We’re back again. This time we’re renovating and designing a small laundry room!
It’s that time of year, another One-Room Challenge (aka ORC). The ORC is a biannual event that encourages bloggers/designers/Instagrammers to transform a space in a relatively short time frame (the current ORC is eight weeks long). For the spring ORC, we gutted and revamped our home office (you can see the result here).
This time, we’re doing something a little different. We’re renovating a space outside of our house and working with a “client.” Okay, that person is just my mother-in-law, Darla. Designing a room for (and really with) another person was a learning experience. It helped to refine my process! Darla was very easy to work with and made me feel comfortable during the process when I felt kind of silly, like when I requested “design meetings” and asked her tons of questions about her preferences. If you’re interested in hearing about this experience, let me know, and I’ll write a blog post about it.
The Laundry Room – Before Pictures & Background
Enough of the back story; let’s get to the fun design part. We are renovating my MIL’s laundry room. Darla lives in a new house that she and her late husband built a few years ago. They downsized from their large two-story family home to a modest-sized ranch when they became empty-nesters.
The house style is transitional. It has some traditional colonial elements with modern touches and an open floor plan. The house’s interior is neutral and bright.
The laundry room is a “pass-through.” The garage entrance is on one side of the room and a door to the main foyer of the house is on the other side. It’s a small room (approximately 6′ x 6′) with tall ceilings (9 feet high). There is laminate wood flooring throughout the house and it’s one of the best I’ve ever seen! The wood color is on the light side with a warm tone. The laminate is textured, so it has great dimension.
Darla wanted to jazz up the laundry room and applied peel and stick tiles to the wall about a year ago. However, no matter how she applied them, a couple kept falling off the wall. Finally, after getting frustrated with continuously re-attaching the tiles, she asked if we could install beadboard. That’s when I offered to design the room. Darla, being gracious and generous, agreed.
Over the last year or so, I’ve been refining and optimizing my design process. I’ve only used it for my projects, so this was an excellent opportunity to try it out with a “client.” I’ll take you through the different steps and how we designed the laundry room.
Step 1: Consider the Function
When designing a room, I always start with the function and ask myself the following questions:
- Who lives here?
- What activities happen in this room?
- What type of things need to be stored here?
- Are there any problems?
- What is working well in the room?
When going through these questions for Darla’s project, I made note of relevant information:
- Darla lives alone but has a dog and a cat. Both animals are older and less active, but prone to accidents at times. They have limited access to the laundry room as most times the door is closed.
- The main purpose of the room is laundry but it also serves as a thoroughfare from the garage to the rest of the house.
- This room stores laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, and overflow blankets. *Plenty of cabinet space.
- Darla is very organized and has routines for her household chores. Because of that, there really are no problems to solve here.
- The room is functioning great. No major changes to the lay out are needed. Her appliances are new and function great.
After reviewing the function, I listed the things I needed to keep in mind (based on the notes above) when designing the room:
- All elements need to be durable and wipeable.
- The wallpaper must hold up in warm temperatures and changing humidity.
- Organizational systems are not needed since things are running fine.
- The focus of the project is decorative.
Step 2: Outlining the Scope Of The Project
After determining the function and key takeaways from step 1, I started nailing down the full scope of the project. This included determining what stays in the room, what needs to be purchased, what labor is required, and the expected time frame.
I started Darla’s outline by listing the things that were staying:
- Wall Cabinets (white, great shape, brand new)
- Flooring (warm wood tone)
- Appliances (top load washing machine and dryer)
- Door hardware
- Baseboards & shoe molding
During this process, I also made a mental note of some things I knew about Darla which would impact the project. For example, Darla really likes cohesiveness. This means she’ll want to keep the trim, doors, and finishes consistent throughout the house (which she confirmed during our design meetings).
Darla is also pretty minimal with wall decor and doesn’t want to damage wallpaper by hanging pictures or accessories. The styling will therefore be minimal and non-invasive.
Based on this information, I made a list of the final elements that need to be purchased for the room:
- Chair rail trim
- Cabinet Pulls
I then listed the labor required to complete the project and I estimated the order of events. Since Jeremy and I are doing all the work, things are more flexible. However, if you are hiring contractors to do all or part of the work, this may be more strict.
- Demo: Remove wall tiles and current chair rail (Week 1)
- Prepping: Paint walls with wallpaper primer (Week 1)
- Wallpaper Installation: Use wallpaper kit (Week 2)
- Millwork: Install beadboard & chair rail trim (Week 3)
- Painting: Caulking, filling, sanding and painting (Darla has paint) (Week 4)
- Electrical: Install light fixture (Week 5)
- Finishing: Install cabinet pulls and accessories (rug/baskets) (Week 5)
As you can see, I’m estimating about five weeks of work. The one-room challenge is for eight weeks. I purposely wanted a project this fall that was easier and less time-consuming since it’s such a busy time of year for our family. I outlined some of this in my tips and tricks post that I wrote earlier this year.
Step 3: Create Three Concept Boards
After I had a general idea of what to include in the project, I created three concept boards. Each board had a different feeling and overall direction. I use a specific formula when putting together the concept boards. First, I always have seven pictures. By limiting the number of photos, it forces me to be picky about what images are included. This helps to define the direction of the plan.
Of the seven, two are “lifestyle” pictures. This is a pretty broad term, but the lifestyle images help to bring attention to something the person likes or values. The visual aesthetic of it matters, too – it should go along with the theme of the concept board.
It’s also essential to have at least one or two “detail” shots to highlight some of the key finishes or features that define that concept board. For example, the concept board below highlights brass accents and a capiz light.
When creating the concept boards, I don’t focus on the exact room. The images are taken from a wide variety of sources and room types. That’s why you see a sofa in the laundry room board above. I don’t plan on using a sofa or throw pillows in the laundry room. Still, the general finishes communicate the types of things that would go into the final design (i.e., floral patterns, traditional elements). The primary considerations are the overall feeling and the concept (which considers style, colors, finishes, etc.).
Step 4: Review Concept Boards & Create Your Final Board
After I had three concept boards, Darla and I met to review each option. I emphasized that she would never hurt my feelings and encouraged her to share her honest opinions. We started by looking at each of the boards and I asked Darla which one was her favorite. She liked concept #3 the best.
From there, I asked several questions:
- Is there anything you don’t like?
- What do you like about this?
- What type of finishes do you like?
- What type of textures do you like?
- Is there anything you would change?
- Should we mix and match any components from the other concept boards?
At that point, I felt pretty confident about what Darla wanted and liked. I recorded her answers and went to work sourcing the objects.
Step 5: Sourcing Options, Create Floor Plan and Elevations
With Darla’s feedback and the scope project details in hand, I began sourcing materials. For each item, I gathered at least 3-5 options, sometimes more. I approached this by collecting all the options I liked and that fit within the parameters of Darla’s preferences. From there, I whittled down the choices to a more reasonable number.
For example, I found over 15 wallpaper options (I actually rounded them up here!). However, that would be too overwhelming, so I narrowed it down to 6 and ordered samples.
After I had options for each category, I made the floor plan and created some basic elevations. There was very little space planning for this room since the layout was already in place (and there weren’t many other options!). In other rooms, like living rooms or bedrooms, space planning is more critical and more time-consuming. So, plan accordingly!
Step 6: Present Options & Finalize Choices
Darla and I met again at this point to review her options and to finalize her choices. Darla is very decisive and quickly identified what she liked in each category (light fixture, rug, wallpaper). We spent the most time talking about the wallpaper samples. If you’ve ever gotten samples, you know that the swatch may not show the most critical parts of the pattern. We also looked at each wallpaper option online to get a better feel of the scale and see the entire pattern. Our meeting was pretty short (maybe 20 minutes).
At this time, I also showed Darla a couple of elevations. I made these to visualize the wallpaper (and make sure I actually liked them before showing them to her). Darla found this helpful. (Spoiler: She liked another one of the wallpapers so much we’re installing it in her dining room later this year).
Step 7: Create Final Design Board & Detailed Budget
Creating the final design board was easy. I just pulled together all of Darla’s choices and updated the elevation to reflect the final design. These were put into a PDF document so we could quickly refer to it if needed.
At this time, I created a detailed budget for the project. I put together a spreadsheet that had the price, source, quantity, and a link to the item online. Then, I totaled the cost and sent that to Darla in an email.
Step 8: Final Approval & Ordering Materials
Darla and I met one last time. We reviewed her design choices once again and I made sure she was still happy with her decisions (she was). We also reviewed the budget, line by line. On that day, we ordered everything. Luckily, all the materials were received before the ORC started, so there should be no delays in our schedule this time!
Whew! All of those words and I haven’t shown the final design! Don’t worry – next week, I’ll review all of Darla’s choices and show the official plan for the room. I’ll also show you some progress that we’ve already made.
Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8