Before and After: An Untouched 1980s Laundry Room Gets a Lively 2-Day, $100 Refresh

published Feb 9, 2022
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Credit: Kari Rezac

You already know leafy greens are good for you, but they can also be good for your home, too — at least in terms of style. Banana leaf-, pampas grass-, and palm frond-patterned wallpapers are having a major moment in bedrooms, hallways, and dining rooms all across Apartment Therapy, and another great spot to place the unbe-leaf-ably cute pattern is the laundry room.

Homeowner Kari Rezac (@casasbykari) chose to use a repeated leaf pattern in hers, and it totally transformed the once-incredibly dull space that had barely been touched since it was built in the 1980s.

Credit: Kari Rezac

“This laundry room specifically started as more of a utility closet with a furnace taking up half the room,” Kari says. Shortly after she moved in, she bought a new washer and dryer, and she felt that the new, nice appliances needed “an equally nice room.”

She used wallpaper to highlight the laundry portion of the room and to brighten the space, which already got ample light through the center window but “was cramped, forgettable, and certainly not inspiring me to climb any dirty laundry mountains,” she says.

Credit: Kari Rezac

To make the room feel more complete and cohesive, she painted the baseboards, walls, and existing cabinetry white. “Then, I placed the removable wallpaper,” Kari says. The process was fairly easy, she recalls, as her tropical selection from Target was “just like a big sticker.”

“[It] was easy to apply and just as easy to peel off and fix,” she says. (Perfectionists, take note!) Kari says she loves the boldness and color of the wallpaper, and she encourages others to try for a similar bold look.

Credit: Kari Rezac

“The bold wallpaper complements all the natural light in the room, but it also makes the eye go toward the laundry portion of the utility room,” she says. “[It] was a great way to divide the room, and you almost forget a furnace is even in there!”

Credit: Kari Rezac

The other DIY solution she’s proud of in the space is a new countertop for folding and sorting, which she upcycled out of a door she bought at her local Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $15. “A door can be a countertop any day,” Kari says. “Keep a look out for cheap slab doors for your next project.”

The length was perfect, Kari says, so all she had to do was cut out an opening for the plumbing with a jigsaw. After cutting the countertop, she painted the door with bright white paint and added a satin polyacrylic finish.

Credit: Kari Rezac

“If I did anything differently, I would make the finish on the countertop semigloss,” she says. “I used a satin, which works fine. However, I think a higher gloss would make cleaning the countertop just that much easier.”

Still, Kari is proud of the distinct, functional, and stylish laundry spot she created. The hardest part of the DIY was placing the door-turned countertop onto 1x2s to attach it to the wall, she remembers. “The countertop was solid wood, the room was small and filled with a furnace, and maneuvering the countertop alone was quite the feat,” she says. “I ended up tearing some of the wallpaper I already had up. Luckily, it is stick-on!”

Credit: Kari Rezac

The last step was adding trim around the countertop (with Liquid Nails) to match the existing baseboard in the room — a great way to make the laundry setup look seamless and built-in.

It’s a totally impressive transformation for just two days of work, and equally impressive is its low price tag: The room looks completely new for under $100. Hard to beat that!