Sunday, October 23, 2016

Laundry Closet: DIY Shelves

My laundry closet is one of the more… uh… interesting improvements made by the previous homeowners. It was created by cutting a large doorway into the hall wall and taking space from an already small bedroom. While having the laundry on the main floor (rather than in the basement) is very convenient, what's left of the bedroom is an awkward L-shape and only six feet (about 2 meters) wide.

The laundry closet is behind the large set of bi-fold doors on the right side of the hall.

Apologies in advance that some of the makeover pictures are a little awkward. With the narrow hall, it's impossible to get pictures of the closet from a distance.

The laundry closet was functional but not at all attractive - dreary beige walls, white laminate shelves, and a sad little fluorescent light. It needed a makeover!

I began the makeover by taking the shelves off the walls. I discovered they had been hung with toggle bolts. Ugh. Removing toggle bolts is the stuff of homeowner nightmares.
The fundamental problem is that removing a toggle bolt requires contradictory motions. To turn the screw, you have to push on it with a screwdriver… but at the same time, you have to pull on the screw because otherwise, the toggle is just merrily spinning around and around, mocking you from inside the wall.

With the perfect combination of tools, technique, perseverance, and luck, you might be able to accomplish the simultaneous pushing and pulling, remove the screw, and be rewarded with the sound of the toggle falling down inside the wall.

If you can’t get the tools, technique, perseverance and luck just right, you will not be able to remove the screw. You then have the pleasure of using more tools to decapitate the screw and hammer it and the toggle into abyss behind the wall.

After this epic struggle, you are left with a large hole in your wall.

Or in my case, several large holes. On a textured wall which makes holes difficult to patch. The makeover would need to include some way of hiding those holes.

Removing the washer and dryer revealed a patchwork of vinyl flooring, clearly remnants of the sheet vinyl that had been put in the kitchen around 1994. There was obvious water damage to the baseboards, though thankfully none to the subfloor underneath. I removed the baseboards, which had been glued and screwed into place.

After cleaning the walls, I painted them. For a change from the black, grey and purple that fill the rest of my house, I chose a dark aqua/sea blue color.

I installed new flooring. I used the same waterproof, wood-look vinyl plank as in my bathroom.
Then commenced my futile quest for studs in the wall. Despite an exhaustive search, I found nary a stud in the upper half of the wall. I think the builder must have hung the drywall sideways, spanning the entire width with one 8’ piece.

With no studs, I’d have to resort to toggle bolts and/or some other type of strong drywall anchors to hang shelves. Many of the previous toggle bolts had pulled halfway through the wall, leaving the shelves hanging rather precariously. I did not want a repeat of that. I decided to build something like a freestanding shelving unit which would have "legs" or side supports down to the floor.

I measured the space and the items I would be storing to determine the size of the shelving unit. The top shelf would be 28" below the ceiling, and the bottom shelf would be 12" below the top shelf. I would have preferred to place the bottom shelf lower, just at the top of the washer and dryer, but the electric outlet and water supply lines were in the way.

I sketched out a plan which would use standard sizes of 1" thick boards (which are actually 3/4" thick, because that is how much sense the American system of measurement makes). I purchased the wood and had it cut to size at my local home improvement store.

To build the shelving unit, I first secured 1” x 8” boards to each side wall. These would be the legs of the shelf and bear much of the weight.

For the top shelf, I placed a 1” x 12” board on top of the legs and secured it with screws down into the legs.

For the bottom shelf, I created supports by screwing short pieces of 1” x 3” to the legs. Then I placed a 1” x 8” on top and secured it with screws.

For additional support, I used a 1” x 4” to create middle legs. Later, I also added a metal shelf support in the middle for the top shelf.

I installed new baseboards around the shelving unit, then painted everything the same color as the walls.

The washer and dryer then returned from their brief vacation in my living room.

Up next... storage and decoration. :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Do You Live Here?

Last week, I had a consultation with a structural engineer about a potential problem with my house. (Turned out to be much less of a problem than I had feared. What a relief!)

We were standing in my living room when one of his colleagues asked, "Do you live here?"

I was taken aback by this odd question. Clearly, I'm the homeowner... maybe he thinks I rent the place out?

So I answered simply, "Yes."

He said, "I mean, do you really LIVE here? Because it looks like no one lives here."

Oh!  Now I understand.

"Yeah, I'm kind of a neat freak."

Ha ha ha! :D

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Bats in the Nail Polish

Just a quick post to show this fun new nail polish I came across. It glows in the dark and has little black bats in it! :D I layered it over an orange polish.

It took a little effort to get the bats out, but I managed to get one on each nail. :) 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Bathroom Rehab: Final Result

Here are the before and after pictures of my bathroom rehab. Details are collected on the new Bathroom DIYs and Decor page which has a tab beneath the blog header.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Bathroom Rehab: Shelf with Towel Hooks

For the narrow wall adjacent to my shower, I wanted some type of shelf and a pair of hooks for towels. I knew the shelf would be a challenge to find because it would have to be narrow and quite shallow. Sure enough, I could not find what I was looking for... so I decided to make it myself.

At my favorite thrift store, I spotted a pair of small shelves that I instantly knew would be perfect. And only $3 for both! :D

I turned one of the shelves over so that its curved wood piece was at the top.

Next, I found two boards of appropriate size in my basement woodpile. Using adhesive and my pin nailer, I attached the shelves to the top and bottom of the boards.

The boards were just a tiny bit narrower than the shelves, so I added a small piece of rounded trim to each side.

Then I painted the whole thing black and screwed a pair of hooks to the bottom.

I added hanging hardware on the back... and presto! A shelf that fits the space perfectly! It can display a few knickknacks, and my towels (currently orange for Halloween) are hung within easy reach of the shower.

And with that, my bathroom rehab was finally complete*!

*Except that I'm still looking for the right mirror.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Bathroom Rehab: Accessories

Working with a background of light grey, silver, and white, I tried to add lots of black accessories to my bathroom. As is typical for me, I bought several of the items from thrift stores. Here they are with some Halloween friends, all ready for a trip through the dishwasher. :)

After a coat or two of black spray paint, they were ready to assume their duties... which mainly consist of holding stuff. :) Candle holder, tissue box holder, cotton ball holder, cup holder, and beauty product holders. New purchases include a black trash, a black toilet seat...

and this fabulous mouthwash bottle with a black metal stand. I kind of wish I used the blue or green mouthwash because it would look awesome in the bottle!

I also got a black cover for the air vent and some comfy, velvety-feeling black rugs.

I really want a decorative black mirror, but I haven't been able to find one in the right size. :( For now, I'm using a silver mirror which coordinates with the light fixture and faucet.

I showed my black lace shower curtain in my last post, but I didn't give a good explanation of how such a thing works. There are actually three curtains: the black lace, a plain white fabric to give the lace a background, and a vinyl liner which hangs into the tub and performs the shower curtain function of blocking water.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Bathroom Rehab: Lace and Jacquard Shower Curtains

My shower is now elegantly attired. :) It wears a black lace shower curtain...

topped by a black jacquard valance and curtain.

It took some searching to find the right curtains, but I am very pleased with the final result! :D