Saturday, 4 May 2013

Cleaning up our act... more ways than one!

This is one of the less 'amazing' renovation makeovers you will see on our site but it is also one of the most needed.  The start of our Queenslander laundry refresh.

For those of you who have never lived in nor visited a traditional Queenslander home, you often won't see a laundry on the main floor plan. Why? Well invariably they are located under the house. Queenslander homes are usually elevated on either timber or concrete stumps, normally placing the house floor level around six feet above the ground (allowing airflow under the house to keep the house naturally cool and to act as a natural barrier to localise flooding in high tropical rainfall areas).

All that space under the house....Hmmm....I know what you're thinking folks; "woo-hoo instant man cave!!" But be that as it may gents (great place to store tools, lawn mover & beer fridge), long before man caves were invented, someone came up with the idea to locate the laundry in this underutilised space under the house. And if we think back to the heritage of Queenslander homes, this made sense in a time when twin matching front loaders that could fit in one cupboard hadn't been invented yet. We're talking about the good ol' days of cast concrete tubs for hand washing and maybe if you were lucky a new washing machine complete with twin rollers for wringing the water out of the clothes.

As time has progressed, along with laundry design and appliance improvements, the humble laundry for the most part has remained in this traditional location. It seems obvious - clothes go downstairs, get washed, get walked outside to the clothes line to air dry (all year round in the tropics), and in the event of a little bit of rain they just get hung up under the house. Yes - the small dryer is still there for random clothes drying emergencies.

So before we progress any further and to avoid any delusions that our laundry is anywhere within the realm of these envious laundries on let's see what our laundry looked like when we purchased the house sight unseen...

Yep, that's some pretty impressive concrete with a mish-mash of exposed plumbing hanging off the wall, not the stuff that laundry dreams (if they even do exist) are made off... Oh, and here's a close up to show it's as bad as you think it probably is (yes that is a wonky brass garden tap connected to the hot water pipe with a garden hose attached to it - what were they thinking??!!)

They only other 'fixture' so to speak is a cupboard hanging from one of the bearers under the house (which is from the original kitchen upstairs - many, many moons ago ;o)

(nb: gents - that sliver of corrugated iron in the bottom centre of the photo is actually the front of the bar - but more about man cave developments in a later post)...

So in an effort to make this a nicer place to utilise over all, and to address some immediate safety concerns, the laundry has become an ongoing part-time project. Taking our trusty plumber's advice that "if you've got me coming to do a job on the house you may as well ensure the full hour you are paying me for is completely utilised", we have been tackling the plumbing in and through the laundry in stages.

First up, that old laundry tub had to go, as the only thing holding it together were some 'daddy long legs' spider webs and a little dash of good luck.  I had warned Kate, 'do not look inside it...ever'!  It was nature's paradise in nature I mean the 6 and 8 legged 'freaks of' variety.  In order to maximise the space, we decided to install a slimline washing tub which we purchased from Bunnings. We also needed to correct the mish-mash of piping and how the plumbing was piped in to this area and the kitchen (directly above). Here's a list of the jobs it needed from the outset:

  • Remove old copper piping and tap ware from laundry
  • Remove adhoc pvc piping feeding kitchen water supply
  • Remove adhoc pvc piping feeding external (not securely mounted) garden tap
  • Remove existing laundry tub
  • Remove old galvanised waste piping from kitchen to grey water drain
  • Install new copper piping and tap ware in laundry to meet code
  • Install new laundry tub and waste pipe
  • Install new external garden tap and securely mount to external wall

And without further ado, here are a few of the in-progress photos (the proper 'after' pics are still a wee way off yet)...

The original kitchen cabinet - come laundry cabinet - gets a good clean and a new lick of paint.

Old garden tap replaced with new brass fitting, this time securely mounted to the wall, not waving around in the breeze on the end of a length of pvc pipe!

New copper piping and tap ware installed. We had the option to hide the pipework lower, but the copper is nice to look at so we thought why not make a feature of it. To the right you can also see the new waste pipe installed from the laundry tub to drain, and alongside it is the old galvanised kitchen waste (still on the to do list...)

Another view of the new piping, and their are no solder marks on the copper piping as our plumber uses new brass compression fittings which not only go on quicker, but look nicer and are infinitely more reliable than solder joins or pvc pipe joins.

These are quarter turn taps that feed the hot and cold water to the washing machine - it's the little things that make life easier.

The almost-finished-but-still-in-progress laundry 'after' shot.
So while it's not the most glamorous made over room in the house, it's definitely a lot more functional than when we moved in, and it's certainly one of the most used 'rooms' in the house. The kids can put their swimmers and play clothes straight in the machine after one of their many pool adventures or playing in the yard.  Likewise we can put our painting clothes straight in when we finish cleaning the brushes and rollers, or wash up after working in the garden or mowing the lawns. And as it's only about ten paces to the bar & beer fridge, often this is where I will find myself reflecting on the memories made during another day in the land of sunshine and paint pots...
Cheers, Col

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