I’ve been “building” my dream house for as long as I can remember as I look at houses and house plans and decide what I like and don’t like about them. My first love was/is Riddick’s Folly. I went there many a weekend when I was about 8 to do American Girl themed activities (I got Samantha and the Victorians are definitely my thing). My favorite room was the attic/nursery which is where the children were kept. My second favorite room was the laundry room in the basement (I’m not sure why except that it has a huge brick fireplace and is the closest thing to a kitchen since the actual kitchen would have been out back). Note: I haven’t been there since i was about 12 years old, so my memory may be shoddy. I loved that it has like 4 parlors and especially the separation between the 4 rooms–I still dislike open floor plans for the most part. It’s simply a grand house and exactly the kind of space I’d love to live in one day.
I’ve toured many historic houses and am simply a lover of nooks and crannies and awkward spaces. My dream home had always been a Victorian with a turret.
<–This would be the French House at the University of Virginia (where I went to school). I had 2 friends who lived here; one of which was in the room that accessed that turret (well the part with the windows)! Actually–I think my other friend had the room on the right of the picture (also second floor) which bumps out with all the windows. All the nooks and crannies you could want!
One item on my list has to do with the backyard and what kind of fence it would get. I’ve always wanted a natural fence, like bushes or shrubbery, but since I’ve always had a dog, a proper fence would be required. I decided that a tall (8 ft minimum) chain-link fence would be ideal, planted densely with climbing vines. I’ve gotten a bit peeved with the BF because there’s a chain-link fence separating his house from the cemetery and it was covered in vines until he decided to cut them all down. 😦 I like the cemetery, but I also liked the look of the vines for the most part.
When I started seriously looking at house plans to see what kinds of things are popular today, I was generally disappointed. I have a few hard and fast rules about what a house must have.
Number 1 is a proper foyer. It needn’t be big and doesn’t need to be fancy, but there does need to be some separation between the outside world and the inside. My parent’s house is Tiny, and I hated that people look right into the living room and through to the dining room when you answer the door. Number 2 is a place for coat storage immediately accessible to the front door. For whatever reason at the BF’s house, the coat closet is found down the hallway where the bedrooms, main bath and laundry room is.
Number 3: The distance between the kitchen and the dining room. I don’t understand why there are house plans where you have to walk through the living room and past a bathroom to get from the kitchen to the dining room. Of course, this is closely related to Number 4 which is that the home needs to have a proper dining room. My dad has 7 brothers and sisters and they grew up eating at the kitchen table, which we all find ridiculous because my grandmother’s house didn’t use to have a dining room and the kitchen ended where the new dining room begins. We’re talking about a space maybe 8ft by 8ft. The dining room (built after all the kids were out of the house) now runs the full width of the house and at Tree Trimming (the family get together between Thanksgiving and Christmas) we can cram 30 people in there to eat (with only 2 or 3 wedged up against the Tree). I don’t want a huge dining room table, but I think a table that is able to seat 6 (after leaves are pulled out) is a minimum requirement. I don’t personally feel a need for a kitchen table.
Number 5: A walk-in pantry. One can never have enough storage space in a kitchen as I’m quickly learning here. We won’t have a walk-in pantry once the BF is done, but at least we’ll have nice deep shelves in the utility closet (sharing space with the water heater).
Number 6 is kind of weird, but I hate the idea of having to go into the bathroom to get to the closet! I’ve rejected many a house plan because of this.
Numbers 7 through infinity are little things that I think would make my household run smoother in the future. You see, I want to be a foster mom at some point in my life (I’ve always wanted children, but don’t like the idea of babies, so adoption has always been my first choice). I’ve also wanted a big family (or however big it can be given the situation) Because of this, I’ve decided that my house must have a minimum of 4 bedrooms because I think kids, especially foster kids need to have their own space–a space that is distinctly their own. There’s nothing wrong with having kids share a room, and I know that it’s very possible that I will have kids that want to share a room, but while you can train your own kids from baby-hood to mind the invisible walls of a shared room, foster kids can come from any situation and that’s a stresser that I believe unnecessary.
That being said, I firmly believe in forcing kids to share a bathroom. 4 years of living in dorms and 4 months of living with my BF and his son have taught me that the bathroom is a space that is perfect to teaching cooperation. There’s currently a “gentle” reminder on the back of the door asking if everyone has thrown away their garbage, dried the sink/floor, and other wise cleaned up after themselves…no it hasn’t worked. Of course, some shared bathroom designs work better than others.
The only other item on my list that holds any real importance is that the master bedroom be on the first floor. This wasn’t important until I started dating my boyfriend and realized that stairs could be the enemy.
I was surprised when I actually found a house plan that generally meets all my requirements:
The one down side is that it’s not a Victorian, but this house does have a lot of characteristics that I really love. The first being that bar area which would not get any plumbing and the cabinetry would be bookshelves–I’m still debating whether or not there’d be a built in bench to make it a true reading nook. I’m also still debating whether the 2nd bedroom upstairs would get to keep it’s private bathroom or whether there’d be a door to the balcony to make it shared as well. I like the idea of a guest room with a private bath, so I don’t know. The balcony would definitely be a cozy reading nook (one can never have enough). I like that the rec-room upstairs doesn’t have a staircase to the garage–kids don’t need that kind of temptation to sneak in and out.
Downstairs, the only big change would be partially enclosing the kitchen (following the line of the upstairs to the end of the bar) and turning the “Breakfast Area” into a craft room of sorts (one large U-shaped desk). I think that the area where the desk is built into the kitchen would get turned into just additional cabinet/counter space. I think that the distance from door to coat closet might be a little to much, but the foyer looks plenty spacious enough for some coat hooks. All the laundry room needs is front loading machines with a nice countertop.
BF and I have joked about what our house would look like (we both aren’t fans of his current place, though we’re learning to make do for now). Number one on both of our lists is proper-height kitchen sinks–which means a tall one for him and a short one for me :-). Nothing standard height! But I doubt we’ll be so ambitious if we ever save enough money for such a place.