welcome to the red light district

in deciding not to renovate, pierre and i saved a number of wonderful features of our house from the wrecking ball: our peony bush, our plaster ceilings, and our hardwood floors come to mind. however, we also “saved” a few not-so-wonderful features to which i wouldn’t have minded taking a wrecking ball: our mudroom, for one.

these before photos don’t actually make the mudroom look too bad, but trust me when i say it was pretty sorry looking. it’s freezing cold in there as there’s little insulation in the walls or ceiling, and none below the floor. it’s pulling away from the back of the house in places, which offers convenient points of entry for spiders, potato bugs, and even mice. both single-pane windows condensate and so develop mold periodically, since they’re in tough-to-reach spots and hard to keep dry. and it had one coat of practically translucent primer applied halfheartedly (not by us) many years ago. poor mudroom.

and poor mudroom it seemed like it was going to stay — at least for the near future. even though we’ve nixed the huge renovation, we are planning on digging out our basement in the next few years, and the mudroom is on our chopping block. we’d like to rebuild (and insulate! and waterproof!) this small addition at the same time as we do our basement. and for this very practical reason, neither of us were keen to spend a lot of time and / or money to give the mudroom a makeover.

but, a few years waiting for a basement renovation to begin is an awfully long time to wait when you use your back door and basement as much as we do; we’re up and down those stairs constantly for laundry, the crockpot, and bottles of wine, and it just wasn’t pleasant.

plus, we were using our second bedroom as a front hall closet:

would this drive you nuts? i hated having coats and shoes in our foyer (which is less than 30 square feet), our spare room, and our basement. we’d inevitably get our shoes on only to realize our toque was in the bedroom closet and our gloves were downstairs in a plastic bin.

i was pretty sure our lives would improve if we could figure out a way to keep all our outdoor stuff in just the foyer and the mudroom — that is, by a point of entry or exit. but there was the whole time / money stumbling block to deal with. again, we didn’t want to spend any of either fixing up an area of the house that was going to be a pile of rubble in a few years.

well, i think we did it. we spent the equivalent of two days (one full saturday and a few hours on a couple of different weeknights) and $16 and now have a mudroom that holds all our coats, shoes, scarves, and bags; plus our recycling; plus looks pretty nice.

the first thing we dealt with was the spots where the addition was coming away from the brick. pierre bought a bottle of great stuff (that’s the name of the product), which expands to fill cracks with insulation. we had a gift card for home depot, so that didn’t cost us anything. he cut away the excess insulation (it really expanded) and sanded down what he could. the big challenge in this room is its high ceilings — 16 feet in places, and nowhere to put a ladder — so the cutting, sanding, and, later, painting, weren’t perfect. but then again, we are knocking this whole room down in a few years.

then i dealt with the sad, white-ish walls. my parents generously donated a half gallon of haze by behr, which they had left over from a painting project of their own. haze is a sand-cream colour that i thought would look great with the black and white tile already in the room. for the trim, banister, stairs, and exterior door i used up an assortment of tins of white paint left downstairs by paul — mostly toasted marshmellow by behr, in various formats (flat, semi-gloss, etc). then i painted the ceiling using regular ceiling paint, also left by paul. i didn’t want to use our “good paint” in here, but did care enough to cover the walls and ceiling with more than primer.

for shoe storage, we had three floating lack shelves from ikea that were just sitting in our basement, never hung after we moved to the house from our apartment. turns out they fit perfectly on the wall next to our exterior door. so far we’ve only hung two of the three — the third is currently being used in our master bedroom closet, but once we get around to reconfiguring that space i’ll add the third shelf to the mudroom.

but before hanging, i wanted to prime and paint the shelves. here’s where i spent the $16: on a quart of primer. then i rolled on two coats of black satin by benjamin moore to match our kitchen door; i had enough black satin paint left over from the door project so that didn’t cost anything extra. i’ll blog a how-to hack lack shelves post shortly, as the shelves look one hundred times better with a custom colour than they did as “black-brown.”

the gold hooks were on the coat rack that used to be in our foyer, which was here when we moved in. the older looking hooks i collected for a few dollars each from maccool’s reuse and home again over the summer — i just hadn’t found a use for them yet.

by far, the neatest touch we put on the mudroom was installing this light fixture from eclectic revival in the junction. it gives the room a porno-glow during the evening (when there’s no sunlight coming through the windows), which is fun.

i love the fixture, and pierre encountered no problems hanging it! i guess everything we went through on our first attempt at hanging a light wasn’t for naught.

lastly, i couldn’t resist one final black satin door to match the kitchen door and our french door. this door opens into our basement and is original to the house, with the original mortise lock and crystal doorknob, but it’s no longer my favourite feature of the mudroom! (the light fixture is.)

general thoughts on the transformation? i’m also thinking of moving the picture above the smaller window. does anyone else think it looks out of place there?