As I dove headfirst into remodeling our bland new house (see what I did there?), the laundry room was never a concern. “If I do anything at all to it,” I remember thinking, “It will be some paint and a shelf, but only when we get a new washer and dryer, and that won’t be for at least a year.”
Our need for a new washer and dryer came sooner than expected, which means I had to quickly figure out what to actually do in that room before they were delivered. I “sketched” out a couple ideas in Photoshop. And when I “sketch” in Photoshop, I get the exact dimensions of every piece of furniture planned for the room and create front, side, and top views to scale. Yes, I’ve used Google SketchUp. No, I don’t like it.
The laundry room is 66” each way, and since the new washer and dryer are 31” deep (without any power/water hoses connected), I decided to split it roughly down the middle with a 34” deep platform spreading wall to wall. After scouting parts at Lowe’s I found the 8×24” shelves would work perfectly as drawer fronts with some sleek IKEA-esque handles. Since the baseboard is 5.25”, and I wanted at least 1/4” clearance above it before the drawer front, my platform front had to be 16” high to comfortably fit everything. This worked out perfectly since the OEM pedestals are usually around 15”. They also cost $400 a pair, so I figured spending roughly $150 on a built-in customer platform was a good idea. I figured even if the whole thing was a disaster, I could reuse the hardware on whatever my contingency plan ended up being.
So here’s what I did (and sorry I don’t have many photos. I wasn’t really documenting the process with plans of blogging it):
1- I tore up the 3” baseboard and quarter round. Our house has 9’ ceilings and 3” baseboard, so as I’ve been replacing flooring I’ve upgraded the baseboard to 5.25”
With the baseboard gone, I used the exposed studs under the sheetrock to find where the studs are. In most homes, the builders usually mark the base 2×4 with a line and an X to signify where the stud is. They’re usually 16” apart. I took a sharpie and made the same mark a foot higher on the sheetrock. I only did this on the back half of the room that would be covered by the platform.
2 – Paint. I used leftover paint from the downstairs bathroom. I actually left the parts that will be covered up by the washer and dryer unpainted since I was running out. But yay free!
3 – Put down foam/plastic underlayment and flooring. The underlayment was unnecessary since Pergo will go down just fine on the existing laminate flooring. The kind that I got already had foam attached to the bottom of each plank to cut down on noise, but since I had leftover underlayment sheeting I figured it wouldn’t hurt to dampen the noise even more in that room and slightly cushion it.
4 – Screw 2x4s to the walls, leveling the tops at 14.5” The OSB and foam flooring are both .75” thick, so I needed the frame to be 1.5” under the 16” melamine front for it to be even. I made sure not to block the dryer vent line, and cut pieces to go on either side. The level is where I really notices the uneven flooring and walls. I would measure 14.5” at one stud, and then 14.5” at the other stud would put the 2×4 crooked. Trust the level. The measurements were jacked up all the way around the platform, but the level meant that everything would work together. Since I was anchoring the frame directly into the wall, height to the floor really doesn’t matter as long as it’s level.
5 – Cut drawer openings out of the front. This took a lot of measuring and planning (and self-doubt) since the openings had to be bigger than the drawers but smaller than the drawer fronts. Even though I totally had the wrong equipment for cutting them out, they turned out pretty well.
6 – Front the frame with 2×2 at the top and 2×4 at the bottom. Since the drawers would have to be about 2” from the top of the front face of the platform, a 2×4 would obstruct the drawers. I screwed the melamine into the 2×4 at the bottom since the baseboard would cover it up. I screwed the tops in from the reverse, just making sure the screw depth would only thread about halfway through the melamine so it wouldn’t show through.
7 – Build the drawers and attach the slides. Based on my dimensions I had just enough extra melamine to make 2 drawers, and I had previously bought some Luan for $2 that worked well for the bottoms.
8 – Run 2×6’s along each drawer opening. I wasn’t really happy with the way I did this. Since I wasn’t sure my drawers would line up properly, and since I only had one shot to make them, I decided to have the 2×6’s rest on the uneven floor instead of anchored into the platform so I could adjust them as needed to the width of the drawers. Turns out this was a good plan since it took quite a bit of leveling and adjusting to get the drawers to float through the openings and stay level with 1/8” clearance on all sides. I used a deck screw to attach them to the supporting 2×4 I ran across the middle.
9 – Attach the handles to the drawer fronts and screw drawer fronts to drawers. The machine screws that come with the drawer handles had rounded heads, meaning they would stick out from the shelf. Since I needed to screw it in flush against the drawers, after I pre-drilled a 3/16” hole for the screw, I put the 1/4” bit in to drill down slightly on top of it, allowing the rounded screw head to recess into the back of the drawer front and fit flush with the drawer. A picture would probably help.
10 – Lay down OSB platform. I tried to load the 4×8‘ piece of wood into the back of my Honda Element with no success and much embarrassment before I remembered that Lowe’s offers free wood cutting. I had them chop out the dimensions (less 1/4” each way) so I could hopefully just drop it in place. And fit it in my car. And save me from cutting it crooked with my little Skill Saw. Always take advantage of free wood cutting. The only thing I modified was using the Skill Saw to cut an opening for the dryer vent.
11 – Cut foam mats to size.
12 – Lay new baseboard. I went ahead and reused the cheap transition strip that went from the hall carpet to the old linoleum, just flipped the other way. Since the hardware has a satin nickel finished it seems more like an intentional accent than just the crap that was there before.
Bonus – The handles turned out to be the perfect size to hook a hanger through, so I bought an extra longer one and some shelf materials to make a hanging rod. I hated hanging stuff on the door frame only to knock it down seconds later!
What did I buy?
2 – 8×24” Melamine shelf for drawer fronts
1 – 12×24” Melamine shelf for hanging shelf
1 pair of shelf brackets
1 – box of 3” deck screws
2 – 12” drawer handles
1 – 20” drawer handle
2 – 22” full extension drawer slider pairs
3 – 8’ 2x4s
2 – 8’ 2x6s
1 – 8’ 2×2
1 – 4×8 sheet OSB cut to size
1 – pack of foam floor tiles
Items already purchased:
Melamine shelving cut for platform front and drawer frames. Luan for drawer bottoms.
Studfinder (I’m right here, ladies)
Tools it would have been awesome to have:
What do I not like about this:
I intentionally used leftover parts for the areas I was worried about screwing up. Drawers are really freaking hard to do right, and since I had never tried to build them before, I wasn’t going to waste money on nice wood for them only to jack it up in my practice run. They work properly, but don’t look to closely. If I feel like it (or if the drawers break) I’ll do them over in solid wood.
I could have spent $20 for a solid piece of melamine for the front to avoid the seam up the middle, but I was unsure how cutting the drawer openings with a Skill Saw would work, and I really didn’t want to trash a $20 piece of wood because of one bad cut. At least with 2 separate pieces I could royally screw up one drawer opening and the other be ok.
Next step is a shelf for folding above the appliances and a narrow set of shelves in between for detergent, etc.
But here’s how it looks now. Not ugly and functional (which is all I can really hope for in these DIY projects!)