Home Renovation, Project #1 - Own Home

The Laundry Room – Transforming a Garage Cupboard into a Useful Space

The Laundry Room is a completely new room in this house. It was created after the tumble dryer was moved out of the kitchen into this space downstairs. The problem with my house is the kitchen is actually part of the living room and because tumble dryers create a lot of noise, once it’s on you can pretty much forget about sitting and relaxing watching the TV (subtitles, anyone?). Then there’s the worry about the sound of it conducting through into next door (terrace house problems!), so you are restricted in terms of when you can turn it on.

The Taylor Wimpey “Rye” house type is a coach house. This is where all the living space is upstairs and downstairs is just garages (some of which would belong to other properties), or a combination of garages and a passage for cars to drive through to access a car park behind. Mine is the latter. Here’s a photo of it.

“The Rye” by the house builder Taylor Wimpey.

The garage always has a large cupboard directly under the stairs. This is large enough to be a room in its own right. Up until the 2018/19 Christmas holidays, mine was the same as probably everyone else’s – full of junk! Here it was in that state.

The way I envisaged this working was having a worktop at the end where those metal shelves were, with a small sink next to it, and putting up some doors across the other end where it tapers off under the stairs to create a storage cupboard. The sink was cut, as dad and I decided it wouldn’t be financially viable to get a water supply and foul water drainage into here. This is why the name “Laundry Room” is perhaps a slight misnomer – it’s not actually capable of washing clothes as you might in a typical laundry room, but a place where clean laundry from the kitchen is taken to be dried and ironed (but I suppose in that stage it’s still laundry!). I didn’t like the term “Drying Room” though. Plus, calling it the Laundry Room allowed me to get this cute little sign from Amazon for the door…

But before I could really get to work, I had to clear it out. I spent several nights during the Christmas holidays clearing everything out by dragging things out with a long stick (due to having arachnophobia for most of my life and being such a neglected space I figured there’d be some big spiders in here). The time of year made it difficult as the garage did not have lighting at the time and the days were short.

Then, with it all cleared, I got the walls painted and some spare tiles from the kitchen were laid to cover the area outside of the storage part. My dad and I had to chip away at random bits of cement in the floor before this could be done.

Then I got myself on IKEA and ordered some bits to make the room up. I got a marble-effect worktop, a wall cupboard, a taller cupboard and two cupboard doors that together were the width of the room. The vertical panel the worktop rests on came from B&Q.

The worktop in place over the tumble dryer, with units above.
The two cupboard doors I bought spanned the width of the room exactly and created a storage cupboard accessible from the right-hand door and additional shelves behind the left-hand door.
What the left-hand door opens to. This is the tall cupboard I bought from IKEA with the top cut off.
The garage also gained lighting fixtures and both areas were equipped with Philips Hue lights as standard in my house.

This is not the easiest of places to put things on the walls simply because the walls are bare breeze blocks. I needed specialist tools to hang cupboards and doors in here – breeze blocks contain stones that can quickly ruin conventional drill bits. This is where I had some help.

I built myself a custom unit to go next to the cupboard on the wall, fitting in the space perfectly. On the bottom is a rail that you are meant to hang clothes on after you’ve ironed them, which was made by getting a hanging rail for a wardrobe. I just used my hacksaw to cut it to length and drilled it to the bottom. Then I just got a few bits from Dunelm and Amazon just to style it a bit.

The ironing system in use in this room is a vertical ironing board and steamer, called the Verti Steam Pro. I got this for a birthday present last year. Considering just how tiny this room is, about the size of a conventional downstairs loo, it’s a brilliant space saver and actually works pretty well. My dad was sceptical, but I proved him wrong.

I used the room in this state for a while, but there was a problem. The condenser tumble dryer generated a lot of humidity, so you could only really use the dryer with the door open. The humidity would build up so much that the electrics would trip out, which clearly isn’t great. In any case, condenser dryers are not good for such small spaces. This is something I always disliked about it when it was in my kitchen – as well as the noise, the humidity it generated inside the room was quite noticeable. I swapped the condenser dryer for a vented one, allowing the humidity to escape outside, and cut an extra vent in the door just for a bit extra. I’ve not had any issues since. My mum kindly offered to give the walls a second coat of paint as well, so it looks much better from here on in. I did the first coat myself and having physical ailments I really suffered the following morning, so I appreciated the help.

This type of dryer has an exhaust pipe that goes outside. I had a builder come round to make a hole in the wall for it and I later installed a gravity flap to cover the hole. The flaps open when air is being expelled.
I then cut a chunk out of the door and put a vent cover over it inside and out.
The new tumble dryer was wired in. I’d made a bit of a mess of it due to limited tools available, but this didn’t matter as it will be covered up anyway.

Now time for a special mention of a great insta friend with a small business. Helen of the Homely Rose blog, who I met at the Festive Insta Mingle last year, has a small business that sells decorative words made of single pieces of wire. She has an insta page and an Etsy shop and you can get to the shop from this page on her blog. Words on the Wire was one of three small businesses on insta I bought from to support during the coronavirus lockdown.

I used these words and some wood from a shed my parents dismantled last year to make up a nicer sign to go under the rail. One thing I love is making nice things myself from reclaimed materials.

The rail had to be front mounted as the hangers would no longer fit on with the new sign behind it, but this wasn’t a big deal. Then a few more accessories from Dunelm and The Range and a smoke alarm from Nest and I was done. The idea with the smoke alarm is to have two of them – one in here and one on the landing. When the alarm in here goes off, the one upstairs does too and so does my phone. This is important as because this room is so isolated from the rest of the house, a regular smoke alarm going off might not be heard upstairs. These alarms also detect carbon monoxide, so it can replace the CO alarm upstairs too (which is getting near the end of its life anyway). These are good for ten years.

And that’s the end! Here are some photos of the finished product. You can see a print I made myself on the wall – it’s meant to be a funny take of the phrase “isn’t it ironic”. What’s ironic is I don’t have that type of iron in here.

And of course, a before and after.

Would love to know your thoughts. This room is clearly tiny, but I genuinely feel proud that I have designed a room from scratch and in doing so turned a dingy and neglected space into something usable and welcoming.

L x

4 thoughts on “The Laundry Room – Transforming a Garage Cupboard into a Useful Space”

    1. Great comment, thank you! And I like the term “half laundry”. Less noise in the kitchen is indeed a big bonus as it also means less space in the living room and can actually watch the TV in peace.

      Like

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