Friday, March 12, 2010

I'm Making Plans and I Need Your Help

Although we're still in the throes of home improvement (Oh, the joys of sharing a bathroom with four children!) and weeks away from listing our house, Brad is visiting our soon-to-be-hometown this weekend and is going to start making the rounds with a realtor.

We've been surfing the net and looking at homes for sale. It's heady stuff. Pebbled swimming pools, custom media rooms, five-car garages, backyard putting greens. Everything looks so shiny and new. Of course, our eyes are bigger than our checkbook, but, still, it's fun to dream.

Over the years we've lived in nine different places. Basement apartments, third floor apartments, rentals, new construction, orange carpet, blue showers, crazy neighbors and amazing friends.

Each home has taught me something and I find that, this go-round, I have refined my priorities in home selection.

For example, front entrance versus back entrance. The first thing I fell for in our current house was the beautiful two-story entry with sweeping circular staircase and hardwood floors. Gorgeous. Somehow I pictured myself wearing evening gowns and making a lot of dramatic entrances.

Well. Reality is this: spectacular staircase+forty pound basket of dirty laundry=dramatic language not dramatic entrances. And, as beautiful as the front hall is, I NEVER WALK IN THE FRONT DOOR.

I wish I had paid a little more attention to the back door and the potential tight squeeze of carrying groceries/kids/drycleaning through a mightytight garage and mudroom space.

These days I am much more interested in the size of the laundry room sink than the size of the master bathroom Jacuzzi. We all know where moms really spend their soaking time, am I right?

So, this is where I need your help. What suggestions do you have? I am interested to hear what you all love about your houses, hate about your houses or wish you had known sooner. Do you love the central vac system? Wish you had more storage? Have a favorite home convenience that has dramatically improved your quality of life? Do tell.

I'll forward the list to Brad and he can pick a dream house for all of us.


Sherry said...

At the end of April I will celebrate my fifth wedding anniversary (yay!), and by that time my spouse and I will have moved ELEVEN TIMES.

Things I love: storage space, hardwood floors (one day my house will have hardwood floors, and I will own a Scooba floor cleaner, and my life will be PERFECT), natural light coming through big windows, also a laundry area big enough to sort laundry in.

If you plan to be somewhere for the rest of your lives: avoid a split level because you'll never be able to handle the stairs at 85 years old. (I'm watching my in-laws, who are only in their 50s fret about their split-level already). I'm also a firm believe in at least one ground-floor bedroom, in case you ever care for an elderly person or ARE the elderly person.

kara jayne said...

i'm really commenting so that i can follow the comments for my own pleasure. but here are my thoughts while i'm at it.

i live in a two story. the good:

it's nice when people come over, all the personal rooms are upstairs and no one has to go up there. it's nice to have them separated.

the bad:

pretty much everything else. i'd much rather have a rambler...with a basement of course.

the people we bought this house from said they thought the central vac was the best feature. it probably would be if it was updated and had suction. i usually end up using my oreck...except on the wood floors. good thing that oreck is 8 pounds eh?

i highly suggest a pool in arizona. i know a lot of people feel the opposite because of the risks involved, but it saves me. summers are hot...and long. we have a ton of fun easy family time with the pool. just have a good fence, good lock, and even an alarm. plus, your kids are good ages for it without worrying too much.

i personally hate granite. yes...i have it throughout my kitchen, but for some reason it is hard for me to clean and never really feels clean. i'd much rather have concrete. you saw it in my laundry i think and i LOVE it.

find a place with lots of grass. it will make living in arizona much more bearable. it's totally worth the cost to us. it gets really green in the winter too and that's fun.

#1 suggestion...find a home by me. i'm serious!!!

Annemarie said...

The kitchen/family room combo. I love it.

I love ramblers.

kara jayne said...

after all that i forgot to subscribe! doh!

kara jayne said...

maybe you don't want to live by me because i'm obviously losing it. third time's a charm right?! subscribing!!

MomBabe said...

Do NOT go up in AZ. If you do more than one floor, make sure it's a basement. Otherwise, your bill in July will be humongous.

Also, your kitchen, bedroom, laundry, and parking all need to be on the SAME LEVEL.

Two words. Automatic. Sprinklers.

And unless you like weeding, stay away from "desert landscape" It CAN be pretty, but it rarely IS.

Also, a pool. Pebble tech is pretty and nice on your feet, and if you can get a salt water pebble tech, you will live there from April to October. If you don't get a pool, you will kick yourself for years.

I also like to make sure that I can get from my bedroom to the laundry room without passing by the front door. This way, when my home teachers unexpectedly show up and my underwear is in the dryer, I don't have to hide in my room for 45 minutes while they ask where I am.

I'm w/ Kara on the granite. We did tile through college, and granite is a beast. Sure it's pretty... but you have to seal it every year and it's just a lot of maintenance. (i.e. don't put a pizza box on the counter unless you want an oil ring)

Most of the homes are tiled. Which is nice, because the floor stays cool, but white floors always look dirty, and saltillo tiles (which are used outside a lot) get REALLY slippery when wet...

Make sure you buy a newer house so that there are lights in the ceilings of every room and make sure they're connected to the switch. Ceiling fans are a must.

And, yeah. That's all I have for now.

diane said...

I wish we lived in a one story house. Our spiral staircase is beautiful but then we had to add the elevator.

I love my hardwood floors, big closets and walk-in pantry. A pool will be a must where you are going. Our diving board is a big hit. The edge of the pool, the coping, has a safety grip which makes it easier for small kids to grab the edge. We have a bonus room upstairs that makes a great teen hangout area. Since it's just down the hall from the master bedroom I can easily spy.

Happy house hunting.

Tristan said...

For me, it is all about the kitchen. I need a gourmet kitchen and room for all of us to hang out and host get togethers. Also a must is a HUGE closet. Lots of windows and an open floor plan.

I'm excited for you!

Tristan said...

Oh! And of course a playroom type area to send the kids away too ;)

Lindsey said...

Your killin' me! He is going to be HERE??? This weekend????? Are you guys using the realtor I sent? (Don't worry, it doesn't really matter to me) DO TELL! What areas did you decide to look in? Or is he looking in ALL?

Lindsey said...

Gab, we have a basement home. Love it. The neighborhood we live in and next to specializes in that. Fulton Homes. Don't listen to Kara (I know she is watching) LIVE BY ME! :)

Oh, and a pool is A MUST. Just fence it. Our first rental had a pool, and I miss it something horrible. Totally necessary in AZ.

Alayna said...

We're feeling cramped in our current house so I've been doing a lot of thinking about my own wish list items. First - MUD ROOM (right off the garage/family entry and preferrably connected to the kitchn). And a big one. As you said, having to enter a cramped space with arms full of groceries while you trip over shoes just isn't fun.
Laundry room on the same level as the bedrooms (then you can have the beautiful staircase and not have to lug baskets up and down them). Lots and lots and lots of storage - big garage, large and numerous closets, plenty of pantry space, lots of cupboards. Hardwood or hard surface on the floors in the main entertaining areas (kitchen, dining, living/family room) is much easier to clean than carpet (we currently have a living/dining combo with carpet under it all and it's horrible with small children). Some sort of outdoor entertaining/hang out area like a deck or large patio. Check the lighting - I hate rooms with inadequate lights in the ceiling that feel dark when the sun is down. Trying to fill in with lamps just doesn't cut it.
If the kids spend a lot of time outside, having a powder bathroom easily accessible from the garage or back door is a must.
Also, take a look around your own house and find out where your hot spots are - places that tend to gather clutter no matter what you do and try to accomodate them. Do you drop your keys and cell phone as soon as you walk in the door? Then look for a house that has a countertop right there or a place for you to put a table/basket to hold them. Do the kids always do their homework in the kitchen? You might want to look for one that has a small desk built in. Things like that are what make your house into one you'll love.

Jamie said...

We moved to AZ 6 years ago and agree that summer is only truly livable with a pool in the backyard. To make the best of the pool it should be big enough to have races swimming back and forth, play basketball, and allow for cannonballs, which means a diving pool, not a play pool. Play pools are fine for cooling off, but not nearly as fun for growing kids and their friends-or for the whole family at one time-that's just my opinion.

The Pebbletec finish hurts my feet and ruins swimsuits like nobodies business, the Pebblesmooth finish is heavenly. I hated our D.E. filter-very high maintenance, and love our Sand Filter, Saltwater would be even better.

Also consider bathroom access from the pool area, a bath with an outside door is the best! You will hate the wet floors if the bathroom is a hike from the pool, especially if you have wood.

Split A/C systems are the best! We have a rambler, and still have a split system, it saves us mucho bucks in the summer.

And think about covered back patio space-shade is worth it's weight in sunscreen here. You want somewhere you can see the pool and not roast.

Here I am leaving a novel, and I don't even know you, I just blog stalk you-sorry! Good luck house hunting!

the wrath of khandrea said...

don't forget we're doing the same thing right now... and as you well know, it's all conditional on the house's location within a school district that can provide adequate services for a special needs kid.

yeah. love that part.

brooke said...

What a fun post! You should check out Her post today is on this very thing.

My first priority now (which I still don't have) is a mudroom with some kind of lockers for backpacks, coats, shoes, sports equimpment, ballet stuff, etc. Right now it all ends up in my kitchen.

I also love an island in the kitchen that is big enough to have us all sit around or at least the kids. We are casual and eat dinner at the bar--I hate islands that don't have room for barstools.

I love the laundry room next to the bedrooms and a three car garage. That is about it. The rest is gravy.

brooke said...

Sorry the new link for hooked on houses is:

jessica said...

What I wouldn't GIVE for central vac or a sink in my laundry! I also wish for a mud room.

I'm sure this is a stressful time for you but I think it's very exciting...Good Luck!

rebeccaV said...

I have moved A LOT over the last 6 years. My favorite house ever was the rambler. I loved having everything on the same level, laundry was a breeze! We had a bonus room with that house, I would've preferred a basement but they don't do those in Oklahoma! Good luck and have fun!!

Cathy said...

A friend of mine & her husband put a lot of thought in the last house they built, it really was an answer to things they wanted over the years. It is a beautiful & interesting home, other than the two kitchens (you'd have to see it!) They have a garage door in the front, but also another that lifts to the backyard! Now that was really thinking! Of course they have the beatiful floors, counters, trims, edgings, crown moldings, laundry room right where they need it, the central vac & this other sweeping collector thing, fireplace & probably all else you could imagine! Good luck, hope you all find what suits you!

Lauren in GA said...

I don't like a lot of the things about my house right now, but I do love the fact that in the front of the house is a living room that can stay relatively picked up and clean all of the time. It is so nice when Home Teachers and Visiting Teachers come and we don't have to completely stress and clean up really quickly.
The other thing that I really love is, like others have mentioned here, is the kitchen and the family room are kind of one big room. I like it so I can keep an eye on what eveyone is doing...(watching on TV or looking at on the computer) because I am always in the kitchen.

Diane said...

No split level. I lived in one for 22 years, because it was all we could afford. I will never do that again.

No powder room/guest bath right off the family room. Any bathroom needs a buffer zone.

I love my home now. Here's why:
1. I can live on the main floor when I'm old. Master bed and bath, laundry on the main floor.
2. Nice sized laundry - no wasted space, but plenty of room to stand and fold clothes, switch laundry.
3. Great room kitchen and family room. So wonderful for having the whole family to dinner or other times.
4. A room that serves as my library!!

Good luck.

Robin said...

I like having a door between the master bedroom and bath. That way if one of us is up early the other one doesn't have to wake up. I also like window that let in morning sun in the kitchen and bedroom. Makes my mornings cheerful. Big laundry room on the same floor as the bedrooms. (might even be worth it to turn one of the bedrooms into a laundry room). Huge kitchen, tiny living room. Large welcoming porch and large entryway (I love this in a house).

So fun!

mama jo said...

good luck with the favorite thing that we have is our's been so much fun, we had a sport court when kids were young, now a idea is to make your house the one everyone wants to be at...i love granite, mexican pavers, and storage..not sure how many houses have basements california not too storage for me is key...a huge garage would be fantastic...your kids will drive one of these days...have fun...

♥Shally said...


Big pantry.

Also, rambler with a basement is a must in a hot climate! If you can afford a pool, get one. There is nothing else to do in the summer. Just make sure it has a fence around it or some way to keep the kiddos out so you don't go crazy with worry.

Here is the rest of my list:

I love my big kitchen sink.
I love big windows.
I love my patio where we can eat outside a lot and enjoy the nice weather.
I wish I had a bigger yard.
I love that there are tons of kids in my neighborhood. Drive around and look for playsets and bikes. :)
I need a gas stove top. I had electric for 2 years and hated it.

Have fun!! You will get a gut feeling on which home is right for you. :)

martha corinna said...

I love the two story with all the bedrooms upstairs along with a huge laundry room with an extra large sink.

I love my walk-out basement with tons of light.

I love my mudroom with all the lockers.

I really love my walk-in pantry with a floor to ceiling lazy susan.

I love my range which is duel fuel: gas on the burners and electric for the ovens.

I love my big shaws farm sink, I can actually lay a cookie sheet down in the one side and clean it.

And, my favorite part is the very top cabinets in my kitchen have lights in them so the kitchen can be lite at night in kind of a cool way.

What I don't like: the two story great room, hate it. Speaking of great rooms, I don't really like those either.

Oh, and don't get white tile and grout in your shower. Pain in the butt.

martha corinna said...

Oh and central vac is so much better than I thought it would be. The best $1000 we spent.

Christie said...

Central vac is my lifesaver. I do love my granite, and have not done anything to maintain it. It still looks fantastic and I say it's worth the money.

I also think you need a large guest house out by the pool for when I come visit. And you should get a butler to wait on us poolside.

polly said...

i'll have to call and tell you where a friend lives in mesa. she loves it and says the houses are beautiful.

Meg said...

Ok. So I've read your blog for awhile so I'm not sure if you've read much of mine. But I did post about my favorite room in the house awhile back - the utility room. Check it out here.

Favorite things are 4 cubbys with bench and drawer beneath for shoes that were custom made. Big pantry. Laundry sink. Laundry Sorter.

Other wishes...why didn't I just bite the bullet and get wood floors? I regret it. I also regret getting carpet that is too light.

Anonymous said...

Central vac? Not worth the effort--LONG hose that is no easier to muscle around the house than a vacuum and it really dings up the wallboard when you try to drag it around a corner. Ugh.

I know granite is trendy, but I love my Corian countertops and sink. Easy, easy to maintain.

Stainless steel appliances? Trendy. Can you say fingerprints? No matter how many times you clean them off, the next time you look, they are back. I think they now have stainless steel that doesn't show fingerprints. Would be worth whatever they charge for that!

A laundry room/mud room that includes a closet--someplace to hang jackets, put shoes, etc. Much more important than a front hall closet!

Best of luck with the house search!

Hershey (the beagle's) mom

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