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Her Laundry Room Is Loads of Fun
By Carol McGarvey | Photography by Ben Lochard
HOME FEATURE June/July 2017
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Vintage wash-day items may hearken back to a simpler time, but laundry was a whole lot of work.

It’s not really that Lois Van Heukelom of Beaverdale loves doing laundry, but she does love the vintage paraphernalia that goes along with it. From clothespins—yes, wooden ones and plastic ones—to stocking stretchers, she celebrates it all, at least in her townhome’s laundry room. The space is an homage to times gone by.

Remember the old-fashioned litany? It went something like this:

  • Monday wash.
  • Tuesday iron.
  • Wednesday sew or darn.
  • Thursday shop.
  • Friday clean.
  • Saturday bake.
  • Sunday rest (after preparing a huge Sunday dinner, of course).

“I have always loved old things, so this is a natural,” she explains. “About 25 years ago I joined a Questers antiques study group. Items were fairly inexpensive then, so it was more fun to collect.” She zeroed in on McCoy Pottery vases, P. Buckley Moss artwork, and old laundry items. She enjoyed scouting out estate sales, garage sales, and flea markets for her favorite finds.

Her small laundry room is chock-full of old-time treasures. She has a collection of colorful metal soap containers on top of cabinetry, along with small metal soap savers meant to hold slivers and partially used bars of soaps. No wasting precious soaps after all!

A variety of metal and wooden clothes hangers are displayed on the walls, along with a decorative rug beater. Not everyone had a vacuum cleaner way back when.

Some of Lois’s own toys, including a tiny sewing machine and a miniature red iron on an antique little wooden ironing board, are in the delightful mix.

Laundry bags decorated with colorful hand-embroidered designs are displayed on cabinet doors, and more needlework shows up on lovely hanger covers. A vintage washboard holds a spot of honor on a wall. A wooden laundry basket holding a colorful family quilt sits atop the dryer.

Clothespin bags for use on outdoor clotheslines and darning bags for tucking away stockings and other garments to be mended also are part of the lively collection.

Because Lois and her husband, Lawrence, are both Pella natives, Dutch accents, including some tiny costumed ceramic figures, decorate the room. One that especially attracted the collector’s eye is a window covering with wash-day scenes featuring Dutch figures.

If you grew up before permanent press, you likely remember sprinkler bottles for dampening cotton clothing items before ironing sessions. Young girls learned to iron by practicing on pillowcases and dish towels.

Lois was way ahead of her time. Today reproduction laundry signs are available for decorating laundry areas. They carry whimsical words. Some include these sayings: “Wash, Dry, Fold. Repeat”; “Put Your Duds in the Suds”; “Keep It Clean”; “Drop Your Pants Here”; and “Sorting Out Life, One Load at a Time.”

Lois doesn’t have a wringer washer. “No way. I absolutely love my front-load washer and dryer,” she says emphatically.

But, if you close your eyes, it all does make you remember the delightfully fresh smell of sun-dried sheets on the line.

 

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