If you have lots of kids, you need bathrooms and casual space. And a vacation.
If you're an empty nester, you probably want more living and
entertaining space, and less maintenance. You don't want it to look like
the house next door, either. That doesn't sound too difficult, does it?
And yet I'm routinely asked by my clients to include things that they
haven't been able to find in any "spec" home or any online house plan.
Things like decent-sized laundry rooms and mudrooms. Things that families need, like a walk-in pantry.
They also ask me to leave out the stuff they don't need – the formal
living rooms, dining rooms, the powder rooms with the little balls of
soap in the seashell bowl.
So how do you get a house that fits you, without being stuck with it forever?
What You Really Want
The whole point of this article is that a unique and interesting
home, designed to closely fit the needs of your particular family, will
very likely appeal to other families someday, too.
And maybe in a big way.
About fifteen years ago, I was hired to create a custom home for a
client on a difficult property (the last lot available, the one that no
one wanted) in a very nice subdivision.
This client had some specific needs, including accommodating a
handicapped family member. We designed an unusual home with a screened
porch facing the street, no formal entry foyer, a first-floor home
office that converted to a handicapped-accessible bedroom, and a garage
you could park sideways in.
They also wanted the home to have a character on the outside that was unlike anything else in the neighborhood.
Not exactly mainstream.
Six years ago, they sold the home. Here's what they had to say:
"(We received) far better-than-average appreciation of the property
when we downsized some nine years later. We sold the home by ourselves
with no Realtor involved and we heard from many that the unique design
and curb appeal attracted them to contact us. We had no problem selling
our fine home…"
And since they're too modest to mention it, I'll add that they nearly doubled their money on the sale.
That's What I Want – How Do I Get It?
That's the easy part. Figure out what you want, and put aside notions
about what you think the next family living in your home might want.
Tune out the people telling you what you should have.
Make a quality home that works – whatever "works" means to your
family and your life. Make it interesting and attractive, but above all
make it fit your unique needs and wants.
Get a whole new attitude about what a unique and interesting home could be.
Sources of (Better) Inspiration
The key is to change how and where you're looking for new home and remodeling ideas.
Stop looking at house plan websites and home-improvement-store plan
books. Most of those are recycling the same basic plans over and over
again, so you're not going to find much that's unique.
And forget the idea that you're going to find one complete design that does all you need it to do.
You'll find that kind of inspiration online at sites like Houzz.com (read my take on Houzz here);
Remodelista.com, and Freshome.com. You'll also find it in some of the
better home design magazines, like Traditional Home, Residential
Architect, Fine Homebuilding, Dwell (if you like contemporary design),
and many others.
Don't worry about finding exactly what you want, or whether you can
afford what you see. Keep a very open mind; we're tapping the power of
imagination and brainstorming here.
And don't worry about how those pieces fit together. Sorting through
what's feasible and what's not, and working with you to assemble your
ideas into a unique, cohesive whole is my job, right?
Best of Both Worlds
You'll discover something else when you change your sources of
inspiration. You'll see that there are lots of unique homes out there
and that those homes are often more valuable than most – maybe because
If you prefer a "middle of the market" home design, this probably doesn't make much sense to you.
But if you get excited by living in a house that stands out from the
crowd, a home that does things that most homes don't, a home that you
can fall in love with, then when the time comes to sell, you might find
that "sold" sign out front a lot sooner than you'd thought.
Tuesday, June 26 2012 9:00 PM EDT2012-06-27 01:00:19 GMT
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