May 5, 2020

Laundry Room Material Choices

Decorating this house has always been a challenge. Nick and I's style leans mid-century modern (no surprise given we live in MCM architecture mecca), and it caught us both off-guard when we fell in love with a house that hasn't changed much in 130 years. We've learned to compromise with it - not letting it become a time capsule, but still staying true to its roots.

Since this photo was taken, this room now has teal velvet curtains that match the center of this rug. It's one of my favorite rooms in the house. (This is the only wallpaper we left up from when we bought it - probably dates to the 1930s or 40s)

I'm not fast about making design decisions. I'll leave a room empty for years, thinking about it off and on until inspiration strikes. Some of my worst design decisions happened when I had to make a lot of snap judgments during the original renovation, and I learned my lesson.

The back hallway/laundry room area has always been my decorating Achilles heel. Part of my hangup: you can see four rooms in a row as you look back through the house, the back two being those two, and the sightline needs to be cohesive in some way. You can't just treat each room as of it was its own standalone thing.

In order: Nick's office, kitchen, back hallway, laundry room
Our kitchen floor is no longer sold, so I can't create continuity by carrying that through the back hallway and laundry room. Even if I did, it would butt up against my office flooring on the other side, which is also no longer sold (the common theme here is my total failure to plan ahead!). Plus whatever I do out here has to look good visually next to my purple office too, which is another sightline.

My office walls

Office on the right. The beadboard in the back hallway, at least, is done, painted and staying put, so it's just what to do above it and the flooring that needs decided...eventually...after the laundry room is done.

Anyway, all that is to say: wall and cabinet colors in the laundry room, and what to do with the no man's land back hallway, are going to be the LAST thing I decide. Hopefully once the elements I've already chosen are in place and I can feel the room a little better, inspiration will strike me like a bolt of lightning.

In the interest of not making the laundry room modern with a capital "M", almost all of the things I've picked out hearken back to Victorian-era style in some way, even if they feel modern, and that is very, very intentional.

So far I have:

White subway tile backsplash. Timeless, and will provide continuity from our kitchen, below:

The kitchen sporting its winter buffalo plaid Ruggable rug back in January

Shaker-style cabinets, not sure what color but it won't be white. Carcasses will be from IKEA, doors will be from Semihandmade. No upper cabinets  - I HATE open shelving in kitchens (hate hate HATE HATEHATEHATEHATE whew sorry triggered lol) but in laundry rooms, I'm fine with it, since you don't have cooking grease mist settling on the open shelving.

Countertop will be this one from IKEA. Gotta know when to splurge and when to save, and this will get the job done, as well as provide a much needed injection of warmth and depth in what may be a very light room in the end:

These cabinet pulls and knobs are on order from Lowe's:

The open shelving will be stained wood, maybe a shade lighter than the countertop, and they'll be supported by these reproduction Victorian-era inspired cast iron brackets I got from Etsy, spray painted a soft gold:

I hate stuff sitting on counters, but I couldn't figure out a way to build laundry basket storage into the cabinets, so I hit on this idea to build a washer/dryer platform tall enough to store my baskets underneath. This will also put my W/D at almost eye level, which will be great.

I wanted built-in drying racks, whether they were slide out, or wall-hung or...something else. I stumbled upon the Sheila Maid, a Victorian era ceiling-mounted drying rack on a pulley system. Period appropriate AND space saving? Yes please!

I struggled a lot with the lighting decision. In the end, I went with a long narrow fixture that shares common elements with our three 1890 chandeliers elsewhere on the first floor. The laundry room is long and narrow itself, almost galley style, and I plan to install the fixture's long side parallel to the room's long side

Unless you stand on my washing machine, you'll only ever see the short side of the chandelier, which is about one square foot in size - preventing it from looking super ostentatious like it would if you were always looking at the long side.  At least, that's the thought.  We'll see if I feel that way still when it's up! Also, bonus: it came in way under budget.

This, but you'll never see this side of it.

Finally, the floor. I was SO tempted to put some graphic tile in here, like this:

Victorian era homes often had gorgeous patterned tile floors, so it would be period appropriate. And it's trendy again. But after shopping graphic tile for months, I was never in love with any design enough to pull the trigger and I didn't know why.

I finally realized it's just too bold of a permanent design decision for me. If I hate it in five years, I'm stuck with it because we are NOT redoing this laundry room again.. So I looked for something that felt graphic, but was a little more timeless. Enter this tile, from one of my favorite blogs Young House Love:

Easy to clean and install porcelain that looks like Carrera marble, sign me up

It was a bit of a splurge (even though I reverse image searched YHL's source and got it for hundreds of dollars cheaper at Home Depot, who has the same tile under a different name), but I felt that pull of "THIS IS THE ONE" for the first time, and I knew I could live with this forever. You know, that whole Konmari "spark joy" thing. I get heart eyes when I look at it.

Whew. That was a long rundown. But all of those decisions had to be made and materials need to be ordered because THE DOOR GETS CUT TODAY!!!

Almost empty and ready for the saw! Goodbye, brown everything!


  1. I never thought I would be jealous of a laundry room, but OMG I am! I think that chandelier will look amazing. Currently my washer and dryer sit in my otherwise unfinished and full of stuff basement.

    1. We got really lucky with the decision to move the kitchen and having this room available, otherwise mine would likely be in our unfinished cellar!

  2. I hear you on waiting forever to settle into design decisions. The older I get, the more I realize how important it is for me to take my time on those things. The lightning bolt of inspiration always strikes, but it may just take awhile lol

    1. Totally. So many times people have been like "you seem to have a good eye for decorating, can you help me with my room?" and I'm always like "Yes, if you want to wait for five years while I wait for the lightning bolt" haha.

  3. I love the way you're blending victorian elements while still so many modern (and functional!) touches into this laundry room -- it's going to be so amazing!

    (also now I wish I'd gone whole hog in the tack shed and done a chandelier like that hahaha)

    1. No regrets! You have a perfect chandelier for that space! I'm just glad you took my recommendation to go chandelier at all. #worthit

  4. I too can take forever to make decisions. Or no time at all. There is no in between, lol. I love your choices (that counter top is perfect). I too hate open shelves in a kitchen. I need to be able to close my doors on a mess....

    1. Ugh, same. Closets too, I have to be able to close the door on the mess and just not see it.

  5. Looks like some solid choices! Very cool that it is all coming together...!

    I'm looking at ruggable rugs for my house to replace some old ones...any feedback? I'm hoping they are good, since I have lots of pets, etc. ;-)

    1. I really like them. It's SO nice to not freak out when someone spills or pees on one and to just take them up and throw them in the washer. The corners on mine curl a bit, but I've heard they've improved it in the two (three?) years since I bought my first one.

      My only feedback is that I wouldn't use them under big heavy furniture, because cleaning them does require taking the entire "rug" up, and that's not practical under beds and couches. They're also extremely low-pile, really no pile, so they can look informal in some rooms.

      I have Flor rugs in the bedrooms and Ruggable in the kitchen and laundry room, and they respectively work out well in both places.

    2. Cool - thanks for the mini-review! My house is pretty informal so it sounds like it might work. On the list now for if/when I do some decorating...!

  6. SO excited to see the final product!

  7. It's going to be amazing! Love the tile. And love the idea of lifting the machines and having the baskets underneath. That's brilliant. I'd probably put the machine in some kind of tray in case of leaks, but you probably have already figured that.
    I just ordered a laundry basket... bureau? Shelf? I dunno what it is exactly. From Etsy. It's like a set of drawers, but instead of drawers it has laundry baskets. Also that pulley thing is interesting and I think my house may have had one in the laundry room. There are pully hooks(?) things... wow my vocabulary is hurting today... Anyway in the ceiling of my laundry room. It's cathedral in there so I never really investigated their purpose. But that would make a lot of sense!
    My house (most of it) is colonial era, which is pretty blah, so I've enjoyed furnishing it fairly modern, but keeping the old stuff exposed (like all the hand cut beams and the fireplaces). I think old houses are really fun to play with the aesthetic.

    1. I will probably put the washer in a tray this time, I didn't last time because part of me was like "I don't give a shit about this shitty room I want to renovate" and part of me knows it's just a cellar underneath there, but I should do it now.

      I was looking at building a laundry basket bureau like you're describing, but I couldn't find the floor space for it in this kitchen, so raising the units it is! Yours sounds cool though. Would love to see more of your house!

    2. Once I have it all cleaned up, I'll give a tour :)