When Wide is a Good Thing

I admit….I am a total photography newbie.  But I have been having fun playing with my Canon DSLR since I received it at Christmas.  And honestly have been pretty happy with the results considering….shhhh…. I really did not know what I was doing.

But something just came in the mail that rocked my world.  Especially considering it has not been on my camera for more than two hours.

Any guesses?

Well remember how I always make excuses for poor pictures in smallish spaces like closets and laundry rooms?

They looked something like this-


Standing in the exact same place I now have this-


That’s right a wide angle lens (a Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 to be exact)!IMG_1161

This was purchased with our Italy trip in mind knowing that I would need a whole lot of practice before I would be ready to capture sites like Tuscany and the Florence skyline. I thought it also might come in handy in shooting stuff for the blog, but I had no idea what a difference it would make.  Bad news (for me at least) all of my current room pics are now unsatisfactory and I need to retake them.  That may require some straightening up around the house.

We chose this lens because of this incredibly helpful article on Fly Through Our Window, Amazon reviews, the Tamron 17-50mm Flickr group and pricing Canon wide angle at a local store.  We were really close to buying it on Amazon, when Derek found a couple used ones on Ebay.  After a couple of days of auction stalking he was the proud winner for a lower cost.

Something else that has helped my wannabe photographer skills is this (free) 12 week online course that I found via the blog Twenty-Six to Life.  I have not joined an actual group going through the tutorial, but I printed them all out and learning so much going through it at my own pace.  It is very straightforward and walks you through concepts one at a time with practice on your camera.  Because of this I can now shoot in the manual mode.  Big accomplishment for me. It is the perfect companion to a book such as Understanding Exposure

I am not making any promises, but I hope all of this learning makes a difference in my photos.  Now off to do some vacuuming to get the rooms ready to be seen in wide angle…..


Hanging Around

Ready for the last laundry room post?  Have I dragged it out long enough considered we started this journey a little less than a year ago?

But I know you have been waiting for the final how-to….the drying rack.

Like I mentioned before, it was totally inspired by Centsational Girl who was totally inspired by Ballard Designs.

And Derek was inspired by the pile of wood and all his tools out in the garage during the bed-making process.  And possibly by me asking really really nicely.

So I showed him the great tutorial by Kate, told him I would like some molding around ours, and no hanging hooks since we already had tons of hanging space. 

And he came up with this-


I will not go into an incredibly detailed how-to because Kate already did such a great job.  And because I knew I was pushing my luck with another project in the middle of the bed so I decided to not act like the paparazzi and stalk him while he was putting it together.  Instead every time he walked into the house, I would nonchalantly stroll out there with my camera.  Shhhh…I am sure he had no idea what I was doing.  Especially considering he kept saying things like “do you need a picture of this for the blog?”

So here is the quick and dirty version-

1. Start with a piece of wood the size you want your drying rack to be and add molding to the edges to frame it.  Again, just like the bed, straight boards are your friend, especially since it will be fitting snugly next to the frame.IMG_0528

2. Then caulk around the moldingIMG_0530

3.  Build the actual drying rack with dowel rods and woodIMG_0531

4. Sand to smooth the wood and your caulk (if you are as bad of caulker as I am at least).  Also test to ensure that your rack fits within the frame perfectly without sticking.   IMG_0532

5.  Paint it.  I spray painted it.  And then I decided I did not love the finish so I painted it again with the ole stand by.

6. Assemble it.  Because of the way the frame is, we could not use the hinge and latch the same way that Kate did.  So Derek installed two hinges on the bottom.


And some hooks and chain at the top for support as well as to latch it closed.   Pretend you can’t see the wood filler smudge.  It is now all white I swear.


You just move the chain link to latch it (although honestly it is pretty snug so often it remains closed on it’s own)


7.  Hang it.  We just screwed it into the studs in the wall.  A little wood filler and paint and you could not tell.  (although you can in this picture as I snapped it prematurely)


Like always, this was a totally cheap project.  We had the majority of the wood left over from the bed and the dowels I had for some reason in the craft room.  And of course we had the paint.  So the grand total for some hinges and random wood was $15 at the most.  Much better than over $90 at Ballard wouldn’t you say?

And it works beautifully in the space as evidenced by the running clothes enjoying it…


Happy Drying!


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

At Last

The laundry room is done.
This might just have been the 2nd longest timeline for a room reno (the kitchen still puts it to shame), but I am so happy it it finally done.  I won’t bore you with the process (in case you missed it click here) and get straight to the before and afters.
Ahhhh honey oak, how I love that you are in every room.
And the afters (which I might add are very difficult to take in a small room)
laundry room
What did we do?  Well first we got new machines by default of the old ones breaking.   This allowed us to rework the entire space and add a counter and other shelving.  And hanging space.
After much discussion and my bright pink getting the husband veto, the walls went from 20 year old dingy stained cream to Foggy Day by Sherwin Williams.
laundry room
On the other side of the room we also added another cabinet and a pegboard.  And hanging space for brooms and such.
laundry room
And a random shelf for random crap that belongs in a laundry room.
laundry room after
Some people might think that it strange to have a picture gallery in a laundry room.  Originally we were going to tile the backsplash with left over tile that we bought for the kitchen, never used and forgot to return.  But since we did not want the counter to be permanent fixture in the laundry room in case our washer and dryer bite the dust and we have to buy different size machines.  That would suck, but it would suck even more if we had to rip out tile and drywall as well.  And let’s face it…laundry is not one of my favorite activities.  Looking at fun personal pictures makes it just a little more bearable.
And then there were also the water valves I wanted to hide.
laundry room afterlaundry room after
Much better.
The counter followed a similar theme….cheap, cute and non permanent.  The counter also had the extra special issue of having to be higher than the actual washer and dryer because of outlets, making anchoring something heavy like granite more problematic.  Not to mention expensive. So we went with MDF.  For the whole how-to, click here.  Let’s just say that pattern involved some beer drinking.
laundry room

laundry room

My new drying rack inspired by Centsational Girl and with materials left over from the bed.  I love it for how it functions in the space but becomes invisible when it is folded up.  For the complete how-to click here.

laundry room

I think the chandelier gets the most comments.  As in “You put a chandelier in your laundry room!?”  Well yes I did.  And I like it.laundry room after

And we can’t forget the laundry basket storage/sorting area (which also conveniently serves as a dog storm shelter when it is thundering…who would have thought?)laundry room after

And here it is in use…because you know that I can only wash white clothes in this room now since it matches the color scheme-laundry room after

And now for the nitty gritty-

Wall Paint Color-$40-Foggy Day-Sherwin Williams

Counter Color-Free (used leftover from master bedroom)-Dovetail-Sherwin Williams

Wall Cabinet and Floor Cabinet- $175- Lowe’s

Wood Supplies for Shelving and Counter- $100

Picture Frames- $25- Wal-Mart (and some I had laying around)

Phone Enlargements-$50

Chandelier-$50- Lowe’s


Grand Total- $445

Maybe laundry might even be fun now?  No I didn’t think so.  Oh Well.

Whatever Happened to the After?

The laundry room after has been in the works for a long time.....and we are still not totally there yet. Remember how I am the queen of completing 90% of a project and then moving on to start something new? Well this one stalled around 70%. Since May.


Honestly the laundry room was not at the top of our renovation list because while it was full of oak and had a very awkward layout...it was the laundry room.

I did not get a true "before" picture because Derek was way too quick ripping out a laminate counter

So imagine a long laminate counter above the wood strips. The layout with the counter made for a lot of unusable space. We also had the pleasant surprise of finding that counter was not really secured to anything....the former owners decided just to set it on the strips of wood. The light fixture just had a single bulb which made the room very dim but did do a good job of hiding the dirty walls.

Ahhhhh oak...

But I kept telling myself that it was the laundry room and therefore low on the priority renovation list.

Then the dryer stopped working.

I pretended to be sad....but I really was thinking "front-loaders". Derek was really sad because he thought a new TV was next on the big purchase list. But clean clothes are a need right?

So we bought these babies.

I even blogged about my love for them....sad isn't it?

Paint color was difficult in this room.  But we finally decided and repainted, reorganized, and relit.

And there it has sat for months.

Why?  Because I wanted a counter spanning the the entire length of the room over the washer and dryer and over a side shelf that would hold laundry baskets for sorting clothes.  The problem with that small request?


Outlets and water valves right where the counter needed to be hung.

So we gave up took a breather until this weekend when we decided to tackle the counter problem.  I was leaning towards just placing some sort of counter material on top of everything and not secured to the wall.  Derek however decided to raise it a couple of inches over the outlets and cover the gap in the front with decorative molding.

We did a lot of thinking about our countertop if choice.  The first priority was that it be easy to move if we need to.  We hope our new machines last for a very long time, but in case they bite the dust in the next five years, we did not want to add the pain of ripping our counters to accomodate the new dimensions.  Also while the counters are secured well, they still cannot be secured all the way across because of the outlets and water valves so the material could not be too heavy.  Bye granite and tile!

Since I am happy with the top of my craft room desk especailly considering how much abuse it gets, we decided to go the MDF route with tons of poly on top.  Cheap, easy, light, and moveable......perfect.

So right now I am in the process of finishing the MDF.  I have a really great design in mind that I hope will look awesome and tie the entire room.  I am seeing visions of green painters tape and gray paint.  The first coat went on Sunday so hopefully the 300 coats of poly will be done by this weekend for finally an "after".  Or I could wait another six months....hmmmmm.

Decisions Decisions

The laundry room is almost ready for me to post some pics. Choosing a color in this space was one of the most difficult rooms of the house which surprised me since it is a room that not a lot of people see. But I think that is what made it so hard.....I could go a little more crazy. I talked about the ideas here. I wanted a bright and bold color and here is what I found as inspiration.

found here

and (because I have the best husband ever who gave me free reign to paint the laundry room pink)....

But it is also a small room so I did not want to make it too dark like a cave. I brought out my trusty paint deck and tried to find colors that were similar. Then I went to Sherwin Williams and bought two paint samples-Lagoon and Berry Bush. I was convinced that I would love one (or both) of them.I put them both on the wall and then stood back. Problem was neither one of them were really that great. So I thought I just needed to let them dry. Next day we stared at them some more and Derek admitted he really wasn't feeling either one of them. I think the issue was that we did not like them in combination with each other. Nothing says 1990 like turquoise and mauve. But even when I tried to look at the separately I still could not decide. I did pick up another paint chip at Sherwin Williams that was in special collection so it was not in my paint deck- Blackberry.

I loved how rich it was but was concerned it was way too dark for the small room even with the white appliances.

So we went with a relatively safe choice- Foggy Day. This is the same paint we used on the dining room ceiling and so far the first "color repeat" in the house.
I was then thinking of doing horizontal stripe to spice it up, but luckily Derek talked me out of it because it would be too busy in small room. At least that it what he said his reason was....I think it was more along the lines of he did not want to paint stripes.

Stay tuned for progress pics with Foggy Day!

Some Inspiration...

I have been so busy actually working in the laundry room that I have not had much time to post about it (or anything else). Right now it is a total disaster and all the trim still needs another coat of paint so an after pic is still a little way off. In the meantime I wanted to share some pics I gathered to give me ideas. I was actually surprised how few laundry inspiration pictures I had saved (since I have a slight addiction to saving inspiration pictures) and even more surprised how few pictures were out there when I looked for more. I guess it is not a very glamorous room so not very many people post pictures. Here are some of the ones I stumbled on that helped me design our new remodeled laundry room-

from DecorPad courtesy of Design Inc.

Love the modern feel and the back splash. Also I am very jealous of the sink.

This room is not really my design style but I love the laundry basket storage....each person gets a basket and you can sort it as you fold. My mother had this system while we were growing up and it worked really well...especially if you were a teenager and just wanted to keep all your clothes in your basket so you did not have to put them away in the drawer

flickr find- saucy dragonfly's laundry room

Love everything about this room- the color, the space, the organization, the counter above the front loader...

From HGTV's Rate My Space Nashville 123 here

And those glass tiles and pendant light......

From HGTV's Dream Home 2009

I know that this is not a laundry room (duh), but this was my inspiration for the color scheme. Since our new laundry appliances are white and we already have a white counter in there, we went with the "white and one bright color scheme". Its a technical design term. I got vetoed on this green but I love how the white pops against the bright color.