Since purchasing a home near Eglinton Avenue East and Laird Drive in 2007, Jennifer Flores has been chronicling her family’s adventures in room-by-room renovations on her blog, Rambling Renovators.
“We knew we wanted a house that was a fixer upper so that there would be a lot of content and talking about renovations and decorating,” Flores said from her home. “That’s how it started.”
Flores and her architect husband, Sean Stanwick, are the authors of Design City Toronto, a book showcasing interior and architectural projects around Toronto, and their personal home transformations have been featured in publications like Style At Home magazine and on TV’s The Nate Berkus Show.
“Over the years my audience has just grown along with me and they’ve just seen our journey and they’ve seen us have our daughter and our house being renovated,” she said. “And we’re finally finished.”
Now that she’s completed updating every room in her semi-detached home, Flores revealed how she achieved the look of one of her favourite transformations: the laundry room.
“We always kind of ignore the laundry space,” she said. “A lot of houses have unfinished basements and it’s just the machines — a cold cement floor with really bad lighting.
“You spend so much time doing laundry, why not make that space enjoyable and someplace you’re not afraid of?”
Flores suggests thinking of the functionality of the space before “layering on the pretty” elements. Knowing she wanted a lot of storage for household items and linens, she and her husband not only maximized the amount of cabinetry in the room, but also divided the room so that a door leads to an extra pantry area.
“Every inch of that space is functional,” she said. “We’ve built cabinetry on both sides and we’ve got deep pot drawers so it’s really easy to put things in.”
Although they used big box cabinetry from Ikea, to add more of a design-savvy element to the space, the couple installed a custom stainless steel counter top over the washer and dryer. To save costs on the counter top, they built a plywood substrate and got it wrapped in stainless steel.
“It makes the room feel brighter,” she said, adding the surface is easy to clean and is practical for folding laundry.
Adding glass tile to both walls not only brought colour into the room, but along with the white walls and cabinetry the reflective surfaces also brighten up the room, she said.
“It’s got that watery feeling — that’s sort of how you feel in the laundry room,” she said. “I like that it’s very bright and airy, even though it’s actually got no windows.”
Since they added the extra pantry area off the laundry room, they were able to hide the plumbing on the other side of the wall, leaving the room free of shutoff valves that might have impeded the design.
“We planned it out so we had access from the room behind it and we brought all of our plumbing to the other side of the wall, so we were able to have a nice backsplash,” she said.
For Flores, installing in-floor heating in the room made a huge difference, which she says homeowners should consider before laying down the floor tiles.
“You can be in that laundry room folding, doing laundry for an hour and having that in-floor heating makes a huge, huge difference,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to go for a little bit of luxury.”
Flores finished off the room with a TV and decorative touches like artwork, accessories and a laundry decal, ordered from Etsy, on the frosted door entryway.
“We didn’t want the laundry room to feel so brand new,” she said. “Our house was built in the 1950s and we wanted it to have a bit of that essence in it.”
Although she says she’s set on enjoying her house being in a finished state after seven years of renovations, Flores is already itching for the next project.
“We are going to open-houses on the weekend,” she said. “I think if you’re a renovator, decorator, DIYer at heart, you always kind of want a project, so that desire is always there.”
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