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Naomi [userpic]

Trends in houses that make me frown

May 6th, 2012 (05:05 pm)

Ed and I have been looking at houses; we'd like to move to a larger house. In our current house, the girls have to share a room. We'd like them to have their own. Also, it might be nice to be closer to their school, and if we're going to go through all the hassle of buying a new home and moving, we'd like a master bath.

So we've looked at houses. Lots and lots of houses.

The problem is that things we want are fundamentally incompatible. We prefer the look and feel of older homes. We like traditional styles, windows made with panes rather than big sheets of glass (and lots of them), hardwood floors instead of carpet, and the sort of quirks and weird spaces that you'll get in Victorian construction but never in new.

On the other hand, we'd like a master bathroom. A mudroom or some sort of entryway with good storage for coats and boots would be nice. I'm not a huge fan of creepy basements. I prefer forced-air heat to radiators and will miss my central air if we move to a house without forced-air venting.

There ARE houses built before 1940 that have been remodeled to provide them with modern conveniences like master bathrooms etc., and we've looked at lots of them. I now have a long list of things that seem to be trends that I find spectacularly irritating.

1. Badly designed multi-acre kitchens.

Our current house has a small kitchen. It's small, but reasonably convenient to use. Back when Ed and I took Home Ec the teachers talked about the "work triangle," and how you want the fridge, stove, and sink to be conveniently near each other. We have a nice work triangle with prep area between the stove and fridge.

We have seen an appalling number of kitchens that seem to have been designed by people for whom "work triangle" would be a novel concept. The most absurd was a kitchen with acres of countertop but cabinetry that came out the full depth of the counter -- so, you know, you'd bash your head if you tried to actually chop anything on those counters. They'd be super useful if the only thing you ever did on your counter was store appliances, though.

It's one thing when you see a small house with a vintage kitchen that hasn't been updated since 1970. The thing that boggles my mind is when I see a large house where they've clearly spent tens of thousands of dollars building this badly put together kitchen.

Part of the problem here is that Ed and I don't care whether we have an eat-in kitchen. We eat our meals in the dining room, and intend to continue eating meals in the dining room. I would kind of like a breakfast nook but I would prefer it to be a nook rather than an island with seating. I acknowledge that this is a personal quirk but for heaven's sake, people! I did some aimless open-house-type wandering today and looked at a bunch of houses that were too small. They all had smaller kitchens that looked more usable than most of the big kitchens we've seen.

2. Vinyl interior doors.

It's fine with me if people want to replace interior doors (if this is an older home, the original interior doors are almost guaranteed to be a lead hazard.) But hollow-core wood doors are not THAT expensive and frankly I think even flat hollow-core wood doors look better than vinyl up close. Vinyl oozes fakeness from every pore. (Or it would, if it had pores, which it doesn't, which is part of the problem.) Vinyl siding at least has the excuse that you never have to paint it. Interior doors are not something that require the sort of regular maintenance that the house exterior does. There's simply no excuse for vinyl.

I saw TWO houses today, both older homes that had been updated, that had vinyl interior doors.

3. Enormous master bathrooms (with an ENORMOUS tub plus a separate shower, for instance) in a house that's less than 3,000 square feet overall.

The first palatial bathroom I ever saw was at a work party at some executive's house. It had a tub big enough to fit two adults, a separate shower, and a gas fireplace. I have to admit, it was pretty awesome, but this was a 4500 square foot McMansion somewhere in Eagan. If you've got 3,000 or more square feet to play with, then sure: go for the palatial bathroom. Why anyone would waste 150 square feet of a 2,000 square foot house on a single bathroom is baffling to me. A 3/4 master bath is totally adequate, as far as I'm concerned. It doesn't need to be fancy. In fact, if there's going to be a fancy bathroom in the house, better it should be the family bathroom because I have two daughters who would be thoroughly intrigued by an enormous jetted tub and the whole point of a master bathroom is that you don't have to share it with your children!

(My parents' house has a master bath with a really nice shower and then the family bathroom has a big jetted tub, so SOMEONE OUT THERE gets it.)

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