Friday, December 27, 2013

Surprise Christmas Makeover

Since yesterday I shared everything that went down for Christmas, I thought I'd share a Christmas gift that we gave to my sister a little early - a surprise laundry room makeover. We had been planning it for a while, and it was hard to keep it a secret. But I'm excited that I can finally spill the beans on how it all went down.

My sister and her husband bought their home about 3 years ago, but haven't really done any major upgrades to it since they moved in. It was was what you could call "builder basic." My sister added photos and artwork to the walls, but beyond that didn't really personalize the house. She has always talked about wanting to paint, but was too intimidated by the large ceilings and the color-picking process. I've told her for the past year or so to give me an idea of what she wants and I'd help her pick everyone out. I'd even volunteer my husband to do all the labor. But, nothing every really went further than that. Until a couple months ago that is.

Dan and I were visiting with my parents one weekend and got talking about Christmas and what were were thinking about getting for my sister's kids. Somehow the conversation transitioned to what we wanted to get my sister and her husband. I brought up the idea of buying her a gallon of paint for Christmas. Then, the idea snowballed into all of us chipping in and doing a whole room  makeover. And once my mom gets an idea in her head, it's hard for her to stop rolling with it.

So, when my sister and her husband came over later that day, I pulled my brother-in-law aside and told him about our idea. He loved it! I asked him which room in the house he thought they could benefit the most from a makeover. Laundry room. No hesitation. Main problem? Shoe organization.

You see, my sister and her family rarely use the front door to enter their home; they always use the garage door. Immediately through the garage door is their first floor half bath to the left and the laundry room to the right. The area in between was affectionately dubbed "The Dumping Ground." Maybe you have one of those. Backpacks.... Shoes... you name it, it was dropped. They had done their best to corral the shoes into large Tupperware bins, but it wasn't effective. And my brother-in-law was tired of tripping over shoes. For a man with only 3 pairs of shoes, he couldn't understand why it was so hard to put shoes away. And the shoes were making it difficult to get into the laundry room and sort laundry. So the laundry room it was.

Anyways, with his approval of the gift and the room chosen we turned to (what else?) Pinterest for ideas. I created a secret board and added my mom to it so that we could share ideas. While my mom distracted my sister, I went through all of the laundry room photos I had already pinned with her husband to see what he had in mind (like this, this, this, and this) and repinned those to the secret board.

My mom even got my sister onto the topic of painting her living room and asked her what colors she was considering. She said she wanted a blue color, then pointed to these earrings on the kitchen counter and said, "like this."

Crazy enough, those earrings were pretty darn close to the color I picked for my classroom last summer. To be honest, I was surprised by her choice considering most of the decor in her home is dark rather than bright. But, if we were going to paint any room a bright, cheery color, it would be the laundry room. 

Then my sister mentioned her favorite flower: tulips. I don't think she's met a tulip she didn't like. Red and yellow tulips are her color of choice. So, we ran with the idea of painting the walls blue and adding pops of red and yellow in the room.

With a color scheme in mind, the next step was to figure out how to accommodate all of the shoes while maintaining the functionality of the room. We knew it would require some piece of furniture, but we weren't sure of how large a piece the room would accommodate. So, we planned a secret trip out to my sister's house after school one day so that we could get in there, snap some before pictures, get measurements of the room, and get out of there before she got off of work. The only potential problem would be if my niece or nephew spilled the beans about our little trip.

With measurements in hand, pictures on our phones, and the added challenge from my brother-in-law to find a place for all the detergent bottles besides the top of the dryer, Dan and I planned a trip to Ikea with my mom. We looked at all of the possible storage options throughout the store and (three hours later....) decided that we liked the Pax wardrobe best. It made the most sense for what we were looking for: tall, fit into the space, allowed for deep storage and had changeable shelving and drawer options to choose from. The wired, pull out drawers would be perfect for storing all of their shoes. Not to mention, they were large enough for each member of the family to have their own basket. So we took pictures and wrote down the prices of all the components that we needed and got ready to leave Ikea.

But, if you know me at all, you know I can't leave a store without stopping by the clearance section first (my mother taught me well!). So of course I had to stop by the "as-is" section of Ikea near the registers. And wouldn't you know? They had the Pax wardrobes in the exact size that we needed marked down more than 50% off - still in the box! They had 7 of them left. But there was a little problem. We had driven down in my little Kia not anticipating buying anything. We'd have to wait until the next morning to borrow my stepdad's truck. Luckily, when we went back, there were still plenty of wardrobes to choose from. When we went back, we picked up the baskets for the shoes. The store was out of selves, so a few weeks later, I found some in the "as-is" section that were slightly off-colored and picked those up instead. Honestly, now that it's all been installed, you don't even notice the difference in color.

Now that we had the main piece of furniture to add functionality and storage, it was time to look for accessories. Remember how we were hoping to add pops of red and yellow to this room? Well, we found these awesome red floating shelves at Ikea when we were looking around and decided we wanted to add two of them to the room opposite the washer and dryer. Mom found a cute tulip canvas print. We played around with the idea of spray painting some frames yellow and hanging those up.

All that was left was to hurry up and wait. Mom and I both asked for the day off of work. Dan was already scheduled to be off. All we had to do was keep our fingers crossed and pray that neither my sister or her kids would get sick on the day we were planning to do the makeover.

The morning of the makeover, Dan and I were running behind schedule. So mom got there first and started unloading the laundry room and pulling the washer and dryer into the middle of the room. Dan helped unload the furniture from the pickup truck. And I worked on priming over the dark scuff marks around the walls. Since the paint we had bought was paint+primer, we decided to only prime over the darker areas on the wall. Then, we cracked open the paint. Dan got the high spots, I started cutting in, and mom rolled everywhere else.

Luckily, it only took one coat of paint to cover the entire room. We used a small brush to do minor touch-ups where needed. By the way, the color we used was Sunken Pool from the Martha Stewart line at Home Depot.

While the paint dried, my mom ran home to eat lunch and pick up the shoe baskets that she had left behind. Dan and I worked on getting the wardrobe assembled before we headed out to grab some food. Once we were all back together and had full bellies, we decided it was best to disassemble the wardrobe and assemble it inside of the laundry room.

See all that space between the washer and the window? Well, the initial plan was to shift both the washer and the dryer (their units are reversed) closer to the window and place the wardrobe between the dryer and the wall. Problem? The dryer hose was too short. Although that was easily fixed by a trip to WalMart, our next problem was that the dryer vent prevented the wardrobe from being placed flush against the wall and therefore, would prevent us from anchoring it.

Once I get an idea into my head, it's hard for me to let it go. I sat in that room and brainstormed how to make it all work. Because, honestly, the wardrobe against the window wall made the room feel even smaller than it did with the piles of shoes in it. Eventually, I convinced Dan that we could anchor some wood to the wall, and then the wardrobe to the wood. But, we didn't have time to do all the anchoring before my sister got home. We'd only have enough time to cut off a piece of the wire shelving above the washer and dryer and shimmy the wardrobe into place. No big deal - we could come back that weekend and fix it, right?

So, after making a quick trip to my in-laws to pick up a hack saw and my mom ran home to pick up my stepdad, we started running around like chickens with their heads cut off getting all the last minute things into place before my sister arrived home.

My niece and nephew helped with getting all the shoes into their new homes while I worked on hiding the tools and paint in the bathroom.

Here's the finished room:

The blue baskets were originally in the laundry room. We just organized what was in them and returned them to the shelf above the washer and dryer.

I shopped around her house for stuff to place on the shelves to that they weren't empty. My mom found the Christmas decorations and hung those up in the room.

You can see how tall the Pax wardrobe is. Although I bought three shelves for the unit, we only installed two. The first shelf holds all of the detergents, bleach, and fabric softeners, and the second shelf holds one of the Tupperware bins that previously held shoes. Now, it holds winter blankets and other seasonal things. There's even enough room on top of the wardrobe for another Tupperware bin. They even have the option of moving both bins to the top and installing that third shelf for even more storage.

My sister was completely surprised! Even all the panicked phone calls and text messages from her husband wondering when she was going to be home didn't tip her off.

Sorry for the really blurry photo.... but you can tell how happy she was (and how much of a ham my niece is). That yellow thing that she's holding was the only thing that we didn't have time to hang. It will eventually go below the red shelves and hold the kids' book bags.

I'm really glad that my sister loved what we did to her laundry room. She's even talking about having us come in and do another room for her. Don't have to ask us twice!

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