Houses should be planned and built by women

washing board


Early this week I again battled in the small laundry of this house to get the washing done, dried, folded and to change the cats’ litter, as well as have access to the sink for buckets of water needed for various tasks.

This house is a rental and has not been my favourite place to live, but having said that, it’s not been the worst I’ve had to endure either. It is reasonably new. I would say at a guess it was built about 5 years ago.  We rented another house not far from here when I first moved to Victoria from Perth WA almost 7 years ago, and this estate as they generously called it then, was just being developed.

front garden progress 2 Jan.

It is a four bedroom, 2 bathroom house with the usual kitchen, family and lounge, a small veranda thing on the front which keeps the rain off as we dash for the cars parked on the drive in front of the double garage packed full of ‘stuff’. The patio out the back is small and was a very breezy affair until we erected shade cloth screens for protection. This I must add has been a godsend all year.

Coming from the home we designed and built ourselves on acreage nearby, this house is of course much smaller on the whole. The surrounding land is much smaller. I accept that. The rooms being smaller is not such a hassle as it has been temporary prior to our intended move north to the sunny state of Queensland. The laundry however is another thing again!

It’s not much bigger than a closet and the end wall is a pane of glass from ceiling to floor and a sliding door for outdoor access. Very impressive looking when there is nothing in it. Once the washing machine (front loader so not huge really) and the drier which sits on top quite nicely, are added, there is hardly any room left at all to move about.

laundry 1


A shelf has been placed above the sink and along the wall behind the drier, taking up about a foot of quality space that could help with the floor space if the machinery could be moved back that foot. The cupboard in there is big enough for a few buckets, and with a shelf across the top it’s too short for broom or mop storage. Being a shortie, the shelf is too high for me to comfortably reach to store the dogs’ towels, cleaning products etc, so they are more or less thrown up there most of the time in the vain hope they will land in a tidy manner.

My main beef about new houses planned en masse is this. The bulk of the work in a house is performed in either the kitchen or the laundry. So why, oh why do the planners, architects, designers or whoever is responsible these days, insist on having small kitchens big enough for just one person at a time or risk banging into one another or stepping on each other’s feet, and tiny tiny laundries that even our cats need to walk into and back out of?

Why do they think it’s a sensible thing to have big family rooms, games rooms, lounge rooms, main bedrooms with big ensuites attached, and tiny utility areas? Do they not do any cooking? Do they not wash and dry their clothes? Forget about ironing in there because the ironing board won’t fit at all.

To be fair I have been spoiled over the years with big houses that sport large kitchens and laundries. I used to enjoy, yes! actually enjoy the washing days. Cooking for crowds of people who always seem to find their way to our place whether we give them directions or not, was a breeze and a pleasure.

kitchen for pinterest 20

My empathy is on a high scale for all the Australian women who have to battle with these small spaces, especially those with a few little ones running around.

A friend of mine recently built a big flashy looking double storey home in one of the trendy suburbs and was so proud of it a crowd of us was invited to lunch so we could all marvel at the newness and the outstanding decor of her lovely new home. From the road it was very impressive although no garden to speak of as the walls were barely a metre from each side and not much better at the back. The neighbours were so close they could climb from their window into her window and share the swanky big bathtub in the ensuite. The kitchen was long, skinny but functional….maybe 2 people could work side by side quite happily but I did notice that when my friend was in there doing something her husband and kids were elsewhere and once she moved out to another area, one of them resumed their task in the kitchen. Team work.

double storey home

Out to the rear of the house down a very narrow hallway to the tiniest laundry I have ever seen. The washing machine and dryer stored in a cupboard next to a very small sink. The back door was a single half glass half wood affair that when open, took up half the space in front of the sink. No space for sorting piles of dirty clothing – no space for keeping outdoor footwear safe from spiders – no space for brooms, vacuum cleaners, mops, buckets etc etc.

Thankfully the house we have bought in Queensland has a huge area downstairs for the laundry, with ample cupboards and storage space, shelves galore and there is room enough for the ironing board and could be left up if I was too lazy to fold it up and store it away. Bliss. Just a couple of months to go.

Alice St

If we are ever silly enough to build another house, I will be insisting on a big kitchen and big laundry. It is every house person’s right to have that space! To be free to move about and not bump into walls, or have to back out the way one came in. Big enough to dance in there if the urge happens along.

Till then, Happy Washing Day to you all.

clothes line


2 thoughts on “Houses should be planned and built by women

  1. August 21, 2014 at 7:10 am Reply

    I agree with all your comments Jo. When we lived in England there was no washroom. The washing machine and drier were in the kitchen which was tiny. Yet when we lived in Scotland in a row of Victorian houses there was a communal wash house built out the back and the ladies were allocated a day each for use. A very practical solution except that the locals were very religious and you were not allowed to hang washing out on a Sunday. My wife was severely reprimanded for this despite the fact that we had a baby in nappies – no disposables then. We boiled the spoiled ones up in a galvanized bucket over a primus stove. When we built our last house here I drew up the plans using graph paper allowing one square of paper per foot. My wife was able to choose how big her washroom and kitchen would be that way and she was pleased with the result. I have walked through show houses here where the washroom was a narrow passageway leading the the back door.

    Good luck with your new house; keep in touch
    Jack Newman

    • joskehan August 21, 2014 at 9:59 am Reply

      Thank you Jack…I thought I was a rare breed of bird who thought this way about laundries. I remember when my first husband and I lived in Sydney in a Leichhardt apartment the wash room wasn’t very big and we had to ‘apply’ for a day to use it. We all worked full time and of course the weekends were always in demand. I was lucky though being a nurse at the time working shifts, and could pick my day more or less when everyone else was working. The clothes line was short and very flimsy and I was forever checking on the washing when I had sheets and towels hanging up – it was a common problem to have them end up in the dirt due to yet another break in the line. And yes, I’ll stay in touch for sure…you can’t get rid of me that easily my friend! xxx

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