decided to have fabulous laundry room cabinets a long time ago. Before buying this house in 2004. Before renting a 99 year old farm house. Before moving out of my parent’s home.

And prior to touring the Biltmore Estate.

It happened somewhere in the dozen or so years that I nannied and folded my way through college (and grad school, and various short-lived career paths) in the fabulous laundry rooms of the women who hired me.

(Housework brought bonuses, made the day go faster, and kept my phone ringing.)


Earlier this summer, my mom had the baby and I was blitzing through an afternoon of carseat-free stops when I spotted the world’s-most-perfect-laundry-room-cabinets.

From nearly 15 feet away, I knew they were mine.

Laundry Room Cabinets at Thrift Store
One of the pair: A find like this hadn’t been forthcoming in a while. White. Two matching glass front cabinets. Excellent condition. Great price. Good timing/not too many projects in the hopper.

I caught my breath when a young girl and her mother stepped up to the cabinets in before me! I wanted to step in and say, “Oh those are already taken.” (Because didn’t I have designs on them four seconds earlier?) But I hung back as they took several long minutes deciding which was the better of the two cabinets. I was thinking, “Sheez, they’re both great! I’d buy them both!”

I turned my thoughts toward more productive measures and attempted to influence them with the force.  “These are not the cabinets you’re looking for…You can go about your business…Move along, move along.”  (This is the first and last time you’ll ever hear me quote Star Wars. Just in case you’re wondering.)

But since “The Force” is hogwash, and the cabinets are awesome, a coveted fluorescent green price sticker was soon in the hands of the young girl.

I moved in to secure the second cabinet. “Are you buying this one as well?” I asked. They happily assured me they weren’t and I lifted the second price tag while simultaneously blurting, “I’ll give you five dollars if you let me buy both!”

The girl said “no” but continued to offer the second cabinet (as IF it was hers! Hmph!) until I explained I needed both for my laundry room.

We parted ways, though I later saw them whispering and pointing at me in what a appeared to be a deliberation about the five bucks, which led me to believe the young girl’s heart was not as set on the cabinets as was mine!


I Googled glass front cabinets to make sure I was getting a really good deal, borrowed a measuring tape and called my mom at the house to check my measurements…before my next desperate move…

The young girl and her mother were lingering at the front of the store where their cabinet had been hauled and I approached them, $20 in hand.

As soon as I made my offer I knew I’d been had. The young girl attempted to reign in a smile as she turned to her mom and said, “Veinte!” They conferred and the girl turned back and said, “OK, sure, I guess you can have it, because you need it more.” I had begun to regret not offering $10, and wondered if I could fit the cabinets in my car and if I would ever get them installed in the first place. So I began putting the money away and said, “No, this is not about what I want; I only wanted to offer if it was good for you.

I found myself committed when she starting talking really fast about how she could easily put the money toward another cabinet for her room, and she would like another one just as much.

And that’s how I bought a green sticker for $20 and the Laundry Room Cabinet Project of Labor Day Weekend 2014 was conceived.


While it didn’t take nine months before I installed them, it did take all of five weeks of one cabinet waiting on top of my dryer and the other being hit by my car door in the garage. Compared to the time-frame on some of my projects these cabinets should be decrepit by now; compared to others it’s record breaking.

Here’s what we had before. A very solid, deep and serviceable shelf made out of a single fireplace mantel. This was a definite “step up” when I first installed it, as it provided plenty of storage, though my ultimate goal was to place two additional mantels above it.

Mantel used as shelf
A repurposed fireplace mantel used for laundry room storage and my mismatched machines which I have decided to replace someday…hopefully without bribing a 14 year old.

We removed the mantel and were back to the good ole days. I can’t remember if there was any shelving in place when I bought the house, or even what it was (wire shelving?), but I can’t imagine a laundry room without anything. Doesn’t it look bare?

Our washer machine isn’t always crooked like this…when it rains it pours, so we were waiting on a washing machine part the morning we decided to install the laundry cabinets, which was the same day we removed our kitchen sink and countertops in preparation for new granite, and a day before we realized the washer machine leaked into the basement (only on my husband’s stuff. Score! …Wait – Is that mean?), which was only a few days after the icemaker was disconnected due to creating it’s second winter wonderland in the freezer, and the washer machine got moved a lot…but it’s fixed now!

This project needed some muscle! The shelves are heavy pressed wood coated with laminate. My husband started out “helping” with the stud finder but ended up really getting into it while I basked in my newly transferred role of Project Manager.

When I heard those long screws screeching right on target into the wood, I told my pundit of puns that he’s a pretty good “stud finder”…even though I am obviously the best at it. (I think that helped the project along, don’t you?)

Installing Laundry Room Cabinets
To make the installation manageable we removed the doors and shelving beforehand.

First Mistake. We installed the first cabinet a half inch too low (Project Manager claims full responsibility). But it was perfectly level! We pushed the washing machine back in place and debated whether to leave it without being able to have full clearance for the washer lid but ultimately decided to go for broke and redo it right. 30 minute setback.

Second Mistake. The second cabinet went in quickly but with a small gap at the top where we let it slide out of place before putting in all of the screws. (Again, the Project Manager acknowledges her responsibility.) We decided to leave it.

Installing Laundry Room Cabinets
If you look closely you can see a gap at the top. Live and learn. And this is the only picture that shows my three dollar chandelier. (I love yard sales.)

Third Mistake. I was feeling like a master cabinet installer by the time the frames were in place and took over the rest of the project from there…I started out beautifully by installing the first door upside down. Five minute setback.

Installing Laundry Room Cabinets
I couldn’t resist stocking some of the shelves even before the doors went on…and then in my excitement (note the knob hole at the top of the cabinet) I installed the first door upside down.

Fourth Mistake. To compensate for installing the first cabinet too low, I had urged that we “go up another couple of inches” on the redo. This left the chandelier swinging every time a door opened.

Installing Laundry Room Cabinets
The door install took longer than the cabinets as I wasn’t happy with my Windex results and, one by one, soaped them down in the kitchen sink.

And here’s the finished product!

Installing Laundry Room Cabinets
The extra room at the top houses bulkier less-used items. It’s kind of haphazard now because I was already pulling things out of the kitchen for our countertop removal later the same day. In other words, the Crockpot is not a permanent resident.

I still need to add the knobs but this is how I installed laundry room cabinets for less than $70 (including sales tax and hasty right to buy options). And it only took five weeks and a single morning!

Besides the obvious savings, a benefit to buying used, and one that I’ve only recently come to appreciate, is that things have already had time to “off gas” somewhere else. (I remember opening a co-sleeper when my daughter was less than a week old and the fumes were so overpowering that I boxed it right back up to return to the store. After researching, I found this could have been a problem with everything we used for our daughter…except that most of it was already secondhand from family!)

There’s also the added benefit that any consumer recalls have already been discovered and announced (especially important if you have little ones) and things are pre-assembled, painted, etc.. And it’s always fun to find your used light fixture has six working light bulbs…and a single light bulb would cost twice the price of the fixture.

With my used laundry cabinets, the previous owner took the time to precisely cut still pristine white nylon shelf liners (also adequately off gassed) which I am enjoying but probably wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

We love, and are very grateful for, our “new” laundry cabinets!

Even if you are not a typical Do-It-Yourselfer, I hope this will entice you to  “go for it!” the next time you see someone else’s “trash” and let it become your “treasure!”

Next project: Granite Countertops.