Even though I looked at approximately five bazillion house plans on the Internet/in magazines/in books, I never found the perfect one. I think it's probably easier to find a plan when your options are limited. If you're building on a regular city lot, with a street in front and a backyard in back, well, you just look for a plan that you like and there you go.
But when you're building in a field where there are views out every window, when you know that to the south will be where the girls will play, to the east is where the gorgeous sun will be rising, to the north is the fruit orchard, and to the west is where the garden is growing--it's a lot harder coming up with plan.
To complicate matters slightly, there is the whole "having a budget" and wanting to minimize our carbon footprint. It's enough to make my head spin.
Ultimately we knew we'd just have to hire someone to draw up plans for us. We interviewed a few different designers and chose the guy who specializes in Bungalow style homes--as opposed to the guy who specialized in Modern but said he could design Craftsman because "it's not that hard." Even though we're leaning more towards the Craftsman style than the Bungalow style, they have enough commonalities that we knew we would be speaking the same language.
We talked with Todd, our designer, and I pulled out The File that holds all the ideas and dreams that I've been storing up for ten years. Ten years of magazine pull sheets, ten years of sketching, ten years of determining what exactly I wanted in a house. Of course, a lot of ideas have been thrown out over the years because what I liked ten years ago isn't necessarily what I like today. And after living in my own house for seven years I have learned what works and what doesn't.
What doesn't work?
- A laundry room in the garage. I hate this about our house, but I have had THREE men visit our house and mention what a great idea it is to have a laundry room in the garage. Yeah, boys, you can do my laundry for me when it's 25 degrees in the garage.
- Hanging cabinets in the kitchen that obstruct our view. We couldn't tear them out though because we wouldn't have any place to store our plates otherwise.
- Carpet in the dining room. We managed it for five and half years and then finally replaced it with wood floors (LOVE THEM).
Other than that, we really like our house. All 1440 square feet of it. I honestly could live here for the rest of my life, but moving to the Family Farm is where we're headed. There are pluses and minuses to moving, but right now I'm focusing on the pluses (because the biggest minus is leaving town, and can't think about that right now). It's exciting, but also nerve wracking, trying to decide what you want a house to have. A house that you will more than likely live in for the rest of your life. We want to make smart decisions that we won't regret as soon as we move into the house. Decisions like:
- Having a kitchen island, with bar stools, where the kids can eat
- Having barn doors separate the office from the dining room (I'll have to scan the picture I have...it's one of the things I'm most looking forward to)
- Having a pantry
- Having a master bedroom on the main floor with an old-fashioned claw foot tub in the master bathroom
- Having lots and lots of built-in bookshelves
- Having an interior wall for the piano
- Not having areas that will be hard to clean
Last week we got some preliminary designs, and we've been poring over them every day. We're still trying to decide which direction the front of the house should face (we're thinking west), and then also decide where to put the garage and driveway. The biggest issue right now is square footage. We love what Todd came up with, but we could never afford it. Without a basement it's almost 3000sf, and we are tentatively planning on putting in a basement even though concrete has skyrocketed in cost. I'd rather not have a house payment that prevents us from ever going on vacation. Or, you know, buying food.
Nevertheless, a dream starts somewhere. Best to start big and then tailor it back from there. When Rachel was over earlier this week, we brainstormed about house possibilities and things that work and don't work (as Sawyer and Sydney played and reminded me that I TOTALLY want a place for kids to play that isn't my living room!). It's good being able to bounce ideas around with someone else, and hear from others about house features they love or wish they could change.
So...in the spirit of gathering wisdom, I'm asking for advice.
Even though I know that people live differently in their homes, I'd love to hear what features you love/hate about your house. Things like: is it really worth it to have two sinks in the master bathroom? Is having a sink in the kitchen island something you wish you had, or couldn't live without? Do you think a mud room needs to be separate from the laundry room? Do you think the laundry room should go upstairs with most of the bedrooms (a big debate in our house right now because our main floor needs square footage trimmed off, but I feel panicked about the very thought of putting the laundry room so far away from the kitchen)? If we end up having three kids, what sized bedroom is optimal for sharing (we had planned on three bedrooms--plus ours--but that will probably have to be trimmed down)?
Here's your chance to impart your housely wisdom on a very receptive person. No idea is a bad one. Except carpet in the bathroom...that's a bad idea. Otherwise, I'm taking it all in.
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