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Features I want in my next house

by admin on June 24, 2013

I’ve seen some cool stuff in houses in my day. And by that I don’t mean the high-tech things like computerized light switches or the ability to turn on my hot tub from my smart phone while I’m in an airport. I suspect that these gizmos are destined for obsolescence, like the abandoned intercoms you see mounted on walls in forty year old houses. I tend to be more impressed by the simple things that will be useful and enjoyed for countless generations.


Medicine closet

Like a medicine cabinet, but much larger. I visited a client’s home that had a master bathroom with 5′ wide mirror closet doors which concealed a twelve inch deep bank of shelves. Finally, a place to easily store and access all the extra Costco containers of glucosamine. At last, a place to layout your array of ibuprofen, extra shaving cream and so forth. This is going to be one of those things you’ll wonder how you ever lived without.


A window seat that serves the soul

The best way to do a window seat is to make sure it is as comfortable as possible. By that I mean you lay it out as if you were going to live there, with no window sills that protrude into your back and maybe even a sloped backrest. It should be long enough to stretch out with an extra good view of the outside world and be wide enough and padded enough to take a nap in. Good light (natural and also from a light fixture switched right there) is also critical. Maybe a window ledge wide enough for your goodies like reading glasses.


Cell phone and car keys drop zone

A built-in desk near the center of family life capable of receiving the daily pile of mail without being overrun. This area need not be large or confused with a home office capable of laying out big projects or running a business, but is set up to handle the daily placement of car keys and a cell phone charging area. Maybe with a built-in file cabinet for the central family files and records. I had a client once dub this spot “mission control.”


Horizontal laundry chute

Laundry rooms are being located nearer the source of the dirty laundry these days in the bedroom wing. Immediately adjacent to the Master Closet is a fine choice. It’s possible to provide a pass-through opening with a cabinet-style door. The laundry basket will never have to be carried ever again. It merely gets passed through this door. Dirties go out. Cleans come back in.


Windows positioned for the breeze

The alignment doesn’t need to be fussed over. Just make sure there are a few windows on the upwind side and a few more on the leeward side of the house that are easy to access and open. The positive air pressure on the one side and the negative pressure on the other will keep the air moving.


Plenty of clothes hooks

I want a master closet with a big array of hanging hooks, in addition to the usual clothes poles and shelving. I know this might not be for everybody, but it would work for me. It seems a good way to store ones favorite pants loosely without wrinkles and very easy to access. The few hooks I have now in my closet are well used. Why not have more?


Upgraded shear walls for earthquakes

Homes built in California today have plywood nailed tightly to the studs of certain walls to allow those walls to help hold the house from swaying in an earthquake. These shear walls are the key to resisting earthquakes for single family homes. They can be made stronger by nailing the edges with more nails and using thicker plywood and increasing the size of the steel hardware that holds the ends of the walls down. None of that is especially expensive. I figure that if I do this well enough, I can then forego earthquake insurance, assuming that by the time an earthquake damages my strong house that the insurance industry is going to be wiped out paying for the millions of weaker homes with much more damage. Spend the money on prevention instead of on repair work.


Secret room

A “blind cut door” is a door that matches the wall paneling so well that it doesn’t even look like a door. I have one now that I duck through that leads to a secret attic store room and is a perfect place to store valuables and all manner of things.


The sound of rain on my roof

I want to be able to hear the rain and have it lull me during naps and the reading of books. Skylights provide this sound. So do metal porch roofs. I suspect this ageless patter has been enjoyed ever since humans found a way to be out of the rain and experience the joy of being sheltered from the elements. It’s in our DNA. This sort of thing will enrich my life beyond what a gadget could ever do.


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