Monday, January 14, 2008

House dreamin'

Thank you for all your prayers and for the awesome tips for keeping the house spiffy while it's on the market! I ordered a pile of boxes which should be delivered tomorrow, and I'm going to start decluttering. That makes my head feel better right there, even if several days of steroids hasn't quite done the trick yet!

I promise I won't bore you with househunting tales for the next several months, but, well, it's on my mind, and it's making me have to put down on paper some things that have floated in my head for years. So here goes:

Last week our realtor asked me to describe my dream house to her.

I've always thought that was a bunch of bunk, but when I sat down to email her, I realized when it really comes down to it, there are some particular things I look for in a home. They are not "needs." Our "need" is shelter. But they are nice. We've owned three homes, and each one has had little bits of each of these, but none has ever had it "all," especially not beautiful rolling hills here in suburbia. And for the record, doubt I ever will have it "all" this side of heaven!

Here are some of my dreams:

The lot:
  • Curve through trees to house hidden behind (I know this is hard on our budget, but we're dreaming, aren't we?)
  • Trees and creek or pond
  • View of more than the neighbor's back fence or front yard
  • Within, say 4-5 miles from town to keep commute down
  • No Walmart, mega-subdivision/golf community across the street or in backyard
  • Not on main road (or one that is likely to become one in the future), not backing onto a main road, and preferably far away from a main road (several blocks, if we were in town)
  • The kids seem to really want to be "out," not in a neighborhood, but I'm still not dead-set against that.
The house:
  • Windows across the whole back, opening to patio or deck
  • Large front porch (I like the prairie style)
  • Kitchen that opens out to the family room
  • Upstairs landing or game room
  • Three bathrooms would be very nice!
  • VERY LARGE LAUNDRY ROOM on same floor as kitchen
  • Good size closets in every bedroom (all our kids have to share except Neal-13)
  • In general, tons of storage because there are just so many of us
  • High ceilings, skylights, and windows, windows, windows (is there a theme here? If I can't BE outside I want to LOOK outside!)
  • Reasonably well taken care of - I can paint but I don't want to replace bad wiring or plumbing
  • One that we could host youth group functions - good flow for entertaining, maybe a fire pit out back, etc.
Not that important to me:
  • A huge, imposing, yuppie-looking house
  • Large master bathroom
  • Updated
Very important to me:
  • Not stretching our budget too thin
Which, of course, is the problem. It's fun to dream, but then we have to come back to reality: the budget.

Today I saw a house that had many of these qualities. The lot was breathtaking. But I'm coming to learn that the word "custom home" must be code for "strange." It's the second home we've seen out in the country that was obviously built on the fly ("Hey! This looks like a good place for a fireplace! Let's put some bricks here!"). It was a large house but with so much wasted space and awkward angles, I don't know if we could make it work, even if we got a good deal on it.

So then it's the classic lot versus house debate: do we take less house and go for the land (this one is overlooking a gorgeous field), or take a smaller lot and a nicer house?

What would your dream home look like?


Andrea said...

My dream house? What a fun question. I'll be thinking about this (and have been.)
I like your one about being about to host youth functions. One reason I want more land is to build bonfires and have lots of people over!!

Heather said...

You know, I would normally do a post about this but my blog has some serious backend mes that I am dealing with and no posts are forthcoming, at least until I figure out this mess. In the meantime--A cleaned up version of our current house, with no leaky roof or basement, with a fire place that works, and everything else working just right, with the carpets replaced with some nice hardwood, the upstairs antique metal framed windows replaced with new leak proof windows, a new furnace and vent system, better wiring and fixed plumbing, and a barrier in the front yard between the yard and the major road going through. So yeah, our house but with everything fixed and made nice. :)

Anonymous said...

My dream house would be room for everything and everything in its place with about 5 acres and a barn/gym for the kids and thier friends. So how big would it have to be for 8 people? LOL

Marian said...

Oh, no,Katherine, please DO blog about this! We can all live vicariously. It's so fun to shop with other people's money. =)

Maybe I'll came back and house-dream with you some more later.

Anonymous said...

This is something I am going to have to think about a bit. P and I have been dreaming about our "dream house" since we got married. We know we will never have it all, but it is fun to dream. I will have to post about this. Thanks for the idea!

Unknown said...

I got to your blog because I am a mom of 5 as well and I saw the title of your blog on a friend's blog. When I saw your post I knew i had to comment. My hubby and I just moved our 5 kiddos (ages 3-7). I too had a list of wants/needs as we went shopping for homes.
We looked at so many homes I am sure the realtor was ready to pull her hair out. But, it's no small task to look for a home for 5 kiddos and a stressed mom and dad. ANyway, the encuragement for you is I FOUND IT. It was like the skies opened up and the angels floated down and sang when I stepped into the door. I pray that happens for you as well. If nothing else I will say that I did not want a big house...thought it would be a "waste". but, ended up going for the house with lots of room and we are not at all dissapointed.
I didn't get a house with a flat driveway for the boys to play basketball on, one that came with a maid or a live in nanny but God is good and he provided like only he can.

Gwen Sirmans (Ivey's Mom) said...

Moving? Wow it has been a while!!! Looks like things are going well over in the land of raising five. When we moved our three little munchkins last year that was enough for me - bury me in my house - that's how long I will be here.
When we decided one our house we did go for a house that hopefully would be a draw for kids to come here. We want them to be here not there, where there might be. Of course, that will also need to supervising adults who encourage the kids to be here and make it fun. Have fun house hunting!

Kerry said...

Last year, we almost moved and bought what might have become our dream house.

A somewhat historic, 3,000 sq. ft, "Four Square", on 2 acres right in the downtown historic area of a small NC town. Lots of trees on the back lot. A large wrap around porch (which shows a bit of the transition from Victorian to "Four Square"). Some renovations done, more needed.

We thought about buying it and finishing the renovations over the next few years. And when the kids are all grown opening it up as an inn of some sort.

But, our offer was too low. Alas, we could offer no more and hope to afford the bit of fixing it needed right away (probably $40,000 worth).

So, that is one dream. We'll keep looking for that one. :)

Another dream is much like yours - no Wal-Marts, an acutal view to enjoy, some trees, maybe a stream. We'd love a Craftsman-style home. Hubs and I have always agreed on that! And I mean a REAL craftsman - not just a few craftsman features thrown on a box. :)

Laura said...

I'm right there with your list. In my kitchen, I want a pantry and a huge bar with LOTS of counter space. All of my kitchens have been, well, lacking. And I don't want a master bath that I could put a full size bed in, but I would love to have one big enough for 2 people to be in at the same time!

Beck said...

You know what? You should buy my house. It has everything you're looking for. (except for: no back deck/windows, no upstairs landing, and no closets. And it's a bit far away for your husband to commute. But it has everything else.)
Not that it's for sale, but it was funny to realize. Good luck, you guys!

Susanne said...

Oh, gotta have a wrap around porch, large kitchen with island, family room off kitchen with fireplace,large entry way with huge closet (for all the dayhome kids and parents when they pile in there), back entry (off garage if garage is attached) that has a sink so family member and dayhome kids don't have to trudge though the house to wash up from outside with area for shoes and coats, main floor laundry.

Boy I better stop now. This is getting expensive! ;v)

Jen said...

Go for larger lot less can always build on......I know it doesnt seem possible now....but you really could do it. I'm excited for you.

Brenda said...

How fun to dream! As far as the lot goes, I would want to make sure there wasn't the potential for other things to start popping up around your home. We had some friends who bought and were told the back behind their house was protected land and would stay like it was....then a few years later they found 3 story apartments overlooking their house. UG.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I are a couple years away from buying a home. I think whether to choose the lot versus the house is a hard choice. In my position (no kids yet) I would definitely say the lot over the house. You can always build on or remodel. But I am not sure I could say what I would do if I had five children. I would probably choose the house over the lot. If you buy out in the country, you could probably have the best of both worlds. My parents built in the country, and a couple of years later the lot next to them went up for sale (with no house on it). It was a great deal for them. Something to think about.

El Shaddai Ranch said...

We've bought 6 houses. Thanks for sharing your dream house - sounds beautiful! A tip about the boxes, b/c you can always use more boxes - if you don't want to spend money on them you can always go dumpster shopping. Most every business has a dumpster in the back labeled CARDBOARD ONLY, and they fill it with boxes that are usually already broken down so you can fit them easier in your vehicle. This is how we move. I drive behind a plaza or a bookstore and just see if there is any cardboard sticking out, then I grab a handful everytime I'm out and before I know it I have more boxes than I need. I'm telling you, you'll need more boxes than you think. Have fun digging thru the trash! (I'm sure the kids would LOVE this activity.)

Keri said...

I bet it was fun to make that list! I could definitely be happy on a lot that fits your description. And I could be happy in the house you've described, too -- not that you've invited me to come live with you... :-)

One caveat to consider, which may not even be relevant for your family: a family room that's open to the kitchen can lead to disgruntled TV viewers who can't hear their show due to dishes clanking, microwave buzzing, people talking and laughing over dinner prep... Then again, I imagine that in a household of seven, one gets used to commotion regardless of where one is in the home! (And I know that watching TV is not a big part of your family's schedule, so this is probably a moot point!)

I've been reading you -- and enjoying you -- faithfully, but haven't had much to say in the comments lately. This is not due to your lack of quality content; it's due to my addled brain and inability to concentrate! Something about small children, pregnancy, lack of quality sleep....I'm sure this doesn't sound familiar to you at all, does it? :-)

kittyhox said...

You've opened a can of worms!

Tree lined drive. In a neighborhood, w/lots of at least an acre w/room for a garden and treehouse. Mature trees.

The house is butter yellow with green shutters and a red door. Which I can paint, so that's not really important.

Very traditional. Big front porch. Hardwood floors. Tons of beautiful windows and great light. Lot of built-ins. A wood burning fireplace.

All bedrooms upstairs. Second story playroom/bonus room/loft. Big pantry off family-sized kitchen. Either a built-in desk or place for one, near kitchen and family entry. Mud room connecting garage to kitchen. Since I'm dreaming, a three season glass porch or study w/french doors off family room. Kitchen w/breakfast nook, open to family room.

Maybe an outdoor fireplace or firepit, but I can add that.

What I don't want is a HUGE master bedroom or a bedroom that is way away from the other bedrooms (i.e. downstairs). And I don't want a huge master bedroom closet. We have one and I just don't have that much clothing! I also don't need a hotel suite of a private bath. Two upstairs baths with two sinks each is plenty.

And what I would really love is a big, open kitchen that is a "tear down" so I could remodel from top to bottom and add a farmhouse sink.

Whew! Sorry I wrote a book, but I dream about this house a lot! I would love to build it someday. Or remodel something close. :)

Anonymous said...

Honey-- from one mother of 5 to the next...

3 bathrooms is a NECESSITY!!!! My last 2 homes have had 3 bathrooms and I'm not sure I could go back. 1 bathroom for the boys. 1 for the girls. 1 for Spencer & me.

Laura said...

I read Susanne's list and said yep I would love all that. I love the house layout I have now with all four bedrooms on the top floor, then living room, dining room, kitchen and den on middle floor and then playroom, storage room and workshop downstairs. My kitchen really needs to be bigger though, it only fits two and barely that.

I hope you keep posting about your house hunt, I love it!

Unknown said...

The list really is a great idea. I think it will help you objectively make a decision later. When we were looking at houses here 3 years ago, there was a house on a lot that we loved. It was wooded and pretty private with a little creek running right down the side of the property. We were in love with that lot.

The house was newer, so it was more what we were used to in TX suburbia. But the layout wasn't as good, and it only had 3 bedrooms (I know we are only a family of 4, but we really wanted a 4th bedroom for frequent guests). In the end, we made the right decision and weren't blown away by couple of idyllic seeming details.

After living in 4 homes (and 1 apt) in 15 years due to state to state moves, I have learned that bigger isn't better. Our house is almost 1000 sf smaller than our previous one, and if I were to move again, I'd not necessarily want bigger--but better with more storage, better flow, better light.

My Pink Boutique said...

Let's see, my dream home....

1. unobstructed view of the stars in a blackened sky is a must.
2. lots of acreage
3. my own observatory (we are dreaming, right?)
4. a bedroom for everyone
5. my own studio
6. large, open floorplan with room for a large dining table to accomodate more than immediate fam
7. great plumbing
8. automatic sprinkler system so I don't have to lay out hoses
9. 2.5 baths, 3 car garage
10. large kitchen, 2 ovens, lots of counter space
11. a guest bedroom or 2
12. lots of storage
13. water heater that never runs out of hot water

....these are just to start with. :)

Deidre said...

My list would look very similar to yours. We are diligently praying about moving as well. We have a beautiful home, but we are in a subdivision and I often feel closed-in by all the neighbors. I am not looking forward to spring/summer for this reason. Most days, I cannot even pull into my driveway because of all the neighbors/kids in my driveway (and my children are NOT with them - they are only 6 and 2). The lack of privacy seriously drives me crazy.

Code Yellow Mom said...

Have you checked out the book "The Not So Big House" by Sarah Susanka? It's long been a library check-out favorite of mine and my husband gave me a copy of my very own for Christmas - it's my dream book of ideas for beautiful homey homes that aren't ostentatious or full of nothing but square footage. I think you would like it...

How exciting to be anticipating a new home!

Anonymous said...

Right now, my dream is simple--two bathrooms BEFORE I have to potty train another boy! But, it looks like it won't happen (he's 2 and I don't see us moving in the next year, as much as I want to). But really, never again will I live in a house with only one bathroom!

I have started keeping a list with dreams v. must haves to keep in mind for the next move. And I want our next move to be (Lord willing) our LAST move for the next 15-20 years! So I echo a number of your ideas--especially having a house that good for entertaining youth.

Robin said...

We're moving for a job change, so I've been thinking about this a lot lately.
-Not on a busy road - I want to walk outside and be able to walk/bike/etc. with the kids
-5+ bedrooms (One can dream, right?)
-Minimum 2 car garage or shop for hubby's woodworking
-Garage apt for in-laws' visits
-Open floor plan - I have little kids, and I need to be able to watch them while doing chores
-Fenced yard for the kids to play in
-land would be nice

megan said...

My dream house? Great question! As our family of 4 lives in a 900 sq. ft apartment with 2 bedrooms, I'd just be thrilled with a little yard! I'd adore a house in a little village within walking distance to school and the market, and 2 bathrooms would be lovely. And 4 bedrooms, even if they are small, because we'd love to have a place for guests!