Choosing a house plan for your dream home? You don’t have to be a military spouse to know that living in someone else’s home and packing up for moves year after year can be frustrating. However, the benefit of living in all those different homes (some historical homes and some not so great rental homes) can be a clear understanding of your housing likes and dislikes or as I like to call it, “Lessons Learned”.
Simply put, one blessing of our military lifestyle was information gained; what we liked and didn’t like about all those homes.
In our quest to find a house plan that would put an end to our moves and be our forever home, reflecting on our “Lessons Learned” seemed like a great place to start. We wanted our dream home to incorporate the things we loved from all those homes and avoid those things we… well, hated from those same homes.
We all have things that we want in a forever home and perhaps your list, like mine, is probably common sense, such as walk-in closets, ample storage, designated laundry area, and a fabulous kitchen just to name a few. However, let’s bypass the obvious and look at those things that you might have overlooked.
Hopefully our “Love It” list will get your brain moving beyond the standard options and thinking about your own “Love It” list.
(Getting ready to prepare your property? Check out our Land Planning Strategies.)
1. High Ceilings
Most historical homes, or at least homes built before the “ranch revolution” of the 50s, were built with high ceilings. Historically high ceilings were needed to allow hot air in summer and smoke from oil and gas lighting as well as smoke from heating and cooking to rise. Today, the standard ceiling height is 8 ft.
Raising that height to 9 ft can make a huge impact and create an open and spacious feeling for even small rooms with little additional cost. Consider a 12 ft ceiling or vaulted ceilings in larger rooms for a more dramatic impact.
Whether gas, wood burning, ethanol or electric, every home should have a fireplace.
I prefer the convenience of gas, but I also love the nostalgia of a wood burning fire.
Nothing says this is a home more than a fireplace. Ask our daughters and they will tell you that their favorite family memory was two days in February without heat, gathered in the floor by the fireplace playing board games.
It is an instant focal point for any room, not to mention an increase in the cozy factor. Inserts for both gas and wood will increase efficiency and reduce energy loss.
If your budget can’t swing a masonry fireplace, electric fireplaces are a great alternative available from many retailers ($100-$1000) and simple to install.
3. Character – Built-Ins & Wood Trim
What do people mean when they describe a house as having a lot of “character”? Sure, you can add personality with décor, however, building character into the “bones” of your home means paying attention to details.
Integrating hardwood floors, crown molding, wainscoting, exposed beams, and customized built-ins all can enhance character. If your budget doesn’t allow for the cost of trim and installation, it can be incorporated later room by room.
Trimwork adds texture, creates a distinctive look and complements any design. Whether you prefer the sleek, modern clean lines of natural wood or the causal feel of painted wood, adding those architectural elements will lend character to your home and give it that “wow” factor.
4. Butler’s Pantry
This little jewel is beginning to make a comeback. I’ve noticed more and more house plans are including a butler’s pantry, which does not include a “butler” by the way.
The butler’s pantry (or scullery) is a designated area between the dining room and kitchen that is used to store large serving dishes, china, stemware, table linens, coffee urns and other items needed for entertaining. It is also used to stage meals and has a sink/dishwasher for easy cleanup.
A couple of our historic homes (Fort Sill, circa 1934) had butler’s pantries and I often used them as buffet lines for large gatherings. I would love to have a butler’s pantry in our forever home, but this is one amenity that I’m willing to forego to reduce our square footage and cost. However, if you love to entertain, a butler’s pantry would be a luxury worth the expense.
5. Outdoor Spaces
Regardless of the condition of our home or the location, we have always loved being in the outdoors as a family. So, it is only natural that our forever home really must include an outdoor gathering space.
Our home site location is a sloping hillside toward the back of the house with a beautiful view of the mountains. Taking advantage of our view is important. We were careful to save only house plans with spacious back decks/porches and an outdoor room for entertaining.
You might also consider an outdoor room that can be heated allowing use throughout the year.
If you ever have or now find yourself in the blessed lifestyle of a nomad, moving house to house, take notice of the details of your home and start your own list of “Lessons Learned”.
Hopefully you will find more on your “love it” list than on your “leave it” list.