Alma House: Laundry Center Complete

By Kate Riley September 19, 2011

Oh hello y’all, how are things?  I’m feeling pretty good today having finally finished the laundry room over at our adopted Alma House.   For those who don’t know, earlier this year, the hubs and I decided to adopt a house in partnership with our local COTS (Committee on the Shelterless). 

The Alma Project began as the transformation of a fixer upper house into a comfortable functional home for women who desperately need it. Living inside the Alma House are single mothers, previously homeless, who reside for free on the condition that they are learning skills, stabilizing their lives, attending counseling, and that they remain drug and alcohol free. Busy remodeling their lives, these mothers have no time or money to fix up this house.

Over the past few months, we’ve given our time to this project with money donated by so many of you. Some of you blogged about the Alma house and others held small fundraisers to benefit the project.  We cannot thank you enough. 

In April, we spent a day transforming the entry hallway to create better utility:

alma hallway after


In May, we built them this media center

alma house media storage center


Over the summer, we set out to build the families a laundry room center in the garage and at last it is complete! 

Here’s a glimpse of the space a few months ago:

laundry room before


Here it is today!

laundry center alma after


This all started with a simple request for more storage. These ladies weren’t even asking for a laundry center, I’m sure they never envisioned one in their wildest dreams.  They just wanted a place where they could store their extra things they had no room for in the house.  

Me?  I saw something a little more than storage.  I wanted to create for them a laundry center because I know how it is when you’ve got kids – the laundry just never ends.  It piles up everywhere and all a mom really wants is a place to lay it down and fold it. 

I knew my local Lowe’s carried stock cabinetry, and their white versions were great quality. I sketched up a diagram and off we went to Lowe’s to investigate how many cabinets and countertops we would need, but the projection for the entire project came in higher than we could afford in the budget for the project.  

I had a great contact with Lowes, and asked them if they’d be willing to donate $500 worth of cabinetry to the project.  Big props to Lowe’s, they agreed!  We were able to grab all the cabinetry, three base cabinets and five upper cabinets, for $995 (one base cost us only $20 since the back was damaged).  With the $500 store credit, we got all the cabinetry for this space for $495 !

Originally, we planned to install the entire laundry center ourselves.  After some consideration, we realized that times are really rough for contractors right now. We budgeted some extra money, we assigned the building of the half walls and the installation of the cabinetry to a local contractor we knew could use the money. 

The first thing he did was build those half walls with wood framing and sheetrock (seen below). The new half wall has the effect of hiding the washer and dryer behind it and also stabilizing the cabinetry and folding counter.  We also primed and painted the walls which were covered with dirt and stains.

countertop storage wall


We squeezed three lower and five upper cabinets into this new space and topped it with a brand new laminate counter to create a folding surface. 

folding table


Finally, we added new pulls and knobs to finish it off. 

cabinets pulls and knobs

The ladies who live here are over the moon with excitement – they absolutely love it!

I’m so proud of this new laundry center, and again I wish to issue a great big thank you to Lowe’s for their generous donation of cabinetry to this project.  We couldn’t have completed it without that extra credit.  

Also a huge thank you to Becky at Vinyl Crafts who donated these custom signs that she made for the children’s bedrooms and also the family rules subway art for the living room.  You rock Becky, the kids are so excited! 

vinyl crafts


Total Expenses:

Cabinetry:  $995 (minus $500 credit) = $495

Laminate countertop: $105

Framing supplies: $55

Primer & paint = $30

Knobs & pulls = $55

Laundry baskets & soaps = $45

Labor = $300

Total for laundry center = $1,085


We’re so proud we completely transformed this space, providing a ton of new storage, a folding counter, and also disguising the the washer and dryer behind the half wall.   

alma laundry center

  Isn’t it fantastic ?!

We couldn’t have done it without all of your support !!

We have a small amount of money left in our Alma House account, and we are trying to decide where the money will go.  We think it will be best used to purchase a new sink and faucet in the kitchen.  We will keep you posted!

Many thanks to all of you who donated and raised funds for this worthy cause.  We’re so grateful to all of you who helped us give back to these families living in this shelter. 


cg kate signature




  1. What a fabulous cause! A wonderful inspiration to give with meaning and purpose. Never underestimate the power of a functional laundry room :)

  2. Hi Kate – It looks great – such a bright and cheery place now. Doing the laundry will not feel like such a chore for these families now!

    Bless you for being involved in such a wonderful project.

    My best- Diane

  3. Bravo, Kate! What an excellent use of space. I love that not only did you think of the women and their needs, but also contractors and the fact that they could use work in these tough times. You all are doing such a fantastic job with your Alma House!

  4. Congratulations on great work done! I love your posts on the Alma House, looking forward to seeing more of your renovations. You and your team rock! :)

  5. Do you need more money? Is there more you’d like to see done in the house? I think this is an amazing project to help these people have pride in what they’re doing. A nice place to live goes a LONG way. You should let us know what you want to do and how much you need to raise.

  6. That is BEAUTIFUL and inspiring to me on so many levels.

    Do you have an overall goal for raising money? How much has been raised via internet donations?

    I love this project.

    • Hey Dixie, we’re holding off on asking for more money at this time for this project. COTS may want us to move on to another house (they have many). We raised almost $2,000 as I recall, I would have to check the PayPal. Thanks so much!

  7. What a wonderful project (Alma House), and what a phenomenal job on the laundry area. It’s sooo much easier to do those boring, repetitive, NECESSARY, jobs like laundry if you have a beautiful, comfortable place to do it. Thank you for doing the “good work”.

    “As from a large heap of flowers many garlands and wreaths are made, so by a mortal in this life there is much good work to be done.” ~ Buddha

  8. Wow! I’m soo amazed!! I want that laundry. You have inspired me to do laundry of my life with that post. Its always wonderful to realize that there are good ppl out there in the world who do beautiful things and make beautiful places in ppl’s homes and hearts.

  9. Dear Kate,

    All of you should be very proud of the work you are doing in the is home. Notice I use the word HOME and not house, for you are truly transforming this space into a real home filled with love.

    Well done!
    Janet xox

    PS….really looking forward to meeting you at Haven!

  10. This gave me chills. I’m a new follower so I haven’t heard much about this project, but you’re so wonderful to assist! I can’t wait to hear more about it and hopefully at some point I can help contribute to the fund. :)

  11. This is such a great, inspiring post…not to mention a well-designed laundry spot. Those are some lucky ladies!!! Wonderful job. Thank you for sharing your talent, time and story.

  12. Kate, I have been following your work on Alma House since you started. This is, I think, the best project to date. Practical yet so beautiful. You and your DH should feel so proud.

    I do have a question. When you primed over the walls in the garage did you wash them first? I have been wondering about this since we just moved into a house and I am sure the little ones who lived here before us, like all little one, got the walls pretty dirty. They are very dark color so can’t tell.

    Thanks for your help. I will be using all of your painting tips in the next weeks.

    • Nancy they just needed a wipe down, then were coated with Bullseye 1-2-3 water based primer, then a coat of paint.

    • I know Lux, I don’t like that either! Seems wrong to me, but it’s a COTS policy, something to do with the cost of maintenance unfortunately.

  13. This is a gorgeous makeover, but (like all the other areas shown in the post) it’s a ton of BRIGHT WHITE. How is that standing up to a lot of big families with small kids and busy moms currently learning life skills? Are there safe finishes that are extremely resistant?

    I just cringe knowing that all that pale-tan carpeting is one juice glass away from a permanent, ugly mess. Same with the beautiful white cabinets/walls vs. dirty sneakers and the wheels from laundry carts.

    It all looks stunning right now, but I get nervous about all these very light colors in such high-traffic common areas.

    • Ha, good eye BugMeNot. I know, there’s plenty of bright white! So far, everything is holding up great. Some scratches in front of the TV unit, but I’ll touch that up. I think when they put the TV back, it was so heavy it nicked the paint. The hallway still looks fantastic, and the white cabinets in the laundry room have a nice coating on them, they will easily wipe down. The reason I chose white is because this home has a lot of low ceilings, smaller windows and dark furniture. White and bright feels clean and nice to me!

  14. What an inspiration you are! This space was truly transformed into a great area and honestly, a clean nice open space to do laundry can make it so much more enjoyable!

    You really are making the world a better place with your talents and skills!

    Pamela @

  15. What an awesome makeover! I am very touched that you decided to hire a contractor to up the cabinets up because you know how slow business has been for so many in the business. My dad is a master carpenter and is self-employed, and the past few years have been very hard on him and my mom. They built their dream home to retire in but are now having to sell it because of how hard the times are and because my mom also got laid off. I just wanted to let you know that you did a really good thing! So many people are into DIY-ing and the economy is still down, so it’s so hard for people in that business to get work.

    • Thanks Sarah, it was a choice we made given the economy quite frankly. We could have managed it ourselves, but hiring a contractor for a weekend helped his family out too, so we thought it a good thing. Times are really tight right now, I fear they may get worse before they get better but I hope I’m wrong. Thanks for the validation on spending some funds on labor and I hope your parents get more work soon!

  16. Wow, this is a huge transformation! Everything is absolutely wonderful. You and your husband are amazing people and give so much of yourself and your heart into the Alma project. Truly inspirational stuff, Kate! And big pink, puffy heart Lowe’s; I’ve heard about their charitable contributions before and they are a fantastic company.

  17. Kate, what an amazing transformation and for such a great cause!!!! You must be so pleased. Congrats on a job well done.

  18. I am not even going to comment on the laundry room. I already know that anything you do, you jump right in and do it with gusto and perfection. What I am going to comment about is your selflessness. To you, it isn’t all about “your” home; it’s about the effect that you have on others around you. Where others talk the talk, you always walk the walk and for that, I sincerely commend you for being “you!” Our styles are different; you being a Cali girl and I, a midwest girl, but I truly enjoy each of your projects, trials and tribulations and have found ways of incorporating some into my home and making them my own. You’re a great “cheer” leader in every sense of the word, cheering those on who read you to make our surroundings the best that they can be!

  19. Wow what a gorgeous room but more importantly, what a great thing you are doing for the home. Such an inpiration to give back! I always admire people who dedicate their time, energy, heart & soul to give a little back to someone who is in need! I am sure that your passion & dedication to the home will forever touch the families that live there :)

  20. What a wonderful thing to do! The laundry room looks great. Love that you took something you loved and are good at and found a way to give back. Awesome!

  21. I just love how you extended the giving by hiring the labor for the work. That is a great space and lots of great storage. I agree with Leah, let us know if there is a need for more funds, I would love to help out.

    • Thanks so much Leah and Stephanie! We are not actively asking for more funds at this time, but I so appreciate your generous spirit! If we need more, we will let everyone know. We may be moving on to another house next year, at the request of COTS.

  22. I’m so inspired! Not only to redo our laundry area in our garage but also to give back to our community. The Alma Project sounds like such an amazing organization. In these tough times people seem to be cutting back on their charitable giving but of course this is when we need to give the most!

  23. it’s gorgeous! The laundry space before was so depressing, from a mother who spends 60% of her week in the laundry I can tell you how important it becomes to have a room you love being in. This gift will go a very long way!

  24. Wow! I want a Laundry Center. Guess I’ll have to take some tips and turn my little baby laundry hole – in – the – wall and turn it into a great spot.

    Do you have any tips for making an apartment laundry room into something great without putting in new and illegal cabinetry?

  25. Wow, what an awesome laundry room! I bet it makes a mundane chore like laundry almost fun. Kudos to Lowe’s for contributing toward the cabinets. Great idea hiring a local contractor who needed work to install the cabinets.

    Kate, I admire your kindness and compassion as you contribute your time and talent to such a worthy cause. I am sure Alma House is such a blessing to many.

    Jane at
    Join us on Facebook!

  26. I think all the other comments have already used the superlatives I could think of to praise both your work and your committment to such a wonderful project. Indeed, and in deed, you are truly special. Thank you for sharing!

  27. Such a wonderful laundry!

    I’m glad you don’t do anything half-pie – those ladies will love it I’m sure. And that’s really thoughtful of you to contract the work out to someone who needed it. You turned the laundry project into a double blessing.

  28. This is a fabulous makeover! I am so jealous, our laundry room is essentially a closet. Those ladies are so lucky to have you!

  29. Kate,
    This is just fabulous what you have been able to do for these ladies this year. Big kudos to you and your husband for taking this on. It just makes me tearful how generous you’ve been.

  30. Pretty and practical! It has you written all over it. I am sure the ladies will be wanting to put a couch in front of it, just so they can stare at it.
    Looks great, you guys are doing a wonderful job.

  31. Totally agree I love white & bright. It works well for me since I don’t have kids/pets — I just wasn’t sure about the durability for people who do!

  32. Kate, so nice to see there are folks who “still” care about their fellow man or in this case women. Both you and your hubby did a wonderful job. I’m sure the women were so pleased with the new laundry room and even more important, they realize that they are not alone.

  33. Kate, this is awesome! If I lived there I think I’d cry tears of joy at the reveal. Beautiful job!

  34. I did not think I could admire your work any more…but there you go! What a beautiful room and even more beautiful gesture for the families.

  35. Very special stuff! Taking from Peg right above “I did not think I could admire your work any more…but there you go! What a beautiful room and even more beautiful gesture for the families.”

  36. I LOVE seeing these updates! You are making a huge impact on their lives and what a cool way to use your talents! Please keep the fab posts coming :)

  37. I LOVE seeing these updates! You are making a huge impact on their lives and what a cool way to use your talents! Please keep the fab posts coming :)

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