Mudroom Update #2

by Donna McLaughlin Schwender

Mermaids Song Paint

As I mentioned in the last update, Tim wanted something in the range of “sea glass blue” for the wall color in our updated mudroom. He ended up choosing Valspar’s, “Mermaid’s Song.” To me, it has a slight greenish-blue undertone (and it also reminds me of liquid Imodium, but I mean that in the kindest of ways – I think).

Wall Color It looked even brighter once we had two coats of it on the walls. It was such a change from the dark cabinetry that had been in there, the first morning I came out and turned on the light to let the dogs out the back door, we were nearly blinded! I couldn’t find the light switch fast enough to ease our pain. OK – so I’m exaggerating a wee bit, bit it IS bright. The fact that we had just installed a new LED light in there might have something to do with it too. We went from a single 60-watt incandescent bulb (which is equivalent to only 630 lumens) to 1,400 lumens of output.

The paint had three days to dry before our Flow Wall cabinets – all 674 pounds of them – arrived last Tuesday finally having made the journey all the way from California to New York. I confess that Tim and I were a little nervous opening the first box as we had basically bought them “sight unseen,” other than just online. I can’t recall another time we’ve ever done that, especially for such a large purchase.

We both were very impressed with how well everything was packaged. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture to document it. Suffice it to say that nothing arrived damaged (except one measly bent screw, but they had sent us many, MANY extras) and each component had the appropriate hardware and directions packed with them to streamline the assembly process. Perhaps the best part though was that there wasn’t a lot of extraneous packaging that I usually feel guilty throwing out. Most of it actually went in our recycling bins once we were done.

Before we started hanging the pieces of slat wall and putting the cabinets together, we once again watched the YouTube video that had first convinced us to make our purchase. It’s only nine minutes long, but it did a pretty good job explaining how to assemble and install everything. Unfortunately, one of the few pieces of the puzzle they DID leave out ended up being something that immediately threw us off track. I’ll explain that in more detail a little bit later. For now, just notice in the photo below that we hung the slat wall pieces all the way to the ceiling. We had decided to do it that way as the walls in that room are only seven feet tall and we wanted to have one foot of extra storage space underneath the cabinets.

Slat Wall

Perhaps the most time-consuming part of the process for us was in simply locating the damn wall studs! We think our mudroom was likely added on as an afterthought to attach the house directly to the garage, so it quickly became apparent that things had been piecemealed together during that construction process. That meant the studs weren’t where they were supposed to be. Some were the traditional 16″ apart while others were 14″ or 17″. Even having a stud-finder wasn’t very helpful as we were trying to locate them over layers of exterior siding (that were no longer “exterior” but were now buried in the wall) and interior paneling. We ended up drilling a lot of test holes (it looks like Swiss cheese under that piece of slat wall!), as well as doing a lot of swearing (but not at each other).

Once we conquered locating the studs, it took us approximately ten hours (spread out over several days) to get everything assembled and hung on the walls. We have one more large cabinet still in the box should we ever need it, but for now, having space for our barn gear and the dog’s stuff is more important. Here’s what the room currently looks like (please ignore the fact that we still need to install new flooring)…

Small Cabinets Stuff

Small cabinets & the plastic storage bins they came with (along with our usual boxes of tissues, hand wipes, & winter gear).

Large Cabinets

Large cabinets & hooks for our barn coats & dog gear, with space below for our smelly barn boots.

What problems did we encounter along the way that we might warn others who are interested in such cabinets? As I mentioned earlier, hanging the slat wall all the way to the top of the ceiling was ALMOST a major disaster. Nowhere in the literature, nor in any of the videos, did it warn us to leave at least an inch (or two) of “access” above the top of the slat wall. That seemingly small gap is CRITICAL to be able to lift the cabinet over the slat wall “suspension clips” in order to hang the unit. It’s hard for me to describe it in words, but maybe the photo below helps.

Cabinet Gap

Based on where the brackets have to be hung on the slat wall and where the bar is that the cabinet is suspended on, you have to have room to lift the cabinet (which is NOT light) “up and over.” In the photo – it might not be obvious – but there’s only a finger’s width gap at the top of the cabinet and the ceiling. To say that Tim and I grunted, groaned, twisted, tweaked, and cursed like sailors to get each cabinet over those damn clips would be a HUUUUUGE understatement. BUT…we did it without having to remove and lower the slat wall.

Having learned our lesson on that side of the room, we hung the slat wall for the small cabinets on the other side with what we thought was an appropriate amount of space…N.O.T. We had forgotten to take into account that the “piecemealing” work of prior people had created a “sloped” ceiling on that side of the room which once again led to not being able to lift the cabinets at a sufficient angle to clear the clips. More grunting and a LOT more swearing. That side of the room also seems to have less “smooth” walls underneath which means the cabinets don’t really “flow” along the track very easily. Luckily, we don’t plan on moving them often, if it all! In the end, everything survived, including the two of us (and the 25 years we’ve invested in our marriage).

It’s been less than a week, but what do we think about them so far? Tim admits they’re much nicer than he actually expected them to be. I think they’re well-built and super-sturdy (especially after how much man-handling they’ve already endured from us). For obvious reasons, we both think the ideal place to use them is in a well-built room with nice straight edges and smooth surfaces. Would we buy them again, though? Absolutely.

As for what we still have left to do in renovating the room, there’s the floor replacement that I keep mentioning and we need to paint the two doors, as well as paint and rehang the coat rack that used to be by the garage door which will now only be used for our “good” coats (no longer intermingling them with our stinky barn ones as we so grossly used to do). Tim also keeps talking about doing some trim work along the ceiling, but there’s not much space (or need) for it (or so I keep debating). Time will soon tell who wins that debate. I’ll keep you posted…