On visiting the house of a gardening friend for the first time, I was ooh-ing and aah-ing over the planting around the terrace. There was no grass, just tall, wavy flowers. Beyond the post and rail fence was an uninterrupted rural view—until I turned a corner. I stopped in my tracks because there, looking like a small tree in a very bad disguise, was a laundry umbrella-thing, conveniently placed by the kitchen door.
I couldn't believe it. So much for the view. But talking about the laundry tree later, I realized that people are generally "not bothered"—to coin a phrase—about something so trivial. There are a number of things that people accept in life because as far as they know, there is no alternative. But of course there are alternatives to be had, and even chores can follow form as well as function. And especially chores which have dangerous associations with "drudge." Allow us to offer some suggestions:
Above: A laundry airer made of wood and cable (plastic-coated for durability). I received one of these for a milestone birthday. Some present, you might think, but I can say with complete honesty that it is a pleasure to hang laundry on it, every single day of my life. We don't use a machine dryer. Photograph by Kendra Wilson.
Mine is French; an almost identical Mama Clothes Dryer, a German version, is £220 at The Conran Shop. The handy frame may find other uses, with a blanket thrown over it as a fort.
I've never understood why a mousetrap-like contraption is needed when the plainest of wood will do. Again, they have a secondary use as armless dolls.
Above: Chores might run more smoothly with the help of a wheeled industrial laundry basket. From Steele, the Square Carry Basket is available at prices from $64 to $82 depending on size. The taller narrower Bag Caddy (from $65) will leave more floor space in a tight utility room.
Above: Ferry loads of clothes outdoors in a willow basket that lets the air flow and virtually lives and breathes: the Norfolk Basket Company sells the Herring Basket via David Mellor (UK only), at £95.
Above: Made from split ash, the Peterboro Basket Company in New Hampshire offers a House Holder Laundry Basket; $65. May be left on show.
Above: Sometimes it rains. Indoors, drying clothes on radiators may be a peculiarly British trait but with a little thought, laundry can be hoisted up and out of sight with a pulley system. If you do care to look up, the Sheila Maid, £58 from Scottish company Nutscene, is a wonderful contraption. Available in the US via my site, Ancient Industries, $135.
Another similar laundry dryer, for US shoppers, is the Supreme Six Lath Ceiling Airer from Kitchen Maid; comes with a selection of lathes and pulleys and is $224.90 at Urban Clotheslines.
For more of our favorite laundry solutions, see Steal This Look: Traditional English Laundry Room.