DIY Plywood Laundry Room Counter

So, you’ve never officially met my laundry room, but it’s been here all along, lurking behind that yellow door in our kitchen. It’s not very grand, but after our last laundry room located in a scary basement, it’s ultra convenient and non-scary.

Basically the “room,” like many homes, is a small passage between the kitchen and the garage. Crammed into the nook on the left are the laundry machines and on the right, hidden behind a curtain, is a weirdly large pantry (that used to have a door but there is clearly no room for so many doors in this place).We tore out a bulky overhead cabinet right after we moved in to give the tight space any breathing room we could. But then I remember thinking, where am I gonna store all the laundry supplies?! (I use like 1 item, and it’s laundry detergent.) And then I remember stressing, where am I gonna store the ironing board??!! (I don’t iron.) And then, where will I rinse stains or hand wash clothes???!!!! (I do neither. And the kitchen sink is 4 feet away.) And then I remember panicking outloud, “I think we need to rip out the pantry so the space can be a dedicated laundry room.” My husband laughed in my face and told me straight how little space we need for laundry and how useful pantry/kitchen storage is. Thanks, man. YOU. WERE. RIGHT.

But the one thing that could actually improve my slacker laundry life was a surface, any surface, for folding. Which, fine, actually means piling up the clean load that I’m avoiding folding until I’ve piled up so many clean loads that I am forced to carry the entire stack to the bedroom where I continue to avoid them for 5-7 days. The house came with an older dryer and top load washer. We eventually replaced those as they broke with HE front loaders, leaving an obvious spot on top for a counter.

So of course we made the standard cheap-person move and plywooded that thing out! There are so many DIY counters out there ranging from super easy (place a piece of wood on your machines) to quiet elaborate. We landed somewhere in the middle. My husband took on its construction, gluing two pieces of cheap maple plywood together for bulk and strength, and then cutting them to fit between our walls. He screwed a frame into the walls for the counter to rest on. We aren’t permanently attaching the counter to the frame to give us easy access to the back of the machines should we need it. (Excuse the mid-project wall color change, I’ll explain in a bit…) A common problem with this cheapo counter move is outlet box obstacles. Thankfully, our laundry outlet box was low enough already that it didn’t need to be moved, though we did have to remove the trim around it.

Our regular outlets, on the other hand, were a problem. Complete obstacles all around. One on each wall, right at the height we wanted the counter (but somehow all 3 at different heights?). Ugh. Initial thought was to move them all higher than universal standard height. But the more we procrastinated with that electrical can of worms, the more we wondered if we would regret moving them in the future. This counter isn’t permanent and having oddly high outlets and switches may no be something we want in the future. We decided the easiest path would be to route around the outlets and be OK with not having access to a plug in here for now – especially since I’m not even tall enough to reach the back outlet unassisted! (HOW WILL I IRON?!)So the next thing that happened was the counter sat in our laundry room, unfinished for like two years because that’s how we do things in our home. The raw wood tone was so pretty, but use was starting to show and we were way past due putting on a finish to seal it. (Above shots are post finish, below shows pre-finish wood.)A few months ago, a plumbing issue flooded our laundry room and forced us to revisit the project when we had to move everything out to fix the floors. We took the opportunity to finally put a finish on the wood counter!

We brushed on four coats of glossy polyurethane (we used this one), sanding between coats, which turned the soft, muted raw wood a brighter, shiny, golden hue. The stuff has a strong smell so we let it mellow out and cure in our garage for a few weeks before brining it back inside. The finish has been super durable and I feel a lot more freedom to really work the surface without fear of scratching it. The wall color change: In between poly coats, I decided to put a few coats of paint on the walls as well. It was quickly becoming apparent that the golden color of the wood finish was NOT going to complement our previous acid yellow walls at all. It was the right move for sure. As a bonus, the white dramatically brightened up and opened up the space, and really made the flow from laundry to kitchen so much smoother.A little before/in-progress/after action:So that leaves us here today, with a blank slate of a laundry room. I’d like to reintroduce a pop of color or pattern in here eventually, while retaining the current sun-blasted feel of the white walls. Maybe just a bright tiled wall or all-over subtle wallpaper (this one?) or crazy colorful light (this one – in yellow!).I’m hesitant to make any serious commitments until after we make some decisions on the adjacent kitchen backsplash though. For the time being, I am loving the cheerful and bright white/wood vibe!


Random Updates

Excuse my slacker blogging the past few weeks. It has been a bit of a wild ride around here. Just normal everyday stuff like broken dryers and kids on Spring Break and mourning missed secret Neil Young shows…and then some actual heavy stuff with a youngin’ in my family that involved paramedics and lots of stress crying. Everybody is doing good now, so here I am.

I feel like nothing has gotten done around here in awhile, but that’s not entirely true. Proof:

Remember this load of a coffee table? Well, it got some better legs. They are a few inches shorter than the old ones and they are walnut. It’s looking real good, in case you don’t have eyes.

Mosaic mid century coffee table how to replace table legs vintage

This sweet little stool in our guest room got a reupholstering. My father-in-law found this at the swap meet for dollars and I’ve been on an upholsterer’s wait list forEVER. I finally got the call.

Heywood Wakefield Vanity and Stool

Our dryer died and we got a new one. I have been waiting for appliances to break so I can replace them for the very superficial reason that they are pukey bisque colored instead of white. I didn’t factor in the time of choosing new ones (and always finding them backordered) while you go without the broken thing. A dryer is the easiest appliance to live without, but it still threw me off big time. The makeshift clothesline in our backyard was getting to be a full time job. We waffled on the top vs front load. Long story short, we ended up with a used but fairly new front load dryer that is awaiting it’s match.

new dryer

And, in the midst of aforementioned chaos, this beauty unexpectedly came into my life. I mentioned before how I was waiting for a smaller, Danishier desk to fall from the sky. That’s pretty much how this happened. A house up the street was having an estate sale that I almost didn’t go to. I’m so glad I did. Not only is this desk exactly what I was looking for at the right price, I bought it from an old friend of the original owner of our house. Now that you’ve had a glance at my sentimental side, take this in:

Mid Century Modern Desk Danish Teak

After living in our house for 1.75 years, there is a mirror in our kids/guest bath…but still no light. We live luxuriously.

Bathroom mirror

And, mostly, I’ve been cleaning up stuff like this daily, just like every other mom. Our den is somewhere under this fort pile.

Den mess