Saturday, August 4, 2007

The Homemaker's Architect: Laundry Rooms

Ivory Soap Girl Washing

Ivory Soap Girl Washing

Tin Sign

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I think that there should be a Homemaking Branch of Architecture. Since Homemakers do so much repetitive work, I think we should have better spaces and tools to work with. I think a lot of my readers would have a few suggestions for such an architect, and for the appliance designers. Here are my suggestions for my Dream Laundry Room.

Some houses have a separate room for the laundry, but most have just a laundry closet, or a garage or basement. I propose a room off of the kitchen, with a separate entrance to the back yard (to get to the clothesline) that is not used for any main family traffic.

This room would be a good, useful size, with big windows for ventilation and a window in the door as well. The door would be wide enough to walk through with a laundry basket. A porch off of this room would be lovely. There would be space inside for several laundry bins or sorters, to keep as much of the floor visible as possible. Sorting laundry is a complicated business: space is needed to divide lights, darks, light delicates, dark delicates, really dirty jeans, baby clothes, bath towels, dish towels, etc.

This is the Way We Wash Our Clothes

This is the Way We Wash Our Clothes Art Print
Leslie, George
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There would be room enough in front of the washer and dryer to put a large laundry basket. A built-in rod for hanging clothing straight out of the dryer (high enough to hang up dresses), a retractable indoor clothes dryer for winter drip-drying, and of course handy shelves for detergents would all be very nice. Perhaps some people would add a space for folding laundry as well.

Since this is my "dream" laundry room, I'll just dream big and add an extra washer and dryer. I would like a super-sized front loader, large enough for blankets and comforters, and a small, stackable set for those really small loads. I would like to be able to run them all at the same time, and be on their own water heater so that someone else could be washing dishes or taking a shower without having to share the hot water. And I would like a little generator to run it all if the electricty fails.

I would like the washers and dryers to be really simple, and not computerized. It would be nice to skip the repairman and just have my husband be able to replace a part or tighten a screw. Or maybe I could even fix it myself! Therefore they need clear instruction manuals.

I would like to have the final rinse of the washing machine re-routed to a big laundry tub, where it could be used again as a pre-soak for some of the very dirty jeans before it finally drains. I wish that the draining water could be routed to water the lawn or the rosebushes.

The dryer would be deluxe sized, for that big comforter or the extra large load of towels. But most of the time I enjoy using a clothesline, for that free sun-bleaching and wind drying.

I'm so glad my husband found a deluxe "solar dryer" for me at the hardware store: a retractable clothesline that screws into the house wall. When I need it, I pull it out and hook it to the post, and there are five lines on it. My son said he couldn't find me in all the dresses I was hanging up on the line!

Here is an idea for a clothespin holder: I had made a cloth purse from a quilt shop pattern, and am re-using it as a place to keep my extra clothespins as well as sunglasses.

Recently I heard some ladies talking of the "old days" of doing laundry, when they hung their laundry out on the line every Monday morning. The ladies talked of how the laundry was organized on the line; one did not want one's underwear and socks exposed to the neighbors! So those items went closer to your house, and the towels and sheets were on the public side!

There is a lot to learn about laundry, there is even an art to putting laundry up on the clothesline. I recommend Cheryl Mendelson's book, Home Comforts, or her book called Laundry, for an interesting read about the ways to do laundry. Mrs. Mendelson even has illustrations of how to pin laundry on the line for the most effective drying.

Home Comforts: The Art & Science of Keeping House

By Cheryl Mendelson / Simon & Schuster Trade Sales

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