although we were talking about replacing our too-big-for-the-room queen bed in the guest room with a sofa bed. This would give us more walking space in the room and we could even use the rarely-used guest room as a playroom when we don’t have guests. We also have been on the lookout for a small sofa for our office, but we had no real plans to buy anything just yet.
We just fell in love with this retro sofa and the deal was even sweeter when we found that it had a bed in it as well. The mattress is in really good shape. It looks like it’s been barely used.
This photo doesn’t really show the colors of the sofa, but you’ll see a better photo soon that really shows what it looks like in real life. The colors include yellow, orange, coral, navy blue, white/cream, and brown.
What’s more, the sofa was already professionally cleaned and sanitized! Check out your Salvation Army store if you’re iffy about buying upholstered pieces from thrift stores (bed bugs, anyone?). We found a good number of upholstered furniture that were cleaned and sanitized.
At first, I thought that the sofa would be perfect for our office, since we need a sofa for that room, too. But then we remembered the situation with our guest bedroom, so we weren’t sure. To help us decide, I took a cushion and tested out how it would look in both the guest bedroom and the office.
The guest bedroom is painted in Kerry Blue (Martha Stewart) and it really helped the colors in the sofa cushion POP. By the way, this is the best photo that truly shows you the colors of the sofa.
The office is painted in Intense Teal (Sherwin Williams) and it is SO HARD to accurately capture the teal color in photos. It always comes out looking like royal blue or bright blue. This random photo was unexpectedly my best effort in all of my years of trying to take a half-way decent photo of the color:
Just ignore the blurry and cute baby in the photo, focus on the wall color (especially on the left of Janella’s head) and how it looks with the sofa cushion.
No way, right? It just didn’t go. That cemented my decision: the sofa was destined to be in the guest bedroom slash playroom slash exercise room. Hopefully, that will help make that room much more functional and useful for our daily lives.
A huge drawback to the sofa is HOW FREAKING HEAVY IT IS. I mean, it’s so heavy that I’d rather attempt to lift an elephant than to carry this sofa again. Somehow, I was able to help Nick drag the sofa off the truck and into the garage without killing myself, but I just couldn’t muster the energy needed to carry it into the house. We asked a friend, Sean, to help Nick carry it into the house…
…and this happened.
I don’t blame Nick or Sean for this sad, sad, sad incident. I blame the brick wall corner on the exterior of our home. I blame the sofa for being so heavy. I blame our wallets for being too thin to hire professional movers.
It’s a good thing that the sofa has such a busy pattern. I’m sure I can stitch it up with a dark thread without it showing too much. Hopefully! I’ll share whenever I get around to doing that.
And when I think about it even more, the sofa is just a really perfect fit for the room. The coral in it will go great with the coral nightstands that are in my plans and the yellow goes well with the yellow lamps that are already in there. Perfect.
I’m so happy with the sofa and with its price tag. It was only $200 – a great price for a practically brand-new sofa with a bed in it. It is so comfy to sit in, too.
The next step is to lug it from our living room, where it’s chilling, into the guest bedroom, which is only around 10 steps away. I’m really not looking forward to that 10 steps.
Actually, before I do that, I’ll have to sell the bed on Craig’s List. I hope to get a good price for it. I’ll need to convince Nick to spend the spoils on house decor, instead of less important things like food and clothing. I mean, right?
Posted on August 3, 2012
After we installed our laundry cabinets, we were left with two gaps – a huge one on the left and a sloped small gap on the top.
Here’s how we covered up these gaps.
We cut a piece of wood to fit in the gap between the wall and the cabinet and painted it gray. So much painting. My painting clothes are covered with Web Gray. I’m so sick of Web Gray at this point.
Nick’s parents flew back to Pennsylvania and we were left behind to finish up the project on our own.
Nick pushed up the wood piece into the gap. We originally thought we would glue the wood piece to the cabinet, but the fit was so tight that we figured glue wasn’t necessary.
Nick used a piece of wood to hammer on to make the wood piece flush with the cabinets. If he had hammered straight on the cabinets, we would be left with unsightly marks.
All flush and ready to be screwed in!
Yes, there’s still a gap at the top, but we’ll get to that later.
A note – our cabinets are solid, solid wood… VERY solid. Thus, we had to pre-drill all new holes. Here, Nick’s pre-drilling the hole where the screw will go in.
Janella woke up from her nap so she joined into the action. But she apparently was still tired… She was reaching for the drill bits and yawned just as I took this photo!
So cute. I look forward to having her hang out with us with her toy tools when we’re working on DIY projects in the future. So fun!
The last step was to put in molding (or moulding, which is the UK spelling that’s used in Northern U.S. Since we’re in Texas, I’ll spell it molding. Yes, I googled it).
Here’s a dumb and low-quality photo (thanks, Photobooth) of me holding up a primed but not yet painted piece of molding to show you its shape.
We cut the corner edges using a saw and a plastic miter box. You don’t need a huge miter saw for this simple project. But that doesn’t mean I want one as a gift in the future (hint, hint).
See how the molding covers up the gap perfectly?
Next up was putting in the finishing nails. We were scared to do this part… and I really wished that we had a nail gun. In the end, I do think a nail gun would have been MUCH EASIER and efficient and would have given us a prettier result.
Nail gun, another possible gift in the future, cool? We could have rented a nail gun but this was such a small job that it wasn’t worth the price of rental.
We got this small hammer and a box of 1-1/2″ finishing nails. Some tutorials out there say to get 2-inch nails, but this worked just fine for us.
The hammer, however, didn’t work so well. We quickly abandoned it in favor of a regular ol’ hammer. The process DID put some dings in our ceiling, but that was easily covered up with minimal drywall putty and touch-up paint.
We used this thing.. a nail set, I think it’s called… to drive in the nails some more to sink it lower than the molding.
It worked okay. The thing is, our cabinets are SOOO solid that we actually had to pre-drill the holes before hammering in the finishing nails. Ugh. Another reason I really wish we had a nail gun. Newer cabinets might be easier to hammer in than the ones we have.
Then we filled in the holes with wall putty… because I just DIDN’T FEEL LIKE priming the holes, which I would have to do if I used wood putty. But it doesn’t look perfect. So… I will go back and cover them up again with wood putty, prime, and paint sometime later in the future. When I detox from all the painting I did. But this is a BIG IF because you really can’t see anything unless you look at the nail holes closely.
After lots of touching up on the ceiling, the walls, and the cabinets with lots of weird body bendings on my part…
WE ARE DONE!
The only thing I’m not sure about is the piece of wood that we added on the left. Should I caulk the space between the wood and the cabinet to make it look like one piece? Or would it look funny in the end?
Nick says we should just leave it, but I’m not so sure. I’ll decide later.
So happy that part’s done. We tossed our towels and stuff in these cabinets and it’s amazing how much these cabinets can hold!
There are even plenty of space left and we’re still planning on adding more storage solutions to the room. We do have lots of things, such as toilet paper and paint buckets, hanging out in random places around the house that I would love to transfer to the laundry room.
The laundry room is far from done, but the cabinets were a HUGE piece of puzzle and the room is now FUNCTIONAL. So happy.
What about you? Would you have done some things differently? We’re still new to all of this, so if you have any tips for molding or covering up gaps or installing cabinets, share them in the comments!
Posted on August 1, 2012
After refinishing the cabinets, it was time to install them.
At first, we weren’t sure how we would do it. I did some research on the internet, but so many “tutorials” were vague and made a lot of assumptions that the reader would know how to do a lot of steps.
We kept on putting it off… until Nick’s parents visited us in June. Nick’s dad, Anthony, is a whiz DIYer. He refinished his whole basement, built a deck and a porch, and did countless projects in his home and everything looks professionally done.
Anthony, move to Austin, pretty please?
First, he found all the studs and we tried to figure out if we could just use the studs to drill in the cabinets. But since I wanted the cabinets to be arranged in this way:
The studs just wouldn’t match up. We devised a solution with two long strips of wood. We drilled them into the studs and then drilled the cabinets into them. It worked perfectly!
Here is Nick marking out the stud placements on the strip of wood (I think we used white wood for this).
Since the bottom strip of wood would be shorter due to the small left-most cabinet, we had to put in a strong anchor to make up for the lack of a stud in that spot.
Here’s what it looked when the strips were drilled in and ready.
We left the top strip naked of paint because you wouldn’t be able to see it when the cabinets were installed and I painted the bottom strip because… you would still be able to see it. You’ll see what I mean in later photos.
Nick’s mom, Sandi, jumped in and helped hold the cabinet up while Anthony did the drilling.
There were already holes in the upper part of the cabinets that Anthony just used again to drill in the screws.
We did two screws in the top and two screws in the bottom.
We added the second cabinet and we tried our best to push together the two cabinets. We used a tiny clamp for this, but it worked okay. After we were all done with this project, Nick and I bought a pair of bigger and heavy-duty clamps so we wouldn’t be stuck with these tiny clamps anymore. Oh well!
Then Anthony screwed together the sides of the cabinets to make sure everything was secure.
The screw was put between the two little holes you see here – they’re for the cabinet door hinges.
Then we put up the third strip – the smallest and also painted gray – for the bottom of the small cabinet.
Some more drilling.
Finally done with this step! All the cabinets are up and I’m happy.
But…. BUT. Look at the small cabinet…
Do you see it? Of course you do. There was a huge gap between the side of the cabinet and the wall. AND the ceiling sloped up so there was another gap at the top of the cabinet. How annoying.
Come back on Friday to see how we covered up the gaps. It’ll be the last post on the laundry cabinets for a long while, I promise. I think.