Kitchen Progress: Faucet, Hardware, and Window Trim

I dove into my kitchen makeover this past month and knocked out three things that already have me liking the space a lot more: a new faucet, cabinet hardware, and window moulding.

Faucet

Our previous faucet had a leak that was getting progressively worse: the water would only shut off when the handle was turned to a precise 9 o’clock position. Also, the faucet head was low which – when combined with our rather shallow sink – meant dishwashing space was kinda cramped.

Black Faucet Before

To replace it, I bought this Delta Trinsic faucet in stainless steel. It’s really nice and was easy to install. The feature that sold me on this one is the MagnaTite pull-down head: it has magnets, so it connects really securely to the faucet neck and, because magnets are magic, that connection won’t weaken over time.

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You’ll have to stick around until the end of this post for faucet After photos…

Hardware

As I mentioned in my Kitchen Decision Making post, I ordered Amerock’s Blackrock knobs and pulls. Five of the drawers already had pulls, so I was able to simply swap out those.

Kitchen Drawer Pull Replacement

The other nine drawers had these tiny pull tabs – you could only grab them with your pincer fingers. (Thanks to this guy’s blog post for addressing the pincher/pincer word choice issue for me.)

Drawer Tab Pulls

The pulls weren’t practical, especially on the giant drawers laden with heavy cookware. Thanks to Jarrod for hand modeling the pincer issue for me.

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I bought a hardware installation template set and neither worked for my needs. The pull template wasn’t wide enough and the knob template didn’t have a hole option that aligned with where I wanted to place the knobs. D’oh. So, I improvised.

To install the pulls, I removed the front from one of the drawers that originally had a pull and used that as a template for the other drawers. I aligned the tops, made sure it was centered, clamped them together, and drilled.

Drawer Pull Template

I kept it simple and used the same size pulls on all of the drawers. It’s narrow enough to not look ridiculous on the smaller drawers, and wide enough to not get lost on the bigger drawers. EZPZ.

For the knobs, I made a simple template using scrap wood.

Cabinet Knob Template

Window Trim

In addition to my miter saw and drill, I used three new tools for the first time on my window trim project, so I thought I’d round them up quickly here.

Table saw: I finally bought my first table saw this year. It’s the final frontier of saws for me. Despite regularly using several other power saws, a table saw has always seemed daunting. I purchased this Dewalt 745S – Home Depot offers this “Special Buy” that packages the DW745 with a stand, which is indeed a good deal. It sat unopened in our basement for weeks until I discovered Steve Ramsey on YouTube. I don’t usually like how-to videos (I prefer to read instructions) but this 7 Things To Get You Started Using a Table Saw video is great: it gave me the confidence I needed to safely use my new saw.

Kreg Jig: Confession: I’ve had a Kreg Jig kit since 2013 and have never used it until now. Again, I watched a Steve Ramsay video – Beginner’s Guide to Pocket Hole Joinery – and then used it to join the wood for my window stool.

Joined Window Stool

Brad nailer: Whenever I see bloggers installing trim, they’re usually using a pancake compressor and gun (like trim pros Yellow Brick Home), so I assumed I’d have to invest in that as well. But I discovered this Ryobi AirStrike, which uses the same battery system as my drill (which I love) and my string trimmer (which I hate). This brad nailer worked great on my window trim and it’s made me more excited (read: less full-of-dread) about replacing the rest of the first floor moulding.

Now that we’ve addressed the tools, here’s the order in which I tackled the window trim.

1. I did a dry-fit of all the component parts, cutting everything to size with my table saw and miter saw. One tool I don’t have is a router, but I wanted a rounded edge for my window sill. This Alexandria Moulding Stool—available by the foot in-store—did the trick. It’s not deep enough for my window well (our bungalow’s exterior walls are built with two layers of bricks!), so I attached another piece of wood cut to the appropriate depth as shown above.

This picture of me dry-fitting everything cracks me up because a) Where is my head? and b) Those shoes are hideous. Fleet Feet (a local shoe store) gives you sass if you express concern about aesthetics of athletic shoes instead of fit, which is how I ended up with these froggers.

Headless Horseman

2. Once I confirmed everything fit properly, it all went back to the basement for a first coat of paint.

Window Trim Painting

2. Then it was time to install for real. The window stool went in first; it’s nailed and glued in place.

Window Stool Installation

2. The side trim pieces (AKA casing) went up next. It’s simple moulding from Home Depot.

Window Trim Side Casing

3. For the header (AKA architrave), I used this Interior Primed MDF Window and Door Casing (Model #538A-MDF8) from Lowe’s. It’s all one piece, making it easier to install – I just needed to cut the return pieces. (See this post from Ana White for more details.)

Window Trim Header

4. I used a piece of cove moulding as a simple apron below the stool. I wanted something under the sill to make the window look more finished, but it couldn’t be very wide because it would further accentuate the slight slant of the counter backsplash. My trim is perfectly level and square, but everything around it isn’t!

Window Trim Cove Moulding

I cut the cove moulding at an outward angle to make the ends look more polished.

Kitchen Window Apron

5.  The window well is more rhombus than square, so I used backer rod and caulk to fill in the unavoidable gaps on the sides of the stool.

Window Sill Backer Rod

Note: ideally the stool would be flush with the bottom of the window, but that wasn’t an option here. You only notice that it’s raised when you’re looking at it from this angle, and why are you looking at it from this angle?

Window Sill Installation

Here’s everything all caulked, patched, and painted, along with the new faucet and hardware:

Kitchen Window Trim After

Just like with my remodeled bathroom window trim, now this window looks like a feature of the room – not an afterthought.

Kitchen Window Before

Kitchen Window Trim

So glad to get rid of those stainless bar pulls. And I don’t have to worry about patching the holes they left behind because the cabinet painter will do it: yessss.

Up next: floor refinishing, then appliance delivery, then cabinet paint. (And art, and lighting, and more!)

Customizing an IKEA SILVERAN Bathroom Vanity

This post details how I customized an IKEA SILVERĂ…N vanity for our newly-remodeled half-bathroom. Because this powder room is in a visible spot on our first floor, I wanted a vanity that looked like a piece of furniture we’d have elsewhere in the house.

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As I mentioned in my Bathroom Decision Making post, I was unable to find an off-the-shelf vanity that fit both my taste and the small space. I got quotes from a variety of places for a simple custom vanity, all of which came in around $1k (for the cabinet only – sink not included). I didn’t want to spend that kind of money on such a small piece and decided to take my chances on an IKEA hack.

SILVERAN Cabinet

There are two IKEA SILVERĂ…N cabinet finishes: white and light brown. The white one is made up of particleboard and plastic. It’s $20 less expensive, but it feels and looks even cheaper. The light brown one is solid pine. I chose this one because it felt sturdier and would be easier to customize. I bought it when IKEA had a 20% off sale on bathroom products, which made it $88. Cheap! And, I reused the existing sink. Free!

To start, I cut the vanity’s depth down to size to fit our 14″ sink. The 9″ SILVERAN was too shallow, so I bought the 15″ version and cut a couple of inches off the side panels. I won’t go into detail on this because I can’t imagine anyone would find it interesting.

Painting the vanity was straightforward: I sanded the wood to rough up the lacquer, then primed and painted. I used Benjamin Moore’s Mopboard Black; it’s part of their Williamsburg Collection, which also includes the Gunsmith Gray color I used on our house’s exterior. I like curated color collections like this – helps me from getting overwhelmed by options.

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I wanted legs that tapered on two sides, and Google led me to Osborne Wood Products. I ordered the 5″ tapered feet. I chose the red oak option because it’s a hard wood and I figured it would stand up better to dings than some of the cheaper options would. (Did you know there’s a scale called the Janka hardness test?) Osborne offers a lot of nice furniture feet options – way more than you’ll find at a local hardware store.
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The feet were a little chunkier than my mental ideal, so I shaved an inch off both flat sides with my miter saw. Craziness like this is why Jarrod calls me “Particular Palermo.” I assembled the painted frame per the IKEA instructions, and then used both glue and screws to secure the feet to the vanity.

I started by drilling pilot holes into the bottom of the vanity, safely on either side of the cam bolt (but not so wide that there was a risk of the screws coming through the taped side of the leg). Anyone who has assembled IKEA furniture knows this bolt + metal dowel combo is what makes the furniture sturdy, so I didn’t want to mess with that.

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On the other side of the vanity base, I used a countersink bit in the pilot hole so the screws would be flush with the wood.

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I used Liquid Nails construction glue and clamps to hold the legs in place.

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After the glue dried, I drilled in my screws and then painted the legs.

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I installed adjustable feet in the legs using these threaded furniture glides.

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The vanity is fully wall-mounted, so the legs are mostly just for show, but they do offer secondary support. I can easily twist the adjustable feet to raise/lower them, which lets me slide the rug under!

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The screws are barely noticeable when the doors are open. The vanity came with a shelf which I didn’t use because the plumbing didn’t leave enough room for it. This isn’t a problem, however, because there’s plenty of space for the few things I want to keep in there.

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I added Tolson cabinet knobs from Rejuvenation.

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I didn’t have to wrestle with IKEA plumbing because I used the existing sink and a new MOEN faucet. If you need tips for installing IKEA plumbing, see my previous post: How I Installed an IKEA Bathroom Vanity.

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Bathroom Sink.jpg

And that’s it! A pretty easy hack for a very pretty vanity.

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Previous posts

How I Installed an IKEA Bathroom Vanity

In my greatest DIY victory to date, I installed an IKEA HEMNES bathroom cabinet, DALSKAR faucet, and ODENSVIK sink (which came with RINNEN plumbing). Note that the title of this blog post is not “How to install an IKEA vanity” but rather “How I installed an IKEA vanity.” This is what worked for me.

I did a ton of Googling throughout this process and found some helpful guides (such as this one) that gave me the confidence to take on this project, but I didn’t find any blog posts that were identical to my situation. IKEA altered their standard plumbing kit significantly recently, so a lot of the information I found was outdated. Also, every home is going to have its own oddities.

This post won’t be of much interest to anyone who isn’t installing an IKEA sink, but I hope it’s helpful for at least one person who is! Specifically, here are the three issues I encountered that you might run into as well:

  • Waste pipe that is 1-1/4″ vs IKEA plumbing that is 1-1/2″
  • Faucet supply lines that are 3/8″ vs IKEA faucet lines that are 9/16″
  • IKEA overflow hose that does not reach the drain

Before buying our house, I had never done any plumbing work. It was daunting because water can be so quickly and so thoroughly ruinous should anything go wrong. I installed our basement sink as a test case, and then tackled this on my own without disaster. If you’re handy and enjoy finding solutions to problems, I think IKEA plumbing is definitely a doable DIY.

Getting started

I started by laying out all of the parts in order. Note: if you buy an IKEA sink and an IKEA faucet, you’ll have a couple of duplicate parts.

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I warned Jarrod that it may be several days until we had a working sink again. I hoped it would go smoothly, but I was prepared for some hiccups. We have a sink in our first floor half-bathroom, which helped make this a lot less stressful.

I turned off the inline shut-off valves, disconnected the existing sink, and stuck a rag in the wall drain hole to keep the stink contained.

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I assembled the vanity cabinet and Jarrod helped me position it (it was nice to have an extra set of hands here, but not necessary — this can be a one-woman project). I adjusted the screw-in feet until it was level. Our floor slopes, so the right self-adjusting foot is extended quite a bit more than the left.

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Once it was precisely placed and leveled, I marked off the four spots I’d need to drill and then moved the vanity out of the bathroom.

Drilling into granite tile

If you don’t have granite wall tiles, mounting the vanity will be pretty easy. If you do have granite tiles, like we do, I’m sorry. Drilling into granite is totally doable, but it’s time-consuming and expensive! The bits are made of diamonds and run $20+ each at Home Depot. It sounds like even the nice ones wear down quickly, requiring multiple bits to do the job. Having learned that, I chose to buy two cheap sets from Amazon. $22 total for 10 bits, and I wound up using every single one.

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I sprayed the area with water continuously while drilling (sorry, no pics). After the holes were drilled, I put the vanity back in place.

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The big square holes are from the previous sink’s installation. The IKEA vanity is secured with metal clips (provided by IKEA) and toggle bolts (purchased by me).

Mounting the faucet on the sink

I installed the DALSKAR faucet on the ODENSVIK sink before placing it on the vanity – it was a lot easier to see and reach the underside this way.

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The bottom of the metal faucet marked up the sink a bit as I was positioning it, which was disappointing. To avoid this, I’d recommend putting some painters tape around the hole and then removing it right before you tighten down the faucet. Otherwise, this step was straightforward and easy.

Figuring out the waste pipe connection

The waste pipe is the hole in the wall that the sink connects to, which I assume leads directly to the Chicago River. The IKEA p-trap drainpipe is 1-1/2 inches. Our waste pipe is smaller: 1-1/4 inches. So, I had to find a trap adapter/reducer. In retrospect, this wasn’t that big a deal: most of the battle was learning terminology and figuring out WTF I was even looking for.

Semi-Pro Tip #1: Don’t throw away anything you remove from your previous sink’s installation until you’ve successfully installed your new sink. Put it in a plastic bag and carry that grossness to every hardware store. If you’re a novice like I am, it’s extremely helpful to have with you to compare parts and to talk to store employees.

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Semi-Pro Tip #2: When you’re in the hardware store, BUY EVERYTHING. Seriously, if you find yourself looking at something and thinking “This might work” or “I think this would fit” — BUY IT. Keep the receipt and return what you don’t use.

In the interest of helping anyone in the same boat, here are all the options I gathered within 36 hours via Amazon, Clark & Barlow Hardware, Home Depot, and Ace:

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The Everbilt washer the Home Depot guy sent me home with was totally wrong for the job, so that one was immediately ruled out. Any of the other three probably would have worked if space were not a crucial issue for IKEA plumbing (more on that later).

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I experimented with both the galvanized reducer and the PVC trap adapter, ultimately choosing the PVC option because it was the most space-efficient.

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Good god, this post is boring. I’m sorry. Let’s trudge on.

Connecting the faucet

Our supply valves are 3/8 inch. The IKEA manual states that the faucet lines are 9/16 inch. As far as I learned, this is not a measurement used by US plumbing standards.

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So, I was worried about connecting my existing 3/8″ lines to the IKEA faucet lines, but did not encounter any problems at all. The ends connected perfectly, and they are watertight. Whew! I don’t know if the manual is simply incorrect, or if the difference is so slight that it’s negligible. Just another IKEA oddity.

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I wrapped the ends with Teflon tape to help ensure a tight seal.

Connecting the overflow drain and p-trap

This was the most frustrating part of the installation. Unlike the waste pipe, which was a challenge because of our house’s non-standard plumbing, this step was infuriating because it was caused by IKEA’s unforgiving design.ikea-drawer-fml.jpg

In order for the HEMNES drawers to slide in fully, the drain pipe and p-trap needs to be as close to the back wall as possible. The cabinet assembly does not allow a generous margin of error. Many people wind up having to shorten their drawers or hack notches into them. The drawers were the major appeal of this vanity in the first place, so I was hoping to avoid that.

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In the store display, IKEA shows the wall drain being off-center from the sink drain itself, so that the p-trap (the curved part at the bottom) is flush with the wall and the overflow tube (the black rubber piece) can be connected.

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In my experience, this a totally unrealistic and unholy arrangement. Our wall drain hole is centered with the sink’s drain, like God intended. I had no choice but to position the drain to run at an angle, in order to get the p-trap flush with the wall.

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The overflow tube IKEA provides is quite rigid and would simply not bend or stretch to work with that arrangement. I could force it into place with a terribly angled drain (as you see above), but it would slowly disconnect because of the strain. IKEA’s design doesn’t include anything to actually secure it to the drain. I tried cable ties and steel screw clamps, but the black rubber was simply too rigid. Incredibly frustrating!

I went to Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Ace in search of tubing that could work as a replacement. I bought a few different types of plastic tubing, but in the end, nothing worked as well as a $3 bike inner tube I stole from Jarrod. It was flexible enough for the tight space, and I was able to secure it in place with cable ties.

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I don’t claim that this solution is perfect: if the sink were stopped up and water reached the overflow hole, the bike tube doesn’t drain water as quickly as a rigid tube would. But it’s totally water-tight and, ultimately, it’s the solution that saved me from having to hack the drawers and/or burn down the house. For our purposes, the overflow drain only gets used when water splashes back there. So, it’ll do.

Moving along! You have to punch out a hole on whichever side you install the overflow drain.

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I waited to do the punch out step until the very end, when I was 100% certain what my final arrangement would be.

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Good enough!

Checking your work and sealing it up

I waited a few days before installing the drawers so that I could keep an eye on the drain and supply lines, to make sure nothing was leaking. I also wiped a Kleenex over all of the components a couple times each day to make sure everything was staying completely dry.

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Once I was certain the drain and faucet lines were watertight, it was time for silicon. I lifted the sink to put a line of silicon on top of the vanity and then carefully set it back in place. I also used silicon on the rubber seal that sits between the sink and the drain. I figured this might help make it extra-watertight; couldn’t hurt, anyway.

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And, finally, I ran a line of silicon at the back of the sink, where it meets the wall.

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This line of silicon was the most beautiful and satisfying thing I’ve ever done, because it meant this project was FINISHED.

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The cat inspector gave me some shit about the bike tube plumbing but signed off on the job nevertheless.

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Second-guessing your decision to buy an IKEA vanity

At a couple of points during this multi-day project, I’ll admit that I regretted buying an IKEA vanity. But, in the end, I think I made the right choice. The vanity offers more storage in a smaller footprint than the terrible saucer sink. The new sink has a smaller surrounding edge, but it’s actually functional because it’s level — the previous sink ledge sloped inward.

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The vanity looks nice and feels very sturdy. I love the drawers: they slide smoothly and shut softly. I also love the faucet: the one-handle design is great, and the water turns on and off very cleanly. Most importantly, the vanity fit our tight space requirements and our budget.

You can see additional photos of the space in my Bathroom Makeover post.

Sources:

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.

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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.

Basement Before.JPG

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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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.

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