We are picking up momentum in this new year with many new exciting things happening. Unpolished Gems was invited to be a vendor at one of Oklahoma City’s largest trade shows where we got to interact with customers, sell some treasures and meet our new, vintage loving community. We also launched our online shop of ‘Dusti Treasures’ both through unpolishedgem.net (check out that ‘Shop’ tab) and our Social Media Platforms! Not to mention we have been tirelessly working around the clock to tackle some projects in our own home.
This home renovation process has been a true test of craftsmanship, design and patience. We have learned a ton, got some new tools in the garage, saved money by doing it ourselves and ended up with a stunning space, if I do say so myself. It has been the most tedious and rewarding project of them all, but finally, we can unpack our pantry boxes and get organized in possibly the most multi-purposed, functional space of our little home. So without further ado, welcome to our Pantry/Laundry Room!
Quite a transformation! What you can’t see is just how dysfunctional this space was to begin with. The washer and dryer doors hit the opposing wall when opened, and getting into the pantry was a treat. We had to slip past the laundry, crack open the doors just enough to fit a searching arm into deep shelves, and hope our stretching fingers could find what they were looking for. It was a mess!
To clean the slate and cast fresh vision, we gutted the space rather quickly. Our first hurdle was relocating the washer and dryer. Fortunately we learned we did not need to relocate the drain so long as there was a 1/4inch slope per foot for water to flow properly. This saved us a bundle!
And so the laundry was relocated, an additional outlet was added and new drywall nailed into place.
I took inventory of the many items to be stored in this space, categorized them and started to design the pantry. I didn’t want any wasted space, hard to reach corners or shelving too deep to be organized. After a couple sketches and many conversations with my carpenter (my husband), I designed and he built the cabinetry.
The countertops are an unfinished, Hevea Butcher Block spanning the length of the lowers. This was a fairly inexpensive wood and one of the best for moisture and changing temperatures, perfect for a utility room. Upkeep is as simple as rubbing the surface with Butcher Block oil every 5-6 months. Done & Done!
A few of our space maximizers: Floor to ceiling cabinetry, stacked pull out drawers (by stacking them we ended up gaining more storage in the lower shelves), a 24 inch lazy susan for organization in the back corner, and an easily accessible trash nook.
Even though this room was seeing all new construction, I wanted it to feel just as charming as the rest of our home. To achieve this we designed and built craftsman style trim to encase the doors and window. For a bit more dimension and texture we added beadboard to the ceiling finished with extra wide crown moulding. Little details like trim work and ceiling texture can elevate the style of a small space.
Our second hurdle was discovering how to disguise the lovely circuit breaker located smack in the middle of the upper cabinets. The challenge here was having it be accessible when needed, but not visible AND keeping it’s prime location without wasting wall space. The solution we landed on was a custom built, framed magnetic board for weekly menu planning, recipes and any invitations that might otherwise find themselves cluttering up the fridge.
I added some vintage touches with black hardware acquired at an antique auction, a salvaged door from Alabama, an industrial light fixture, and 3 zinc pullout factory drawers. You might recognize some these pieces from our ‘Homemade Vanilla’ kitchen in Alabama.
And a-las, our sourced Kansas City Antique Brick floor. This brick was HARD to track down, but I was determined to find a close match to our brick fireplace. I wanted this floor to look as though it had been thought of at the same time as the rest of the home’s construction.
I could write an entire post dedicated to laying a brick floor, but here are a few of our takeaways:
- Face cut bricks are much thinner than brick pavers and, therefore, better for interior floors.
- Laying antique brick is an ‘eyeball it’ kind of job. If you plan to work with imperfect antique bricks, don’t bother with the spacers.
- No need for dry run. Mark the visual center of the room and start there.
- Seal your porous brick a couple times BEFORE grouting. Grouting a super porous surface, like brick, is a beast. We sealed our brick 3 times BEFORE grouting, and were stunned to find a persistent cloudy white grout haze.
- Aqua Mix ‘wet look’ sealer for brick and grout immediately polished our brick bringing back all the richness of their color. No residue, haze or sheen…it’s a miracle product! We shredded a number of new sponges, cheesecloth, towels, you name it trying to polish off our rustic brick but learned it was an uphill battle. Skip the frustration and go straight for the aqua mix.
- WEAR A MASK, goggles and cleaning gloves when working with sealers. Let’s just say, I didn’t and had some unpleasant reactions.
- Invest in knee pads.
Well there you have it, our first home renovation project complete! This highly functional and stylish space is now my favorite in our house. We love the craftsman details and added vintage accents. The contrast of new wood with old brick, smooth walls with textured ceiling, and a beautiful labor of love greeting and reminding, this is OUR HOME.