ORC Week 6: Mudroom Before and After

Welcome back, dear readers, to the season finale of “Marti Makes a Mudroom Less Gross.” Before we get to the before and after photos, there are three more projects I need to cover for you: the flooring, the sliding door railing, and some shade trickery. This post is long, so settle in! You’ll be rewarded with a cat GIF at the end.

Floor + Rug

Back in June 2017, I scrubbed the plywood floor and then stained and sealed it with Ready Seal.

Wood Floor Scrubbing.JPG

Ready Seal Stained Plywood Floor.JPG

The floor definitely looked better, but I still wanted a rug in here. I bought the indoor/outdoor Hodde rug from IKEA shortly thereafter – it covered half of the room. While working on this One Room Challenge, I decided that I wanted something to cover the full length of the room (it’s roughly 6.5′ x 16′).  A custom-made indoor/outdoor rug would have run me $700+, and Flor tiles came in around the same price. Painting or stenciling the floor wasn’t a solution because I wanted a rug to help stop dirt and cat litter from being tracked into the house.

I knew from having the Hodde for over a year that it’s super durable and hides stains well. Long story short: buying a second rug seemed like the best way to proceed. The only catch was that the back half of the room is a few inches more narrow because of the brick bump out. I had to trim the rug to fit.

I found this Instabind DIY Rug Binding on Amazon and decided to give it a shot. I carefully marked off the rug and cut it with my sharpest scissors. (I cut right on the line – in retrospect, I should have cut immediately inside the line because you can see some red on my newly-bound edge, BUT it doesn’t matter since you barely see this side of the rug. That will make sense once you see the after photos.)

Rug Cutting.JPG

Then I singed the cut edge with my heat gun. Because the rug is polypropylene (AKA plastic), the threads melted cleanly.

Heat Gun on Rug Edge.JPG

TBH, this was probably sufficient to keep the rug from fraying, but I decided to add the rug binding for good measure since I had already purchased it.

DIY Rug Binding.JPG

The rug binding has an adhesive strip that holds the binding to the back side of the rug, which you reinforce with a line of hot glue.

DIY Rug Binding Hot Glue.JPG

That’ll do!

Sliding Door Railing

This is what the back of the mudroom looked like the last time you saw it on this blog. In my Backyard Patio, Painting, and Landscaping post, I said “in 2017, I’m going to put up a railing” – well, I didn’t get around to that until May 2018. I didn’t blog about it then, so I wanted to share it quickly now since it made a big difference to the interior of the room.

mudroom-lattice

I made a pair of simple wood posts to mount on either side of the door, giving me something to hang the railing on. Using my miter saw, I bevel cut the top and bottom of the wood so it looks more finished.

Woods Posts for Rail Mounting.JPG

I bought the black metal railing at my Home Depot store – I can’t find it on their website to link to, but it was $60ish. The planters came from Home Depot, too.

Sliding Door Railing with Planters.JPG

The railing is crucial because we now have a sliding screen door in the mudroom. A while back, I found a few jumbled Pella screen doors at Lowe’s. The boxes were beat up and the store employee said they were “last year’s model.” I asked if he’d sell one for a discount and I got it for 40% off! I’ve never bargained at a big box store before and it felt like an achievement unlocked.

Anyway, all that to say: when it’s nice weather, we open the kitchen door and the sliding door, and we get a wonderful cross-breeze from the back to our front windows. The railing would stop anyone (Jarrod) from tumbling out.

Door Open to Mudroom.JPG

That marble door stop is from CB2.

Much better than where we started:Door to Mudroom.JPG

Window Shade Trickery

Speaking of the sliding door: I wanted shades to make it look nicer, but I didn’t want to block any of the light that comes through our new half-lite kitchen door (see Kitchen Progress: New Door, Trim, and Threshold Tile).

So, I cheated! I installed the moulding a foot above the top of the door.

Extended Door Header.jpg

This trick makes the door look taller, which is a better balance for our oddly tall windows, and it allowed me to hang shades without blocking any natural light.

Window Shade Trickery.JPG

Door Header with Shades.JPG

Before and After

Now you’re all caught up! Let’s do this.

Before:Mudroom Door Before.JPG

After:
Mudroom Door and Window.JPG
Before:Mudroom Before 2

After:Mudroom Sliding Door After.JPG

Before:Mudroom Before.JPG

After:Mudroom Door After.JPG

Before:Mudroom Before 3

After:Mudroom Northwest Corner After.JPG

The vintage brass hook holds my errand running tote and this $11 remote control I connected to our patio string lights.

Patio Light Remote Control.JPG

The outlet for the lights is outside under the mudroom. I like to have them on in the evenings sometimes – just because they’re pretty to see from our kitchen – and this remote lets me turn them on and off easily.

Patio with String Lights.jpg

Back to daylight! This is what the broom nook looks like with the curtain pulled back.

Mudroom Wall Broom Closet.JPG

Before:Mudroom North Corner Before.JPG

After:Mudroom North Corner After.JPG

In the foreground you see our dust buster, a trashcan for scooped cat litter, and a can crusher. Chicago has a single-bin recycling program (cardboard, paper, metal, glass, etc. goes into one barrel) and there’s pretty low odds that what you put in there actually gets recycled. But there are people who dig through recycling bins looking for cans: I figure if there are people doing that hard work, and someone is paying for them, those cans are definitely getting recycled. I installed this can crusher last week, and there’s a plastic bag hanging inside the broom closet. My plan is to collect cans and then put out the bag for someone to easily pick up.

Can Crusher.JPG

Next to the can crusher we have some hilariously terrible/beautiful art: a painting our friends Jean and Tyler gave us as a thank you for officiating their wedding; a drawing Jarrod made of the painting; and the original, unrelated photos that inspired the painting. (Jarrod is most definitely not a cop: that’s our cousin-in-law’s police vest.)

Mudroom Art.JPG

Tyler really captured our essence.

Source Material.jpg

Before:Mudroom Before 5

After:IKEA Ivar Shelving Unit and Cat Tree.JPG

The Ivar shelving unit holds a lot – including our cooler, a bin of reusable shopping bags, a pail of fresh litter, cleaning supplies, etc. – but there’s still room to spare, which is always nice! The Knagglig wood crates are from IKEA and the woven plastic baskets are from Target. I use the step ladder a lot, so it’s handy to have easily accessible.

I actually used to leave this ladder out for Lola to climb up to the top of the shelving unit, but now he has a cat climber. He’s jazzed about it.

Lola Yawn.JPG

He likes to hang out on top of the shelving unit, in this tunnel I made years ago or in the basket next to it.

Lola.JPG

Ooof, this post got long! Sorry about that. Here’s the GIF I promised:

Lola Gif.gif

 

The End

Early in this project, I accidentally typed “murdoom” instead of “mudroom” and that’s how I’ve been thinking of this space: it felt murdery and doomed. Now it’s a practical, functional room that feels like a natural extension of our house. Thanks for following along!

Previous ORC posts:

You can check out all the other guest participants on the ORC website.

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ORC Week 5: Shelving, Litter Box, and Light Fixture

This stage of the One Room Challenge is challenging because I don’t want to reveal too much of the room! I’m saving pulled-back shots for the final post – not that it’s going to be a stunner of a space. As I’ve said, this is a functional room, not a showcase. Anyway, this is a bit of a grab-bag post, covering three elements: the shelving unit, litter box, and light fixture.

Shelving Unit

I’ve had an Ivar shelving system since 2012, when I bought it for $60 off Craigslist. Longtime readers of this blog (thanks for sticking around!) may remember it from our last apartment’s catch-all room. IKEA still sells this series and I definitely recommend it – it’s a sturdy workhorse, and easily configurable to fit your space and storage needs. This past week, I added IKEA’s Borghamn handles to jazz it up.

Installing Handles on Doors.JPG

Putting something in front of a window isn’t a ~best practice~ but it’s the only option here. Would I do this in a living room? Nope. Am I fine with it in a utility room? Yup!

IKEA Ivar Shelving Unit.jpg

I haven’t loaded up the shelves yet because I need to move it to put a rug under it. And, I need to cut better looking risers to go under the middle and right legs. This used to be an exterior porch, so the floor slopes significantly to shed rain (a previous owner put the plywood over the original floor). The risers are necessary for the shelves to be level.

Litter Box

The litter box involves another IKEA piece: a Hol storage table/trunk I’ve owned since 2007. When I first bought it, I added hinges so we can flip open the lid and I cut a hole in the side for cat access. IKEA doesn’t sell the Hol line anymore, which is too bad because it’s perfect for a litter box. (You can still find them on eBay and Craigslist, if you’re in need of a litter box solution.) The holes provide light and ventilation while concealing the litter box.

The wood was looking worse for wear – there was water damage to the top, and the wood finish was parched overall.

Wood Top Before.JPG

I sanded it quickly with fine grit sandpaper, washed it with Murphy’s Oil Soap, and conditioned it with Howard Feed-N-Wax. This product is wonderful: super easy to use, smells great, and makes an immediate improvement to the appearance of wood furniture. One bottle lasts forever.

Howard Feed N Wax.JPG

The trunk also serves as one of Lola’s squirrel patrol posts.

Lola on Top of Litter Box Trunk.JPG

Inside the trunk, there’s a rug to help catch tracked litter and a scoop hanging on a hook.

IKEA Hol Litter Box Trunk.jpg

Lola expressed some confusion about WTF I was doing with his bathroom.

Lola in the Litter Box.JPG

Light Fixture

I ordered this pretty Langley Street Michaela 1-Light Semi Flush Mount light fixture from Wayfair.

Michaela Light Fixture from Wayfair.jpg

The electrical conduit in the mudroom is mounted on the ceiling, instead of being hidden behind it.

Mudroom Ceiling Progress

Painting the metal conduit same color as the ceiling helped conceal it, but the exposed junction box presented a challenge: any mounted light fixture would look less-than-great since it wouldn’t be flush with the ceiling.

Exposed Junction Box

I searched online and couldn’t find any examples of how people have handled this situation. So, I came up with a solution on my own: I made a basic wood medallion to mount between the junction box and the fixture. I cut out a circle of plywood using my hand-me-down Rotozip saw (thanks, Dad!). To get a perfect circle, I used a paint can lid as a guide. Then, I cut out the center of the circle – making a wood donut – which I painted white. (Sorry, I failed to take photos!)

Circle Cutting

I mounted the light fixture in the usual manner, with the wood sandwiched in place between the fixture and junction box.

Michaela Light Fixture.jpg

I’m very happy with this fixture. It’s large and well-made for the price ($120 when I bought it a couple of weeks ago, but I’ve since seen it on sale for as low as $106). Having a proper fixture in this space makes it look more like a real room and less like a storage closet.

Michaela Semi Flush Mount Light Fixture.jpg

Still on my to-do list: cut and bind a rug, organize the storage shelves, touch up paint, add some baseboard, and install a fun thing for Lola.

Bye for now – see you next week!

Previous ORC posts:

You can check out all the other guest participants on the ORC website.
New posts go up every Thursday.

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ORC Week 4: Door Trim, Window Shade, and Plant Shelf

Just 2 weeks left in the One Room Challenge! Participating has definitely been fun and motivating for me – I have to plan out my projects to both get sh*t done and to ensure I have something worth reporting each week. Today, I’m focusing on the south wall of the mudroom.

Mudroom South Wall Before

The original door trim was in need of improvement. For this corner piece, someone used a piece of plinth block…? It was the saddest thing I’ve ever seen.

Door Trim Before

I removed the moulding around the door. Here’s me pulling out nails – I feel like I need to occasionally show pics of me working to prove it’s not, like, house elves doing everything around here. It’s me, wearing hideous sneakers (which are somehow even worse from the back – this may be the saddest thing you’ve ever seen).

House Elf

I installed new trim and new black hinges as well. Replacing crummy hinges with nice ones is so easy, and it makes a bigger difference than you’d expect.

Door Hinge Before.JPG

Door Hinge After

I stacked pieces of pine and trim to make a simple craftsman header for the top of the door. I also did many hours of work to improve the water-tightness of the sill below the door, but it’s far too boring to get into.

Door Header After

You probably noticed the new shade in the photos above – it’s a Hampton Bay Caramel Simple Weave Flatstick Bamboo Roman Shade. I bought two of these shades at our last apartment: I never got around to installing them there (oh well) and then I never got around to returning them (oops). But it all worked out because they’re great in here! I totally lucked out on the width being the perfect size. And, Home Depot still carries them, so I was able to order matching ones for the remaining window and sliding door (you’ll see that in future posts).

caramel-hampton-bay-bamboo-shades-natural-shades-0212030-d4_1000

Here’s Lola, helping me out.

Lola Loves String

So helpful! Lola’s one true love is string. We’ll give him a piece of twine to play with sometimes, and he’ll carry it around the house, yowling with emotion. He will even put it in his water bowl, which is some weird-ass possessive feline behavior. Jarrod and I call it String Madness.

String Madness

The shades are purely decorative – we could raiser/lower them, of course, but we never do. Form over function isn’t my usual M.O., but this room needed them. As I mentioned in a previous post, the scale of the mudroom windows doesn’t make any sense. They’re far too tall. These shades visually shorten the window height, the wood adds warmth, and they make the otherwise rough windows look more finished.

Below the window, I DIYed a plant shelf with a $3.50 metal bracket and a $12 pine round. This Everbilt bracket is heavy-duty (it holds up to 150 lbs), which is needed because soil – especially wet soil – is super heavy.

Floating Shelf and Bracket Supplies

I stained and sealed the pine wood using the same materials I used on our kitchen butcher block shelf.

Mounted Shelf

I cut the back couple of inches off the circle using my table saw, so the shelf sits flush against the wall. There isn’t a stud centered below the window, so I installed it with some serious toggle bolts.

Before:Mudroom Wall Before.JPG

After! (Or perhaps I should say “Progress!” – I may install a baseboard after I finalize the rug situation.)Mudroom Wall After

The size of the shelf is the perfect radius for a 10″ pot, but not a 10 lb cat. Lola can’t fit up here, which keeps the plant safe from his omnivorousness. I picked up the planter for $12 from the Habitat ReStore on Pulaski. If you’re local, I enthusiastically recommend this place. They usually have a nice selection of cheap planters.

Plant Shelf in Front of Window

The plant is a philodendron of some sort – the label said it’s a split-leaf, but the leaves don’t look at all like the leaves of the other split-leaf philodendron I have. It won’t be able to stay out here all winter because it gets too cold, but so far it’s been chill-hardy.

Two more posts to go! I’m excited to wrap up this space and share the whole room with you.

Previous ORC posts:

You can check out all the other guest participants on the ORC website.
New posts go up every Thursday.

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ORC Week 3: Doorway Broom Closet

Welcome to Week 3 of the One Room Challenge, in which I’m trying to make our shoddy mudroom look and function better on the cheap. My previous two posts (Week 1 and Week 2) documented work done in 2016. This post is about a project I started and finished within the past week: a simple doorway storage area.

Mudroom Before 3

As I mentioned in my first ORC post, the door on the right (above) was the original back door to our house. When a previous owner renovated, they installed a new door and drywalled over the old door on the kitchen side. The original doorway is where my brass frames are now, and I replaced the other door as part of my kitchen remodel.

Kitchen and Dining Room After

On the mudroom side, they left the old door exposed. We only have one closet on our first floor – a coat closet in our entryway – so I decided to turn this doorwell* area into a broom closet nook.

* I searched Google to see if door well/doorwell is a compound word or not and learned it isn’t really used very often in either form! I thought it was a common architectural term, but I guess not. A lot of the online references I found were about Meghan Markle closing her own car door, because this tweet contains “door well.” Anyway, we can move on from this word nerd digression…

Mudroom Brick Painted White

Someone taped over the door glass on the interior side, which… ugh. Why. It just looked gross.

Tape Over Glass.JPG

I cut a piece of mat board to fit, painted it, and used spray adhesive to adhere it to the glass. Next, I installed a line of hooks. I like the simplicity of these screw-in metal hooks – they’re formed from a continuous piece of steel wire.

Vintage Twisted Wire Hooks

I bought a set of antique ones on eBay for a few bucks. You can also buy them new (e.g. from House of Antique Hardware), but they’re plentiful used: search eBay for terms like vintage bent wire hook.

Row of Vintage Coat Hooks

I screwed them straight into the wood door, EZPZ.

To cover the storage area, I went with a curtain. I had two spare curtain panels on hand: one was the fabric I wanted to use, but the other had the IKEA Kronill pleating tape I prefer for tidy, consistent pleats. To avoid having to buy a new curtain, I decided to remove the pleating tape and sew it to the top of the other curtain panel. This meant I had to use the scariest power tool in my collection: the sewing machine. I am not a sewer. I usually pay to have things professionally altered, but the ORC time crunch and my desire to finish this mudroom as cheaply as possible spurred me to DIY this. So, I dusted off my hand-me-down vintage Singer and got it done.

Vintage Singer Sewing Machine

The curtain is hung on a black metal tension rod I bought on Amazon. I had planned to mount the curtain at the very top of the doorway. When I tried that, however, it looked too grand and it drew attention to itself in a “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” kinda way. (Also, please pay no attention to the rug below the curtain – I’m still figuring that out.)

Too Tall Curtain.JPG

I decided to lower the curtain to align it with the door header, which meant I had to hem the bottom. That’s right: I sewed again. It was actually pretty easy! I’m not saying I’m a hero, but I won’t stop you from drawing your own conclusions.

That’s it! The closed curtain easily hides all the stuff this doorway contains.

Curtain Over Doorway.jpg

And here’s the broom closet loaded up with our broom, mop, dustpan, vacuum, and Chicago Public Radio tote bag that holds all of our vacuum accessories because our dumb vacuum doesn’t offer very good built-in attachment storage.

Doorway Storage Nook

Doorway Broom Closet Nook

In the posts to come: more storage, more plants, shades, and cat amenities.

P.S. If you’re a new reader, welcome! Please check out the Bungalow Tour page for an introduction to our house.

You can check out all the other guest participants on the ORC website.
New posts go up every Thursday.

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ORC Week 2: Drywall Finishing and So Much Painting

Hello again! It’s Week 2 of the One Room Challenge – hop back to One Room Challenge Week 1: Mudroom Makeover for an introduction to this space.

Mudroom Before 4

Let’s cut to the chase on one issue I hesitate to even mention: there was lead paint on the ceiling and upper part of the brick wall. Two different contractors who passed through this space looked up and said “Lead.” I believe this distinctive cracking is a tell-tale sign of old lead paint.

Mudroom Ceiling Before.JPG

Sure enough, swab tests confirmed lead paint – I used these 3M LeadCheck swabs. Red means lead.

Red Means Lead.JPG

This wasn’t surprising because of how old our bungalow is and, to be honest, it’s not too disconcerting to me. If we had kids or planned to have kids, I would be more worried: lead is a very serious risk to children and pregnant women. Furthermore, the lead paint is on a stable surface that we don’t come in contact with – not, for example, on window trim that is subject to friction and heavy use.

I debated including this information in this post because people tend to be alarmists online. I could have simply said “I painted the room” and left it at that, but I prefer to be upfront about the issues I encounter when renovating. So, I’ll tell you what I did, but I’m definitely not saying it’s what you should do. You gotta follow your own arrow.

Mask

In short: I contained the work area, I wore a P100 filtration mask, I removed the paint that was loose, I scrubbed all surfaces thoroughly with TSP, I covered the ceiling and walls in 4 coats of paint (2 layers of primer and 2 layers of paint), and I disposed of all supplies once finished. I’ve also added lead testing to my annual physical checklist, so my doctor and I can monitor my lead levels over time and feel confident that my DIY hobby is not endangering my health. Cool? Cool.

Here’s the room ready for painting:Mudroom Ready for Work

And here’s the room after the first coats of primer:Brick Painting Primer

Mudroom Ceiling Progress

This is an awful photo, but I wanted to share a tip: when you’re painting a ceiling, especially white on white, painting in a darkened room actually makes it a lot easier to see what’s already been painted and what’s left to do.

Mudroom Ceiling Painting Progress

There were some visible gaps in the beadboard ceiling after it had been painted, so I caulked those.

Painted Ceiling

Here’s me caulking while a contractor was painting the exterior – you can see more details about our exterior work in this post: Backyard Patio, Painting, and Landscaping.

Mudroom Work

As I previously mentioned, a prior owner had drywalled this space but did not finish the job. After the ceiling and brick wall were painted, I hired someone to tape and mud the drywall. This wasn’t a skill I was interested in learning myself, and I didn’t want to buy tools that I likely wouldn’t use again.

Mudroom Drywall Mudding Progress

I hired a contractor via the Albany Park Workers Center. They help day laborers find work and provide them with written contracts to reduce the risk of wage theft (a sad possibility for workers who are vulnerable due to reasons like immigration status). I wouldn’t go this route for bigger jobs, where I prefer to vet who I hire based on online reviews and/or personal referrals, but it was handy and affordable for a one-off low-stakes job like this.

Drywall Mudding

Once the mudding was dry and sanded, I painted the drywall – again, with 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of paint.

Mudroom Walls Painted White

Before:Mudroom Before 2

Progress:Mudroom Painted White

Before:Mudroom Wall Before

Progress:Mudroom Brick Painted White

So much better! In the posts to come: shades, storage, cat amenities, and more.

P.S. If you’re a new reader, welcome! Please check out the Bungalow Tour page for an introduction to our house.

You can check out all the other guest participants on the ORC website.
New posts go up every Thursday.

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