Our little guy is now four months old and one of the best things we did to prepare for parenthood was upgrade our laundry room. We are renting a home and fortunate enough to have the space for a separate laundry area. After living in NYC it was important that we had our own washer and dryer and with a baby its even more vital for comfort and convenience.
Old Utility/Laundry Room
The old laundry room was functional but it was ugly and washer/dryer units we had were at least 10-15 years old. We are all for solid appliances that last a long time but we are also into saving water and energy and the old units did neither. You just set a wash size or dryer time and thats it. Most new washers and dryers are energy star rated and have a lot of built in features to save you energy. We knew we’d be doing a lot more laundry with the little one on the way so it was a no brainer to consider upgrading our units.
We also had a problem with the red tile and faux wood walls. They were just ugly and had to go.
The room itself had also become a bit of a storage area and “catch-all” for stuff that we really had no other place for. This would have to change as baby stuff takes over and is more important so we knew we’d have to reorganize everything to make it work.
The utility room portion has a nice deep sink and we used it often for cleaning our hands, rinsing out brushes and a lot of other home improvement projects. But we wanted to also use this sink to wash our baby in and in it’s current state it wouldn’t fly because of the dirt and grime that had built up.
We also desperately wanted to add a toilet to this room. We knew we’d be having a lot more house guests with the baby and our 900 sq ft home has only one bathroom which is tiny so it’s already a bit cramped.
What We Did
Since we’re on the subject of toilets here is what didn’t happen. The plumbing to the utility room was only sized for washing machine and sinks and standard toilets need a larger outlet for going direct to the sewer line. We chatted with a couple of plumbers and they would have to dig up the yard and run a line and after all was said and done we’d be out at least $5,000. We toyed with the idea of a shower in this room but that brought the cost up even more.
So our dream of adding making this utility room a proper bathroom was squashed. One path we could have taken was a mascerating toilet. These toilets don’t require the larger fittings as waste is “churned” up and will clear existing pipes but there are only a couple companies that sell these toilets and we weren’t totally sold on them. They are often used in basements where it’s tough to dig into a foundation and if we find the right one we still may add it.
We did paint the room which gave it an instant transformation! We decided to whitewash the room and do the walls, floors and ceiling in white. For the walls and ceiling we went with the new Valspar + Asthma/Allergy friendly paint available at Lowe’s. It’s the most kid friendly paint we’ve seen. It’s Zero-VOC, low odor and dries to an antimicrobial finish. It is also mold and mildew resistant. At this point I don’t think we would use any other paint now that we have a little one.
The floors required a different type of paint and we stuck with Valspar and went with their floor and porch paint which was also low-VOC and low-odor. To be safe Laura still stayed far away from the painting but we did have time to goof around and take some fun photos before we painted the room.
We let the room dry for a couple days and were amazed at how much the room opened up with the white. We were really happy with our choice and also knew that white is about the easiest color to decorate with.
The last piece of this makeover was the most important and this involved upgrading our washer and dryer. We knew we wanted an energy efficient replacement that we could stack to save space so they would have to be front loading.
We wrote up another article sharing our experience in choosing and using the Whirlpool Duet washer and dryer.
For now we are sticking with our sink which is nice and deep but we did a very thorough deep cleaning and since baby is so little Laura has been bathing him with her which also creates a nice bonding time.
Before this all came together there were a few things we needed to do.
The door on the dryer unit needed to be reversed so it swung in the same direction (towards the wall) that the washer did. I found some basic directions online and it took me about 20 minutes to figure it out but it just takes a few simple tools and I switched the door around. There have been no problems with it sealing and it’s like it came from the factory.
We needed more storage so we made a quick stop to IKEA and grabbed their EXPEDIT bookcase unit in white and laid it down on it’s side. We already have this bookcase in brown and use it in our son’s nursery and for an IKEA product its very solid.
We had a clothing rack and hampers that we had already purchased from Bed, Bath and Beyond and it still fit perfectly in this space.
We also made our own chalkboard using Valspar Chalkboard paint and a picture frame from Target. We needed a simple message board that we could attach to the side of the dryer and this worked perfectly. Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how we made a chalkboard.
Finally we acquired a 10 point deer mount over the holidays and it seemed like the laundry room was the best place for it. We have no other art or decoration so a little taxidermy adds a bit of quirkiness to the space.
We are extremely pleased with our new laundry room space and we feel that the time and effort was worth it. As with any home improvement project its all about balancing your budget and expectations and although we really wish we could add a 1/2 bath to this space we know that sometimes its best to wait and just focus on what is really important to our day to day living.
Nameeks Knief Form Bathtub
The first step in going green is updating fixtures. Swapping out water guzzling toilets, faucets, and shower heads with more efficient models is not only good for the planet, it’s good for your wallet. Complete the update by switching to fluorescent lighting and you could potentially save hundreds of dollars every year. And with the modern styles water-conscious fixtures are available in, you’ll probably end up greatly improving the appearance of your bathroom as well.
Fresca Opulento Grey Oak Modern Double Sink Bathroom Vanity
While you’re improving the appearance of your bathroom, consider replacing your old PVC shower liner with an organic alternative. Not only attractive, organic shower curtains are often machine washable and naturally antimicrobial, allowing them to outlive most conventionally manufactured alternatives.
Next, consider how clean your “cleaning agents” are. Harsh chemicals are bad for you and the earth, and have not shown to be more effective than good old fashioned natural products. Natural cleaners such as lavender, tea tree oil, vinegar, and baking soda can remove mold and water stains, and even disinfect hard surfaces. You can make your own solutions or purchase certified organic and natural cleaners from a trusted retailer.
Lastly, look at your personal care products. Many popular shampoos, soaps, and toothpastes contain known hormone disruptors, skin irritants, and other nasty ingredients. Choose natural beauty products from a trusted source to keep your body clean, healthy, and attractive. But beware: there are no regulations on what constitutes “natural” in beauty products and many companies deceptively use this term to trick consumers. Shop carefully, choosing products with organically sourced ingredients you can pronounce to protect yourself from unscrupulous manufacturers.
Going green is a process that can be done all at once or by gradually replacing items as needed with friendlier and more conscious products. There are a number of internet resources that can help you find fixtures (take a look at a range of bathroom vanities at DecorPlanet.com), accessories, cleaning products, and other eco-friendly items to help make the process of greening up your personal space both simple and rewarding.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by DecorPlanet.com]]>
This year KOHLER announced a couple of “toilet technology” features that we are pleased to see available for home bathrooms.
They pushed the limit with their NUMI toilet, but introduced an ambient LED Toilet Nightlight at this years Builders Show.
But now they’ve gone a step further by announcing KOHLER Touchless Flush Toilet Technology. It’s currently available in two toilet models—including Cimarron, as well as a Toilet Flush Kit that retrofits most single-flush toilets with a canister or flapper style flush.
The new technology means fewer germs to pick up or leave behind. To flush, simply hold your hand over the tank.
The KOHLER Touchless Kit is $99 and installs in minutes.]]>
Last week I traveled to Milwaukee to attend the annual Milwaukee Tool new tool symposium. I love that city and Milwaukee Tool is always a great host. This year we stayed in the new Brewhouse Suites which is located in the original Pabst Brewery which was the cradle of beer from 1904 to the mid-1960′s.
I always travel light, but this three day trip would typically require me to pack a laptop bag and roller suitcase. I can pack a weekend into my backpacks but three days is pushing it. Until I got my hands on the new Griffith Park Deluxe Backpack (BOGD-11-BLACK) from Case Logic. It’s a low profile pack that upon initial viewing doesn’t look like it would hold much, but after easily packing my clothes, laptop, iPad and magazines, I was convinced this backpack was perfect for my trip.
The backpack weighs less than two pounds and has a volume area of 1709 cu inches. That’s surprisingly large for such a light pack.
I chose a black colored pack with green accents which gives it some pop, but if you are really bold you can go with all red. There’s nothing childish or “extreme” about either color scheme and you can easily go from the beach to the boardroom with these packs.
Loaded with all my gear the Griffith Park was extremely comfortable. I always use the sternum straps and the mesh foam padding was light and breathable.
The low profile zippers are a bit hit to me and the nylon pulls on each zipper are a nice touch. There are plenty of pockets but they’ve all been laid out nicely and each serves a unique purpose. The bottom pocket that can hold power cords and cables is awesome and make access very easy, instead of sifting through to the bottom of the bag.
Another killer feature includes a laptop sleeve that can hold a 15.6″ laptop as well as an iPad or table in a separate area. Tech travels with us everywhere and these made it easy to transport in a safe and secure way.
I left Milwaukee with some parting gifts including a Milwaukee Tool Thermos, which fit perfectly in the side pocket as well as inside the backpack.
If you’re seeking a do-it-all backpack that doesn’t sacrifice style or functionality, then consider the Griffith Park, you won’t be disappointed.
More than half of all Americans said having a smart home is important but here are the results of what’s truly on the wish list of most homeowners.
Our yard is small but mighty. Our indoor/outdoor space works well for us but recently our neighbor decided to cut down some bushes that were on his property but acted as a natural barrier between our homes. After the bushes were removed we could clearly see his kitchen and dining room windows and of course they could see right into our backyard. We did have some bamboo screens but they were worn out and falling down and not providing any privacy at all. We had no warning but fortunately the neighbor was just doing this to prepare the house for a new tenant so there was no one living in it, but we knew that could change quickly.
We considered a few options to regain some privacy between our homes. The first was extending the brick wall between our homes with a wood fence similar to what we had done in another section of our yard. The issue here is that the brick wall was shorter on this side so we’d have to build a much taller wood fence. This would take a lot more time and money and we needed this done fast.
The second option was to buy some pre-made wood fences and place them on risers up against the brick wall. Although the fences are pre-made we’d still have to build out a frame for them and they would be very heavy.
The next option was installing corrugated steel panels along the wall. Using furring strips we could attach the steel panels to the brick and be done with it! Usually the most simple option is the best so this is what we chose to do.
Thanks to Lowe’s we found all of the tools and materials we needed and after a quick trip to pick up supplies we were ready to get started.
8 corrugated steel panels (4×8)
20′ furring strips
Tapcon concrete screws
Corrugated steel screws
Carbide-tipped masonry drill bit
Hammer drill and driver
The first step is to attach the furring strips to the wall using Tapcon concrete screws. We pre-drilled the holes using a masonry bit that was included in the Tapcon screw kit.
The next step is lining up the steel panels against the wall and making sure they are even across the top. We overlap at least one ridge and then drill the steel screws through the panels and into the furring strips. We recommend using two furring strips for this process to ensure maximum hold.
Big thanks to Duluth Trading Company for letting me try out their new DuluthFlex Ultimate Fire Hose Cargo Pants.
The last step was sitting back and enjoying our new private yard.
The steel panels gave our yard an industrial chic look and made us feel like we were in a coffee house in Austin (not a bad thing). It’s full private and the panels have since weathered a few Santa Ana wind storms with no problem. An added bonus they served as an earthquake warning as we heard the panels shaking against each other last week during a little tremor we had. It was freaky to see and hear them move when there was no wind in the air.
Pressure washers are extremely handy tools. We use ours to clean our cars, wash the siding, clear the patio, the possibilities are endless. They use much less water than a hose and a standard garden nozzle and the concentrated spray makes quick work of dust, dirt and grime on almost any surface.
We recently tested the Karcher K 3 Follow Me electric pressure washer and have been very impressed.
We were skeptical of its small size and we’ve never seen an electric pressure washer perform very well, but this baby is small and mighty. It operates at 1800 PSI and 1.3 gallons per minute. It only weighs 50 lbs. and can be stored in your closet.
We liked the compact size and since there was no gas/oil to mess with it was much cleaner to operate and maintain. You simply plug it in and the long extension cord will provide plenty of reach.
It comes with two attachments, an adjustable nozzle that can spray soap or a more concentrated end that shoots a steady and narrow stream. The only drawback in our eyes is the host tends to get tangled easily. We think they could have used a better material that wraps easier and is more sturdy.
Check out our quick video as well as a fun car wash demo.
6 Second Car Wash #carwashvine #carwash https://t.co/33mJ9Y3VnF — Charles & Hudson (@Charles_Hudson) August 4, 2014
The ideal applications are cleaning driveways, patio furniture and vehicles. For more information visit Karcher.]]>
If you’ve got a solid core wood door, you’ve got yourself the makings of a nice wood work table. You need to start with a door with no moldings and hopefully the surface is smooth. If it’s got chipped paint or of the wood is damaged it would be best to repair or sand it first before painting it.
Estimated Project Time: 3 Hours
Challenge Level: Medium
Tools & Supplies:
1 gently used or new solid core wood door
Sandpaper grits: 180, 220
Box of 2” deck screws
4 pieces of 4×4 lumber cut to 32”
4 corner braces
4 L braces
¼” drill bit
1. Find a gently used solid core wood door or buy a new one.
2. Assemble tools and materials and cut table legs to desired length using a circular saw or hand saw.
3. Place door on a pair of sawhorses or across a sturdy table in a well-ventilated area.
4. Use sanding blocks and sandpaper to smooth all surfaces of the table including the top, sides and legs. Start with 180 grit and progress to 220 grit.
5. Use tack cloth to remove all dust and dirt from the table and legs.
6. Apply Polyurethane Finish or paint to door and legs.
7. Let Finish dry 2-4 hours on each side. Apply second coat if necessary.
8. Lineup corner and L brackets on legs and table and pre-drill holes.
9. Mount legs to door using the 2” deck screws and your drill/driver.
10. Check that all table legs are tightly secure.
11. Turn table over and enjoy your new work area.]]>
This week I had the pleasure of returning to the annual Milwaukee Tools New Product Launch Event.
It’s a full-day of hands-on tool testing and demonstrations from Milwaukee product managers. There are also Milwaukee Tool engineers, designers and executive available to ask any question you have regarding the tools, application or direction of their business.
It’s also a great time for me to catchup with my fellow tool bloggers, including: Home Fixated, Pro Tool Reviews, Tool Box Buzz, Concord Carpenter and Tools in Action. Check out their websites for a different perspective of the event.
Milwaukee Tools, considers themselves a solutions provider for their core users which include electricians, plumbers, carpenters, HVAC and contractors. Their goal is to introduce disruptive innovation to all the trades by providing tools that make a contractors job more efficient.
They introduced more than 50 new products but if I had to narrow it down to my top 5 new tools it would be this list.
1. M18 FUEL 7 1/4″ cordless circular saw kit (2731-22)
2. M18 FUEL HOLE HAWG ½” Right Angle Drill Kit (2707-22)
3. M12 FUEL 5 3/8″ cordless compact circular saw
4. M12 FUEL HACKZALL Reciprocating Saw Kit (2520-21XC)
5. Jobsite Offset Scissors (48-22-4040) and Jobsite Straight Scissors (48-22-4041)
Check out all of our photos on Google+ and Facebook and we’ll be posting some follow up articles on these tools.]]>
We’ve got some vintage style wood milk crates that look great in our yard and are perfect for displaying succulents and flowers, but the wood is untreated and has quickly started to fade and splinter due to the sun and weather.
We want to protect these display pieces so we can continue to use them for years to come and we also wanted to freshen them up with a darker toned color. We chose Olympic Elite Advanced Stain+Sealant which had a color we wanted (mahogany) and the waterproofing protection and UV resistance we needed.
Here’s a quick how-to video of our staining project and some photos of the finished piece. We’ve taken a first-person point-of-view video using our GoPro Hero head cam. Take a look.
I have been sponsored by PPG to create this video but the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.]]>