It seems to me you don’t see or hear much about laundry chutes any more. Why not? Such a clever invention!
In doing Round 1 of the never-ending exercise called “How We’d Like to Renovate the Manse,” Raymond and I had thought we would be very smart if we put our laundry room on the second floor (the suggestion of my old-home-renovation-expert brother John), which would mean no trotting up and down stairs with baskets of dirty and clean laundry. Since one generally takes off one’s dirty clothes upstairs, we reasoned, why not launder them on the same level?
Another reason for this cunning plan was that the Manse has, as I’ve noted before (and as John never fails to be amused by), very little plumbing. No long pipes the width or length of the house in our basement, carrying water (or waste water) to and from sinks or powder rooms or appliances in far corners or upper storeys. No, our plumbing is of the minimalist school: a few short pipes against the south wall of the basement, leading up to the ground-floor bathroom (which is also against that wall) and the pantry where the kitchen sink is (adjacent to the bathroom, also on the south side). That’s it. We had planned (and still do, actually) to continue in that minimalist vein and just extend the plumbing one storey up, to serve a much smaller WC on the ground floor, a new master bathroom immediately above it upstairs, and (we had thought) a new laundry room off, or in a corner of, that master bathroom.
But a few more rounds into How We’d Like To Renovate The Manse, we’re thinking it might be better to put the washer and dryer in or adjacent to the small downstairs bathroom. One reason is that we could use the extra space in the upstairs bathroom for linen and other storage; the Manse is not overly endowed (to put it mildly) with closet/storage space. Also, it could make more efficient use of the downstairs space. And finally, the presence of a washer and dryer, even if they’re not operating, doesn’t really fit in all that well with the “haven” or “spa” mood that seems to be ever so popular for master bathrooms these days. When you’re soaking in your nice deep designer tub, do you really want to be listening to the undies in the spin cycle, or examining your supply of Tide to ascertain whether you need to pick up more the next time it’s on sale at Costco?
But having a downstairs laundry room brings back the toting-laundry problem, which was cause for more mulling. And then I suddenly remembered a nifty feature in the house my mother grew up in, on Sutherland Drive in the Leaside neighbourhood of Toronto: a laundry chute!
I couldn’t recall where the opening for that chute was, so I did what any investigative reporter would: I called up my mum. She explained that it was in a closet in a small upstairs bedroom that my grandparents – her parents – had turned into a den. The laundry room in that house was in the basement, so stuff you tossed into the chute went whooshing two floors down, landing in a basket in a recessed area beside the washing machine. (I don’t remember, and didn’t think to ask my mum, whether there was also an opening on the ground floor, for soiled dishtowels and whatnot.)
Anyway, the chat made my mum smile. That laundry chute was “the most brilliant idea!” she exclaimed.
And then she got thinking about another cool thing from the olden days of her youth that you just don’t see any more: pneumatic tubes in businesses like department stores and banks. (You can read more about them here.) They were used, I believe, to convey payment to a central cash office – and perhaps to deliver change?
At the risk of dating myself more than I already have, I have actually used a pneumatic-tube system: in the days when newspapers had compositors, at the Globe and Mail we used to send layout plans down to the composing room using a tube system. Who needs PDFs and whatnot when you can transmit information from floor to floor via something that looks like it came out of The Jetsons?
Anyway, if we do put the laundry room on the ground floor of the Manse, we will look into also installing a laundry chute.
It would be quite thrilling also to have a pneumatic-tube system in the house, but I can’t quite think what we could use it for. Anyone got any ideas?
Original article and pictures take http://atthemanse.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/in-praise-of-laundry-chutes-and-other-vintage-technology/ site