It all started with this big bucket of Halloween candy. The bucket of candy had been sitting there for a couple of weeks, hidden away from the dog, behind closed doors while taking up prime real estate on my dryer.
Every time I went to empty the dryer filter I had to shift the bucket to a new location.
Every time I folded clothes from the dryer, I would lay the folded clothes on top of the candy, oftentimes making a leaning tower that would come crashing down to the floor.
That innocent bucket of candy quickly became the symbol of everything which was wrong with our laundry room. Essentially, it became the straw that broke the camel’s back.
So I decided it was finally time to tackle the laundry room and give it a much needed makeover. Not only was our laundry room ugly, but it wasn’t very functional for my personal needs. The shelf over the washer was too high to store much on. Likewise, the cabinet over the dryer was also too high and I could only reach the bottom shelf with ease. Without a place to set laundry baskets the utility sink quickly had become the catch basin for dirty laundry.
I’m a neat freak but the laundry room was my dirty little secret…behind closed doors stuff was sitting everywhere.
It was stacked everywhere.
And spilling everywhere.
So I drove the boys to school bright and early one morning, all the while thinking about that messy laundry room. I came home and poured myself a large cup of coffee, then doodled a little drawing of how I would like to see the laundry room changed.
My Laundry Room Makeover Wishlist:
I wanted a space to set my laundry baskets down where they would be out of the way. Not on top of the dryer. Not in the floor. And not in the utility sink. I wanted an actual space designed for them.
I also wanted a plan which would be relatively easy to do so that the husband would readily agree to it.
I originally thought an open space for a rolling bin would be the easiest route to go. The shelves above could hold extra pantry items since our pantry is the smallest in the history of the world.
This plan looked pretty simple to implement, and while it wouldn’t be the most efficient use of space, it would be a vast improvement over what I currently had.
So I sat and admired my little doodle for awhile, daydreaming about the possibilities, before sending it the hubs at work.
“Can we do this?” I asked.
“Sure,” he replied back.
But then I’m like, did he mean, “Sure, sure” or did he mean, “Sure…I’m busy and really don’t have the time, nor the inclination, to talk about the laundry room right now so I’m just going to agree with you…”?
So, me being me, I sent it again to clarify.
“Can we do this? Like, really do it?” I asked again. 🙃 Emojis included to emphasize my point.
And, him being him, responded with, “Sure” …which I took for an enthusiastic, “Yes honey, I would love to help you redo the laundry room on my day off!”
I mean, really, could there be any other interpretation of that one worded response given a second time???
So while the hubs did the work thing, I started planning in my head all of the wonderful things I wanted to change in the laundry room.
And then I patiently waited, watching for the perfect vulnerable moment to pounce on the hubs to get this ball moving…
So on Saturday morning a couple of days later, I dragged him into the laundry room and told him my about my revised plans. I had decided the rolling laundry cart would be an easy fix but it wouldn’t provide me with the space I was needing for folding clothes, or for dealing with mountains of laundry for those weeks when we get behind on it.
The best use of the space, I had decided, was to convert the utility sink and cabinet base into a more functional laundry basket holder with a solid wood top where I could fold clothes (or set buckets of Halloween candy).
And he said….
“Ok, we can do that,” and then he looked at me.
And looked at the cabinet.
And then looked back at me, all the while I’m nodding my head enthusiastically…
“You mean…like…now????” he asked.
So very silly that he even had to ask that question.
“Of course I mean right now!” After all, I had waited days for this project to begin. Two days to be exact but time was wasting, ya know?
And like the good husband that he is, the good husband that had worked late the night before, and that had gotten up early and ran a race that morning, he went out to the garage and got his tools to begin my laundry room makeover. 😍
How to Convert a Cabinet Base into a Laundry Basket Holder
I’ll walk you through the steps we took to convert our utility sink cabinet base into a laundry basket holder organizer; however, you can do this same project using an existing cabinet base that’s already installed in your laundry room or you can purchase one off of Craig’s List pretty cheaply. Home Depot also sells the basic builder grade cabinet bases if you would rather start fresh.
We started out by removing the shelf above the cabinet base so that we had plenty of room to work. We then emptied out everything in the cabinet base so that we could get to the plumbing located in the back of the cabinet.
***If you don’t need to remove a sink, please scroll down to get the directions for Laundry Basket Holder cabinet build. ***
Removing the Utility Sink and Disconnecting the Piping
Please Note: We decided to leave the plumbing intact in case future homeowners preferred having a utility sink in the laundry room. Therefore, the following steps are about removing the utility sink and capping the existing plumbing.
Step 1 Turn off the water supply.
Before removing the utility sink, turn off the water supply using the hot and cold supply line knobs UNDERNEATH the sink.
This is important===> Now test the sink faucet to see if the water supply has been successfully turned off. If water continues to drain out of the faucet you need to try again!
When we were assured the water supply had been properly turned off we moved to the next step.
Step 2 Remove the P Trap Underneath the Sink
From underneath the sink you’ll need to unscrew the P trap.
Make sure you place a bucket and towel underneath the pipe to catch any water and yucky debris that might drain out when the P trap is removed. Foul odors emanating from the P trap are quite common since the P trap is designed to keep those odors from coming out of the drain.
Step 3 Cap The Water Supply
Teflon tape goes on the pipe threads of the hot and cold water supply lines before placing screw on caps on top of the tape.
Step 4 Remove the Utility Sink and the Countertop
You can remove the sink and the countertop all in one piece if you would like, but since our utility sink was deep and cumbersome we chose to remove it separately.
Using a utility knife cut the caulking that is between the sink and the countertop. You’ll also need to cut the caulk around the edge of the countertop and the wall.
Remove screws from underneath the countertop that is holding the countertop to the base. These were located in the four upper corners of the cabinet base.
Now you’re ready to remove the countertop.
Step 5 Remove the Doors, Hinges, and I Beam from Cabinet Front
Apparently I quit taking pictures at this point so I’ll be using the same pics to show what needs to be done.
Remove the doors and hinges from the cabinet base.
Then pull off the false drawer fronts. These were clipped into place and were simple to remove. You can check on the back side of the drawer fronts to see if your’s are held in place differently.
A hack saw was used to cut the I Beam out of the front of the cabinet. Once these two cuts were made the pieces of wood that were holding the false drawer fronts in place came out with the I Beam. If this doesn’t happen with your cabinet, then you’ll need to cut those areas, too.
Since you’ll be taking away some of the structural support for the cabinet frame, you’ll need to be careful while sawing it out. I held the top piece of wood in place while the hubs used the saw.
Step 6 Shorten the Drain Pipe
Using a hack saw cut the white drain pipe to shorten the length (to create more storage room) and then cap off.
This is how the water supply and drain pipe look after they have been capped.
Step 7 Patch and Prime the Cabinet Base
Patch the screw holes where the doors had hung with wood filler. Then prime and paint the cabinet base inside and out.
I used 3 coats of this tannin blocking primer before I painted the cabinet base white.
And here’s what it looked like after the painting was complete.
Please Note: While I was waiting for the hubs to find time to pick up the lumber we needed for the project, I painted the cabinet base. Otherwise, we would have added the shelf supports before painting.
Building a Laundry Basket Holder From a Cabinet Base
We’re finally down to the fun and easy part of the build. The big box stores like Home Depot and Lowes will cut your boards for you but make sure to measure your cabinet base inside and out more than once. You know the saying, “Measure twice. Cut once.”
Step 1 Measure the inside of your cabinet base to determine the size of boards you will need.
On the inside of the cabinet you will need to measure the sides for your shelf support.
The shelf support for our cabinet base was 23″ long and we used 1×4’s.
Shelf Support Measurements:
(2 boards) 1x4x23
We screwed these into both sides of the cabinet 15.5″ from the top of the cabinet (to the top of the support board).
As you can see in some of the pictures below, we originally had the shelf placed too high so we moved the support boards down some (15.5″ is the correct distance) to give more clearance fore the baskets that sit on the top shelf.
We decided to line the bottom of the cabinet with wood that would match the middle shelf for two reasons. One, the cabinet bottom was a little recessed and we thought that dragging a basket out over the lip of the cabinet would quickly scratch off the paint. Secondly, we were planning on staining the shelves and we thought having the bottom stained would give a more cohesive look.
Each shelf consisted of 3 boards with a little bit of room left over at the back of the cabinet. We used two 1×12’s and one 1×4.
4- 1×12’s (cut 34.5″ long)
2- 1×4’s (cut 34.5″ long)
Now measure the exterior perimeter of the cabinet base to get the measurements for the countertop.
Our cabinet sits against two walls so we didn’t need to add in proper overhand depth to the measurements. However, we did allow for an 1.5″ overhang in front in order to get the boards to fit correctly. You can adjust the overhang measurement to your liking.
Once again we used 3 boards but this time we wanted a chunkier appearance so we went with two inch boards instead of one inch.
Countertop Board Measurements:
(2 boards) 2x12x36
(1 board) 2x4x36
After you get your boards home from the big box store, makes sure they fit. Our countertop boards were off a bit and we had to even them up.
We used a belt sander to round the edges on all of the sides of each board for the countertop to give it a softer appearance. I also sanded the boards before applying stain.
Painting or Staining the Shelves and Countertop
Since we knew the shelves and countertop would be getting lots of use, we decided stain would hold up much better than paint. Additionally, white paint yellows over time and I had no desire to repaint all of the shelves we were planning on installing.
I used Early American stain from Minwax and sealed with General Finishes High Performance in Satin. Whether you are painting or staining, I highly recommend following the directions on your paint/stain can so that your stain has appropriate dry times. After all of this hard work you really don’t want to see paint peeling off with use or stain gumming up before you seal it. Even if it feels dry to the touch it doesn’t mean it’s ready for the next coat.
Installing the Shelves and Countertop
The bottom shelf was installed first and we simply laid down the boards. The 1×4 was placed in the back so it wouldn’t be noticeable. You can screw these boards into the cabinet base if you desire but it wasn’t necessary in our case.
The middle shelf was installed next. After placing the boards on the 1×4 side supports we added some brackets on the underneath side of the boards to hold them together so that they couldn’t shift positions when we were sliding the baskets in and out.
The countertop followed the same pattern with the 2×4 being against the back wall, and the wider boards being up front. Long screws were used to attach the boards to the cabinet base using the same screw holes which held the original countertop on. Brackets were also used on the underneath side of the countertop to hold the boards together.
This cabinet base can hold four regular sized rectangular laundry baskets or two hip hugger baskets. I chose to go with the two baskets which leaves room on the other side of the cabinet for cleaning supplies and extra detergent, bleach, etc. that I only use on a rare occasion.
And here’s a look at the shelves we installed to hold extra panty supplies for the time being.
The before once again:
And the after: