Basement Laundry Room Before and After

When we bought our house, the basement laundry room area was thoroughly gross and rather dangerous. It is significantly less gross and dangerous now! Here’s all the unglamorous work that went into that.

First step: making sure the water heater doesn’t kill us.

During our home inspection, our inspector pointed out that the melted plastic on the top of our water heater indicated our flue was blocked. This meant dangerous fumes were not venting out of the basement like they should. He suggested we remove the vent to see if we could find the cause.

Such a happy new homeowner! About to find something awesomely morbid.

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Yep: that’s a fully cooked bird. Poor little guy. We removed his bones, which solved the problem.

Basement Bird Flue.JPG

Up next: so much cleaning.

Our house was purchased as-is, which meant that the previous owners were not legally obligated to clean it out before closing day. They took full advantage of that fact and left a lot of crap in the basement.

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We’re lucky to have helpful friends. Thanks, friends!

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Our favorite feature in the basement was this open drain.

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That paint tray kept the flow of water from the kitchen sink and the laundry tub directed into the hole. (We had this fixed shortly thereafter.)

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The sign next to the open drain reminded you of your manners: it says “Do not pee pee in here.” Our friend Kimberly said we should assume that any area without a sign had been peed on. She’s probably right.

Once all the junk was gone, Jarrod and I started cleaning. I scraped flaking paint off the walls. There was several rounds of wall and floor washing with bleach, TSP, and Simple Green. It took weeks. It was equal parts loathsome and satisfying. I cannot overstate just how gross this basement was. I’m going to make you look at several photos so you’ll believe me.

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Yep, that’s mold. The bleach killed it, and a dehumidifier has stopped it from returning. Initially alarming but ultimately not a big deal!

Another thing: making sure the dryer doesn’t kill us.

Lint is super flammable, which is why you’re supposed to keep your dryer vent clean and unobstructed. Our dryer vent set up was remarkably terrible. (The previous owners wrote on that board, by the way, not me.)

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They had the dryer venting into an old window, which would have been fine except 1) they didn’t remove the window screen, and 2) that window is under our back porch/mudroom (outside our kitchen, glimpsed here, and one of my current big projects). So, they were pumping hot, damp air into a semi-enclosed space. This is what I discovered when I crawled back there:

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The window screen essentially served as a secondary dryer lint collector, which is far more gross than that dead bird and nearly as dangerous.

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I threw away the screen, put up a board, learned a lot of about dryer vents, and installed a new one that ran all the way to the exterior wall. Exciting times, guys.

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It would be nice if this duct were in a less visible place, but this is the best option for the current configuration.

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Finally: paint it white.

So much painting. Two coats of primer on the brick/concrete walls, one coat of primer on the rest of the walls, followed by two coats of paint.

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After:Basement Bikes.jpg

I realize my “after” photos could very well be someone else’s “before” photos (and they’ll eventually be our before photos when we do a full basement remodel), but I’m still proud of the progress I’ve made with not much money and one thousand hours of hard work. It went from feeling like a place where you might get killed to being a pleasant area to do laundry.

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I was so excited to buy a new utility sink to celebrate the culmination of this project.

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Isn’t that the the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen? I bought the Mustee Utilatub (such a name!) at Home Depot, and the American Standard Colony Soft Double-Handle Laundry Faucet from Amazon. I removed the old sink and installed the new one myself. It was my very first plumbing project.

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I built a simple wood shelf to hide the crumbling concrete of the window ledge. That black hose is from our washer – not pretty, but necessary.

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To commemorate the previous owners, I framed the sign and a water color painting they left tacked to the bathroom wall. Don’t even think about peeing in here.


31 thoughts on “Basement Laundry Room Before and After”

  1. I wasn’t sure if you’d address the ‘do not pee pee’ sign, glad to see you did. I think it is hilarious that you framed that and hung it over the dryer lol. Great job making the basement look less like a scene from a horror movie and more like a place you’d want to do laundry. Can’t wait to see what you do with it next. So… what’s next on the list of things to tackle and blog?

    1. Oh, geez, what ISN’T on my list?! Major things right now are the mudroom and the yard. I’m tackling the former and we’re paying for the latter. Posts coming soon!

  2. This is so awesome! I’m super impressed. We just pay people to come in and fix shit and then sit around moaning about how much it costs. I need to grow more of a spine.

    1. Thank you! But don’t discount the merits of paying people to do shit: they’re doing the work AND giving you someone to blame if you’re unsatisfied with the end results.

  3. Oh my god, loathsome is exactly the right word. It reminds me of my childhood basement, plus significant bird-related horror.

  4. You have amazing determination and fearlessness, super powers necessary for older home renovation. I love these Chicago houses and they deserve some love! What beautiful work you are doing.

    1. Thank you, Kim! We’re a long way off from pocket doors and awesome wallpaper, but I’m inching my way there.

      Really appreciated your renovation indecision post, by the way. Definitely feel ALL of that.

  5. Marti, couldn’t you just move the washer and dryer closer to the wall if you wanted to cover up the vent?

    1. Unfortunately, nope. The washer needs to be near the sink so it can dump out there, and the dryer needs to be near the existing gas line.

      1. Ok, new idea, cover some boxes in aluminum foil and make it look like a robot cock.

        Anyway, these are very enjoyable, thanks, Marti.

  6. First time home buyer- single gal- your post is EXACTLY what I needed to help tackle my basement! Love your writing style, will be looking at more of your posts! Thank you!

  7. oh man, our basement laundry situations are so similar! Can you tell me how you added the great wooden ledge to the window sill?

    1. Sorry for the delayed reply! The wood shelf is simply resting on top of the concrete ledge. The vertical piece of trim is attached to the shelf (not the concrete).

  8. I love that you took an ugly old basement and made it useable cute and clean. I’m renting and wouldn’t pay to redo the basement so this is inspiring.

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