Sippican Cottage



A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

It Doesn’t Have To Be That Good To Be Better Than Nothing

Well, it might not be finished, but it’s done. No, the other way around. Bah. The laundry room is completed enough to call it one.

Of course it really never stopped being a laundry room, except for a few hours a few times. For a while it was like a typical laundry room. A dark, cold, undifferentiated hole in the ground with bare light bulb that somehow increased the gloom, and a chugging drain hose from the washer to make sounds like the cat with a furball to keep you company. It wasn’t elegant for a while, but we got our laundry clean and the bottoms of our feet dirty, just like regular folks.

We’re old hands at working around regular domestic activities. It’s much, much more convenient to build things and then use them, but we don’t have that kind of time or money. We settle for pretty good, and don’t grumble. Hell, it’s a laundry room where there wasn’t one before. It doesn’t have to be that good to be better than nothing. Perhaps I’ll put that on my business card.

So yesterday we painted the last door and all the window and door trim one last time. Today we scurried around and tried to figure out which screw in the hardware bucket belonged to which hinge. But we got it done enough to pollute the intertunnel with some pitchas. Here you go:

Wow. Borderline orderly down here. A couple of old carpets make trudging back and forth less trudge-y. Mrs. Cottage likes having a desk there to plop the baskets on, within easy reach of the machines. We both use the sink all the time for all sorts of things. It’s a gloomy day today, but the room is always bright, with two fairly big windows and four LED discs in the ceiling.

If you look back the other way, you can see the old brick wall straight ahead, and the wall we added on the left that separates the laundry room from the portion we reserve for more barbarous arts.  If you look hard enough, you can see the loop handle in the floor where the floor hatch opens. The floor is perfectly flush now, and sturdier. Here’s what that used to look like:

Plenty of room for a dart alley, but the ceiling is a little low for me. You really have to stick the double twenties. You can’t float them in. Veterans of Irish pubs are used to low ceilings. I’ve been in more Irish pubs than the police, so I qualify as a veteran.

This used to look like that:

Hey, remember this charming little grotto? I love the carpet squares on the floor. They had to be the nastiest surface in our time zone. Decades of grime were ground into them. I wore a full respirator mask when I pulled them up. Not for any particular hazard. They’re not full of lead or asbestos or anything. But I didn’t want to catch jungle rot, or beri-beri- or yaws, or leprosy, or tetanus, or ebola, or whatever else might be lurking in the pile. For amusement, it doesn’t get much better than when you flip the carpet over and the label says it’s made by Amoco.

Hey, don’t laugh. My old construction friend Steve used to testify to anyone who would listen that Shell station burritos were the best burritos in the world. He’d never miss a chance to buy one in any Shell station we passed at mealtimes. Me? I never missed a chance to miss a chance. So maybe Amoco carpet isn’t that strange. It’s a tossup which might be healthier to eat.

Here’s how it turned out, after we demolished most of the pipes, and moved the big ones closer to the wall, and added a window, and a door we picked up during our town’s festival of trash, and fixed the stairs, and laid a new floor:

The door is solid fir. In pretty good shape for something heading to the dump. However, it was covered with little stickers of some form of cartoon characters I didn’t recognize. My kids watched SpongeBob and Jimmy Neutron and stuff like that. I’m not sure what’s on the TV now. I’m sure its something along the lines of a singing and talking platypus that cooks meth in mom’s single-wide or some other equally wholesome hijinks.

We insulated the floor below, and the ceiling above, with blown-in dense-packed cellulose. We insulated all the walls, too, with a melange of salvaged fiberglass batts, foam board, and more cellulose. It stays a little warmer in there than in the rest of the basement, but the real payoff is the sound deadening. You have to open the door at the top of the stairs and listen carefully to hear if the machines are running. It used to sound like an out of plumb bowling alley all day in the kitchen when we had the washer and dryer in our master bathroom. My poor wife had to listen to it all day long when she was in the kitchen, so she’s happy. Of course, I’m happy, too, because with the the lack of noise upstairs, I can finally hear the voices in my head again. They’re full of bright ideas, and I missed them.

[Thanks for reading and commenting and recommending Sippican Cottage to your internet friends. It is much appreciated.]

5 Responses

  1. We never used to worry about make-up air in our old 1901 farmhouse, since you couldn’t keep a lit candle on the floor of the front (north and west facing) bedroom if there was a north wind blowing. We tightened up the perimeter considerably over the years by putting in new windows and doors (and flashing, and caulking) as we could afford them so that when we put in the new boiler we had to add a combustion air make-up vent in one of our (new) glass-block basement windows.

    In the second picture down (let’s see, using thumbs and fingers…yup, second) the door to the left of the dart alley has what I’d say is a non-negligible gap between the floor and the bottom of the door, as does the door in the last picture, just abaft (whatever that means) the beautiful new stairs. Is that so the dryer doesn’t lack for airflow?

    When a friend was adding onto his home I walked around after he’d framed in the new bedroom space. I told him he should be some cheap unfaced fiberglass insulation intended for 3-1/2″ space and double-pack it into the 5-1/2″ studs in the wall. He looked at me like I was crazy, since it was an interior wall, and all I had to say was “Sound insulation, the denser the better.” He grinned, and did it, and was ever-grateful for the suggestion since it gave their bedroom a lot of privacy from the kid’s rooms across the new hallway. He found some solid-wood doors in somebody’s basement for a good price (“They’re yours if you’ll haul ’em away”) and stripped and re-used those since they were pretty good sound barriers, too.

    And again, my congratulations on economically turning a formerly ugly space into a wonderful, functional laundry room.

    1. Hi Blackwing- Thanks for reading and commenting.

      The picture is misleading. There’s hardly a crack under that door. There’s a heavy wooden threshold that looks like a gap in the photo. The door at the top of the stairs has a large gap under it to allow air from upstairs to be drawn down to the basement if it needs makeup air.

      1. My apologies…I’ve blown it up, and looked at it again, and it still looks kinda gappy. That’s what bad eyesight’ll do to ya. Thanks for the clarification!

        And (one…more…time) congratulations on a beautiful job on that room. You, and your helpers, and your feline supervisor, have turned it from a nasty dangerous eyesore into a laundry anyone would be pleased and proud to work in.

  2. Hi Blackwing- Many thanks for your kind comments. Your eyesight’s not that bad. That threshold is a massive oak job that normally gets used on heavy wooden exterior doors. I want to hide under when they drop the big one. It’ll survive it.

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