I remember, shortly after we arrived, hearing a conversation between 2 colleagues, one of whom had just returned from the UK. “…and the laundry pair was in the kitchen!” he marvelled. “Urgh! Why would someone do that?” asked the other. Of course, I gave them the simple answer – No Basement.
I never knew what I was missing. It just made sense to have the washing machine in the garage, freezing up in the winter. Or in the kitchen, which was so piled with separated dirty laundry at the weekend, we had to cook over the campfire outside until the laundry was done. And, of course, it was never done, because we didn’t have a drier, so it all hung either damp and warm or crisp and moulded to the shape of the radiators for days at a time. Ah, happy days.
Our first house in Vancouver had what is called an Unfinished Basement. This meant concrete floors, rough walls and a top loading laundry pair with a big sink. I love top loaders – you can open ’em up and chuck in that odd sock you find on the stair on the way back up after you’ve set the machine going. Driers are evil, I agree (power draining, expensive and bad for the environment), but I was converted to the dark side the moment my 15 year old thin, sandpaper-rough towels emerged soft and fluffy. Dim misses not having to bash his socks against the wall to soften them before wear, but he’ll get used to it.
Anyway, a basement is more than just a warm place for laundry equipment. An unfinished basement is an area the size of your whole house, with endless potential. When we moved to this house, the previous owners had been in the process of converting the space into a separate apartment, so there was a new shower room and a room with finished walls but little else.
We now have a playroom, spare room/gym/teenager’s film club, laundry and boot sink, storeroom and workshop. As winter approaches, I know we will be able to batten down the hatches and spread ourselves around the house with room and temper to spare – and not a damp sock in sight!