I can’t help but comment on my house hunt yet again. It’s been frustrating on many levels, but today I wanted to touch upon the crazy and useless spaces in today’s McMansions. Because I want to find a place with in-law apartment potential, I’ve been looking at homes in the 2500-4000 ft2 range. Today both of our homes put together are only 3200ft (1700 ft for ours which we use every square inch of, and 1500 ft is Babci’s house which she probably uses 1/2 of), but many of the places with in-law quarters are freakin huge. Not only are they ginormous, but there is on average about 1000 sq feet in these homes that is utterly useless for my family’s needs. Yet, in many of these gigantic homes, they are also lacking practical features that I’d love to have in lieu of some of these spaces.
Here are my top 5 least favorite features in big houses in no particular order. Although they often look cool, I don’t like them because these spaces grate on my frugal side.
The Great Room
When I look at a great room, I think about all that extra head space that I have to heat and cool. It’s also a pain in the butt to paint, dust cobwebs off the ceiling or change a light bulb in. I’d much rather have that head space on the second floor for something useful like a bedroom or an office.
The Bonus Room
This room is so useless that they can’t even think of a name to tell you what it’s function is. “Hey look, here is this bonus area in an inconvenient part of the house that I have no idea what to do with.” It’s usually above a garage or in an attic space, so it has the extra bonus of being stuffy in the summer and freezing cold in the winter. I am always leery of posting for jobs who’s job title is vague like “transformation leader.” This is what the bonus room reminds me of. If you don’t know what it is from it’s description, that can’t be a good sign.
My realtor was trying to convince me to look at one house that had 10 bathrooms. (It used to be a B+B, and no I didn’t look at it). We don’t even have 10 rear ends between the 5 of us. I’m thinking 3 bathrooms would be ideal but it’s amazing how many homes have 4 and 5 and right next to each other too. It’s complete lunacy. I don’t want to clean 5 toilets. Also, additional bathrooms are used in your tax assessment so they are also responsible for a higher tax rate for your home. I’m also not one of those people who think a master bath with a double sink is a “must have” item. Generally speaking, I don’t want to be in the bathroom at the same time as my spouse, so I don’t see why we each need our own sink. We had room to add a double sink in our current home and I opted for more storage space instead. It may not have been the best move from a resale standpoint but I still don’t understand everyone’s obsession with the double sink.
I looked at several homes that had these sitting rooms that really had no purpose but as a place to put a few chairs in and sit. They had no room for a TV or regular furniture because of the layout of the doors/windows. So, it was yet another place to heat with no real function. One place I looked at had 3 living rooms. Okay, I could see making one into a play room or something, but 3? That’s still an extra one with no functional purpose.
Big Stupid Staircases
Giant grand staircases are usually tied to big stupid foyers that take up a ton of square footage that serve no function except looking pretty and maybe a place to put a small side table into.
Also honorable mentions go to the following dumb spaces: The breakfast nook. Too small to put a normal table in, but too large of a space to leave empty. Similarly, The formal dining room. A closed off room that you store your expensive wedding china in and use 4 times/year max. At the chemistry lab I used to work at in England, the chemists nicknamed me “Sandra the Destroyer” because I broke so much glassware. As a result, when I got married, expensive china was never on my wish list. Also, I only have one table. It’s both our kitchen table and our dining room table. In our current home, I removed our breakfast nook area and put cabinets in their place. I do have a “dining room” but it’s open to the kitchen and living room, so it’s just where our regular dinner table is. We really don’t need 2 different tables to eat at. If we have a lot of guests, our table expands by 2 extra feet and it’s fine.
Rooms I would love with more square footage
Here are the rooms I wish were standard but most homes do not have them.
The library – It may just be my love of English Literature and the 7 bookcases that I have crammed with books, but the thought of a mahogany paneled office with a tufted leather chair to read in just sounds so nice. Incidentally, the owner of the first house we put our offer on was an antique book dealer, so there were bookcases galore.
A Mudroom – In the winter especially, when you come in from sledding or skiing and you have nowhere to put your sopping wet clothes, a mudroom would be handy. One home I looked at had an awesome one reminiscent of old school house closets. The walls were bead-board with the hooks screwed right into the wall. It took me straight back to second grade.
A Walk-in Pantry – You need much much less cabinet space if you have a nice little pantry to store all your big appliances and food in. I would love a pantry and don’t know why they fell out of favor in recent decades. Also, in most cases sheet rock, shelves and a door are a lot cheaper than buying the equivalent amount of cabinet space. The footprint in our current kitchen didn’t allow it, but I love pantries.
A Cute House-like Garden Shed – My mother in law and I love doing tour of homes. One time when I was living in the Carolinas we did a little tour of homes in Charleston, SC. They had the cutest little garden sheds built to look like miniature versions of the main home. The yards were small but every inch was beautifully maintained and the sheds were adorable.
An Extra Bedroom – Right now, when guests come over, we sleep with the kids and give them our bed. Once upon a time we had a proper guest room, but these days, we don’t have the space unless they stay at Babci’s house..which only my high school friends will do.
A 2 Big Car Garage – Our current home has a tiny 1 car garage from the 50’s. It barely fits our small SUV and we usually let the kids keep their bikes and stuff in the garage in the summer and park in the driveway instead. In the winter we’ll park a car inside, but I’d love to have a space I could use year round for our cars.
A Big Walk in Closet – Even with my spartan wardrobe, I do use 3 of the closets in our home. I have one for all our winter coats, 1 for suits, and one for everything else.
A Secret Escape Route – Okay, this is totally not practical, but my old boss’s house in England had one. It used to be a schoolhouse and during World War 2, the previous owner had built a secret escape hatch in the back of one of his upstairs closets. It’s super cool in a Scooby Doo kind of way.
So there you go. Here’s a little into my likes and dislikes. I’m sure this list would look much different if I were a single person or an empty nester, but for now, that’s my current list. What about you? What do you wish you had, absolutely adore, or don’t use today?