House Shopping & Deciding on a Home
I was out today home shopping with a buyer in Oregon City. We saw five homes today. The topic of how a house “feels” came up many times throughout the day. Putting your finger on what you are looking for can be difficult to nail down. It was a puzzle that I needed to figure out. I found this article by the wonderful people at Apartment Therapy and I wanted to be sure and reference it here because it does a great job of explaining how we come upon the feelings that a room, or home can give you. This can also come into play if you already reside in a house that you very much want to make into a home that feels different than it does currently.
Although flow, lighting & windows and functionality are all players in this game, how you live your life is the most important factor. The floor plan can make an 850 square foot home feel like 1200 square feet or it can make it feel like a shoe box. We are lucky to live in a time where you find celebration for the wise usage of every square foot in a home and excess isn’t as cool as it used to be.
I advise my clients to think about WHAT they DO in a home without thinking about the home.
Make a list of the things most important in the life you live including the activities that you love. It may look like this: Cooking, Cross Country Skiing, Painting. If you are working with me, this may translate into an ultra functional and sizable kitchen, a space to train for your winter sport (or access to the trails outside) and a space with great light for painting and storing canvasses and art supplies. I find it is less overwhelming when my clients focus on the activities they love and what fills their souls with happiness. Then I can set out to find them a space they may have not imagined.
Never skimp on windows. If you are building a home and looking to save money, NEVER skimp on windows. Even if the window looks directly into your neighbors home, put the window in anyway and then consider either a natural barrier like a hedge between the homes, or window film that allows all the natural light to flow in but still gives you privacy. If you are moving into a home that feels like a cave, but you love everything else, consider what is happening with the windows. Sometimes bushes that looked great 50 years ago have since overgrown and covered windows blocking light. Sometimes the windows are just too small and need to be updated and/or enlarged. Other times you can take out an entire wall and put in a giant slider door or an accordion door that opens all the way. All of these things can help how a home feels.
Functionality is a tough one because even the best home makers who spend abundant amounts of time in their home running a tight ship can miss tweaks that could change how a house feels and help the family to function better living in it. When moving out of our condo in SW Portland, I made a list of the areas in which we (and our space) failed.
- Purse, cell phones, sunglasses and wallet all landed on the kitchen counter.
- Shoes piled up in front of the door in between the condo and the garage.
- Paperwork explosion – mail, things to do, magazines not yet read, forms that needed to be filled out, coupons…all piled up.
When building our next home, I took this list very seriously. These things had been a thorn in my side and prevented our condo from easily staying clean. After a zillion hours on Houzz and Pinterest, I decided these solutions would work for MY family…
- Built-in cubbies in a mud room immediately inside the garage door before you get into the house. The cubby would hold my purse, and homework or items that needs to be taken to school the next day.
- A bench with a flip lid to hold the shoes we wear most often. I lined the inside with extra linoleum which can be washed off in the rainy season.
- A mounted repurposed basket with hooks to hold keys, wallet, sunglasses etc.
- A bin (BOTH HIS & HERS) that we can stash our mail, coupons and paperwork in that we need to go through and/or needs to be addressed, filed or sorted.
I have to admit, my home stays MUCH MORE CLEAN and TIDY! I love it. But I had to have a “come to Jesus” about what our reoccurring problems were in order to address them. This included how our home flowed. I knew we needed a drop zone that had predetermined order in it. It had to have a place for everything.
If you find yourself perplexed by how a home feels but you are interested in home shopping, call me. We can discuss the life you live and the areas you may find frustrating. Deciding on a home is a giant step and making sure you choose the right home is paramount. I can help you in the home buying process and suggest contractors or tweaks to make the house a home.
Kristina Browning is a family friendly, Oregon City real estate agent, designer, photographer & adventure seeker. Lover of beer, travel & gourmet living. Mom to a sweet boy named Blue. Follow her on Twitter here.