DIY Plywood Countertop

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The laundry room.  The phrase doesn’t exactly bring up feelings of love and longing, does it?  No, for most it hearkens feelings of being buried in mountains of cotton and polyester and lost in seas of unmatched socks.  Or maybe it’s the monotony of it all that comes up – wash this, fold it, put it away, and two days later, there it is again.  Times that by a hundred and repeat it by a thousand and four and you’ve piled a nice slice of semi-despair onto your plate.  And maybe you’re one of those people who doesn’t mind doing laundry (which also means you probably don’t have kids) so I guess maybe you can’t relate and that’s ok.  Personally, I’d rather do laundry than dishes so I guess I’ll keep my cup half full with that.  But, there’s hope.  We have recently discovered that a pretty laundry space makes doing laundry a little, a little less of a chore.  You don’t even have to spend a lot to spruce up your space.  Last weekend we crossed off something that’s been our our to-do list for years – crafting a new wood countertop to be placed over the washer and dryer.  We love how it turned out and we’ve been shaking our heads at how long we waited to do it because of how easy it was.  Of course I typed up all the details for ya in case you want to make one of your very own.

Before we pull up to the new top though, let’s do a little refresher.  Here’s the laundry corner of our laundry room, sans any sort of countertop:

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And here is a glimpse (because it’s the best picture I could find) of our temporary countertop – the middle of a door we cut out last year which just happened to be as wide as our side-by-side washer and drying but six inches short of their depth.
IMG_8072 Up until last weekend, it didn’t seem like a bad arrangement.  Sure it was ugly…I was hoping to cover it with some marble contact paper one of these days.  But, it gave us a surface on which to treat stains and set stuff so I was all for it.  (I vaguely remember Anthony giving me a stink-eye when I told him to “lay that there piece of wood you just cut out of that there door on top of the washer and dryer.”)  Now that we have our new and improved version in place though, the old door slab is laughable.

IMG_8508We have successfully upped the functional and aesthetic anty all for just under $40.  Read that as WIN and WIN.

I am so very excited to share it with you because it really was so simple to do!  Your front-loaders will be begging for a top after you read this and you will too.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

First, get the measurements of the area you want to cover.  Maybe it’s just your washer and dryer or maybe you want to go all the way to the wall, like we did.  The bigger, the better in this case.

Now, write those measurements down and take them to your favorite hardware store.  We went to Lowe’s because it’s closest to our house.  Stroll over to all of the plywoods and grab yourself a nice sheet of premium birch, 1/2 inch thick.  Of course, you can go up in expense and grab a different premium plywood depending on which has the look you want.  I wanted the lightest plywood we could find so birch it was but there’s oak and pine too.  I don’t know much about different types of wood besides the fact that they’re different colors, but the oak was $15 more expensive than the birch…maybe it’s stronger?  Takes stain better?  I don’t know.  All I know is that $35 is lower than $50 and the $35 birch looked fantastic, was the lighter color we wanted, and was perfect for what we needed it to do.

Take the plywood over to the wood-cutting area, hand over your measurements to the wood-cutter dude (or lady!), and have him/her cut it to the size you need.  You could check out here and go home to start the install or you could do what we did to make the countertop look thicker.  Like I noted above, the plywood we grabbed was birch, 1/2 inch thick.  Great, but we wanted our countertop to look a little thicker than 1/2 inch.  It’s all personal preference though.  Of course we could’ve just grabbed two pieces of plywood but then we’d have had to shell out another $35 and would’ve had a ton of wasted pieces post-cutting.  Instead, we had the wood-cutter slice the long piece that was left after cutting into two equal long pieces.  This would allow us to beef up the thickness of our countertop with some strategic placement. 

Did I lose you?  Yeah, I’m losing myself.  Sometimes pictures just explain better.

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Here’s the underside of our countertop:
IMG_2416You can see the full piece on the bottom (which is actually the top) and then the two pieces on top of that full piece (that are actually the bottom pieces) are the extra length of the plywood that was cut off and cut in half again length-wise.  We glued one piece along the front of our countertop, giving the thicker look from the front, and one piece towards the back to balance everything out.  Does that make sense?  I hope so.

To attach the two strips of plywood to the underside of the countertop, we used Elmer’s wood glue:
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Anthony ran several beads of glue along the two narrow pieces of plywood, stuck them on, and then made sure they stayed put by placing a bunch of his weights on top.
IMG_2393We left the weights on overnight and by morning, we were ready for the next step.

Because the left side of the plywood was going to extend to the wall, Anthony grabbed a scrap piece of 1 x 2 and screwed it into the studs along the left wall so that that side of the counter would sit on it.
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Also, so that the countertop didn’t sit directly on top of our washer and dryer, I cut up a foam kitchen mat I found at Dirt Cheap ($1) several years ago for it to rest on (the old countertop sat on top of the mat too).  You can find foam kitchen mats like the one I used at Walmart and Target for fairly cheap or the multi-purpose foam sold at fabric and craft stores would work too.
IMG_2418We just made sure the foam mat pieces aligned with the strips of plywood on the underside of the countertop.

Later, we realized we didn’t like how that 1 x 2 support looked so we cut it back so that it couldn’t be seen from the front and then painted it the color of the wall for added camoflage.  Now it looks like the countertop is floating which is uber cool!
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Originally, I just wanted to slap some poly on top of the plywood to keep the color light but Anthony liked the idea of staining it darker more.  So, I tested both ideas on the scrap piece.
IMG_2434Without stain, it did match the color of our tiles a little too much making a little contrast sound better so I swayed to Anthony’s side.  Out came the small can of ‘Special Walnut’ stain I used on this table and this table.  I like the ‘Special Walnut’ because it’s not too red or orange and almost leans toward having a gray hue.

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I’ve never stained anything this big before…actually, I don’t know that I’ve ever stained anything wood before so I was a little nervous.  Apply and wipe off.  That’s what I’ve seen other people do and that’s what the directions said.  How hard could it be, right?  Well, here’s what I learned about staining a big ‘ole piece of wood – you’ve got to stain in sections.  Brush on the stain in the direction of the wood grain, let it soak in (I only let it soak in for about a minute because I wanted a lighter look), and wipe off.  Then do the same thing with the next section.  After I was done with that, the section I started with was lighter than everthing else so I made a second pass on it and then it was darker than everything else.  *sigh*  Grade?  D+  I think I’ll stick with my paint and paint brush.
IMG_2420It wasn’t exactly what I had pictured in my head.  It was too dark (however, Anthony loved it) and too streaky.  To lighten some of the darker parts, I took our sander with fine sandpaper to it and, while it didn’t lighten them much, it did make things A LOT less streaky.  (Just a note, some of the wood glue we used to attach the two pieces of plywood came oozing out the front.  We wiped it as it oozed but there was still residue leftover that dried and did not take stain so the front edge of the countertop is really splotchy.  Right now I’m not too concerned but later down the road, I might grab some matching brown paint and dab it on to hide the glue a little better.) 

After sanding, I brushed on two coats of polyurethane with a satin finish, letting the first coat dry competely before adding the second.  I had a hard time deciding whether to use polyurethane or polycrylic.  Polyurethane yellows over time a lot more than polycrylic and I wanted to stay far away from that.  But, I think polyurethane is a little more durable and, for a countertop that will probably see it’s fair share of detergent spills and damp clothes, I wanted good protection.  So, I hoped and prayed the yellowing wouldn’t be noticeable and went ahead with the polyurethane.

So far, there’s no yellowing to be seen.

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I also sanded the only exposed corner down so that it was rounded vs. the pointed edge waiting for a toddler head to come crashing into it.

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Here’s what the countertop looks like from the side:
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You can definitely tell it’s not one, solid, 1” thick piece of wood BUT in our case, that’s a-ok because this side isn’t visible unless you’re getting cozy with the waterheater (behind the bifold) or playing hide-and-go-seek, so we don’t care.  Anthony offered to cut a small piece of the scrap plywood to stick in that spot on the side to make it look one inch thick all around but I figured it was pointless. 

Next on the list for this room – getting rid of that blah, crooked light fixture and adding some wallpaper to the wall above the countertop.
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I found this little chandelier at Goodwill a few years ago that will be going up in this room but I’m having a really hard time deciding what color to make it.
IMG_2387                                                                          (Special thanks to the model.)
My heart wants to sand it down to a brushed, more modern brass but my head is telling me to paint it silver to match the chandelier in the dining nook, one room away, so that everything flows.  What say you?  (Keep in mind that our plan is to sell this house in the next year or two so I have potential buyers to please.)

And, wallpaper.  I’m having a really hard time deciding that too.  Right now I’m leaning toward #1, maybe so I can get my gold in someway or another if it’s not in the light fixture.
wallpaperThese are all from Spoonflower – I’ve got a gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket.  Opinions please!  If I didn’t have the gift certificate, I’d probably grab a stencil or free hand some dots or something but I’m really dying to try my hand at wallpaper.  Stay tuned.

We’ve only had the countertop in place for a couple of days and it’s been so amazing.  I love the extra space!  If you don’t have a top atop your washer and dryer, you’ve gotta get one!  
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If you take on this project, let me know!  I’d love to see!  And seriously, I’d love your input on the light fixture and the wallpaper.  I can’t do this on my own! Confused smile

Have a great weekend!

*affiliate link included in post

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Check out our other laundry room projects:
Anthropologie-inspired knobs
painted and stamped storage cabinet
toothpicked mirror
hanging ironing board
welcome home art

diy floating countertop

Friday Smorgasboard

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It’s been awhile since I’ve just sat down without a tutorial mission to accomplish so let’s just go with the TGIF flow and shoot the breeze today, yes?  I mean, maybe we are basking in unfinished projects territory over here so the only finished thing I have for you are snippets?  Yep, yep, and yep. 

First and foremost, have you been following the miracle of little Joy?  Oh the glory of God!

We spent the week after Christmas trying to nurse the kids back to health from the land of RSV and ear infections…so fun.  ‘Tis the season, I guess.  Easy isn’t a word that comes to mind when I think back on that week but I can tell you that a few things that made it easier are a humidifier and our NoseFrida.  My best friend got the girls this humidifier last year and, oh my gosh, can you love something like that?  Apparently you can because I’ve fallen hard.  I’ve used my fair share of humidifiers and this is by far the easiest to operate.  By far people.  You fill it up (and drop in some essential oils if that’s your jam), set the lid on, and let it go.  When you’re done, you dump it, wipe it out, and you’re golden.  And bonus, it lights up with all these mesmerizing colors.  I highly recommend.  (On the other hand, we bought this humidifier a few years ago and, while it does what it’s supposed to do, clean up is a pain in the rear.  Thumbs down.)  And the NoseFrida…I’ve told you about this before and how great it is.  Looks gross.  Works amazingly.  It’s a must-have.

I know we are way past fall but I’ve had Lauren’s leaf art idea on my list of thing to share with you for months now.  Grab an old book, a read newspaper, or a magazine article and leaf it hanging.  ;)  Put it on your to-make list for next fall!

In the market for a rug?  I was checking out options on Amazon a few weeks ago and stumbled across these colorful beauties.  $130 for an 8 x 10?  Not too shabby!  (A few of the colors have an additional $20 shipping charge but still, that’s not bad!)  They’re pretty bold so they’d be the star in a room.  I’m eyeing the pink for the girls room.  Usually I’d be skeptical on the quality at that price but the ratings are great!

I felt super proud of myself (and even impressed chef Anthony) when I figured out an easy way to toast buns for our grilled chicken and pineapple sandwiches this week.
IMG_2373IMG_2374See them atop the toaster, turn on the toaster, and let the heat do what it does.  Easy peasy.  #hotAcrossbuns

Last but not least, you’ve read our rave review about eMeals.  Anthony calls it life-changing and I have to agree.  To add to the life-changing status, possibly elevating it to mind-blown status – Walmart grocery pick-up.  I’ve used it twice now and I am hooked.  Basically I have someone else planning my meals for me (for which we pay $5 a month) and someone else doing my grocery shopping (for free).  Before Walmart grocery, I’d either have to spend the hour or so of coveted alone time I get during the week in the grocery store…not really the best use of alone-time I can think of and quite possibly, the worst.  It was either that or running through with the kids and the limo cart and you just never know what’ll happen then because lots of little kids + one mom + public places usually = chaos.  But now, I grab the grocery list eMeals sends, plug everything into Walmart grocery (we usually use six of the seven meals, swapping out one for a staple meal) plus stuff we need for breakfast, lunch, and snacks, and drive ten minutes to have all of it brought out to my car.  Fuss-free.  So, if you’re anything like me and loathe meal planning or hate spending me-time in a grocery store when a thrift store would be so much more gratifying, you should try both of these things.  You can try eMeals free for two weeks through our referral link here and check to see if Walmart grocery pick-up is an option in your area through our refferal link here.  You won’t regret it.  Pinky swear.  (Also, I could write for sentences and sentences but I should mention that we just went over our monthly budget from last year and we spent, on average, $450 a month in groceries last year.  Maybe that’s high to you and maybe that’s low but to us, that’s pretty dang good.  Every meal we make from eMeals costs us about $10, not per person, for the entire family.  AND, 75% of the time we have leftovers to convert to the next day’s lunch.  Ok, I’ll shut up now.)

Any fun weekend plans?  It’s going to be in the 70’s and sunny here so we are going to bask in that and dig into some projects.  Anthony has Monday off so right now I’m staring down a great weekend and I kinda love it!

Peace out! Hot smile


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*There are affiliate links included in this post  I hope you don’t mind!  I don’t write sponsored posts or review products I’ve never bought first anymore in the name of total transparency, so including links to items I’ve purchased or am thinking about purchasing is the only way I generate a commission.  Thank you for your support!
*If you use our eMeals referral link, we’ll get a month free so thank you in advance if you do!  If you use our Walmart grocery pick-up referral link, we’ll get $10 off our next order and SO WILL YOU!  Happy notgrocery shopping!

That’s a Wrap

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Today I just want you to tap into your memory store and think back to the year 2016…back to the post in which I introduced this new and improved dresser:
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You can get all the details on its new paint job if you click here but if you want to go inside, keep reading.  I decided that adding some glam in the form of a gold dip wasn’t enough so I took it one step further and lined all of the drawers with some gold dotted wrapping paper by Sugar Paper that I found at Target for $6.  (PS, I found it in the Christmas section but I’m hoping it wasn’t just part of a Christmas collection so that anyone who wants to follow suit can go grab some!)

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I’ll tell you all about it, the good and the bad, but first, let me tell you how hard Sugar Paper made this decision for me.  Their papers are gorgeous!   
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I choose a gold dot because I thought it would appeal to more buyers since I was going to sell the dresser but, if it were my own dresser, I probably would’ve went with the black and gold feathers on the gray backgroud (which, btw, would look amazing in Grace’s dresser) and if I we were keeping the dresser for the girls, I would’ve went with the colorful striped paper on the right.  So fun you guys!  <3

But there will always be more dresser drawers to line I’m sure, so let’s move on to the how on the current ones.

Measuring

Before you line your drawers with whatever paper you’ve got, you’ll have to measure each drawer to figure out how much paper you’ll need.  Stating the obvious, I know.  You can grab the old ruler or tape measure and write down measurements or you can do it the easy way.  :)

The easy way consists of grabbing a few sheets of computer paper, scrap paper, and/or used coloring book paper and laying it all out inside the drawer so that it overlaps, thereby making a template.
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Making sure the paper is covering every square inch of the bottom of the drawer, tape it all together along the seams.IMG_1972
If you have any drawers that are the same size, just make sure the template you just made fits inside all of them.  (I made this template inside the top drawer and hooray, it fit inside the next two drawers down too!) IMG_1973 Chances are, it will fit just fine.  On the rare occasion that the drawers are a smidge different, just make another template.

So easy, right?

Next, place your template on the wrapping paper, trace, and cut it out.  (Note:  Turn your template upside down and trace it on the underside of the paper so that there are no pencil/marker marks on the top of the paper that might be seen.)
IMG_1974(It helps to place something semi-heavy on top of your template as you trace to keep it from shifting, hence the ink cartridge package.)

Template (if necessary for different-sized drawers), trace, cut and repeat until you have all of the pieces of paper needed.

Papering

As far as adhering the paper to your drawer, there are a few ways to do it.  For a more temporary lining, you can just use double-sided tape at six-or-so inch intervals around the perimeter of the drawer to stick it down.  Then simply pull it up when you want a change.  For a more durable lining, I used some satin modge podge I nabbed on clearance.  IMG_2030Nevermind the sponge brush though.  I took this picture before I started which was also before I realized how much I hate sponge brushes.  Just grab a small paintbrush instead.

Ok, here’s where things got a little dicey for me.  I’m just telling you so you know what NOT to do. 

DON’T brush the modge podge onto the entire bottom of the drawer and then proceed to lay down your template. 
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It doesn’t matter how much painstaking effort you exert to lay out the paper so that there are no air bubbles and wrinkles, they will probably come.  Think they’ll disappear once everything dries?  Nope, think again.  And then hold back tears as you rip out and waste a beautiful piece of fairly expensive wrapping paper.
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So maybe that’s a little dramatic but I can assure you, the frustration was real.

Now, let’s skip over to the greener grass.  Here’s what you SHOULD DO.

Before you even think about laying the paper into the drawer, grab some clear acrylic or laquer spray and spray the back of each piece of paper.  This will form a nice barrier between the modge podge and paper; the modge podge won’t saturate the paper causing it to get all soggy and wrinkly.
IMG_2081(Random note:  I used this Krylon clear acrylic I had on hand and look how *not*clear it sprayed!  It’s a couple of years old so maybe it yellows over time when kept in the can but I guess I was just glad I wasn’t using it to spray something I wanted a clear coat on!  I didn’t have much left in this can so I also used some clear spray laquer and that was still clear despite being a couple of years old too.  Moral of the story, buy the laquer instead of the acrylic.)

I sprayed all of my pieces of paper one-by-one and then set them out flat to dry.  Once they were all dry, I went back to lining the drawers.

First, I laid the piece of paper in the bottom of the drawer so that it was exactly where it needed it to be.  Then, to hold it in place, I grabbed the kids’ pencil box (because it was the closest thing) and set it on one half of the paper to hold the whole piece in place.  IMG_2044
Next, I folded one half of the paper over so that I could brush modge podge onto one half of the drawer bottom.IMG_2045
And then I slowly folded/rolled the paper back down over the modge podge from the middle to the far edge.  It helped to grab a washcloth and rub it as I went.

See?  No wrinkles!
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Once that side was done, I moved the pencil box to the other side and repeated.
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I wish I hand one more hand to catch a video of how I did this but with the washcloth, I just rubbed up and down across the paper as I was laying it down.
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I let all of the papered drawers dry overnight and the next day, I went in and brushed a thin layer of modge podge over the top of each piece.  I was a little nervous that this would take away the shine of the gold so I held my breath but phew!…once the modge podge dried, the paper looked just like it did pre-modge podge.

I LOVE the added beauty the lined drawers bring to the dresser!
IMG_8467TOOIt was definitely worth the extra steps to use this paper.  It’s the perfect compliment to the dresser’s paint job!  If you’re not in the mood to deal with paper to line drawers, check out this post on how to line drawers with fabric!

Also, you might remember that behind the doors on each side of the dresser, there are a couple of shelves that I set storage baskets on.
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I made paper templates and cut out wrapping paper to line the shelves with but then I decided against papering them.  I was too afraid that, when sliding in the baskets, the paper at the front edge of the shelf might catch on the basket being slid and rip. 

But then I had those rectangles of paper laying around.  I could’ve saved them to wrap small presents but instead I stuck one inside our to-do list frame
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…and the three others went into the three frames hanging in the living room, specifically because I thought they’d be pretty behind the wreaths I hung on each for Christmas.
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Which brings me to a tangent…Christmas decor.  The weeks leading up to Christmas were super busy here so not much seasonal decorating happened here.  :(

The plans I had to make Gianna a stocking never happened.
IMG_8475And thankfully she’s too young to care this year anyway. 

The rest of the decor was quick and simple.

I had a hankering to hang wreaths on the picture frames mentioned above so I grabbed some faux garland from the dollar store, unwrapped it to ruffle it up a little, and then wrapped it back up into a wreath shape.
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Then I grabbed some red glittery ribbon I also got at the dollar store and hung those wreaths. IMG_8474
I also used some of the leftover strips of paper to disguise this almost-empty candle as a vase:
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I’ve still got a small piece left and I’m thinking I might wrap a book with it.  It’s really hard to toss pretty pieces of leftover paper, ya know?  Haha! 

Anyway, that’s my drawer plus wrapping paper experience.  Have you ever lined anything with wrapping paper or any other paper?  If so, how’d you come out in the wrinkle department?  Maybe it was just me or maybe you had the same problem.  And maybe you’ve never lined any drawers but are now eyeing all the dresser in the house.  I know I am.  ;) 

Happy New Year folks!  I hope it’s been a good one so far!

*post includes affiliate links

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