Sorry Utility Room but you have to go

November 5, 2012 — 38 Comments

It is Sunday night and I am so tired I almost didn’t write this post (the horror!!) It’s been a busy weekend and today has been a really busy day … but we have to talk about utility rooms because they can’t talk about themselves.

I spent 4 hours this morning hanging out at the home my firm had on the Dallas AIA Home Tour. While that in and of itself isn’t very interesting, one thing that made the time well spent was the surprising number of people that came up and introduced themselves to me as readers of this blog. It was appreciated and in some cases, a moving experience, so if you were one of those people – thanks.

Once that was done, I came home and decided that I needed to do some demolition work on the utility room. Since the other portion of the renovation I have going on is going so well (not to mention under budget) we have decided to expand the project to include a renovation to the utility room. We also decided to speed this particular project up because the concrete floors are scheduled to get re-finished starting next Monday. Because we know that the utility room will be laid out differently than it is now, we want the cabinets out so that the floors are done properly.

So here we go – let’s take a look at how I spent 5 hours of my afternoon.


the utility room

Here is the utility room in all of its “avocado-y” goodness. I didn’t think to take a picture of the room before I removed the cabinet doors (what? it’s not like I document all my projects… okay, yes I do.) This room is roughly 9′ deep and 6′-6″ wide so there is plenty of space to have a proper utility room with plenty of functional working area.


cabinets that need to be demolished

Chips and salsa anyone? (if I have to explain that it isn’t funny)


countertop and sink demolition

This wasn’t the simplest smash and rip demo job – there was plumbing involved … nothing too complicated, just the removal of a sink.


disconnecting the water lines

First thing you have to do is remove the water supply lines and disconnect the P-trap …


demolition at the sink - use a bucket

… make sure that you have a bucket underneath all your lines as you disconnect them because even if you have successfully shut your water off, there will still be some water in the lines themselves.


how to remove trim without damaging the drywall

Here is another little tip for you. When you are removing trim (whatever) from a drywall surface, use a chisel behind your hammer so that the head of the hammer doesn’t punch through the wall.


finished demolition wall

So here is the fruit of my 5 hours of manual labor of ripping out 45-year-old site built cabinets. For my efforts, I was rewarded with a little present …


rat skeleton

… a perfectly preserved, disgusting rat skeleton. When we first moved into the house, there were loads of these jerks roaming around the property and I have waged war with them since my arrival. I’d like to think I am winning the war and this is my reward (meaning that I found a dead one, not a live one.)


finished demolition wall

And here is the final cabinet free utility room. I will wait just a bit to show you the layout, it’s nothing earth-shattering. Like I said, this project was started because we knew we had to get the floors ready since the grinding begins a week from today (Monday).

Did I mention that we will be getting new front loading washer and dryer? I think I know which ones I’m getting but if you have some that you would like to recommend, let me hear from you.




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  • Change is inevitable and mostly is a positive change. Since you were used to having Utility room, a change has come. The rest is History, to be told to young one.
    The Rat Skeleton, that is a sign of a winner. But remember that, in one way or another, relatives & friends of the deceased will secretly visit their ancestral home for a mock fight, trying to see if you are old enough to give up.

  • eegoings

    sorry, but u have to forget the american stuff. go for a miele (or 2 mieles since u need washer & dryer). they last forever and u can do smaller loads. i know that’s not n.american thinking (i come from there too!), but it is much more energy e-fish and u don’t need to wait forever for a huge load of laundry. himself even used them (as in steve). being an architect i assume you want to be kind to the planet as well. btw, loved yur daughter’s interview!

  • Jennifer


    I really like the look of the old utility room, so could you show me your design for the new. I am doing my own remodeling at the moment, and the utility room is a problem area for me.

    Thank you,


    • Hi Jennifer – I haven’t actually drawn it yet. It will be really straight forward but if you send me an email, I’ll make sure that I let you know once I’ve got it drawn up.


  • I don’t have a recommendation for brand, but when we got our front loaders, we also got the stands that bring the load ‘aperture’ up to chest height which is a grand thing to have.

    The downside is, of course, you don’t get that coveted counter space when you do that.

  • Patricia

    I wrote a long comment about rats and machines yesterday but it said it would not be posted until it met with approval. I also gave a shout out to the post I did about you on Biking Architect… which has had over 500 reads…FYI…I thought it was good stuff?

    • Patricia,
      I don’t know what to say – I haven’t blocked anybody and I haven’t seen your comment … sorry, there must have been some glitch in the system. I went back through the spam filter and didn’t see anything. Sometimes issues happen when someone tries to insert more than one link in a comment.

      • Patricia

        I just wish it did not happen so often to me 🙂 makes me feel computer dumb!

  • Patricia

    We actually do not use our clothes dryer any more – well sometimes, because we hang out clothing on racks or out on the solar dryer. It was nice to have our power bill drop nearly $60 a month!

    • since we seem to have the laundry going at least 4 days a week, I’m not sure saving the $60 would be worth it. It seems the only time I have to do chores is late at night after the kids are in bed and the idea of pulling clothes of the line at night isn’t for me

  • I hope you plan on reusing the light fixture somewhere.

    • that light is staying – those I like.

  • Louise

    Fisher & Paykel are fantastic – great innovators -excellent NZ design. Top loading. I live in Europe and have a front loading washer & dryer – but I totally miss my Fisher & Paykel appliances!!

    • I don’t think I will get my wife off the idea of front loading equipment – she has been fantasizing about the counter top space she will be gaining

  • Rich

    Kenmore….Avoid Maytag. they are made out of spare parts from old Kenmores…Just kidding. I do highly recommend the Kenmore HE Front Loading Washer and Driers. Ensure the drier has a Stainless Steel tub with a shoe rack attachment. You have a kid, the show rack will come in handy in time. Avoid the enamel tubs as they don’t make them like they use to.

    • We have a Kenmore now and it has delivered faithfully for us going on 15 years – still works actually. If I was about to grind the concrete floors (which is what established the timeline of this particular project) I am sure we would still be using our existing units.

  • Kevin McLaren

    That skeleton would have looked pretty good in a plexi box – a unique artistic statement few, if any, others would have. Definitely a conversation piece. Speaking of plexi boxes and conversation pieces, we enjoyed the Dallas AIA home tour yesterday. I wanted to meet you in-person but got to Horseshoe Trail about 5 minutes after you left.

    • That’s too bad (about the 5 minutes – I am okay chucking out the rat carcass, not sure I would like have to explain how I came in possession of it in the first place)

  • Andrew M

    I have no idea how easy it is to obtain European gadgets in the USA, but if you can get them, I would recommend it. Brands such as Bosch, Miele or Ariston. They will be much more expensive than US brands or Korean, but the European brands mostly comprise models that are designed to fit under a kitchen bench (utility rooms being scarce in Europe) and go about their business very quietly. Machines that are intended for the utility room are not designed to be quiet, because you can just shut the door. Also the European brands are water and energy misers.

    • I would love to have Miele in the running but the cost is outside my abilities to pay. Since this is a laundry room, we will have the ability to shut the door if things are louder than we would like so that’s a premium expense that I might not be worrying too much about.

      Thanks for the input – I love it!

  • paul anater

    You threw away that rat skeleton? Oh man Bob, you should have sent it to me. I love that kind of stuff!

    • the idea of packing that thing up and sending it too you … yuck-o. I am not a fragile person and gross things don’t really get to me but pulling skeletonized critters out from under the cabinet just seems of the type of thing that needs to go away … and quickly.

  • architectrunnerguy

    You should definitely swap out those light fixtures for “Borson Trash Bag” ones. They’re all the rage!

    • the light quality on those trash bag lights is terrible …

  • markejohnson

    We have had erratic luck with Frigidaire products – mostly happy with the washer, very unhappy with the dryer. Front-loading, high efficiency units, except the dryer takes 20-30 minutes longer to dry clothes than the old, less efficient one did … and don’t get me started on the Frigidaire kitchen appliances we now have.

    • scratch Frigidaire from the list – done


  • Kat

    My mom has a Kenmore. I used them while I lived at home and now when I’m back in town for Christmas. I think they work great and like the steam function since I tend to forget about the clothes I left in the dryer, so I run them through a steam cycle and a quick dry (the steam makes them a bit moist) and all the wrinkles come out (well most depending on home many days I left them). I also love how many different setting there are; you can really get the setting right for the things you’re supposed to hand wash and line dry as there’s a no heat dry option.

  • Paul Anderson

    Hi Bob – Don’t forget to change out those hot and cold waterstops with new ones (unless they’re pretty new already) I prefer quarter-turns myself and am nearly complete changing them out here at home – with my on-going bath and kitchen upgrades. ( PS: sorry I’ve missed introducing myself when you’ve been in southern CA – “timing” as they say . . . . .)

    • Hi Paul,
      Those supply lines will get capped and then buried in the wall – remnants of the sink we will no long have on that particular wall.

      and I’ll be back to SoCal so we’ll have our opportunities – cheers

  • Hi Bob, I have been using a Whirlpool Duet large capacity steam set for about a year and a half. We do an average of two loads a day at our house. The steam function gets used a lot on the washer but not the dryer. I suppose if I had many clothes that would otherwise require ironing, it would get used more. The steam function on the washer noticeably gets the clothes cleaner. Be prepared to spend more money and time running the washer on the steam setting. If I set mine to sanitize, it will run for almost three hours which means more electricity and wear and tear on the machine. Though it ‘senses’ how much water to use based on the load size, that is a feature that I’m sure earns its Energy Star rating.

    • awesome – I think my wife is looking at that brand so that’s good information to share, thank you!

  • michael

    Keep up the good work. I’ve not had good luck with the front loading w/d…sorry, that’s a lie…wife has not had good luck with front loading w/d. We had the bad fortune to buy LGs. Now learned we’re part of a class action lawsuit. Sigh.

    • Oooo – good to know about the LG’s. I think that was the direction my wife was heading but we haven’t completed our research just yet.

  • & everyone else wants to hear about the the W&D before going – oh you should have checked out…
    Love how the “while were at it” comes into play & glad to hear the rest is going so well & your staying under budget

    • This coming week will be the real test since we have to move all of our furniture out of the house for a week so the concrete floors can get done. I think I am 2 weeks away from the finish line on the phase one work, the laundry room cabinets are a little further out (at least until after Thanksgiving…)

      • Kat

        So are you guys camping in your now spacious pillar free back yard?

  • Jwkathol

    Prediction: 2/3 of comments will be about the rat skeleton. 1/3 of comments will be about the avocado countertop….

    • sure, why not? I mean, they are two of my favorites subjects despite the fact that both are now in the trash…