Our House…Part Two

20 04 2011

Our House......

Today I want to talk, a bit more, about pattern-of-living; but first let me set the stage by describing our current home.

The house, itself, is a 1,900 +/- sq. ft. (conditioned space) two-story colonial. The first level contains a large living/family room, formal dining room, kitchen, powder room, laundry room, and screened porch in addition to the two-car garage. The second level has four bedrooms with a master bath and second bathroom. The house also has a full basement that is unfinished and used as storage.

This is a tidy little floor plan that exists from coast to coast; what one might term a one size, one layout to fit all……….conducive to our pattern-of-living? Not hardly, but why?

First, some general comments about the layout that I believe would affect any family living in this space; though, if you are an isolationist, this house might work nicely. As you can see in the plan views, the first level is cut up into small spaces with the only large gathering space being the Living Room which is isolated from, what many people consider to be the heart of entertaining, the Kitchen/ Dining area. Notice, also, how the Stairway, Laundry and Powder rooms divide the entertaining spaces; by the way, we added the door from the Laundry to the exterior in order to access the beautiful backyard and pool area (otherwise a person went through the garage or screened porch to connect with the isolated back yard). And, without much ado, the upstairs is typical assemblage of uninspired, isolated Master Suite, small bedrooms, and bath.

So, again……….conducive to our pattern-of-living? Not hardly, but why?

First, Judy and I are empty-nesters; OK, we have many Spaniels and several cats but, for the most part, it’s just she and I. We are also not at home, much, during the day and, when we are, we’re in the Kitchen or in the Backyard; see a connection (or lack of connection) through the Laundry or Garage? This is also a huge issue for us because we love having family and friends over for dinners or cookouts and the spaces become cramped, conversations are disjointed, and no comfortable flow of guests or activities is possible. The first level is really having an identity crisis, it’s certainly not formal but it also lacks the open, communal feel of a more casual entertainment layout; and, just as importantly, the interior spaces turn their backs to the exterior and, vice versa.

With regards the upstairs, we don’t have a large (two-legged) family so we don’t need the obligatory, four-bedrooms (Spaniels sleep in our bed, duh). We would, however, enjoy a larger, private area that might include some work space, spa space, and a bit more closet space. And, again, wouldn’t it be nice to have a better connection with the outdoors to enjoy nature’s ever-changing kaleidoscope of beauty.

Clearly, the house doesn’t fit our lifestyle (or that of many families) but, as I’ve mentioned, we love the neighborhood, we love our yard, we love the potential.

So, what do we do? Our options are (in no special order):

  • Go on a search for a new home that has everything we desire?
  • Bite the bullet and purchase the property we’ve looked at?
  • Expand our current home creating the spaces that are lacking?
  • Remodel our current layout into a more conducive layout?

In my next installment, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of each of the above options; each has its own set of issues that we will come to grips with. We’re on a good track, though, we are thinking about our lifestyle and will look at many considerations, not just lifestyle, but many pragmatic issues including that all-time favorite, finances.

For those that are on a similar journey, are you starting to think about real issues? Are you becoming less influenced by “Keeping up with the Jones”? Have you strayed, a little bit, from media hype? Are you starting to give consideration to……are you ready for this……pattern-of-living?


Our House? Part One…

6 04 2011

Our house is a very, very fine house…

Judy and I have been discussing, for some time now, how we might make our home more livable.  After being together for four and a half years (wow, 4.5 phenomenal years), we are starting to see a pattern of living that doesn’t fit the existing layout of our home…hhhmmmmm…did I say pattern of living?  Many times, it seems, families forget this basic, first step and dive into additions, remodels, etc. as a function of what’s in vogue in the home magazines or television shows (yes, the media controls this aspect of our lives also).  So, as Judy and I continue this quest for the perfect solution, I will chronicle some of the critical thought processes as a multi-part blog entry.

Of course some of you might be wondering, why make it more livable?  Why not just sell it and buy something new?  As I’ve argued previously, and sadly, selling and buying new is the American way.

You may also be asking, why not build? After all, a talented architect (such as myself) could certainly design the perfect home that would satisfy all of our needs.  Honestly, we have discussed this and, a year or so ago, even picked out a piece of property; though this solution is fraught with it’s own set of issues , as I’ve stated in previous blogs.

Aaaahhh, very good questions and also a part of the dilemma that should be addressed as we proceed…all too often the two scenarios, above, are the only options that we Americans consider; additions and remodeling are often too daunting for many of us and we’ve heard too many horror stories of creating money pits or out-valuing our neighborhood (also very legitimate concerns).  So, without further adieu, the dilemma at hand…(drum roll please)…to stay put and remodel or, to sell and buy/build???

Our first task was simple, let’s look at the macro-picture and discuss our neighborhood.   We are located in a rather large, phased rural development with the homes situated on 1+ acre lots.  The streets are well laid out and wind through a former wooded area with the two phases  connected via one common lane.  Many of the homes in the neighborhood are custom,though ours is the product of a builder using a standard floor plan with a few modifications to give the half dozen or so homes he built some semi-custom individuality (varying styles landscaping have given more variety to the properties); even so, the area still has an charming upscale feel to it.  As regards our pattern of living, we love walking our brood (adopted King Charles Spaniels) through the neighborhood; the traffic is scant and the streets weave through the wooded properties, up and down the gentle hills celebrating each of the seasonal changes in the landscape.

OK, one vote for figuring out a way to stay put!

As we peeled away the onion, our next task was to explore the property that our home sits on.  The property is situated on a rectangular corner lot of approximately 1 acre.  Our home is faces toward the intersection and is surrounded by a large grassed front and side yards sporting a mature collection on deciduous and evergreen trees. Our rear yard has a nice swimming pool with a great informal garden of roses, flowers, and shrubs (though a machete wielding landscaper almost destroyed it a couple of years back) crowned with a nice koi pond complete with waterfall.  We’ve also enhanced our yard with a wonderful deck, for outdoor entertaining, as well as a new pergola.  We certainly enjoy our time in the yard puttering in the garden, playing with the brood, and scheming on way to create more outdoor living opportunities; which are definitely important components in our pattern of living.

Another vote for figuring out a way to stay put!

Now that’s progress and is the beginnings of an intelligent thought process about what is important in creating home.  But, the onion still has several layers; we still have many issue to consider and haven’t even begun to talk about the structure we call home.  Who knows, we may even go out into left field, a few times, before we determine what makes the most sense.  But, at least, we’ve started to stray from the knee-jerk decisions that has such an important bearing on the quality of our lives.  In the next installment I’ll talk a bit about interior spaces and their impact on our pattern of living.

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