The problem, though, is this. I don't have a gazillion dollars to spend on functional spaces in my house like my laundry room. You do a search on Pinterst for mudroom and you get these gorgeous custom cabinets:
(swiped from Pinterest, and of course it wasn't sourced properly there. Not my photo)
Pretty cool, right? Yeah, but I don't have the money to hire a master carpenter to do that work, and besides, I don't have the space indoors for a fancy mudroom. Maybe someday.
We just got new carpet. It's beautiful. Well, not really, but it's CLEAN. And I want it to stay that way, so we have instituted a 'no shoes on the carpet' and 'don't use the front door' rule. So I needed to create a space in the garage for the kids to dump their shoes and hang their crap. My garage is an icky, unfinished thing. Not the fancy, shiny garages you see sometimes on HGTV, so I wasn't looking to make something fancy.
How hard could it be to whip something up? Dusty has the tools, I'd just borrow them from him.
There was a 6 foot long board hanging from L-brackets in the garage that I knew I wanted to use as my bench seat for two reasons: 1.) it was free. 2.) it was narrow (11 1/8 inches wide) and I needed something narrow so that I can get out of my van when it's parked int he garage. So that was the starting point of my plans.
I knew I wanted a 0.5 inch overhang from the top board, and I knew I wanted to make a basic bench with an apron and legs on each end and in the center. And so from there, I drew up my plans. How technical is this? It's so completely not to scale that it's funny.
I started making the plans at about 6:30 on Friday morning. I wasted some time on the internet, and finally decided to go for it. At 8:30, I woke my awesome son up. It's his summer vacation, you know, and he wasn't too pleased to be hauled out of bed to help me at Menard's, but he got up anyway, and was relatively cheerful about it. (I do so love that kid.) Here he is after finding a duster called "Dustin" at the store. He still looks really sleepy, doesn't he? This must have been before I bribed him with a McMuffin from McDonald's.
Jake helped me find the boards and haul them to our cart, and put them in the van. And when the sheets of plywood that we chose for the backing didn't fit in the van, we hauled them back and returned them at the courtesy counter. (Dusty would later go back and get me two nice sheets of 4x8 foot paneling that he hauled home in his giant truck that I refuse to drive.)
We got home and I got to work on the bench. I used a miter saw because it was easier to lug upstairs and into the garage. But I didn't miter any of the trim edges or anything - I didn't get that fancy - I only cut straight cuts.
Here's a progress shot as I was finishing up the bench. Don't make fun of my messy garage:
After I finished the bench, I screwed the panels into the wall. Our house is a giant pain and finding studs was difficult. They're supposed to be 16" apart, right? Wrong. NOTHING in my house is standard. So frustrating. But I somehow managed to get the panels up on the wall. And then I started trimming it out: (That black thing in the corner of the picture is a handle from a bicycle that hangs from the garage ceiling)
I added more trim. I didn't really know what I was going to do design wise. I pretty much winged it.
(Dusty hates when I do stuff like this. He's a planner, measure twice (no four, five times!) cut once guy. I kind of decide on the spot what I'll do.)
I used cheap materials - not nice trim or anything, because again, this is going in my crappy garage. If you were going to do this in a nice area, I'd suggest using actual trim, and probably mitering the edges, etc. But I didn't do any of that. The outside trim is made from 1x3s and the interior trim is made from1x4s. Just to make things confusing, the bottom two horizontal strips are 1x2s. Why? Well, the bottom strip couldn't be drilled into the wall because there is a row of concrete block beneath my drywall. So I knew I had to glue it to the paneling, and I wanted something fairly light that would stay put. The strip above it (at the bench height) because I thought it would match well. Doesn't really matter, and if you were to try this in your home, you could use any dang thing you want.
So eventually, I was done with the construction and it looked like this:
I did all of that in one day, but took most of the day, and boy, was I exhausted and sweaty. Natalie hung out with me for a while in her pack and play in the garage, but was scared of the saw, sander, and drill noises, so she had a Daddy day instead.
Saturday was painting day, and honestly, painting was a bigger pain in the rear than construction. I painted the trim and that was fine, but the paneling did not want to take the paint. I sanded the crap out of it, really roughed up the surface so it'd grab the paint, and after three coats of primer, I was able to put on the color.
It's called "mellow yellow" and I love Behr Ultra, but this is not really very mellow, is it? I'd say it's cheerful yellow instead.
Speaking of 'yellow', Nati knows the word now and loves to say it. She doesn't even really massacre it. It sounds mostly like 'yellow' which kind of makes me sad. Why can't she start with an adorable 'lellow' or something?
But I digress. Here's the thing all painted:
I hope it doesn't scratch or peel. It probably will. If you are thinking of doing something like this, my suggestion would be to attach the framing directly to the wall if you have smooth drywall. (I don't. Our garage has this nasty popcorn textured walls that are falling apart, hence the paneled background.) Or, if you don't want to do that, use plain plywood that will take the paint, or use real wood paneling instead of the plasticky kind we got. Mine looks nice right now, but it will probably end up getting scratched when a fifteen pound backpack covered with dangling rainbow and kitty-cat key chains smacks up against it a thousand times.
Anyway. Yesterday, I added hooks and found the shoe bins to put under the bench. And you know what? Those stinking hooks were the most expensive part of the project at $3 each! Highway robbery, man. But they do look nice. Here is the finished product, with an adorable model showing off the sturdy, utilitarian bench:
The shoe bins are actually plastic flower planters. They're kind of hard to see in that picture. I saw them at Home Depot and knew they'd be the perfect size. Like I said, I needed something narrow so I could still open the van door with it parked inside, but I wanted them to be big enough to hold shoes. These were perfect, and only $10/each. See how it looks with the van in there?
And finally, one last shot of it. Isn't Natalie's raincoat adorable?
I'm pleased with the outcome and I think it may have lit a carpentry fire in me. Again, it's definitely not a Pinterest masterpiece, but it's real life, man. The kind of real life that's me, anyway. Also, it's functional and cheerful, and it'll work perfectly for us.
There are LOTS of ways for me to improve upon my handiwork. I'm thinking my next project might be to make a privacy screen that hides the trash and recycling bins from the street. Dusty thinks that completely ridiculous, but I feel like it'll add to the curb appeal of the house. Plus, projects are just plain fun.