Wednesday, February 27, 2013

This Nest, A Cage I Built Myself

When I wake up in the morning, my day is foggy. My day feels so short, but so tedious. I wake up when my baby girl crows, having stayed up until God knows when the night before. I change her, feed her, plop her on the floor and turn on Netflix and open up my laptop. I smile and talk to her a little, scold her and smack her hand if she grabs at the computer, which she’s always fascinated by. On a good day, I sometimes get down on the floor a couple times.

At one, I wake Erik. He’ll play with her a little bit, catch up on emails or classwork. Usually she’ll need a nap now, but it’s possible that she already went down before I woke him. If not, I ask him to make the bottle and he does. He’ll take her up for her nap. Depending on the time, we may have a little time to spend together.

Between two-thirty and three, he leaves for his internship. I will stay on the computer, telling myself I’ll get [insert task-of-the-day here] started in a minute… after so-and-so signs off and we’re done talking… after this episode… at blank ‘o’clock… I have a million reasons and rationalizations. I say that the baby’s down now, so now’s my time for a minute to relax, as if I haven’t already been screwing around. Maybe I’m working on something job-search related or at least minutely more productive than refreshing Facebook for the umpteenth time. But that’s not work. Hell, I usually get my three job-search-related activities done on Friday or Saturday before I certify for my unemployment. Of course, I want a job so that we’ll be more financially stable, but really I want things to magically fall into place for Erik so I don’t have to.

Shit. It’s four. It’s five. It’s six and Erik will be done soon. Seven, he’s walking in the door. I never got dinner on. I never remembered to put the chicken in the fridge to defrost yesterday. “Baby, you wanna just pick something up this time? I’ll cook tomorrow. For real.” Twice a day. Every day.

Erik comes home from his internship. The baby woke up a while ago and is playing on the floor again. I don’t think she’s happy here, but I ignore it, mostly because I don’t know what to do for her. There’s no room to crawl around. She loves my mom’s new house. It’s big and open and there are doggies to chase and a hard floor with enough room for a walker.

She gets so excited for him. He walks through that door and she makes this little gasping excited noise and hops up. She rushes to where the ottoman is blocking her into the area, pulling herself up and bouncing, shouting at him. “Hi, baby girl!” he exclaims! Usually he has to empty his hands. Too often he needs to use the bathroom and she cries a moment after he disappears, protesting. I calm her down or wait it out, depending on my mood. It shames me to admit that I get annoyed at her when she’s like that, but it’s not her fault. She’s a baby. I think I’m jealous. I know I’m jealous. She does not get excited like that for me. When we pick her up after a weekend at Grammie’s, she smiles for me and sometimes reaches for me, but she usually lights up for her daddy and wants him almost right after. She almost never wants me, her mommy.

They cuddle. They may play a little. He asks what’s for dinner and ends up running for something on the days I don’t have a frozen pizza to pop in. I may have already texted him to get something. We may already be eating at this point. He’ll probably feed her her dinner, or else bring it to me to feed her.

Between eight and nine, the baby needs to go to bed. Erik usually makes her bottle, but sometimes I do. He takes her up and puts her down with it. If there’s time and we’re both amenable, we may have sex. During and after sex are two of the only times where I feel alive and good again. I feel like I might actually still have some beauty left in me. I can believe him a little when he tells me he wants me, that he loves me.

No, that’s not fair. I always know he loves me. But I rarely believe he should. I rarely understand why he does. Other than the baby. But every once in a while, while he gets ready for work and I cuddle up with a pillow watching him, still naked and half under the covers, I might wonder if we would be together like this without the baby. More often I’m just wondering if we’ll always make this work. We’re still three months from our second anniversary. If it weren’t for her, could we really think about forever? Maybe we could start now. We wouldn’t be so crazy to start thinking about it now.

He always kisses me goodbye and tells me he loves me. Every time. Even if he’s just running for food. Even when one of us is having a grumpy mood. Sometimes I’ll be difficult and make him work for it, just to postpone it those extra seconds. A few rare times we’ve been in a fight and I haven’t gotten that kiss. It breaks my heart.

I’m usually exhausted. All day, in fact. I fight my sleepiness. Occasionally I have a nap. Even when I don’t, I can’t sleep. I yawn and yawn, but I usually toss and turn if I go to bed. I might bring my computer, but it doesn’t change much when I don’t. I consider it getting to bed early when I sleep at midnight, yet I’m so tired when he walks out that door at nine-forty. Do you want to know what time it is right now? As I type these words? 3:15:22 a.m. I’m finally getting sleepy enough to sleep, but these words have to come out.

I go back downstairs now, or I’m already down there, and I play whatever show I feel like watching. I’ve been allowing myself to explore girlier shows, or dramas he wouldn’t like as much so that I won’t watch something we both like and get ahead of him. I grab the computer again and I’m on and off it all night. Too many nights, I curl up on the couch, exhausted, and fall asleep there. When he gets home from work, Erik’s noise tends to wake me and we go up to bed together…

Until the baby crows.

I feel like my day is full. I feel so overwhelmed when I try to do something. I stumble over whatever is cluttering up my floor. I trip into the kitchen, past my towering laundry pile. My dishes are ridiculous because Erik hasn’t been able to get to them yet. I know, though, that it should be my job. But I swear that if he does it once, all the way pristine, I will let him out of our ridiculously unfair deal and take over them. I’m at home now. I lost my job and now I’m at home and I should take care of my house and my family. I should clean and cook and still have a ton of time really to do nothing as my recipes are fairly straightforward and tend to involve a number of hours in the crockpot, and I always have to wait between the loads of laundry.

I just look at piles and piles all over and I feel overwhelmed. I crawl up onto the couch and push just enough stuff over to make my little nest, carving out a niche in the debris on my side table for a glass of water or whatever fast food cup Erik’s brought me now. I have to vacuum and carpet clean from a couple of spills, but I don’t know how to get my carpet clear.

And the baby. I don’t know how to play with her. She’s not like babies were supposed to be. She thinks peekaboo is stupid and doesn’t care when I make funny voices and talk through her toys. She’s not ticklish. She doesn’t like it every single time I swing her upside down or toss her in the air, but at least it works some of the time. I try reading to her, but it seems so weird. Even then, she just tries to eat the book, which I know is normal, but I can’t help but be disappointed by.

I was pregnant and I took my meds like a good girl. I don’t remember how often I forgot, but it was better than my usual track record. I swore to myself and my baby that she would never see me like this. She would never know mommy’s dark days, or whatever term she coins for it. Or really, I can coin it whatever I want, because she wouldn’t get to see them to coin them herself. That’s the point. I swore she would not know the days of me doing nothing on end on the couch and she would not know anything about me lying in bed. She wouldn’t know about my needless crying or moods or meanness or darkness. I would take my meds and I would be better for her. So she could never become me. Then I lost my Medicaid and I haven’t gotten it back.

Now I get bigger and sicker and it gets harder and harder to pull myself out of this. I spend whole days where I never move from that couch. I pee two or three times. I make a bottle or two for the baby, putting her down and getting her back up, if Erik isn’t home. The thought of leaving the house frightens me now. I rarely shower.

And no one understands how serious this has gotten…

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Biggest, Awesomest List of Home Design Ideas and Perks. Small Things That Make a Huge Difference.

So you see useful tips on Pinterest like "put outlets in bathroom drawers for hairdryers," which I like. Well, someone attempted to create an all-inclusive list, but you have to scroll through a bunch of comments because she didn't update the actual list and you have to wade through conversations and the like. I have decided to take this "list" and make it into a bonafide List. Also, if anyone wants to comment with a new suggestion, I will update the list. :D

Why am I doing this? My mom and dad just moved into a new build, but it was pre-built before they moved in, so there was no opportunity for customization. Which is unfortunate since a lot of the bathrooms don't look like the counter matches, even if it's pretty granite.

So here's the list!

Kitchen and Mudroom

  1. Plugs in kitchen pantry for charging, or for items that may end up living there - Laura12
  2. Also put a charging station in one of my kitchen cabinets in the buffet/desk area so cell phones, iPads, etc., could charge behind closed doors. - downsy
  3. We are building cubbies in our mudroom. I plan to put an outlet in each cubby for each kid to charge cell phones, iPods, DS, etc. -  farmhousegirl
  4. All appliances that could be gas or electric were plumbed for both so that they would have options down the line due to cost of gas vs electric, needing to replace one and finding a good deal, etc. I know it was the stove, water heater, dryer, and maybe something with the heating. - aa62579
  5. Pantry light on motion sensor. - homiha
  6. Don't forget to get COPPER TUBING for your ice maker. Make sure that the tubing part from the freezer and until it's out of the kitchen wall is copper. If you get the cheap plastic tubing behind the freezer for the ice maker, the plastic will get hard from the heat behind the freezer and you will have to call a plumber within a 3-5 years. It cracks from the heat. You could have water damage in the kitchen wall, or floor. I learned the hard way, and so did my neighbors. - dabunch
  7. Plan where your shut-off valves are for your appliances to make it easier for maintenance/servicing later, i.e., putting the water shut-off valve for the fridge under the sink cabinet instead of behind the fridge. - michoumonster
  8. Under-cabinet lighting is essential in a kitchen. This can be done a million ways.
  9. I also like this idea of putting the outlets on the underside of the cabinets so they don't interrupt the backsplash.
  10. Recess your fridge. - nikkidan (My note: I can second, third, and fourth this! My mom's last house, plus this new one, both needed the shallow "cabinet-depth" fridges that hold, like, nothing. Make sure it's deep enough that your fridge doesn't stick out way past the cabinets, making the cabinet over it impossible to get at [but also making it a good place to hide liquor from smaller kids].)
  11. Related to above, I'm adding that you need to make sure you can open your refrigerator doors all the way. Both houses have had a wall and doorway against one of the sides of the fridge. Thankfully,in this one it's positioned perfectly so my mom can open it all the way, but it wouldn't be if she did have a proper cabinet-depth fridge. In the last one she couldn't open the left side completely, so one of the drawers didn't have the clearance to be opened completely. If your fridge is between cabinets, this is not likely to be a problem.
  12. I put a charging station in one of my kitchen cabinets in the buffet/desk area so cell phones, iPad, etc could charge behind closed doors. - downsy
  13. Pantry door on swivel (in case of full hands). - homiha
  14. If you are putting stone on a bar that people will sit at, make sure the countertop is extended so there is plenty of legroom. So often this is forgotten. - Dillon_Custom_Homes
  15. Appliance lift in a cabinet if you have a heavy kitchen mixer. I love the ones that come up through the counter, but I'm not sure how that works with a granite countertop.
  16. My mom's new house and my own crappy townhome both have the same problem: cabinet doors that aren't wide enough for some of the appliances. Ours are both where we have the awful corner cabinet. As wonderful as her kitchen is, there are several little quirks that drive me nuts. (She's out of town all week, I've been staying here slowly helping unpack things and keeping an eye on her dogs, so she hasn't been able to be annoyed yet.) She has too-shallow drawers that catch on the utensils too much, which is one thing to consider. Also, the door to the corner cabinet is too narrow for the things I tried to put under there. I managed to get the bread machine in because it's barely the right size. It's tucked in the back because she never uses it. I went to put in the deep fryer or the crock pot and neither fit. I have no idea what's going to go there.
  17. Or you can be smart: Angle kitchen corner countertops with full lazy susan in corner - use a full size door to eliminate finger pinching corner doors or swivel doors. - farmerswife6558
  18. These two pictures are courtesy of bjwithers. This is something that my mom wishes she had in this new house (see above about being unable to reach and having too narrow a door). We had it in our cheapy California house when I was younger. There was a cabinet door on the corner cabinet accessible from the other side that opened at the "back" of the corner cabinet. You can do it where it's accessible from both rooms, or block it in like in these pictures.
  19. Make sure all your cabinets are deep enough for your dishes/appliances/etc. My mom lost a lot of cabinet space, not realizing how much shallower these are. Her standard glass dinner plates do not fit on the bottom shelf of her cabinets because of the door being thicker around the edges. It's ridiculous.
  20. An island on casters. Especially those kind of wheels that when you lift unlock, but lock when the full weight is on it, so that it will sink and hide the wheels. My parents' island is moveable and they're going to install wheels. This is good for parties in an open-concept. Move it out for when a lot of people are milling in the kitchen and put it against a wall with drinks or something.
  21. Eek out all the storage you can with a pocket pantry.
  22. It's become very popular to remove the false front in front of your sink (or an entire drawer) and add a paper towel roll. I love it.
  23. Avoid the hassle of the ugly plastic dividers and get built in dividers for your silverware. Related: a utensil drawer where they all stand up for easy use.
  24. Use a mop holder to store spices on the inside of a cabinet door.
  25. If you have any deep enough, create a sheet drawer for muffin tins, cookie sheets, cooling racks, cutting boards, platters, etc.
  26. Have them install trash and recycling chutes from the kitchen directly to the garage. Space and time saver.
  27. If you have a desk or built-in area where you might want your cookbooks or just cubby space in a mudroom where you might want one of those family binder things that are going around, make sure there's enough room for a binder to stand up. I tried putting my mom's cookbooks and binders on the long shelf above the built-in desk near her kitchen and garage (main entrypoint). It's not tall enough! This was not thought out!
  28. I wish we had plumbed for a built-in drinking fountain, especially for the kids and future grandkids. The number of cups used for just a quick drink get ridiculous and especially for large family gatherings... We have to settle for lots of labeled cups but I would rather have avoided this... - garnerstamps
Master and Other Bedrooms

  1. As far as plugs in closets go, I put one in my closet, too, as I have a clothes steamer that I use occasionally. I will have a hook where I can hang whatever I need to steam and will be able to do it in my closet. - athensmomof3
  2. I'd also suggest several 4-plug outlets instead of all 2-pluggers. (By the time you have a bedside lamp on each side of a bed, plus a plug-in clock or two, plus a plug-in base for your cordless all adds up to lots of outlets.) - folkvictorian Also consider those adjustable beds or sleep number beds that need to plug in, as aa62579 reminded everyone. (My note: And/or you can do this, for USB chargers, or these really weird but awesome things that I saw on Pinterest!)
  3. I put a plug in the master toilet closet. Primarily because I wanted to plug in a small night light so you could see where you were going and didn't have to turn on the light, but also because it leaves open the option of a washlet down the road. Although I wasn't personally a fan after trying one at the tile place, I can see that it might be helpful down the road if you run into medical issues. - athensmomof3
  4. Built-in heated towel racks/shelves. - dyno
  5. Master-switch from master bedroom that controls all exterior lights (in case you hear something from bed). - homiha
  6. A light switch at the head of your bed so you can turn out the light once you are in bed. - hlfrch91
  7. [My parents] also added vanities to each of our rooms, with a sink and cupboards underneath. They said that it only cost a couple hundred dollars a piece, and definitely helped ease morning routines in a house full of girls. - dmpeterson
  8. Closet lights on the hinges. Goes on when the door opens and off when it shuts. - brianstreehouse
  9. Add vents to walk-in closets for air circulation. - Parachuting
  10. Plan out your master bath very carefully. My mom loves her new tub, but the jets don't actually hit her back. It was weird. And it's bigger than her last tub, but still will not fit both her and my dad at once easily. The biggest annoyance is the decorative way they framed it in. It's hard to step out of when wet. Thank God the tile is not slippery. Something to consider is a walk-in tub. I want one...
  11. Also, think about a pretty, walk-through shower. You can see it in the picture of my mom's tub I linked. Keep in mind that the way they do it can let in cold air since there's no doors, but with the heat on a little, the bathroom door shut, and both shower heads going, it's not bad.
  12. Design your shower with no lip. This is easier to step in and out of, and it also is handicap-accessible.
  13. Consider an individual thermostat for the master suite. Also for a guest suite so your guests can control their own heat and air. My grandparents are always hot and drive my parents and aunts crazy. It's ridiculous. They routinely used to break the A/C because my mom would warn them it could only get so cold before it wouldn't get any colder because it was so hot out, but they would freeze it out and kill it. Not good in a Memphis summer. Having a seperate thermostat for the guest suite helps keep costs down if you're not heating/cooling an area of your home when it goes without visitors for a while.
  14. We put TVs in the kids' bedrooms into their built in closets, so we put a multi-power socket and an antenna connection into the ceiling of the closets to facilitate those. It means doors can be closed and TVs, DVD players, Xboxes go unseen. - Cornflake-Girl
  15. I've never understood who charges their cell phone in the kitchen or mudroom? Ours charge on a little dock/radio in our bedroom. What if someone calls in the night? - cottonpenny (My note: Basically, do the same thing as all the charging dock ideas, but in bedrooms. I agree, I never charge my stuff in the kitchen. My mom does, though, during the day, and takes it off the charger at night as an alarm clock. It's weird.
  16. My parents are going to be able to put in a TV and cable in their bathroom, visible even from the little toilet closet, and great for lounging in the tub. You can just barely see the outlets above the master closet in this picture. It's great that there are outlets near the ceiling for the plugs and cable so it can be mounted up high. Consider ceiling outlets for this or other things you may need to plug up high, like a projector in a media/bonus room.
  17. In the closet, make sure you have enough space to hang long clothes. Double rods are a great use of space, but you need somewhere for dresses, long skirts, robes, long coats, etc. - aa62579
  18. My "had to have" was a built in ironing board in the master closet. Mine was purchased at Home Depot and is recessed into the wall. I keep my iron and supplies in it. - maddiematters
  19. Consider a built-in jewelry closet between studs behind a full-length mirror. Or you can build it and hang it on the wall.
  20. If a bedroom is next to the laundry area, add a tilting hamper in the common wall for easy laundry access. - rhodes2010 (My note: Maybe consider building the kids' bathroom or master bath next to the laundry for that reason?)
  21. If you do custom closets, consider a hidden hamper, some shoe shelves, and slide-out slats for jeans and pants.
  22. Consider cedar-lining the back walls of closets if moths are a problem in your area. - KarenSantaFe


  1. More 4-plug outlets in the bathroom, not just the bedroom. - aa62579
  2. I put a plug in the master toilet closet. Primarily because I wanted to plug in a small night light so you could see where you were going and didn't have to turn on the light, but also because it leaves open the option of a washlet down the road. Although I wasn't personally a fan after trying one at the tile place, I can see that it might be helpful down the road if you run into medical issues. - athensmomof3 (double posted from Master)
  3. I had outlets put inside the vanity cabinets so the blow dryer could stay plugged and stored there without wires hanging out. - downsy
  4. Built-in heated towel racks/shelves. - dyno (double posted from Master)
  5. Don't let your plumber caulk the bottom of your toilet to the tile to hide potential leaks. Sigh. - dyno
  6. At the last minute, I realized I didn't want my white plastic Sonicare toothbrush sitting on top of my beautiful black Richlite counter. Had the cabinetmaker build a mini-shelf below the sink on the side of the box and power added there. It is just "open with the left hand and grab brush with the right' -- I find it worth the extra 2 seconds of effort. - lori_inthenw
  7. I wish we had an electrical outlet INSIDE the bathroom mirrored medicine cabinets for recharging electric shavers, facial handheld cleansers, electric toothbrushes/waterpiks, etc. Yes, there's an outlet on the wall by the counter, but I hate seeing all those chargers and cords! - garnerstamps
  8. There are smooth-sided toilets now available for reasonable prices. The sides are completely smooth- no bolts, no trap area, just smooth. Much easier to clean; much harder to install. - flgargoyle
  9. Our next house is going to have a urinal! Husband, son, 2 son in-laws, 6 grandsons and counting... Hoping to save on some back breaking, constant, nasty cleanup... - mcklbk
  10. Design your showers with no lip. This is easier to step in and out of, and it also is handicap-accessible. (double posted from Master)
  11. I had outlets put inside the vanity cabinets so the blow dryer could stay plugged and stored there without wires hanging out. - downsy
  12. Extra room around the toilets for ample space for trashcans and not feeling cramped with the toilet paper rolls. Also, so it's easy to clean around them.
  13. This is a fun little idea: A built-in makeup drawer with a mirrored lid to hide it away. Or just try this version.
  14. There are plenty attractive alternatives to the sproingy-thing system of holding toilet paper. Check this one out!
  15. My parents are going to be able to put in a TV and cable in their bathroom, visible even from the little toilet closet, and great for lounging in the tub. You can just barely see the outlets above the master closet in this picture. It's great that there are outlets near the ceiling for the plugs and cable so it can be mounted up high. Consider ceiling outlets for this or other things you may need to plug up high, like a projector in a media/bonus room. (double posted from Master)
Living/Bonus Area
  1. Plan for wiring of TVs, especially if over the fireplace. - downsy (My note: This is so important! My parents' hearth room/family room has a beautiful chimney-less gas fireplace and it has what reminds me of a central vac hookup behind where the TV will go, for use whether or not you wall mount it. It creates a tube from the TV to a similar opening hidden inside a built-in cabinet to the side [beautiful bookshelves!] at the bottom with doors to hide the receiver box, DVD player, any gaming consoles, etc., and there's an outlet in there, as well as above the mantle.)
  2. Floor electrical outlets in family room for lamps in open concepts. - peytonroad (My note: My mom was super nervous that they'd bought this house without double-checking that the hearth room had floor outlets for lamps since it's their first open-concept, but it does. It has to be unscrewed, too, for safety, which is good because I have a little one that will crawl around over here a lot.)
  3. If you go with any ceiling fans that have remotes, make them try them out. We put in two fans in the great room that would be controlled together by the same remote and then also put one in the master bedroom that would be controlled by a different remote. Unfortunately, at first, the living room remote would turn on the light in the master bedroom, etc. I don't think the fix was very difficult, but wasn't one we would have wanted to trouble shoot on our own at a later date. - aa62579
  4. My parents added a whole house sound system. They can play CDs, radio, or hook up an iPod with it. There are then speakers in most of the rooms, the garage and the deck where the music can be listened to (there are also separate knobs to control the volume in each space). - dmpeterson (My note: Perhaps digital controls instead of knobs, and install too panels that are linked so you can control upstairs and down, if possible?)
  5. Run plumbing for a bar in your bonus room/entertaining area, wherever, just in case. - farmerswife6558
Outside and Garage

  1. Run wire and prepare roof for future solar power. - Laura12
  2. I would run conduit under your driveway just in case you need to run wiring or plumbing in the future. - amtrucker22
  3. If you decorate outside for the holidays, plugs under the eaves that are controlled by a switch inside are nice. - aa62579
  4. If your husband works out in the garage, consider adding a separate 20a circuit with outlets at waist height wherever he might need to plug in tools. I also put a dedicated 20a circuit for the tv and a/v equipment. - chiefneil
  5. Pre-wire speakers outdoors. - dyno
  6. Garden outlets/power, water line. - dyno
  7. Motion sensor pre-wire for selected exterior lights - dyno
  8. Gas line to grill on deck. - peytonroad
  9. Exterior gas piping -- not only for grill, but also for a potential outdoor fire pit or other fire feature, increasingly popular in landscape design. Another reason to bring your landscape designer in at the front end. - KarenSantaFe
  10. Phone or emergency button in garage. I was recently injured and when in rehab unit at hospital, there were three women there who had fallen in or near their garage, and had to drag their bodies (broken pelvis, broken hip, broken hip and leg, respectively), into the house and to a phone to get help. Took each of them an hour of pure hell. They had to do it, because it was winter and if they waited for help, they would have frozen to death in their unheated garages. - KarenSantaFe
  11. In addition to recording the locations of wires and pipes in the walls, try to measure the location of anything under the slab, and various utilities out in the yard. You never know when you need to dig them up, or what areas to avoid when you start digging that swimming pool or garden pond. - flgargoyle
  12. Have Sparky run 220V to the garage. I ran it for welders, air compressor, tools, etc. However with the future of plug-in hybrids, having charging capacity already in your garage will definitely be something you might appreciate in the future. - kcmo_ken
  13. Something that was in the sketches, but the builder ended up not putting in (and my parents have always still wished for) was a drain in the garage to get rid of the excess water quicker from vehicles after it snows or what-not. - dmpeterson However: A garage drain is a good idea, but not code legal in many areas. Check before you build. - flgargoyle
  14. Don't forget to add a gas or electrical line to the top of your mailbox for a lamp post to make sure people don't hit it in the middle of the night either! I'd also throw some LED lights that shine on the house number onto the box. - LouisianaHome
  15. I wish we had plumbed for a built-in drinking fountain, especially for the kids and future grandkids--an extra one outside or in the garage or back porch or something from backyard would also be nice when they are playing outside in the summer. The number of cups used for just a quick drink get ridiculous and especially for large family gatherings... We have to settle for lots of labeled cups but I would rather have avoided this... - garnerstamps
  16. If you do central vac, put an outlet in the garage so you can vacuum the cars out, clean up sawdust, even vacuum the pets. - gr8day
  17. TV and Internet cabling for the garage (especially if you spend any time in the garage). - storyofmylife
  18. If it's up to code, add heat to your garage. My parents smoke in theirs (instead of the house) and even in the South it can get cold. Also consider A/C for that same reason.
  19. If you have a crawl space foundation, be sure to add lights down there for workers (plumbers, etc.) who will at some point need to work under your house! - graceful_garden
  20. Consider a storm shelter to weather the threats your area faces. We have a tornado room in the basement under the front porch. Very little expense for great peace of mind. - brianstreehouse (My note: First thing, look at this brilliant idea for a storm shelter/panic room. Second thing, we unfortunately live in Memphis, the Delta area. Being this close to the Mississippi there are no basements. At all. Even a sunken fire pit in the garage can't happen. The only reason we have pools is because the weight of the water keeps the concrete from popping out of the ground because of the water in the ground pushing it up. It's ridiculousness. Consider reinforcing an interior closet or making a dedicated panic room/storm shelter that is above ground if you live in a similar environment.)
  21. Add cabinets and countertops to your garage. This makes for such a clean looking garage, and a great working area for potting plants, or a small woodworking project, or car repair. It's worth buying some weatherproof cabinets and plan the garage as part of the home, so that the bill is put into the mortgage payment, and not directly out of your checking account. - JasonH123
  22. Create a sliding storage system on your garage ceiling. I can really only explain this by just linking you. It's awesome.
  23. Be sure if you have a raised deck/terrace or a large backyard to put extra hose bibs on there and in far areas. You will be so glad you did when you need to hose off the terrace or patio furniture or water far plants without repeatedly refilling a watering can. I also put in a hot/cold hose bib outside our porch door. Good for washing doggies after they go swimming (our neighborhood fronts a river)! Moen makes an attractive one. - athensmomof3
  24. Related to above: Multiple faucets on the outside. I believe my new house has 4, so that basically each side of the house has one near. - aa62579 (My note: Consider double-faucets or two per side. Makes it nice when you want to run a sprinkler but also might need the hose to spray things, or might want to run two sprinklers at a time in the same general, over-lapping area.)
  25. In-wall insect control, or a mosquito system. It's a system of tubes and pipes installed in your walls that automatically mist mosquito spray along the outside perimeter of your house and wherever else you choose to put a spray pump. This is one of those things I really wish I knew about earlier! Apparently the spray can help combat other flying insects such as wasps (which I absolutely hate...) and flies. Here's a couple of cool links about the system: and - LouisianaHome
  26. My suggestion is adding a mailbox sensor. They basically sense whenever your mailbox is opened so that you're not running out of the house checking for mail when it's not there. When your mail arrives and the door opens, a sensor inside the box sends an audio signal inside the house to indicate mail arrival. As cool as this is (here's a cool link to one of those...), I would prefer something hardwired instead. Perhaps something like an additional doorbell inside the box that you can ask your mailman to push whenever he drops off the mail. I find this especially important with increases identity theft and mailbox vandalism. - LouisianaHome
  27. While we're at the mailbox, if you do decide to go for a brick one, make sure that you look into getting a mailbox liner. They allow you to easily replace your mailbox if it's damaged in the future without having to rip out or redo bricks (when I was out of town for two days, some kid decided to throw a large fire cracker role into my mailbox when it had mail in it and burn not only all the mail, but the entire inside of the box. Because it's a brick mailbox, it's impossible to just replace, and I can't find the bricks used on the mailbox anywhere). - LouisianaHome
  28. We live in bear country so I'd like to plan a little covered niche for bear spray at/near each entry. You'd be surprised how many bears break in! - melaska
  29. I think if I lived in snow/ice areas that I'd want a heated drive/walk way. We have no use for it where I live now, but was nice in Sweden. - lyfia
  30. Enclose the soffit and vinyl-wrap the fascia! (The part under the roof and at the edge of the roof line where the gutters attach.) Many new builders charge extra for this. DO IT! Otherwise, you will spend years hating the unfinished look, removing bird & wasp nests, and hours painting trim that could easily have been maintenance free with vinyl. Also, it costs twice as much to do after the house is built. - mpacino
  31. Hire your landscape designer along with your architect and contractor. Have the three work as a team FROM THE BEGINNING. You will save yourself all kinds of headaches, and the landscape plan can maximize savings. Like if your contractor is digging a trench, the irrigation, outdoor wiring and such can be laid in the same trench. Stones can be harvested from the construction site for later use in building garden walls, pathways, etc. Land grading can happen when the heavy equipment is on site, instead of bringing the back-hoe back in. Certain plants and trees can be marked to "save," giving your garden a head start. Most importantly, a landscape designer can help to situate your house on the property to maximize views, maximize outdoor land use, and save energy. Plus you get a more cohesive indoor/outdoor flow. - KarenSantaFe
  32. Consider using vegetables and fruit trees in the landscape - oceandweller
  33. Consider adding an underground cistern and connect the gutter downspouts fill the cistern. Its a great way to save water. You can put in a small pump connected to a hose that allows you to water the grass or plants without having to use city water or well water. Harness the power of rain water. - JasonH123
  34. Covered porches/patios need ceiling fans! Even if you don't wall it into a sunroom, it'll still be good to keep that area cool. It's huge here in the South now.
  35. Also, think about a nice covered back patio. Not just a pergola, but something built with the house's roof incorporated. It'll help down the road if you wall it or screen it, and it's very attractive open.
  36. Consider where you will put your large garbage and recycling cans - you may want a "pad" for them to avoid soft ground/mud and also a little fenced area to hide them. - JNEJNEJNEJNE (My note: My parents' new HOA says they can't be visible from the street during the week [but require see-through iron fences...] and they did not plan out a place to put them that's easy to roll out for pick-up, like they did with some of the other houses in the neighborhood [different builders]. They'll probably end up breaking the rules and seeing if they actually care. lol)
  37. How about an outdoor shower by the pool?
  38. Think about laying out your back door so you come in onto tile near a bathroom for easy changes after swimming or to run in quickly to use the toilet without getting carpet wet. Or even have a door straight into a large bathroom, if your master is next to the backyard exterior wall (and you don't mind people using your master).
  39. How about a fun fingerprint deadbolt system? No more digging for your keys!
Kids and Pets

  1. Plan a specific place for your dog food, treats, and bowls. I forgot to plan for furnace vents, so once cuts were made by out builders, there was less open floor space for bowls and such. With a 65-pound English Bulldog, the bowls are pretty big. folkvictorian (My note: Problem solved!)
  2. Place for the kitty box. - lavender_lass
  3. Consider an entire pet room or area, complete with dog shower! This could be indoor (garage or somewhere inside) or outdoor. Please click through and see it, because it's awesome!
  4. Instead of a dog shower, there's also a smaller version that's a pet sink for bathing them, built in the laundry room. I just recently found this and it looks awesome!
  5. Maybe a dog cave under the stairs? At the point where it's too short to run a closet? I love it!
  6. We are putting an exhaust fan in the laundry room for our indoor cat's litterbox. - wvmama
  7. Plan in-advance for dog/cat doors. Needs to be someplace unobtrusive. Also don't cheap out on this, the cheap ones get dirty and break down. There are "step-through" dog doors that are better for you pet, especially as they age. Make sure it has a double weather curtain. - KarenSantaFe
  8. For people with kids, grandkids, or even pets, half-door pocket doors to block off stairways, hall or rooms. - hiphomemaker (My note: This is the perfect segue into this awesome idea that is pretty much the same thing, but for areas where a pocket door wouldn't work.)
  9. Consider an awesome slide into a basement playroom for the kids! (And not just for the kids...)

Miscellaneous Electrical (Wiring and Plugs), Lighting, Venting, and Plumbing
  1. Solar tubes in areas that don't get natural sunlight - Laura12
  2. Prewire security system - Laura12
  3. My contractor friend said one thing he learned to do was run a 2" pvc pipe from basement straight up to attic, for any future wiring to second floor. - andry
  4. I put plugs in several closets for charging a cordless vacuum. This isn't something you need if you have a central vac (we decided against one) but maybe it will help others. - athensmomof3
  5. Plan where your furnace vents should go, instead of letting the builder decide. We have a sliding glass door in our bedroom, and the vents went on either side of the opening -- just where curtains hang. So we can either have our warm furnace air go up into the folds of the curtains or we can put plastic vent covers on the vents to direct the air out and over the floor underneath the bed. - folkvictorian
  6. One thing [my parents who are moving into a new house] have been very pleased with is having a switch to the attic in the hallway. The attic is just for storage, but much easier to turn on/off light from down below. - aa62579 And as noted by athensmomof3, make sure there's an attic light at all!
  7. There are also a few electrical outlets up [in the attic] in case you ever wanted a fan or radio, etc. while you were working up there. - aa62579
  8. If you have two doors into the same room, make sure you have a light switch for that room at each door. downsy (My note: That's one thing the last house had an A+ in and this one gets a low D. I've always been afraid of the night, especially when alone, and would create a trail of light with me: turn on one light, cross through, turn on the next while turning off the previous light. This house does not have enough light switches.)
  9. Double conduits from attic to basement. - dyno
  10. Soundproofing where needed (we did laundry room/bedroom wall) - dyno
  11. Identify area for low voltage can/rack (alarm brain, network server, modems, routers, etc). Helps to have this stuff accessible. - dyno
  12. HEPA filtration for allergy sufferers. - dyno
  13. Pre-wire for generator to essential areas. - peytonroad
  14. Carbon monoxide unit on wall somewhere upstairs. - peytonroad
  15. Pre-wire for future security cameras. - homiha
  16. I love the generator idea someone else mentioned, being able to plug that in at the breaker box area to run the whole house. - KarenSantaFe
  17. We get quite a few power outages. What's not fun is being suddenly plunged into total darkness when it goes out in the winter. We got some of those power outage flashlights at Costco that plug into an outlet to keep charged. Place them in strategic places and enough outlets to support them. - melaska
  18. One thing my dad did when building the house was take pictures of all the walls before Sheetrock went up so you knew where all the wiring was in case you needed to add or change anything. It was helpful when our builder was about to cut the outlet hole in the wrong spot. - aep327
  19. One thing we discussed with our builder that then fell off the radar was using cast iron pipes for the plumbing drops from the second floor. (We tried to be thorough about putting everything in writing, but we missed this one.) I really wanted a quiet house, and the whooshing water sound in certain areas of the house when an upstairs toilet is flushed has been a disappointment. - jeff2718
  20. A master switch at each exit (Front, back or garage), that turns off all of the power to the switches/lights in the house, so that you can turn off all lights without going to each room and/or light switch. - Ms.MB
  21. IN FLOOR HEATING IN ALL YOUR HARD FLOOR! Or at least tile, because I feel like my mom said something about not being able to do it in her hardwood.
  22. Install loop under foundation and run pipe up to the attic should you find you need radon remediation. Very inexpensive to do before the foundation is poured...much more expensive afterward. We found we needed ours and were glad we had it. - AnnieDeighnaugh
  23. Insulate under the basement floor to keep basement warmer and more comfortable. - AnnieDeighnaugh
  24. Put in stair lights. - farmerswife6558
  25. TV jacks anywhere you think you might want one. - farmerswife6558
  26. A central and unobtrusive location in the house to set up your wireless router. Usually the wireless units are set up on one end of the house and the signal is too weak to be picked up on the other end of the house. My contractor suggests hiding it in the entry/foyer closet (so need to put in an outlet and an ethernet connection there). - storyofmylife
  27. Consider multiple W/D hook-ups for laundry on more than one level. Or, of course, laundry chutes.
  28. One thing I had in my last house that will certainly be in my new build is an electric air filter on my furnace. I hardly ever had to dust! It was worth its weight in gold. - phoggie
  29. I put a wall switch in each room linked up to all the power outlets (except one or two) so that all the things that can be turned off at the wall when you're not going to use them for a few hours (lamps, tvs, radios, etc.) can be flicked off when you leave the room. Great energy saver. - Cornflake-Girl
  30. Ceiling fans! I live in Memphis. You need them. I lived in Colorado, too, the opposite climate pretty much, and many houses didn't come with A/C, they only had fans. They're great, whatever the climate, to help you keep your temperature down and your bill cheap(er). And I've been told you can reverse the direction they spin so it helps make your room warmer in the winter? I don't know, I never figured it out on my fans.
  31. Take special care in placing your thermostats - our open-plan home has the upstairs one in a hall, open to the stairs and foyer at either end. Our bedrooms are kept closed because of pets and their temperatures are drastically different from the hall, which is subject to the heat rising from the downstairs. - JNEJNEJNEJNE
  32. Where possible, make electrical outlets recess into the wall so plugs don't stick out from the wall and keep you from placing furniture flat. I had a picture for this, but I don't know what happened to it.
  33. For dry climates consider whole-house humidifier. - rhodes2010
Miscellaneous Storage, Cleaning, and Space Issues

  1. Full size broom cupboard in pantry or laundry room to hide all the cleaning items away from sight. - Laura12
  2. Central Vac with vac pans. - Laura12 (My note: My mom had a central vac [not vac pans, though] in their old house, but it didn't work well. Many of the hook-ups for the hose ended up behind furniture when we moved in and having the lug out the hose and head with its cord was a pain. It also horrible suction for a while before just dying. We used it sometimes in the kitchen or hardwood foyer/dining room, and never bothered lugging it upstairs. Consider a hose per floor and careful planning for hook-up locations. Someone also mentioned a "Hide a Hose," but didn't go into great detail except that it has to be installed before the walls are closed up, so look into that.)
  3. Dedicated storage for Christmas/holiday decorations. - lavender_lass Related: In our second build, we put in a "seasonal closet". It has hangers for wreaths from floor to ceiling and makes changing decorations with the seasons soooooo simple and quick. It's also big enough for rubbermaid boxes and the Christmas tree to slide into. - Herewegoagain
  4. Always more closet/linen space than you think you'll need. - lavender_lass
  5. We keep adding pocket doors. For so many places it just makes more sense. - Mom23Es
  6. Dryer vent lint trap. It's secondary filter placed in-line with the discharge venting from your dryer and serves to keep the venting clean. The longer or more convoluted the dryer vent run, the more necessary - fire hazard concerns and all. You can certainly get by without one but every situation is different. - dyno
  7. Receptacles for fire extinguishers. Maybe plan some cutouts so they are flush to the wall. - melaska
  8. Secure gun storage. - melaska (My note: This is such a good idea to consider during building! A built-in gun cabinet with a key or keypad entry, rather than a piece of furniture that has to take up further space. If you have rifles/shotguns, build a cabinet in your master closet or coat closet behind a clothes bar so you can hide it behind the clothes. Am I making any sense?)
  9. A space-saver: stacked stairs. It means five to seven steps, landing, five to seven the other direction. Our landing has a large window and a bench, which has chests shoved under it. - Jannineish
  10. An ante-room, with coatracks and shoe storage, and a way to keep the heat in. - Jannineish
  11. A true laundry room. Consider a utility sink, counters/tables for folding, etc., built-in rod(s) for hanging clothes or empty hangers (and put them HIGH! Don't let your dresses touch the floor!), etc.
  12. Think about a drain in the floor of your laundry room in case of drippage or leaking appliances, God forbid.
  13. Block in a solid structure around windows behind the drywall for good support for curtain rods and heavy, black-out curtains. - brianstreehouse
  14. Consider a removable handrail/balcony system for moving in and out large furniture/mattresses. Here is a link melaska posted.
  15. If you want a safe for valuables, have the builder save you some space between wall studs or floor joists to accommodate such a safe. Its hidden, and built in, so no one is going to be able to take it. - seattlecosmo
  16. We reinforced with wood in the walls where we thought towel bars would go. No pulling them out through the drywall for us! - rnmomof2
  17. A central and unobtrusive location in the house to set up your wireless router. Usually the wireless units are set up on one end of the house and the signal is too weak to be picked up on the other end of the house. My contractor suggests hiding it in the entry/foyer closet (so need to put in an outlet and an ethernet connection there). - storyofmylife (double posted from Electrical)
  18. Make your laundry room upper cabinets high enough to put washer and dryers on pedestals. Extra storage and easier on your back.
  19. Think about some custom under-stairs storage that isn't a cupboard. This is my personal favorite.
  20. Or you can make some (or all) of your steps on your stairs into drawers!
  21. If you have enough bedrooms, consider a dedicated office with a built-in desk. How about a cute his-and-hers thing? Could also work for teenaged siblings.
  22. Use a towel rod on the inside of doors for blanket or towel storage.
Universal Design (Handicap Accessible)
  1. Make choices that are handicapped accessible. You never know when life will change for a family member for a recovery or a lifetime. Having an entry, bedroom/bathroom accessible or easily converted may make your home more suitable for you and also open a market to you in case of resale. - brianstreehouse
  2. As far as planning for future wheel-chair needs or such, if you have more than one floor, it's a good idea to plan an elevator shaft in case you want to install one later. For now, it means we have 2 small storage closets, but would be fairly inexpensive to install an elevator later. You can always plan to install one of those electric stair lifts, but you should at least think about your preference on the 2 options and plan for the possibility to make it easier. - garnerstamps
  3. For those getting older, or who have elderly relatives who will visit, don't forget to add a grab bar in each shower. - seattlecosmo More: Grab bars. Vertical and horizontal. DON'T cheap out on this. There are grab bars that rip right out of the wall if you are falling, which is when you really need them to work. Grab bars are rated -- get the ones that are "official" for handicapped use, and have professionally installed. Also, get the kind that are scored on the metal. The smooth ones are hard to grip. - KarenSantaFe
  4. 36" wide doors. I hated banging my elbows when carrying a laundry basket into the bedroom. And it helps with future wheelchair access if needed. - Parachuting
  5. Stairs: make the rise 3"-4" instead of 6". As people age, stairs become an issue. With shallow stair steps, it's more accessible for you and potential home buyers. - KarenSantaFe

  1. This isn't a "thing" for the house, but I suggest making copies of all product manuals prior to installation of equipment, finishes and fixtures. During my build, the subs almost never kept the installation/instruction manuals for things they installed (think plumbing fixtures, light fixtures, appliances, fireplace, steam unit, etc.). They did the install and threw then away. If you can, make copies prior to installation and give the builder the copies so you can keep the originals. - tooskinneejs
  2. When the contractor puts down the plywood subflooring, be sure that you request him to use screws, and no nails! I can't tell you how noisy the floor in my house is with creeks and pops. The edge of the plywood should align over a floor joist so that it does not flex or bend and make sounds as it ages. - JasonH123 (My note: They did this in my mom's new house. It means that the wood flooring is higher than the other floor, though. I have one picture that I took where you can see it. If you look to the left of the bottom of the staircase you will see the wood floor and the rise. It's weird, but easy enough to get used to. My mom said this will also make it so it can be sanded and refinished over the years.)
  3. Put a shelf over a window and use the shelf brackets to hold a curtain rod. It's genius and beautiful and gives a completely finished off look. Thanks, Martha Stewart!