Category: Other Rooms


Bob Vila Radio: Installing a Laundry Chute

By installing a laundry chute, you can harness the power of gravity to make one of life's dreaded chores much less strenuous.

Tired of lugging laundry down the basement stairs? Maybe you should consider installing a laundry chute. Kits are available at home centers, or you can build the chute yourself.

Installing a Laundry Chute

Photo: shutterstock.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON INSTALLING A LAUNDRY CHUTE or read the text below:

To construct the chase—the passage through which you drop clothes to the basement—you have several options for materials: a galvanized heating duct, wood, drywall or melamine. Chutes work best when the chase is larger, say 1 by 2 feet. And make sure any joints are smooth, so clothing articles like socks do not snag on the way down.

Location is key. You’ll need to find a stud bay with unobstructed access to the basement—that is, no electrical wiring, no plumbing. Hallways are often a good bet, especially if their walls run parallel to underlying floor joists.

Use a stud finder to locate two adjacent studs, then cut a small hole in the wall to check for obstructions. If the bay is clear, use a reciprocating saw to cut an opening for the bottom of the chute, downstairs. Once you’ve double-checked that there are no obstructions upstairs, create the hole for the top of the chute.

Upstairs you’ll also need to remove the base plate between the two studs and cut a hole through the plywood flooring to make room for the chute. Assemble the chute, fit it into the bay, then finish up by trimming out the upstairs end of the chute and installing a door.

Before you start the job, be sure to check local building codes.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 60 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Genius! DIY Murphy Bed

What makes a Murphy bed? Have you ever wondered that? Wonder no more. Follow along as one genius blogger shows you how to build your very own.

DIY Murphy Bed - Open

Photo: creativedecorbybrooke.blogspot.com

There’s something kind of fascinating about the Murphy bed. Is it a bed? Is it a closet? And just how do you manage to get that hefty mattress so tidily tucked away and out of sight? Yes, the Murphy bed is pretty cool, enabling you to convert a home office or craft area into a mini hotel room. Best of all, you can reclaim the room for your own purposes as soon as your guest leaves. Genius.

So when we saw this DIY murphy bed by Brooke at Creative Decor by Brooke, we had to know more. Here’s what she had to say about the project.

“We just worked on it in our garage, because we don’t have a wood shop. It took us approximately eight hours to build, and then I painted it and that took about three hours.” If that sounds do-able to you (this is not necessarily a beginner project), Brooke recommends that you remember, “the most important thing in making a Murphy bed is the mechanism…. I would search online and find the mechanism you want, then it will have instructions on making the bed to the right size.”

If you’re not quite ready to build your own DIY murphy bed, follow Brooke’s advice. “I started off small with a drill and scroll saw… and advanced to table saw and router, as I got more courage and wanted to try making bigger things.” If you want to increase your skills, “start small and master one tool at a time,” she says.

Take a lesson from Brooke and remember: safety first! “I drilled through my hand one day…. I was holding a piece of wood in my hand and drilling…. The drill hit a soft spot in the wood and zipped right through, and because I was holding it, my hand was next.” She was fine, luckily, but adds, “Just learn from your mistakes and be safe.” Truer words were never spoken.

Take a look at Brooke’s simply genius DIY Murphy bed. Who knows, maybe it will inspire your next project!

DIY Murphy Bed - Opening

Photo: creativedecorbybrooke.blogspot.com

MATERIALS
- Spring mechanism
- Wood (to measurements)
- Crown molding
- Cabinet hardware
- Paint and primer
- Paintbrush
- Mattress

STEP 1
This is where it all started. We purchased the mechanism for the Murphy bed and with it came instructions on making it and the wood we needed to purchase.

DIY Murphy Bed - Frame

Photo: creativedecorbybrooke.blogspot.com

STEP 2
Screw together the wood pieces according to your measurements.

DIY Murphy Bed - Process

Photo: creativedecorbybrooke.blogspot.com

STEP 3
So when the bed is up in the cabinet, the front is supposed to look like an armoire. You can have cabinet doors made, but that is expensive, so I decided we could make fake doors and drawers with just some trim and fake drawer fronts. Use crown molding along the top of the Murphy bed to create the look of cabinet doors. Put handles and knobs on them, and they look real.

DIY Murphy Bed - Pre-Paint

Photo: creativedecorbybrooke.blogspot.com

STEP 4
I then started the yucky job of painting. I hate to paint. I decided black was the color.

DIY Murphy Bed - Painting

Photo: creativedecorbybrooke.blogspot.com

STEP 5
Do a little sanding around the trim (I mean doors) and crown molding.

STEP 6
Then I put two coats of polyurethane in satin finish. It recommends three coats on the can, but I had had enough!

DIY Murphy Bed - Polyurethane

Photo: creativedecorbybrooke.blogspot.com

STEP 7
“Where is the mattress?” you ask. Well, we had to order it, because it is a full/double size, and the store we went to didn’t stock them because they aren’t that popular. I do love how it looks in the room, and it will be great for an extra bed when needed.

DIY Murphy Bed - Complete

Photo: creativedecorbybrooke.blogspot.com

 Thanks, Brooke! If you loved this post, check out her site for even more inventive DIY projects.


How To: Clean Pillows

When was the last time you washed your pillows? If you don't remember, then it's probably well past time to do so.

How to Clean Pillows

Photo: shutterstock.com

Whether tucked under our heads while sleeping or behind our backs while lounging in the living room, pillows are an often used, seldom truly appreciated hallmark of the civilized world. Perhaps it’s because we take them for granted that we tend not to clean pillows as often as we should. Or perhaps people don’t clean pillows for a simpler reason: They didn’t know they could. In any case, consider the mystery solved. You can indeed clean pillows, and here’s how it’s done.

Bed Pillows
Check their care labels, of course, but most pillows today can be machine-washed and dried, no matter what they’re stuffed with. Try to clean two pillows simultaneously, because a lone pillow gets thrown around so much in the process that its filling can come out distorted. Once you’ve loaded the washer with a pair, set the machine to run on a hot-water cycle. Add the normal amount of detergent, opting for liquid rather than powder, because the latter can leave a residue. Run two complete rinse cycles to fully rid the pillows of soap, then immediately move them to the dryer. Synthetic-filled pillows should ry on the machine’s lowest setting, while down- or feather-filled pillows are best dried on the air or fluff cycle. Before closing the dryer door, throw in two new tennis balls, each tied off within a white sock (a precaution meant to keep the balls’ neon dye from transferring to the pillows). The balls bounce around in the drum and help restore full pillow fluff.

How to Clean Sofa Pillows

Photo: Shutterstock.com

Pillows yellowed from sweat need a little more TLC. In the washing stage, start by filling the machine a third of the way with hot (even boiling water), then add in one cup of powdered laundry detergent, one cup of powdered dishwasher detergent, and a half-cup of borax. Finally, add a full cup of bleach into its designated compartment, before starting the machine and letting it run for a few minutes to agitate and dissolve the detergents. Now put in the your pillows—again, clean two simultaneously for best results—and run the washer on its hottest water setting. Go through two complete rinse cycles before moving the pillows to the dryer (and again, for maximum fluff, include two tennis balls knotted inside white socks).

Decorative Pillows
Many decorative pillows have zippers that allow for the case to be separated from the cushion. In these instances, simply remove the case and wash according to the care directions on the label. If you’d like to clean a throw pillow whose cover doesn’t come off, first consider the fabric it’s made of. Don’t know? Check the label; it should say whether it’s velvet, silk, linen, cotton or a synthetic. Generally speaking, velvet, silk, and upholstery materials—or any pillow with heavy braiding or trim—must be professionally dry-cleaned.

If your throw pillow cover is made of thinner cotton, linen, or a synthetic fabric, you can use a mild upholstery shampoo. But first, lightly rub a damp sponge over an inconspicuous spot on the pillow to test how colorfast the fabric is. If the color leaks, have the pillow dry-cleaned. If not, proceed to whip the upholstery shampoo into a froth, then use the same damp sponge to rub suds over the entire pillow. With a white towel, pat away excess foam, before giving the pillow plenty of time to completely air dry.


How To: Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

When you use homemade laundry detergent, you have complete control over the ingredients and save money with every single load.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Photo: shutterstock.com

Two primary advantages recommend homemade laundry detergent. First, mixing your own costs very little in comparison to purchasing a container at the pharmacy or grocery store. Second, homemade laundry detergent gives you complete control over the ingredients doing the dirty work. For some, particularly those with allergies or sensitive skin, the chemicals in commercial products make them a non-starter. But no matter why you want to create your own, the process is actually easier than you might have expected. In fact, only three ingredients are necessary (four, if you wish to make a scented batch). Read on to learn how it’s done.

What you’ll need:
- Pure borax
- Washing soda (otherwise known as sodium carbonate or soda ash)
- Unscented bar soap
- Essential oils like lavender or tea tree oil (optional)

How you combine these ingredients determines what form the detergent takes—powdered or liquid.

Homemade Laundry Detergent - Grating

Photo: shutterstock.com

Powdered
First, grate the unscented bar soap into flakes. (If you have sensitive skin, test the soap on your wrist first to see if it causes any irritation.) Next, mix one part grated soap with two parts sodium carbonate and two parts pure borax, the latter of which kills mold and mildew. For a fresh scent, add a few drops of essential oil to the powder. Any oil should be fine; choose the one whose scent you like the best. Finally, put the detergent into an airtight container, keeping it there until you need it next. When it comes time to do laundry, use about 1/8 cup of detergent (or 1/4 cup, if the clothes are very dirty) for each load.

Liquid
Grate a full bar of unscented soap, then dump the shavings into a large saucepan along with two quarts of water. Heat on low and stir until the soap has dissolved into a smooth, thick liquid (do not bring to a boil). Meanwhile, add a box of borax and a box of washing soda into a bucket filled with four and a half gallons of warm water. Once the soap has dissolved in the saucepan, pour the solution into the bucket. Mix well. If you want, put in several drops of your favorite essential oil, then leave the detergent to settle overnight. When it’s time to do laundry, shake up the detergent before adding 1/2 or one cup to the washing machine.

Congratulations, you’ve done it! Now to extend the shelf life of the generous batch you’ve just made, remember to store the homemade laundry detergent in an airtight container. Keep it safely out of reach of children and pets, because although the ingredients are natural, they still may be harmful if swallowed.


So, You Want to… Install a Laundry Chute

Installing a laundry chute requires planning, never more than when retrofitting a chute into an existing house. So before getting your heart set on one, review these project pointers on siting, design, and safety.

Laundry Chute

Photo: shutterstock.com

Perhaps the most tedious part of doing laundry—itself a tedious chore—is struggling down the stairs with a heavy and cumbersome hamper overflowing with stinky clothes. If you’ve done this on a weekly basis for a period of years, it’s no surprise you’ve neared the end of your rope. The rumors are true: A laundry chute really does make the laundry task less of a hassle, and although installing one is not rocket science, there are a few thing to know before moving ahead.

Build or Buy?
Sometimes it really does seem as though home centers stock literally everything. Believe it or not, you can even buy a laundry chute kit at your local box store. That convenience comes at a cost, though; it’s somewhat cheaper (but less quick and easy) to buy all the supplies separately. What sort of materials are we talking about? For one thing, there’s the chase—that is, the passage through which dropped clothing travels to the basement (or wherever your laundry area happens to be). Usually, contractors and DIY-inclined homeowners build the chase from the galvanized ductwork typically used in home heating and cooling systems. Though costlier, large-diameter PVC pipe also works well. Wood, drywall, and melamine are additional options, but these latter materials require joints, and with joints you run the risk of snags (the enemy of a successful laundry chute). Generally speaking, a wider chute is preferable to a narrow one. Shoot for a one-by-two-foot conduit. Fitting a chase of those dimensions entirely behind the plane of your existing walls probably isn’t in the cards. Instead, expect for the chase to punch at least a few inches into the rooms through which it’s going to run. Yes, you’re right—doing that is definitely going to complicate the job!

Location, Location, Location
Real estate and laundry chutes have at least one thing in common: For both, location is of key importance. Certainly, you want to find a place for the chute that’s going to be convenient in your day-to-day life, but the greater challenge is going to be finding a spot where the chase can fit into the framework of your house. While it’s easy enough to build a laundry chute into a new home or addition, integrating one into an existing house takes some doing. What you need to find is a stud bay that drops to the basement, with neither wiring nor plumbing in the way. Prepare to cut a few small exploratory holes if you never knew or have forgotten what lies behind this or that wall. Hallways are often a good bet, especially if their walls run parallel to underlying floor joists. Note that it’s possible for a laundry chute to bend slightly in its run so as to avoid an obstruction, but that bend must be gradual and of course is going to complicate matters.

Laundry Chute - Open Door

Photo: builtbylandmark.com

The Big Drop
The idea of a laundry chute appeals most to those who live in a multistory home. Bear in mind, however, that the risk of a snag increases in direct proportion with the length of the chase. There are worse things in the world than having a sock snag in your laundry chute, but the impetus for building one is to minimize hassle, and clearing a snag is nothing if not annoying. Most homeowners keep a pole or stiff wire on hand to deal with such a problem, but if you’re using a contractor, he or she may be able to design the chase in such a way that it allows for user-friendly maintenance over time.

Kid Stuff
Are there small children in the house? If so, position any upstairs entry doors to the chute high up on the wall, beyond the reach of kids who don’t know better than to send themselves (or the cat) on a ride to the basement. Alternatively or in addition, downsize the door so that no small bodies can fit through. Yet another child-safety option would be to put a lock on the door to the chute.

Fire Safety
Properly designed, a laundry chute provides unobstructed passage between floors. Many people believe that this chimney-like construction has the potential to turn a small fire into a really big and utterly devastating one. On the other hand, many builders and architects point out that stairways carry the same potential risk. And whereas stairways are typically open, laundry chutes are most often closed shut behind doors that can slow a fire’s spread.

Regardless, in some municipalities, there are strict fire codes prohibiting or restricting the construction of laundry chute. Before going ahead with plans, be sure to check with your local building authority.


Bob Vila Radio: Installing a Fold-Down Ironing Board

To save space wherever you do the laundry, install a fold-out ironing board. Here are some tips on getting it done.

If you’re like a lot of people, space in your home is at a premium. In other words, figuring out where to stash your stuff is an ongoing preoccupation. One prime example of a “where do I put this?” item is the ironing board.

Photo: shutterstock.com

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Listen to BOB VILA ON FOLD-DOWN IRONING BOARDS or read the text below:

Why not solve that storage problem by installing a fold-down unit? Sure, you can build one from scratch, but they’re also available—pre-assembled and ready for installation—online or at your local home center.

Whether you build or buy, it’s best to install the fold-down unit in a stud bay that has existing wiring. That way, you’ll have ready access to power for the iron (and for a lamp, so you can see what you’re doing).

First, measure the dimensions of the unit, then use a drywall saw to cut an appropriate size hole in the wall. Next, cut and screw-mount two sections of 2×4 to frame the top and bottom of the cavity. Once you drill a hole for your wiring, you’re ready to slide your cabinet into the framed cavity and secure it with wood screws.

Chances are your old ironing board will find a new home at your next yard sale!

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Weekend Projects: 5 Easy and Elegant DIY Canopy Beds

Do you crave the romance and coziness of a canopy bed? Then try out one of these accessible variations on the traditional canopy. You'll be sleeping in style in no time.

We tend to think of canopy beds as being romantic, glamorous, and perhaps a bit showy. Yet their origins are humble. Back in the Middle Ages, people cordoned off their sleeping areas behind fabric in order to deter pests and insects. Today’s homeowners choose canopy beds for a variety of reasons, but practicality usually isn’t one of them. These billowy sanctuaries have remained popular mainly due to their decorative value. If you’ve always wanted your own private canopy, be heartened by the fact that it’s actually pretty easy to transform a regular mattress and frame into a DIY canopy bed that’s replete with magic and mystery, comfort and calm.

 

1. JUMP THROUGH HOOPS

DIY Canopy Bed - Hoop

Photo: acasadava.com

Create a DIY canopy bed using little more than a basic embroidery hoop and a pair of store-bought or homemade curtains. Fit the fabric panels onto the hoop, then hang using hardware (a pot rack hook works well). Get the tutorial from Country Living; so long as you already have the curtains, the project should cost only about $10.

 

2. PULL THE CURTAIN

DIY Canopy Bed - Curtain Rod

Photo: bargainhoot.com

Surround your bed with a 360-degree fabric canopy—inexpensively, and without modifying your headboard, bed frame, mattress, or box spring. It’s as simple as mounting curtain rods to the ceiling; the rods should echo the shape and size of your bed. Once the rods are in place, add gauzy curtains to each side, and voilà!

 

3. JUST HANG OUT

DIY Canopy Bed - Modern

Photo: elementsofstyleblog.com

Display a graphic textile in this modern, minimalist take on a DIY canopy bed. Install a grommet in each corner of the fabric, string rope through each hole, and then tie the panel to the ceiling by means of hooks or screws. Bear in mind, this idea can work in many rooms: You can cast a cozy vibe not only in a bed, but also over a couch or chaise.

 

4. MAKE IT SWING

DIY Canopy Bed - Swing Arms

Photo: bhg.com

Here’s another way to make a lovely, low-cost DIY canopy bed using hardware originally designed for window treatments. Fasten a pair of swing-arm curtain rods to the wall a few inches below the ceiling, one on either side of the bed. To complete the look, loosely drape a swag of fabric across the bed from one rod to the other.

 

5. CLIMB THE LADDER

DIY Canopy Bed - Ladder

Photo: chippingwithcharm.blogspot.com

Chipping with Charm offers up a solution for those who love the concept of a DIY canopy bed but don’t love frilly home design. Mount a vintage ladder over the bed—granted, that’s no easy feat—then weave fabric through the ladder rungs. Alternatively, hang panels only on the ends of the ladder for a more open and uniform aesthetic.


Weekend Projects: 5 Flat-Out Wonderful DIY Platform Beds

The sleek lines and compact design of a platform bed suit a variety of interiors. Platforms can be inexpensively made and can easily incorporate storage—which makes them great for small bedrooms and small budgets alike. Witness this all for yourself with our roundup of DIY platform beds.

Platform beds never go out of style—unlike, say, platform shoes, but that’s a different story. Appropriate in a range of decorating schemes, the long-and-low design of a platform bed appeals not only to the eye, but also to the wallet—and to those who are above all practical-minded. It may be obvious but is well worth mentioning that a platform bed lets you save a bunch of money by not having to buy a box spring. Another important advantage: Platform beds lend themselves to built-in storage cubbies, shelves, and drawers that conserve valuable floor space. If you’re intrigued by the style’s many selling points, scroll down to see five different ways to approach building a DIY platform bed.

 

1. PICK PALLETS

DIY Platform Bed - Pallets

Photo: theplatformbed.com

Shipping pallets, with their rough-hewn texture, yield a DIY platform bed with a distinctively handmade aesthetic. Fasten a couple of pallets against the wall vertically, and in an instant you have a low-cost headboard that coordinates perfectly with the frame. If you wish, paint or stain both for a more finished look.

 

2. BE SHELF-ISH

DIY Platform Bed - IKEA

Photo: vanillajoy.com

We’ve noticed several ingenious DIY platform bed projects involving IKEA shelving units, either alone or in combination with wood framing. It’s hard not to love how easy these are to assemble—and afford. Of course the real clinchers are the storage compartments, which make this design ideal for anyone starved for space.

 

3. GO MODERN

DIY Platform Bed - Modern

Photo: mid-century-modern.net

The sleek profile of a DIY platform bed looks very much at home in a modern space, particularly when the bed frame has been graced with mid-century-esque details. With little more than oak boards and metal hairpin legs, you can build a piece just like this one, which recalls an earlier age but retains timeless charm.

 

4. ASSEMBLE A KNOCKOFF

DIY Platform Bed - Copy

Photo: caldwellcouple.blogspot.com

By following an online tutorial, The Caldwell Couple managed to knock off the design of a Pottery Barn Kids bed, completing the project for about $120 (hundreds less than it would have cost to buy from the retailer). Platform beds are easy for children to access, and because the beds are so close to the ground, they’re quite safe.

 

5. FLOAT AWAY

DIY Platform Bed - Floating

Photo: stylusa.com

Some platform beds look as if they are floating when in reality they are perched on a smaller base that you could see if you were to peer underneath. You can add functionality to this form by making the platform about six inches wider than your mattress; the extra space becomes a sort of nightstand for odds and ends.


Planning Guide: Mudrooms

Every house needs a clean, well-organized spot where family and friends can hang their coats, stash their boots, and neatly rest all of their bags, hats, scarves and backpacks. Yes, everyone needs a mudroom—and with careful planning, you can create one that's not just a staging area, but a true command central.

Photo: cynthialynn.com

As the main staging area for arrivals and departures, the mudroom is a much-relied-upon space. If your floor plan doesn’t include a mudroom, you can create one by screening or walling in a section of an existing room, by finishing an attached porch, or by building a small addition. However you go about it, once you have a mudroom, you’ll wonder how you ever survived without one!

LOCATION
Whether you start from scratch or convert an existing room—or part of it—into a mudroom, choose a location that is frequently used by your family to get in and out of the house. Kitchens or pantries with entry doors to the exterior are ideally suited to incorporate a mudroom. Garages are also excellent candidates. Utility or laundry rooms with an outside entrance make good mudrooms as well—you can wash and dry the wet, dirty clothes on the spot! The same is true of basements that are equipped with plumbing and have entry doors to the exterior.

Farmhouse mudroom

Photo: pocketfullofblue.blogspot.com

FLOORING
Because the main function of a mudroom is to keep mud and snow away from the rest of the house, you shouldn’t have to worry about getting the floor dirty—there will be plenty of dirt. So you’ll need to select a durable flooring that is easy to clean.

Tiles make hard-wearing and decorative floors, but for safety reasons choose nonslip styles. Vinyl tile and linoleum flooring is durable and washable too, but make sure that the color and pattern you pick will hide dirt and stains easily. Another good option is concrete. Its easy maintenance makes it perfect for mudroom floors, and when stained, colored, or painted, it can be a very attractive flooring material.

Related: How to Stain Concrete

Whatever you choose as your flooring surface, be sure to place fiber mats or absorbent rugs near the entryway to catch water and dirt before they get tracked through the house. It’s a good idea to install a boot scraper just outside the entrance to your mudroom, so dirt and mud won’t even make it over the threshold.

If you have the budget and your home allows for it, consider installing a drain in the center of the room and angling the floor slightly so that water and slushy, melting snow can drain away and you can easily wash out the room as often as required. If it’s not practical to place a drain in the center of the room, consider putting it in a corner where you can set a mesh rack above it for wet boots and shoes. If a drain is not possible, a sturdy rubber mat with sidewalls should do the trick.

Mudroom  Decor

Photo: bhg.com

EXTRA STORAGE
As any homeowner knows, you can never have enough storage; this is especially true in your mudroom. Because it’s the main pickup and drop-off spot in the house, the mudroom needs to accommodate coats, scarves, boots, cycling helmets, and backpacks—thereby stopping these items from littering entryways, hallways, and bedrooms.

One way to eliminate clutter is to install cabinets fitted with pegs, shelves, and drawers. Assign a specific storage space to each family member. Make them all responsible for putting away their own coats, shoes, and other items they use every day. If the budget allows, include upper cabinets in the plan. They’re great for stashing out-of-season items.

It’s also a good idea to include a storage bench in the mudroom. It’s not only convenient for removing wet shoes, but it also provides a space below where those shoes can be stowed. (And if the bench is sturdy enough, you can use it to reach those handy upper cabinets!) Again, if you are going store your shoes in cubbyholes beneath the bench, use plastic trays or mats cut to size to make cleanup easier.

QUICK EXIT AND ENTRY
Mudrooms can help create a hassle-free start to the day and a relaxing homecoming in the evening—if they’re well organized. As you’re planning, make sure there’s a place for everything. For example, set up decorative bowls or pegs for car keys and keep a notepad by the door for reminders, or even put up a cork board, whiteboard, or chalkboard where family members can leave notes. Set up a charging station for your electronic devices (if your mudroom is heated) so that you won’t forget your phone in the morning. Use pegs or a vintage coat rack to hang dog leashes, shopping bags, and coats so they’re easy to grab quickly. One more practical addition: a mirror to ensure that you leave the house looking well turned out.

WARM WELCOME
Your guests, family members, and even pets will appreciate coming in from the freezing outdoors to a warm and cozy mudroom. To keep the space toasty, you may need to rely on a space heater or heat lamp (which can also help dry damp clothes), or you can connect the room to the home’s central heating or hardwire an electric baseboard system. If you have a pet, once the room is sufficiently heated, you could consider putting a pet bed in a corner and making the room your companion’s special retreat.

In addition to adequate heating, it’s essential to have proper ventilation in a mudroom to keep the air fresh (there are likely to be a lot of shoes here after all!) and to prevent the growth of mildew and mold. If there are no windows in the room that you can open for fresh air, a bathroom-type exhaust fan can do the trick.

CONTROL ROOM
For frequent travelers who worry about bedbugs or dedicated hikers who are concerned about ticks, the mudroom can be a great place to “decontaminate” when you return home. If you have a washer and dryer in the room, simply unpack or undress in the mudroom and start up a laundry cycle. (Keep some robes and slippers in the room to help with this process!) If your laundry facilities aren’t close by, keep plenty of heavy-duty plastic bags on hand to transport clothing from the mudroom to your laundry room.

One final selling point: If you suffer from allergies, a mudroom can be effective in minimizing the amount of outdoor allergens like dust, pollen, and mold that enter the house on your clothing.

CHEERFUL DECOR

Even though it has the word “mud” in its name, your mudroom does not need to be drab. You can paint the walls in bright colors and use color-coded storage units and decorative baskets, making the room lively while still keeping things stored neatly and out of sight. Paint a wall with chalkboard paint and you’ll also have an attractive and useful means of keeping your busy family organized. Installing pendant or recessed lighting instead of fluorescent will make the room feel more like home than a storage area—and, after all, it’s both!


How To: Install a Dryer Vent

Having your dryer properly vented is crucial in keeping the appliance operating effectively and avoiding the risk of fire or water damage to your home. Fortunately, installing a dryer vent is easy to do.

Dryer Vent Installation

Photo: familyhandyman.com

Developed in 19th-century England, the first mechanized clothes dryers were perforated barrels that rotated over flames. Today’s appliances are not so very different, at least in principle, with heated air blown through a tumbler. But where does the air go once it has stolen moisture from your socks, shirts, and hand towels? If you’ve ever walked or driven past a modern-day Laundromat, then you already know: For a dryer to operate safely and effectively, it must vent to the outside.

Related: 15 Laundry Rooms We Love

In recent decades, it’s been common practice for homeowners to use flexible vinyl or metal tubing in dryer vent installation. The ridged design of these ducts, however, tends to pose a fire hazard: In short, they trap lint. For that reason, experts now instead recommend the use of rigid or semirigid hose; either can be found easily and purchased inexpensively in the diameter appropriate for your appliance (for most dryers, the correct duct size is four inches).

STEP 1
Dryer vent installation begins with a decision: By what route will the duct travel from your appliance to your home’s exterior? The shorter, the better. A straight path is the shortest possible route, but not always practical. If, say, your dryer sits in the basement, then the hose needs to make at least one turn. To complicate matters, the total length of the run should not exceed 25 feet—and that’s for a straight shot. From that maximum, deduct five feet for 90-degree bends, and two and a half feet for 45-degree ones.

STEP 2
Now comes the most challenging part of dryer vent installation: putting a hole in the exterior wall. In most cases, the opening must be four and a quarter inches wide (for confirmation, consult the instructions provided by the manufacturer). I suggest drilling a pilot hole first, then going outside to double-check its position. If there’s no impediment, and you’re boring through wood, proceed to use the drill/driver, first outfitting the tool with a hole-saw attachment. To penetrate stucco or concrete, it’s easier to use a masonry bit to drill multiple holes around the circumference of the desired opening before manually chiseling out its interior.

Dryer Vent Installation - Exterior View

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 3
Install the dryer vent cap against the side of your house, being sure that its attached pipe fits through the wall opening you have made. Secure the cap with the provided screws, and don’t forget to caulk around the edges for protection against the elements. Now go inside and connect the dryer duct to the vent cap pipe (a 90-degree elbow may be needed), securing the connection with a hose clamp.

STEP 4
Having moved the dryer into the desired spot in your laundry room, measure the distance from the back of the machine to the vent opening, accounting for all the necessary turns in the ductwork. With a pair of tin snips, proceed to cut the tubing to the length of the measured distance. If you are joining more than one length of tubing, reinforce all joints with foil tape. When you’re finally attaching the tubing to your dryer, remember to secure the connection by means of a hose clamp, as you did in Step 3.

STEP 5
At this point, it’s important to make certain your dryer vent installation has been successful. Switch on the dryer, then go outside to inspect the vent cap: It should be emitting warm air. If it’s not, head back indoors to review your ductwork. The most likely explanation is that one of the connections has come undone.

Remember that in order for your dryer to keep operating at maximum efficiency, you must periodically vacuum inside the vent system, as lint has a stubborn way of lingering, even when there are no ridges in which it can get lodged.