By far the most popular photo in the 19, count them, 19 photos of my house in the Los Angeles Times over the weekend was this one of my laundry chute:
This makes me very happy as a porthole carved into my bedroom floor is a testament to my life philosophy of ‘if stuck with a weakness, turn it into a strength.’
In 1980, when I moved into my pink Streamline Moderne birthday cake of a house, built in 1937 as the party pad for MGM or Warner Bros. depending on who you listen to, all the floors were covered with thick beige shag carpeting. Now I who worship at the throne of kitsch do not mean to demean shag carpeting. Had it even been a little less crusty it would still be under my feet today. But I could tell by the way my pets hoovered it that many discretions had been committed upon that shag. So at precisely 8:00 am. August 1, 1980, the second I took official ownership, I was on my knees de-shagging the pad.
The wood underneath was the original hardwood floors, the kind of thin blond strips they don’t make any more. Never cared for or waxed and riddled with nail holes along the sides, the floor as a whole still looked pretty good except for where the aforementioned pet activity or overwatered potted plants left huge black stains. Most of these I could cover with my collection of vintage-suplemented-with-Ikea Atomic-rugs. But there was a spot in my seven sided bedroom where the wall turns 22 degrees every three feet where a carpet couldn’t lay in any kind of natural way so I just accepted the big black stain though it depressed me every time I looked at it.
This the kind of Deco home where you know there’s a porthole looming somewhere. I have 3 of them downstairs in my paneled rec room with the singing sea life linoleum floor.
There are three more portholes outside:
All of these came via Ebay from either a 1951 US Naval cruiser or a 1952 Criss Craft boat. I bought another one that looked great in the photo but when it arrived wasn’t anywhere near as sturdy as the other ones and had little shards of mirror stuck between the brass sides. Who knew that portholes were such a big item in the world of mirrors? The porthole sat idly in a box for years. And the only thing that covered the big black stain was my dirty clothes as they piled up on the floor because there was no laundry chute to deliver them downstairs to the washer and dryer.
I am one to use found objects in less than normal ways. Like I oftentimes use steering wheels for table legs:
So when I decided in 2002 that I couldn’t take looking at that big black stain anymore it made perfect sense to cut it out of the floor and use the once-mirror-porthole as the portal to the laundry chute. It was no surprise to me that of all of the photos in the LA Times the one of the chute garnered the most attention. It makes me very happy to share my chute with the world now!