Since our eldest started school, I have dearly needed a place to contain the mess that is inevitably deposited on the floor the moment kids walk in the door. I've stared longingly at the catalogue photos of beautifully organized cubbies to corral the daily disaster. My problem though is I only kind of have a mudroom. I say "kind of" because it would be better to call it a laundry room since there is really only standing room to wash clothes and that is tight especially when I have a little "helper" underfoot.
I love our home even though it is tight by most people's standards. We have four kids squeezed into our three bedroom, 2.5 bath home and so there are days that I would give an I don't know what for more storage. However, I love that we can afford our home and it has an amazing location with a neighborhood that is incredible. I can't imagine giving that up and stretching ourselves beyond wisdom financially just to keep up with the Joneses.
Thus, I am trying to know eek out every square inch of space, Proverbs 31 style, and make it work for us. Most people don't have the luxury of large mudrooms to create replicas of picture perfect Pottery Barn cubbies; we don't so Brian and I came up with a doable and as usual, inexpensive solution.
The first rule of thumb when doing a project is to look around and see what you already have. In our case, the boards we used were leftover and just sitting in our garage. Really, it is a win-win since they didn't cost us anything and secondly, we get that space back in the garage. Even though we had to buy a few things, we already had paint and some wood which substantially reduced our cost.
Another tip is to make a list of all the projects you would like to do. It doesn't cost anything to dream and it helps too because it allows you to have something of a master plan i.e. don't spend money on a new bathroom sink faucet if you really want to put in a new solid surface counter top someday since that new faucet might not fit. Do it in the right order and save money. Once you have your list, keep an eye out for deals on some of your dreams and do it when it seems opportune.
We installed a basic board and batten on the back laundry room wall. True board and batten would have a plywood backing behind the batten boards, but we decided to skip this because, as I said, we are eking out every square inch. Brian took off the base board and started installing. He used some leftover boards in our garage from a previous project so that didn't cost us anything, but the boards are inexpensive anyway at Lowe's. He did buy extra quarter round to finish off the bottom since that is usually destroyed when you pull it up.
I've seen on Pinterest where people skip the step of taking off the base board and just installing the boards over. Don't, don't, don't do this! As an architect, Brian is constantly driven crazy by short cuts like these that end up just looking wrong for some reason at the end. In this case, the wall will look strangely off balance since it will look like the board and batten is overhanging the base board; it won't look properly grounded and in such a tight space as ours, we would be catching stuff on the bottom of the batten. Not good. Absolutely not good! It might be DIY, but it shouldn't look DIY! As you can see in the photo below, everything looks right here: nice and solid. Take the extra time and you'll be so much happier in the long run! (note: Brian read this and said that I was not emphatic enough on this point)
We spent a while measuring and planning before we started anything. We divided the space equally by the number of sections we wanted since we were only doing one wall. It helps greatly to draw it all out to scale so you can see it first!
Since the boards we used weren't of the highest quality, Brian spent a lot of time using wood putty to smooth them out, but I loved the way that some of the knots were showing through so we weren't too perfectionist. We really wanted a clean look since we have so much molding around our house so we didn't use any extra decorative pieces that you can. We primed then painted the boards and the wall behind it white with some of the extra paint we keep to touch up the trim work.
We installed four oil rubbed bronze hooks to hold backpacks and coats. I found these hooks at Target for just a couple dollars each. I've had really good luck finding hardware like this at Target since it has held up really well and it is pretty inexpensive compared to a lot of places. They don't have many choices, but if it works for you, it is often a good deal.
While it would have been cheaper and easier to just screw the hooks right into the wall, I love the way the board and batten makes it feel like it is a built in. It helps define the space as something different from the rest of the walls so that it keeps it looking more orderly. Our laundry room is right off the kitchen so the organization is really important because it looks clean when the doors are left open.
The laundry room might be tight, but it functions so well! After more than a year of usage, it has held up phenomenally. The hooks, though inexpensive, still look new and the wall and batten hasn't gotten beat up from the backpacks (which with three boys and a baby is saying something!). It is clean and organized and so the doors stay open most of the time letting in so much more light. While it isn't Pottery Barn, I love that we did this in two days (not working the whole time; we were just waiting for the paint to dry!) and it was a huge value since I don't think we spent more than $30 on it. And that lets me put our resources into far more important places!