Monday, August 31, 2009

Laundry Rooms

It is often true that the simple things in life are the ones that make us the most happy. In our homes the unsung and hardly glamorous laundry room serves to keep the engine of our lives running smoothly. Though clean socks may not guarantee happiness, it is a start.

While it is true that a stacked washer-dryer works fine in a closet and clothes can soak in the kitchen sink, a dedicated space centralizes the chores. There are, in fact, many workarounds to a dedicated laundry room but having one is certainly the gold standard of clean clothes. The ideal laundry room can include a fold down ironing board, of course a washer/dryer, a generous sink, storage galore, and, best of all, room to fold, organize, and work.

There are three popular places in a two story home that this cleaning hub ends up: the basement, the main living floor and the second (bedroom) floor. Each location has its pros and cons.

The basement is often the default location if there isn’t room anywhere else. It is isolated and therefore unobtrusive, but is inconvenient for attending to loads of laundry and distributing the finished product.

The first floor is usually in the thick of things and is most convenient for a family that is in the midst of a dozen projects and needs the laundry room for cleaning boots, soaking delicate clothes, and constant loads of laundry that everyone is attending to. A laundry chute can mitigate the need to be constantly running up and down the stairs.

The second floor is where most the laundry is generated and distributed which makes it an ideal location for the laundry room. The main drawback is that it is not the most convenient spot when everyone is downstairs and the clothes need to be moved from the washing machine to the dryer. It can be a short walk to dressers though when those clothes need to be put away.

No two families are the same, and what works perfectly for one rarely is ideal for another and those needs change over time. Speaking as a father of three: a laundry room can be one of those simple pleasures that we all appreciate.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Carpenter Architects

Two hundred years ago there were few architects to direct carpenters in the way to build a proper home. That was just fine. Homes in general were simple and carpenter architects paid a lot of attention to detail and proportion.
There were books written by architects, that provided guidelines and formulas for the creation of homes, but those were a point of departure and did not anticipate every condition that the carpenter would encounter. Those early builders were trained well and took pride not only in the execution of their trade but also in the design of the buildings they created.

Few homes of that period have not been added onto over the centuries. The earliest additions almost universally were built well and are in keeping with the design and craftsmanship of the original home. Twenty-first century additions on the other hand, often are of poor quality materials, workmanship and design. When asked to renovate a period home, we find that much of the time, those later additions have deteriorated and must be removed.

I am always impressed with the ingenuity, and craftsmanship of those nineteenth century builders and the beauty and proportion of their work. There was a tradition of fine home building that only a few carpenters and contractors maintain today. For a wood and stone building to last 200 years, the details had to be right. Even without perfect maintenance, these beautiful homes survive and remind us that the places we live can have elegance and grace and be made to last centuries.

Photos courtesy of Historic American Buildings Survey