Darcy Lewis Design

Adventures in "Good Enough" Design

Archive for the month “May, 2015”

Front-Load vs Top-Load Washers

As the great front- vs. top-load washing machine debates continue, I thought I’d add my perspective with some information I didn’t see anywhere when I was looking.

As you may know, we just moved into a new house, and the previous owners had installed a counter in the laundry room that ran across the top of their washer and dryer.  It was a handy set-up that I liked, because it meant (in theory), that I could fold laundry on the spot, instead of lugging it in to the master bedroom and dumping it on the bed to fold and then trot around the house putting it away.  Unfortunately, they took their washer and dryer with them, and it turns out they were minis anyways!  So we either bought another set of minis (not ideal given that I prefer to have enough clothes that I only have to do laundry once a month.  I prefer one marathon day to death by a thousand loads.), or we removed the countertop – also not ideal, since that sucker was REALLY built in and attached to the cabinets, the utility sink, the walls, and the backsplash!  So removing it would be expensive, messy, and leave us with a lot of finish work to be done.  But then we could choose front-load OR top-load….

The only solution that seemed reasonable was to buy one of the fancy new front-loaders that had gotten lots of good reviews (I made myself absolutely nuts comparing reviews for machines and researching front vs top, then which brands, which models, which features… I tend to overplan (my father’s legacy)…), and we figured it would EXACTLY fit if we removed some of the counter support and planed it down from the underside!  We didn’t count on the fact that the manufacturer’s “installed height” number was off by an absolutely critical 1/4″…

The machines were installed this morning, and I’ve spent the whole day doing load after load of laundry (we’ve been without laundry facilities for far too long!), and I’ve discovered some things I wish I’d known before I bought a front-load machine (this was my first – I’d only ever used top-load before…):


You may have heard that front-loaders tend to develop a mold and mildew problem, so you have to leave them open to dry and clean them monthly (seriously?! I never thought twice about my old top-load, and that lasted me about 30 years with no problems, no maintenance and no smells.)  Now I understand why… the rubber seal around the door is DRIPPING wet when the load is done, and because it has to seal really well to prevent the water seeping out with gravity, the seal is full of many folds and pleats of rubber….which of course are going to be really slow to dry out even with the door open. (Blow drying your washer after every load seems extreme, but the complaints about the smell sound pretty bad too…)


This is kinda a D’uh thing – on your top-loader, it’s no trouble to lift the lid mid-cycle and toss in an errant sock or shirt.  But with a front-load, you should expect that once you start that load, that’s it – no regrets.  Yes, some models have a setting that will stop the wash cycle, start a rinse and spin cycle, and THEN unlock the door (and then you will probably have to restart the whole wash cycle), but it really isn’t worth it except in an emergency (plus it still takes forever – and runs about half a cycle before you can open the door), so just forget about it and know that once you start, there is no going back (or forward…)


Sure, you’ve front-loaded your dryer before, but the clothes were soggy and limp with submissiveness.  You toss them in the dryer, they stay there.  Dry clothes do NOT just stay there, they try to leap back out when they feel the pile is too high.  One towel makes the pile too high.  And since you are SUPPOSED to load the large items first (yet another problem – TOO MUCH SORTING!), you will find yourself fighting a defensive action against all the socks and undies that keep jumping out at you no matter how much you push the load in.  The machine can (in theory) be loaded full (so long as the clothes can move), so that is a lot of dry, fluffy, dirty, clothing trying to smother you and avoid their bath like a hydrophobic toddler.


Yes, now the clothes are soggy and limp, but they are also very tangled.  This is true in a top-loader as well, but with a top-loader, you can pull the handful you’ve grasped up until all stragglers break free and fall BACK INTO THE MACHINE, leaving you with a neat handful to stuff in the dryer.  With a front-loader, you can only pull out, not up, so all those stragglers and hangers-on FALL OUT ONTO THE FLOOR no matter how careful you are.  (Trust me, I was REALLY careful.  Didn’t matter.)

Oh, and remember my talk about the rubber door seals?  After your cycle, it’s dripping wet, it’s got hair and lint from your clothes stuck to it, and if you are as OCD as I am, the thought of dragging your freshly cleaned clothes over this debris field to get them out of the machine is too horrible to contemplate.  But you will also find that those debris LIKE to stick to the wet rubber, and will not easily wipe off.  So now you must clean the front of the washer before you can even unload the #@$% thing….

Researchers tell us that front-loaders clean better, save water (77% less!), save energy, save detergent, are more gentle on your clothes, do the load faster, do a larger load at a time (since there is no center paddle), offer more features (the dryers definitely have some nice new features, the washers don’t have much new that you need.  Steam is uniformly agreed to be overrated and unnecessary in a washer), and are the wave of the future.  I can’t tell if mine does any of that, but it can practically tap dance and it’s on the cheaper end of the scale!  (It plays pretty music when I turn it on and off, and to signal the cycle is done.  Also has lots of fancy displays that light up and will probably break the day after the warranty expires.)

The flip side, they say, is that front-loaders are more expensive, cannot be interrupted mid-cycle, need more maintenance and possibly repairs, and there is that whole mold issue…  They don’t warn you about the hassle of loading, unloading, and just how much care they seem to need.

Given how much longer and harder it is for me to get the loads into and out of the machine, on top of everything else… I’m sorry I didn’t rip out the stupid counter and just get a top-loader…

Phew or Grrr?!

I am not sure if this is good news or bad news…

On the one hand, my DIY cred remains fully intact (yay!)… On the other hand, not even the very-expert, professional painter can make the walls in my sewing room look evenly painted and not blotchy.

This is a HUGE relief because I couldn’t understand how I could possibly screw up a simple paint job THAT badly.  This is not the first wall I’ve painted, and I was feeling like the most inept artist ever!  (PS, did you know that painting a room is the single most common DIY project?)  This is also a MASSIVE disappointment because if even the pro can’t get it, what are my options?!

* Wallpaper

* Stencil

* Faux finish


All of which are a lot more work, and more time, and more money, and more headache, and I just really, REALLY, want to be done and set up my work space!

Today the painter returns to paint my office space (given the hassle of the sewing room, we decided to just let someone else tackle this altogether.  We spent the night feverishly striping the room bare, and then patching all the holes (WHY DID THEY ATTACK THE WALLS?!  There are dents and gouges everywhere, and one of the floating shelves was improperly installed, so when we removed it, it took a massive chunk of wall out with it!!)

Then I can start doing the freehand painting in there – the end result will be Chinoisierie panels above painted wall panels.  I know this makes no sense, but it will when you see the pics, trust me!  Have I bitten off more than I can chew again?  Probably…  ;D

Kona Bay Fabrics Magazine…

Is finally here!  Remember I said back in December that my article on how to make an adorable iron caddy would be coming out in their January issue?  Well, the “January” issue has just been released (I know, please don’t look at your calendar and do the math.  Let’s just pretend it’s cold and snowy now, you made your new year’s resolution last week and have already broken it, and you are snuggled in a cozy blanket while reading this.)!!  You can find it online HERE, my tutorial starts on page 77.

It was a really interesting process to work with them, and I’m very sorry they had to edit my tutorial down to the bare bones, removing some helpful tips and warnings.  But it was very exciting to share this with you.  Don’t you just love their beautiful fabrics?!  I’d posted the blue and green iron caddy here before, but hadn’t posted the pictures of the gorgeous Asian black and red fabric caddy… note the frog closures ;>  What do you think?

asian iron caddy

Bad DIY…

I’m looking at lots of DIY tutorials for ideas to solve some of the furnishing problems I have, and am really frustrated by the number of them that offer things like:











I’m thinking, wow, $20?!  Yes, please tell me how to DIY it for less than $20!

“Step 1: I take this gorgeous chandelier I happened to already have that I found at the flea market for 5 dollars 50 years ago that’s just been sitting around since my great grandma (an heiress) left it to me, and I spray paint it to change the color, and I add 3 replacement crystals for the ones that were missing, and

TA-DA!!!  A fabulous French chandelier that cost $19.95 for 2 cans of spray paint and 3 crystals, and looks like a million bucks!!”

Are you as sick of these idiotic teaser projects as I am?

Home Furnishings…

I got SO lucky!  I’d been planning on making my own headboard for our bed for quite some time, just haven’t really had the time and wasn’t entirely positive about the final design.  So I was looking for ideas, and found the perfect headboard:

purple velvet






After some digging, I found it on Amazon (click on the picture to be taken directly there)… and in an absolutely miraculous stroke of events, the ONE COLOR AND SIZE I wanted was mysteriously marked down to $83!!!  Down from the usual $210, and with free shipping besides!!  I sat up, gnawing my fingers anxiously until my husband woke up so I could ask him if he liked it and demand he order one immediately.  I tried to remain sanguine and kept telling myself that if the price changed before we could order it, then it wasn’t meant to be.  My poor sleepy husband was stunned when I jumped on him as soon as his alarm went off 😉  We got it, and it looks GORGEOUS!

I needed something that I could sit up against comfortably, and this is the right height and comfortable, and I LOVE the look!!


I also needed a larger rug for the living room, but I had some really unrealistic demands: The rug should be pure wool, or wool with an accent design of another material; should be nice and thick; should be at least 5’x8′, it had to be pretty, AND I wanted it for less than $100, shipping included!!!  This was proving a totally impossible combination, and I’d become fixated, totally obsessed with finding The Perfect Rug.  I finally stumbled across RugsUSA and their spectacular $99 rugs!  I found 2 I liked, that were pure wool (one with some viscose accent), and one was 5’x8′ and one was 6’x9′ – WITH FREE SHIPPING!!!  Don’t forget to sign up on their newsletter for coupons – but be ready to order, because I got my coupon instantly and it was only good for about 24 hours!

TA-DA!!!  The black/gray/red is in the living room and looks beautiful (will post pics as soon as the moving boxes are out of the room 😉  ), and the zebra will go in my office as soon as that room is done…


rugzebra rug


New Inventory!! …And Website Delays ;(

We got in so much beautiful new stock!!  I’m super excited about that, but I’m also really frustrated that the new website is not ready yet!  Sometimes I really hate technology…!!!!

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