Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ugly Laundry Room Challenge by Parisienne Farmgirl

Who knows...what ugliness....lurks inside old, old, house? What kind of monsters and nightmares await? Don't let the outside fool you....there are all kinds of surprises inside, and they're not all good. Just ask my long-suffering husband. I had stars in my eyes, until the weekend we moved in. It wasn't long before I was in a heap of tears on the living room floor. Yes, it's true. Old houses hold VERY UGLY SECRETS. Come with me and see the OTHER (seedy) side, the parts you don't see in magazine shoots, or the beautiful blog posts: the UNKNOWN PARTS of living in an old house. It isn't pretty. You must be brave.

Parisienne Farmgirl (PFG) has challenged us to show our dirty laundry rooms for the whole blog world to see. You see, PFG lives in and loves, a sweet old home, like so many of us do. And yet, on laundry day she feels like she is descending into a dungeon and into hostile territory because of the wiggly worms and other bugs or rodents she may or may not find there. She showed us the whole ugly situation...and I agreed to back her up...we out here in the country stand behind our here you go, PFG: here's my ugliness and my bare-naked truth; I back you up, and I'm showin' it all. I do hold the line at opening the cabinet doors, or showing you the jumbled mess in my cloth bins of various cleaning supplies, rags, and light bulbs overhead on the shelves.

Hope it doesn't make anyone feel sorry for me though. It could be much worse, and at one time, it was! We are the third owners. And thankfully, the previous owners moved the laundry room UP to the top landing of the basement's why.
Our basement is a "Michigan" basement, meaning that its walls are made of rock, the ceiling is rather low, you could bump your head on the way into the basement because the doorjamb is so short; and only the necessities like canning jars and lawn ornaments can be stored there because of the "moisture" factor: the cement floor was poured much later on top of the dirt floor that was there, and can sometimes have a "seeping" of water, especially this time of year when the ground thaws or when we get very heavy, sustained rains in the summertime. The sump pumps runs a lot. The poor dehumidifier works constantly. It's also a place where it's magically impossible to keep the cobwebs away.

So....if you have all these "romantic" notions about what a storybook life you would have if only you had a sweet old farmhouse, or that adorable, turn-of-the-century cottage, please know that reality will descend upon you at some point: if it's not the day you move in it won't take long!
Like when you discover there are only two small closets in the WHOLE house, or that there are NO OUTLETS in the upstairs except for ONE and that all the ceiling lights are PULL STRINGS and that there is only ONE register upstairs for heat...or that underneath the wallpaper is horse-hair plaster that has dried to the consistency of the sand in the Mojave desert (and it all falls in your face when you remove the 85-year-old wallpaper)....just know that it's NOT all wonderful, and that you have to be pretty tough to put up with some of the surprises a really old house can deal out to you. One job turns into three, there's always way more surprises underneath that beautiful old facade than you'll ever dream.

BUT....this house has its own story: and even though we feel sometimes like we could have built from scratch and spent way, way less-- we do feel proud at times that we are preserving a nice piece of this area's history, in spite of all those frustrations.

We know how much they paid the carpenter per day to build it (one dollar), we know where the original log cabin once sat, we found the names of family members carved in the wood of those old barns, read the dried-out newspapers we found in the wall studs before it crumbled to dust because of age, and we know who planted the big maple tree in the front yard, and that there are a farm wife and mother's sweet, stillborn twin boys buried under the lilac tree, and that we will never disturb it. We love our house, feel that this place deserves love, just because of the families it sheltered and the love of the farmer that built it and those generations have passed away and we want to love it, too.

Here's my little, dinky, tiny and crowded laundry room...(it's not in our basement) there is no way to dress this little secret up! I am thankful for the surface for folding clothes on top of the front-loaders, that has been different from the top-loading traditional washer and dryer I once had. Back then I had to fold clothes on the dining room table.

Right off the dining room, is my laundry room. It's one half a step down and has about eighteen inches of clearance in front of the washer and dryer. The clothesline rotates and is good for line-drying inside if necessary or to hang clothes on hangers until the laundry's all done. Since there's practically no storage in any old farmhouse, you hang shelves where you can and stuff things in totes and push 'em in.

This cabinet is the only spot to hold canners, roasters, electric frying pans, etc. I would never show you what's jammed inside..

Room for one small sized laundry basket in front of the dryer, my dust mops and brooms stand in the corner, the clothes hampers are jammed in behind the dryer, I practically stand on my head to get the clothes out when they're done.

I did have room to hang an ironing organizer, but the ironing must be done in my bedroom, but there's no way it could be set up in this tiny room.

There are pulleys hung on opposite sides of the room for that double clothesline, hanging on this rack are all my son's sports-related uniforms and clothing.

The steps leading down to the basement...where Shrek would love to live. There's a shelf there that holds "things that don't go anywhere else" you all know about that! And a pegboard holding electrical extension cords, flags, campfire thingies for the marshmallows...that sort of thing. I am coming after this spot with garbage bags...what a mess!

The only nice part about the laundry room...the spot where the kids have been measured and the dates written with their initials. I couldn't paint over it ...ever.

Since PFG showed the ugly basement in her house, I'll show you the belly of my old house even though my laundry room isn't down there. It's small, it's only the size of the original house. All electrical wires or satellite wires, or other cords must be up in the air because the floor gets wet; so there's cords running to and fro along the floor joists. So, walk low, wear shoes, and don't be a sissy about the spiders.

Do you want to see the DUNGEON? Get ready. It's scary, dank, and dark....and damp!

Watch your'll hear squishing sounds, that's the water coming up through the floor as you step on it.

The furnace has its own little platform...good idea, so it doesn't sit in the water. The water is less than an inch, it's just covering the floor, and doesn't usually get any deeper than this, the house hasn't floated away in 111 years.

See, I told you there were creepy crawlies. And wires EVERYWHERE. Let's go, that spider might eat us! Now, doesn't this make you want to run out and find an old farmhouse to buy?


Mrs. Cherry Heart said...

Oh my gosh this was like reading my journal from when we lived in our old farmhouse!
The water seeping in to the basement all spring...the little streams of water we had to constantly mop up...the sump pump on over time!
The creepy crawly bugs and spiders!
Oh and the surprises that you never saw coming!
Like when the dinning room ceiling fell in the middle of the night.....plaster and dust filled the whole house! cough cough!!!!
There was only one electrical outlet upstairs with a teenage daughter burning fuses from over loading it with blow dryers and curling irons, tv and stereo.
Not to mention the racoon that decided to take up residency in the attic.
Oh the good old days!
It does take a very special person to live in an old house! Seriously you have to love it or it will drive you mad!

Thanks for bringing back all those memories!

Hugz n Blessings,

P.S. where in michigan do you live?

Susan @ The Good Life! said...

And I thought mine was bad!

Stephanie said...

This is great! Thanks for showing us your laundry room extravaganza! I was only brave enough to put a tiny picture of mine up that you cannot enlarge on my blog :)

Ali said...

Heeey, YOUR basement looks a lot like MY basement, except we don't have a sump pump or dehumidifier down there yet...but we do have the furnace on the platform and the wetness and the cords under the floorboards and COBWEBS, blech. Luckily, my laundry is also upstairs, in the mudroom. I am inspired to show mine too, maybe I will get a post together for tomorrow... Thanks for sharing yours!

Parisienne Farmgirl said...

AHHHH! THis is great.
I almost cried when you were describing all the treasures and mysteries of an old house. We too have found carved initials, newspaper, autographs under wallpaper...
The part about the twins under the lilac tree...oh.
And then the rest - so true. I just visited a friends picture perfect GIGANTIC brand new house today and chuckled to think of the stones popping out of the concrete floor in my basement.
I love this post. Loved it.

Rue said...

I wish I would have known about this. I could have given you ladies a run for your money ;)