Whenever you’re building a new home, you have the opportunity to build something totally unique to you and your family’s taste and liking. Instead of being confined to the design of a pre-existing home and having to accommodate your family and belongings to a space made without you in mind, you have the free reign of making everything suit your family’s needs and desires.
Anybody can come up with their own plans for their new house after a little bit of research and effort. Anyone can take a look at their current house and realize having a wall be just two feet longer here and having the bathroom on the other side of the hallway would make everything just right. In other words, anyone can drum up their own basic plans for an ideal home on the surface level, but it takes a lot more consideration to make sure every nook and cranny of the house works together, from the placement of doors to the number of closets.
I once heard that the difference between an amateur cook and a fine chef is not in their ability to cook a dish, necessarily. In all reality, if someone has a knack for making delicious steaks, no amount of experience can take that away from her. The real difference between being an amateur and a professional is that the professional doesn’t have a kitchen filled with dirty pots and pans sitting all over the place with sauce and spices spilled all over the place. The professional has learned in her experience how to efficiently use all her various cooking tools and clean up as she goes so as not to waste any time or food in preparing a meal. It’s all in the details.
Do you know what the best part about this realization is? You don’t have to spend the next 30 years designing houses to figure out all the details you might have otherwise overlooked — with a little forethought and extra research, your custom home can truly be perfect all around. A home with a bunch of little inconveniences is a lot harder to fix than a messy kitchen, so here are a few general less-than-obvious details to consider as you set forth in designing your new home.
As you think about these things, try to envision walking through your home in various situations: coming home from the grocery store, throwing your five year-old’s birthday party, having the flu, and the week after Christmas. Thinking about your home in a variety of different contexts can help you realize some of the things that you simply don’t have to think about on an average day. After all, it’s going to be these details that separate a good home from a great one.
How many bathrooms are you going to have? This one may seem obvious, but you really ought to have at least one on every floor of your home. Even if you yourself are young and strapping and don’t mind going down a flight of stairs in the middle of the night to use the restroom, you’re not going to be young forever. And even if you’re not concerned about that, think your goofy old Uncle Joe and his recent hip surgery or your cousin Randy’s broken ankle and see if they would have trouble using the bathroom. Nothing’s worse than having to go up a flight of stairs in crutches with a full bladder.
I remember when I first moved into my dorm in college. I showed up with two carloads full of stuff I just “couldn’t” live without only to find I had a total of 5 teeny tiny little drawers to store all of my stuff in. While I learned about the reality of living in a confined space, your home should have all the space you need. Not just when you move in but five and even twenty years down the road. You know you’re going to have a huge walk-in closet for your clothes, but what about your Christmas and Halloween decorations? Your board games? All of your son’s toys once he’s all grown up? Will you have room for something large like a pool table someday? Some of these things may not apply directly to you, but think about the future interests of you and your family members and see if your house could ever accommodate these new interests and developments.
You’re going to want to make sure you can access your stuff when you need to, and you’re going to want to make sure others are kept out when you don’t want them. This isn’t meant to be about security, although that is important, too. Rather, think about trying to get into your bathtub or shower after you’ve been in a nasty accident. A six inch taller bathtub may seem insignificant now, but, as with the bathroom example earlier, that all changes when you think about trying to get into that tub with an injury or having an older body. So take that into consideration when you decide things like how high your closet shelf should be or how high up the handrail is on the stairs.
This last point of detail is one that will likely cause you the most frustration if it goes overlooked. From the physical location of the door relative to the rest of the room to the direction it swings open, there’s a lot of inconvenience a door can cause you, let alone many doors. Imagine you’re walking down the hall and BAM! Your little girl comes bolting out of her room, and because her door swings outward into the hallway, that door happened to hit you right in the face. Now imagine that’s been thought of, but now your daughter can only place her dresser in one spot because the door wouldn’t be able to swing open otherwise? These little door mishaps can really make someone forget about the well-designed living room and kitchen really quickly.
You’re going to put way too much time and money into building your new home to let these little details get in the way. There’s always going to be one or two things that end up being a little off — we’re human, after all. But these if you let a lot of these minute decisions go unconsidered, they can add up and leave you feeling like you didn’t put in any effort at all. So go ahead and take the extra time to envision yourself walking through your home in a wide variety of different physical and mental states, imagine all the times your parents and grandparents are going to want to come visit, and imagine what you and everyone living in the house will need from the house as time goes on. Thinking that far ahead with that much depth can be challenging, but you’ll be glad you did when all’s said and done.