Our kitchen was the very first room we renovated in this house, almost four years ago. It was a case of “I’m not buying the house unless we can afford to do that right now,” because it was pretty gross! I still love the kitchen just as much today, but lurking behind its famous blue barn door has been an extremely grotty laundry which has finally had its makeover! And boy, am I excited to share it with you today!
Many assumed there was a butler’s pantry behind that door but, because of the state of it, you’d never know because that door remained firmly shut! My friend James Treble, the TV interior designer, once had a look before I had chance to stop him and I was mortified! Here’s a photo from just before we moved in, to give you an idea.
I have been known to exaggerate on occasion but this time? No, it really was awful! And not only awful but also tiny (about 2.5 x 1.5m). Because of that floor to ceiling cupboard on the right, when we brought in our own separate washing machine and dryer we had one to the left in front of the never-used sink, and well, it was messy and squashed to say the least. In the spirit of keeping it real (not representative of everyday life but it was so bad I just had to share!), the following photo will give you an idea! We later switched to a washer/dryer to save space but it wasn’t ideal.
It’s a good job Damian does the laundry in our house because this room was definitely not sparking any joy. That said, due to it being hidden away and never seen by guests, it fell to the back of the reno queue while we got the rest of the house shipshape. But you can only live like that for so long and I embarked on a way to fix it on a relative budget, mixing high end and more affordable products and making an impact with colour, pattern, and my favourite brass accents. Et voila!
The new laundry is small but she is mighty! I absolutely love the look but it’s also super practical for such a small space.
Let’s start with those navy cabinets, which are Kaboodle from Bunnings. I was going to use their paint-your-own range and then spray paint them navy, but when I saw a sample of these Bluepea doors in store, in the perfect hue and ready to go, I leapt at the chance to save myself that job (or paying someone else to do it!). I really am thrilled with the colour. And I chose their Alpine shaker profile door to complement our kitchen cabinets.
Planning the layout using their online 3D kitchen planner was a breeze, even for an amateur like me! The biggest call I made was in not having wall cabinetry right the way across because a) I didn’t want to block light from the window and b) I was keen to incorporate a hanging rail for Damian’s shirts. Although we only have two cabinets in total (one on the wall and one under the sink), it’s plenty of storage for laundry detergent and other cleaning materials I need to keep up high, away from Charlie.
The doors were a special order from Bunnings and took a few weeks but boy, were they worth it! My amazing carpenter Trent from Pure Renovation Group, made everything look much more custom by using end panels in the same colour as the doors in between the washer and dryer and at the far right against the wall. I’m thrilled with the cabinetry! The Cornet brass handles from Kathy are the same as we have in the kitchen and aren’t they just a match made in heaven?!
I had my eye on the floor tiles from Tile Cloud (whose tiles we used in our main bathroom and on our front porch last year) for a long time. They’re the Palm Beach in blue and the tone works so perfectly with the blue-grey of our panelling and barn door in the kitchen (Haymes Paint Chinchilla Fur). We tiled over the existing brown and beige floor tiles to save money here too, as well as getting the tilers to do the en suite (coming soon!) and porch at the same time to get a better deal.
Another element bringing consistency from the kitchen is the tiger bronze mixer tap from Meir. I also chose the perfectly matching gold sink from their sister brand Lavello, which is definitely much better quality then the kitchen one we bought at Bunnings (and is no longer sold by them). The quality literally shines through!
We’ve also used the same Caesarstone Noble Grey from the kitchen, for the bench and splash back. The day that went in was a very exciting one! It really brought everything together, it looks so luxurious in such a utilitarian space, and of course it’s super practical too. Just having a benchtop at all is a major improvement, but to have one that’s so easy to care for and looks amazing, is the icing on the cake. We went for the 20mm profile which I’ve never regretted for a second in the kitchen. We made the bench 50mm deeper than the standard 600mm (a tip I picked up from Zephyr + Stone) so the machines barely protrude at all. Top tip: you can take your own samples to the Caesarstone Flatlay Studio to get a better idea on how everything works together.
The girls also told me I could pick up that brass plated hanging rail (actually designed for wardrobes) from Hafele. There was a bit of a wait on it due to Covid but it was so worth it because it finishes the room off perfectly and I couldn’t find something similar anywhere else, particularly as I wanted to fix it to the window architrave on one side and the wall cabinet at the other, rather than underneath a cabinet.
Last but not least, with all this prettiness, we couldn’t lose sight of the practicalities, and it was time to upgrade our washing and drying machines. As a family of four now (including a school kid with uniforms), our previous washer/dryer combo just wasn’t cutting it. While it was a great washer, the dryer capacity wasn’t big enough (less than the washing capacity) and we often had to dry things twice. It also wasn’t as energy efficient as a heat pump dryer and having had one of those in our previous home, we knew how amazing they were, especially in the cheap to run stakes. Opting for two separate machines meant a decision to stack them or put them side by side under a bench and that was a bit of a no-brainer given the option.
Having done our research, these new Fisher & Paykel machines came up as the favourites and we’re pretty much in love with them, not to mention they’re so smart they do half the job for you (or Damian, I should say).
The 12kg (woohoo!) front loader washing machine is programmed to sense the size of the load and soil level, allowing it to automatically dispense the right amount of detergent and select the optimal wash time. The drum is the largest ever capacity launched by the brand, making it perfect for bulky items like bedspreads and duvets (which I have a horrible habit of spilling my morning coffee on).
The 9kg heat pump dryer was created to gently and effectively dry clothes at low temperatures, to preserve the lifetime of fabrics. It ensures moisture is condensed so no venting is required, ideal in our tiny space. We just empty the water down the sink every few uses. Not needing to vent the dryer means you can pretty much put this anywhere you like in your home, which might make it the choice for your Euro style laundry behind cabinetry.
Suffice to say, being able to wash and dry large loads successfully in an energy efficient way, has been a game changer for our family.
In terms of plumbing, we kept the sink where it was but had the washing machine taps moved down behind the machines (no more visible pipes, thank goodness!). We also had our electrician move the powerpoint down below bench height. (I decided not to have any powerpoints above the bench and avoid having a cutout in the stone splashback. It’s such a small room, we really don’t use it for ironing or anything like that so it wasn’t necessary.) These are small jobs by the professionals that make a big difference. While we thought we could get away without a plasterer, we really couldn’t, so we had someone come in to patch up all the rough parts where the old cupboard was pulled out (leaving its orange and green floral wallpaper behind it!).
Even though it’s a small room, I wanted it to be as functional as possible, hence adding not one but three robe hooks (they’re Meir tiger bronze to match the tap). They’re great to hang something on a hanger, or goggles from the swimming bag or something that needs to air dry. I truly believe hooks are underrated for keeping things tidy. I fit them in wherever I can!
With all the heroes in this room (I sure did break the rule of having only one hero, but I truly believe it all works and isn’t too much), we kept the walls white (Haymes Light Frost) and we painted ourselves to save a little money here too.
The barn door is now left open all the time because I love that pop of navy and how it contrasts with the pale blue/grey of the kitchen. I joke that if I were a laundry this is exactly what I’d be! It’s true! We’re absolutely thrilled with the smallest room in the house now. I might even start doing some of the laundry…
Photography: Jacqui Turk
If you’re in north shore Sydney and need a great carpenter and all round tradesman who works with other tried and trusted trades, please contact me for an introduction to Pure Renovation Group.