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How-To: Cheap & Modern Counter Design

There are many things I love about my “new” laundry room, and the counter is definitely in the top five.  One of the reasons that I love it so much?  It cost less than $50 and adds a modern pattern to a room of solids.
The counter was actually the reason the project stalled in the first place.  We got everything painted and new appliances but could not agree on a counter material and how to install it with the pesky outlets in the way.  That dilemma took us more than 6 months to get over.  Yeah.
I am not sure what finally inspired us to use MDF (maybe the success with it on the craft desk?) but it met all the criteria: cheap, light (so that it could be supported around the outlets and the water hook-ups), and non-permanent so if our machines bite the dust our anger about that would not compounded of having to have to re-do an expensive counter as well.
So like I promised here is the how-to:


MDF cut to the desired size
Painter’s tape
Laser level
Two colors of paint
Exacto knife
Alcoholic beverage (optional)


1. Install small strips of wood to support the counter.  Make sure it is level and screw into the studs in the wall.

2.  Cut the MDF to your desired size and screw it to the strips of lumber from the underside (make sure your screws are short enough so that they do not pop through the top).

3.Add molding.  We added molding in the front to cover the gap between the appliances and the counter since we had to hang it higher to accommodate the outlets.  We also added a thin molding along the sides.

4. Tape the walls and prime it!  I used my favorite primer-Zinsser 123 because I love it (and because I already had half a can)

5.  Apply two coats of white paint.  For this project, no surprise but I used Ace cabinet and Trim paint in High-hiding white for the same reason of step 4.

6.  I wanted the molding to remain white so I taped them so that design would end up being framed in white.

7.  Now for the fun/frustrating part…putting down the pattern.  I was inspired by this pattern by Three Men and a Lady and knew it would look perfect on the counter.  Use a ruler to mark your desired grid size.  For my counter I used 5 inches.  Mark your measurement on one side of the tape.laundry room counter how-to

8.  Then do the exact same thing on the opposite side.laundry room counter how-to

9. Use you laser level to set on the fixed setting (meaning it does not wiggle) line up the two marks and apply a piece of tape on the line.laundry room counter how-to

10. Re-measure and repeat step 9…..over and over as you move down the counter.laundry room counter how-to

11. Now for the horizontal grid lines.  Here is where I will show you what I did…and tell you to do it a different way.  I started from the front and used the same measurement and the same technique.laundry room counter how-to

12.  Then I realized that my final piece of tape would be right next to the back piece of tape.  And that would look dumb.laundry room counter how-to

This is where the optional beverage comes in.  So I may of said something and ripped off all the horizontal stripes that I just measured.  I shifted the stripes slightly and put down new tape.laundry room counter how-to
13.  Now you have a grid pattern.  I grabbed my inspiration picture and marked off sections that needed to be removed with the sharpie.laundry room counter how-to

14. Then with the exacto knife and the ruler I removed the sections.laundry room counter how-to

15.  And then the finished design!laundry room counter how-to

16. Apply two coats of your color.  I used Dovetail by Sherwin Williams because we had it left over from the master bedroom and I thought the color would look great in there.  The theme of this room-use what you have.laundry room counter how-to

17.  Remove the tape as soon as the second coat goes on (while the paint is still wet).  I found this helps (along with using green frog tape) with bleeding.

18.  Add polyurethane to protect the surface.  Since there is the possibility of wet things being on the counter, I made sure to overdo it on the poly.  I lost count, but I estimate that there are about 12 coats of poly on my counter.  Luckily it dries quickly so you can add coats pretty quickly.laundry room after
laundry room after
22 comments on "How-To: Cheap & Modern Counter Design"
  1. Love the way your counter turned out! Great job!

  2. Dear Lordie. This looks like a lot of work. But, I just love it! The colors and the design are perfection. Awesome work. I would have never thought of using MDF for a countertop - brilliant. Did you seal it at all?

  3. Kim-
    Just with a whole lot of polyurethane. But now if I drip water on it, it beads up so hopefully it lasts a long time especially since it should not get heavy use like a kitchen or bathroom counter. Just lots of clothes folding....

  4. Well your hardwork really paid off! The counter is so awesome! We are looking at doing something creative to our work bench counter top, so thanks for the tips!

  5. I love the counter! Should we ever make the jump from our old and busted washer/dryer set to a new front loader, you can bet the Hubs and I are making one of our own!


  6. Wow! Fabulous laundry room, and the counter is gorgeous! wish DH was hadny... :)

  7. I love your blog and all the fabulous things that you have done to your home! I am amazed by your skills! I was wondering if I could pick your brain?
    I love the idea of glazing the honey oak ugliness-Have you ever used liquid sandpaper? I am wanting to try the glaze on my kitchen cabinets-just not wanting to sand it all. Also-can you mix glaze with any color of paint? Have you ever used a lighter color-say a creamy white? Thanks for the help! Please, stop by and say hello!

  8. Thank you so much for posting this. My hubby and I have been talking about doing this for - oh - 3 years now. *rolling eyes* I'm showing him your post. Great ideas and I love the design!!

  9. A-MAZE-ING!

    Jenny, I don't know why it took me so long to find your blog, but WOW! I will definitely be checking it out from now on. This is so fab!

  10. Here's how I know you have good taste: your counter top is fabulous and you were drinking a Blue Moon.

    I wish I could steal your brain. You have such great taste!

  11. This looks fabulous. You really nailed the pattern. I love a glammed up laundry room! If you have to spend time in there, may as well make it pretty :) Great job!

  12. That looks great, you are sooo creative! I never woulda thoughta that! :)

  13. You counter looks great! Your so creative what a great idea and design.

  14. I love it, nice job. Great touch to your space. I've found your blog through another - I really like your DIY projects and your sense of style! I am now a follower :-)

  15. Since I can't find a counter in my house that need's painting... I am going to try to do this on a wall!

  16. That is a very cool idea and done so well! I just found your blog and love it! I, too, bought a house with honey oak cabinets and PINK countertops, which we are in the painstaking process of renovating on a budget! Thanks for all the inspiration.

  17. You did GREAT! I love that counter! Beautiful! Hi, Im Meme from Screaming is so nice to meet you! Stop in and visit sometime! Meme

  18. Just discovered your blog and subscribed right away... That is fantastic! I wonder if you have any ideas on how to modify the counter if you have a sink next to your machines? I couldn't support it wall to wall otherwise it would cover up the sink opening... Any ideas? Thanks!

  19. Magazine worthy. LOVE the way it turned out. Great design.

  20. Have you had any problems with the MDF since installing it a few years ago? We wanted to do a similar set up, but had concerns about the moisture with the MDF.

    1. No problems with it whatsoever. I was worried because some detergent had spilled on it and sat and sat. When I wiped it off it looked like it had marred the finish, but after it dried, it looked good as new. And that was just the paint, no issues with the MDF.