WINSLOW — For nearly four months, John Templin Jr. has been hard at work gutting, and then restoring, the building that stands at the corner of Bay and Halifax streets so he can make something better — for the community and for his family.

On nights after he finished work as a lineman for Central Maine Power Co. and on his weekends off, Templin went to the property he had bought last September and ripped out paneling, pulled up concrete and tore down walls. He shaved 20 feet off the front of the building and put a new concrete wall in its place. Next was the insulation, and then a new concrete floor, with tiling on top of that. The front parking lot needed repaving, so Templin did that, too. With some help here and there from wife Ceara, his brother, a friend and a few local businesses, he did it all with the do-it-yourself mentality that he said his father instilled in him when he was a child.

Now, with just a few finishing touches left to complete, Templin has transformed a former furniture store into a luxury laundromat that he thinks will be a safer and more relaxing place for people who live in the area to do their laundry.

Some might see it as too much work to take on, especially on top of a full-time job, maintaining rental properties around central Maine, as well as taking care of three young children at home, but Templin wouldn’t do it any other way.

“(My father) always said, ‘Why pay someone else to do something when you can do it all yourself?’ ” he said during an interview at the nearly-finished Laundry Lounge, which is what he and his wife have named their new business. “So just take something on and try to learn it. That’s always what I’ve done. If you can’t figure out how to do it, it’s probably on YouTube.”

Templin’s knack for carpentry and construction work put the idea of opening a laundromat into his and his wife’s minds in the first place.

About two years ago, he was working on the family’s dream home in Smithfield, but construction was taking longer than he had anticipated. The couple’s other house sold, so Ceara Templin had to do laundry at a laundromat while her husband finished up their home. She found that all of the laundromats in the area generally were worn down and lacked seating.

“Some places don’t have a bathroom and some don’t have a folding area,” John Templin said. “So when we saw this building, it was definitely in need of repair; but you know, it’s just another project. We gutted the place and started over from scratch.”

Ceara Templin applied her skills as a designer, which she does professionally for Kleinschmidt Associates in Pittsfield, and came up with a layout for the building. Her husband did most of the construction, and she picked out paint colors and flooring colors.

From there, they set out to create a place that was the antithesis of the rundown laundromats they used while their house was under construction, and the crummy places they went to in college that had just a chair to sit in while you waited for your laundry.

They brought in large barrel chairs for customers to sit in and will be installing two big-screen televisions for them to watch while they wait for their clothes. A high work bench with outlets and USB ports and bar stools will provide college students from nearby Thomas and Colby colleges a place to do their homework on laptops as their clothes go through the spin cycle.

Customers will be able to shop from vending machines and warm up by the electric fireplace near the entrance.

“We figured if we built it, people would come because it’s a place you can be comfortable,” John Templin said.

The couple noticed that most places have older machines, so they decided to purchase state-of-the-art washers and dryers that take cards and coins, as well as loyalty cards to build rewards. Customers also will be able to download an app onto their phone to see how many machines are available before they leave their house.

“You can see, oh, the place is packed; ‘Why don’t we wait an hour and stay home?'” he said. Also, if customers want to leave their clothes and run errands, the app will show them how many more minutes their clothes have left in the washer or dryer.

Templin added that their laundromat will have the largest machine in the area, a washer with an 80-pound capacity.

Their rates will be competitive with other laundromats in the area at $2.75 per load or $4 to use one of the larger machines. Folding tables will be installed in the space soon.

For now, the plan is to be up and operating in the next few weeks and to be open every day from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., with an attendant always on hand.

In the beginning, Ceara Templin will start out staffing the laundromat before the Templins hire a few people to help run the business.

Other than taking charge of the design, she said, her largest role in the business has been that of a supporter. She’s been with their children as her husband spent nights and weekends trying to finish the laundromat.

“She’s usually been working with me, but now with three kids, it’s a little bit harder,” John Templin said. “Luckily, she does well with them. Sometimes I don’t get home until after they’re already in bed. It’s rough, but in the long run the goal is to create a better future for our kids.”

From what John Templin can tell, their family’s future will be full of similar projects.

Along with the laundromat, the couple bought an adjacent apartment building that has six one-bedroom units. So far, two of those units have been rehabilitated, and they plan to do the rest soon.

In the building where the Laundry Lounge is, half of the first floor and an additional 4,000 feet on the second floor are empty. The couple have considered several ideas, including a tanning salon for the first floor and luxury apartments above, where residents would have a view of the Kennebec River.

For now, they’re waiting to see how the laundromat goes and whether people in the area have suggestions for what they’d like to see go in the building.

“We want to develop this into a nicer place,” John Templin said. “Everyone says it’s been an eyesore, so we’re trying to change that.”

Emily Higginbotham — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @EmilyHigg


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.