Renovation & Design

From dungeon to desirable

Laundry rooms rarely make for aesthetically appealing spaces

Washer and dryer cubby (atop framed base), cupboards above, laundry tub with separate lighting, suspended ceiling with strategic pot lighting, vinyl flooring and trim.

Photos by Marc LaBossiere / Winnipeg Free Press

Shows laundry tub area with separate lighting, suspended ceiling.


Photos by Marc LaBossiere / Winnipeg Free Press

Freshly painted drywall with cupboards and appliances to match can help turn a dark and dingy laundry area into a more appealing space.

The laundry room is a utilitarian space and basically serves one main purpose: to clean dirty clothes.

As such, this space often ranks quite low on the list of renovation priorities, despite its often dungeon-like appearance.

During a lower-level remodel this past spring, Barbara Adams’ basement renovation plans included converting her hardly-used two-piece bathroom into a fully functional three-piece with jet tub, new vinyl laminate flooring throughout the lower level — and an upgrade to her laundry room, from studs to finish. Could this wash-dungeon be converted?

Although the bathroom upgrade would turn out quite nicely, I’d like to focus primarily on the laundry room this week.

The laundry/furnace room walls were mostly bare concrete. A pair of freezers — upright and deep; both inconveniently located by the door to the laundry — made it hard to enter the room. A washer and dryer located on the far wall seemed to have been hastily connected — the plumbing was in disarray.

The moment I precisely determined the placement of the adjacent wall for the bathroom expansion, I could start to shape the exact design configuration for the laundry room.

To conserve the many custom-made storage closets at the far side of the space — next to the electrical panel — I decided to create an entryway from the main area to the far end, partitioning a smaller area from the laundry room.

By doing so, the laundry space would appear strategic and concise. Behind the upright freezer, I constructed a faux wall to properly support custom cupboards which eventually would populate the upper areas of most of the visible walls.

I also built a sort of cubby to encase the washer and dryer, which now sat on a constructed base, framed to contour the slightly tapered concrete floor in order to provide a level surface on which both appliances could rest. To the right of the cubby, I left just enough space for the installation of a laundry tub.

I removed the old plumbing was removed completely, and then installed blue and red PEX to clearly identify hot and cold throughout the laundry area, wherever water feeds were required. Next, I introduced new electrical lines in the ceiling for impending pot lighting.

Then, I drywalled the walls, taped and mudded them prior to sanding and painted them white. Once the walls were completed, I measured the required cupboard cabinets and ordered them to ensure a timely delivery.

Due to the plethora of services generally found in the joists of a basement ceiling, it’s never a good idea to seal them up with drywall, in case future, easy access is required. With that in mind, I chose a suspended ceiling for this laundry remodel.

Once I established the suspended ceiling grid, I set the individual tiles into position. Wherever a pot light would sit, I cut a hole prior to setting that tile. Once the suspended ceiling was securely in place, I installed the pot lights in the various pre-determined locations and tied them in to each respective circuit/switch.

I began the installation of the vinyl flooring used throughout the lower level of this renovation in the far end of the laundry room, near the electrical panel. In that the flooring was continuous and without transitions, I completed it first in the laundry room, then continued into each room until the final area, which was the expanded bathroom at the other end of the hall.

In order to complete the laundry room, I installed baseboards and casings along the floor, windows and laundry-room door, respectively. The final tasks were to populate the room with the laundry tub and cupboards. Richard Rochon at Cabinet Corner in St. Boniface has, on many previous occasions, provided an accurate ETA on cupboard orders — once again, he did not disappoint.

On an early morning nearing the completion of the entire basement reno, I picked up the cupboards from Cabinet Corner en route to the jobsite — the cabinets all fit neatly tucked in the box of my pickup. I carefully unloaded the cabinets and brought them down into the basement.

The ceiling design would facilitate the cabinet installation process; having chosen the suspended ceiling option and with an intention to hang cupboards, I elected to box the ceilings at all locations where cupboards would be placed. By doing so, the cupboards could easily be hung by placing the top back of all cupboards along the inside top corners of the walls in those areas.

Once the cupboards were in place and level, I installed the doors on each cabinet section. I made adjustments to square the doors to each other and then attached the knobs where required.

A clear understanding of what a client wants will ensure an accurate design layout.

Although Barb’s old laundry room may have been a functional space, it was definitely not an inviting area of the house. Bright white walls, a clean ceiling with sufficient lighting, strategic appliance placement, the introduction of a laundry tub, and a ton of cupboard space — all of these post-remodel attributes culminate into one undeniable result: this laundry room is no longer a dungeon.


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