Thursday, April 2, 2009

So what would be in your dream home?

When we were interviewing architects, one asked us what mood we wanted for this new house of ours. We were really stumped at the time but I think we have figured it out now. We want a house that is fun to live in for adults as well as for children. I basically want this to feel like summer camp, all year long! My husband works from home as a computer consultant and we are going to homeschool our children, so we are going to spend a LOT of time in and around this place!

So we started looking at architecture and design books, magazines, web sites and TV shows. A building philosophy that really resonated with us was Sarah Suzanka's "Not so big house". She really emphasizes good architecture as opposed to BIG architecture. So we've decided we want to build the smallest house we will be comfortable in. Now this being said, we do work and school at home on top of eating and sleeping there so it can't be TOO small.

Now let's see, what rooms do we need in this house (or spaces around it)?

1- a country style kitchen. For me, that means the kitchen, dining and living areas all in the same room.
2- a good sized kitchen pantry.
3- a big room that we can use as a school room that is visually connected to the kitchen. I want to be able to invite a bunch of other families to do regular activities with this room as the activity center. I also want this room to be our playroom when it is not "school" time. My husband, a hobby painter, would like to use this room to host art workshops and art shows. He would also like to host poker tournaments with his friends in this same room. In case you are following all of this, you might have come to the conclusion that we need a lot of storage for this room so we can put things away between activities.
4- a root cellar
5- a kick-ass laundry room! (where I can actually hang clothes to dry any time of the year) I want it to have easy access to a clothes line.
6- a master bedroom that is big enough for a king size bed, 2 side tables and a couple chairs.
7- 2 kids bedrooms that could be sectioned off in the future to make 4 bedrooms. (we have 2 boys now and are expecting a girl in June + we would really like a 4th child)
8- a soundproof office (for my husband) that is big enough to double as his studio (so he needs lots of storage for his paints and canvases)
9- space for guests to stay but we would prefer not to have a dedicated room that is used for nothing else.
10- one toilet per floor but not more than that (composting toilets are not cheap!). One full bathroom for the whole house.
11- a greenhouse where I can grow food all year round.
12- a mudroom
13- a garage for our 2 cars
14- easily accessible storage for outdoor toys, bikes and small ATV.
15- easily accessible storage for wood that we will use to heat the house when the sun is not shining.
16- a direct access to the kitchen garden.
17- a garden shed
18- a workshop
19- a pool
20- a planned area for eventual easy expansion of the house (you never know)
21- a garden
22- an orchard
23- a nut grove
24- a bridge across our river
25- an outhouse
26- a mail centre (back in the house)
27- a recycling/composting/garbage centre
28- lots of storage for seasonal accessories (camping stuff, Christmas decorations...) as well as clothes that are between sizes for the children
29- A usable attic
30- You know what I would love? A secret door! You know like in the movies, where you pull a book and the bookcase opens to reveal a hallway? That would be so cool! It probably won't make it because of our construction budget but I thought I would mention it anyway. : )

What do we want out of this house?

1- We want it to be a healthy and safe place to live and to raise our children.
2- We want it to help us be somewhat self sufficient (power and food)
3- We want it to let us transition easily from indoors to outdoors. I'm not sure how to do this other than to have floors that do not get damaged by keeping our shoes on all the time. Maybe a nice sized covered porch or even a screened in porch would help with this. An outdoor kitchen would be nice, a sheltered place to BBQ all year round would be wonderful!
4- We want it to be a fun place to live.
5- We don't want the construction or the inhabitation of this house to have a negative impact on the environment. (or as limited an impact as is possible)

Well, this was a bit of a brain storming post... Please feel free to contribute to my brain storming and I will edit it on a future date.

So what would be in your dream home?


  1. hey Gen
    my dream home would have
    wood floors recycled from other sources
    on demand hot water tank
    solar panels / off grid / generator back up
    pelet stove
    huge windows facing south
    composting toilet
    wrap around porch, partially screened in for spring bugs
    it would be a log home
    two children per room + ours, = 3 bedrooms in all(upstairs)
    one living space for reading/music/quiet activites
    one large space for play/home learning/computers
    one office space for business
    large eat in kichen - no dining room

    outside, apple trees, plum trees/pear trees
    no pool, but badminton nets, hammocks under trees and a tree fort

    we currently have a garage, but our van doesn't fit in it (house built pre-van era) so it's our storage space for all work/sport/camp misc items.
    I could live without a garage for the car - seems trivial to have a room for a vehicle, but i do love the space for all my work stuff.
    I would love to have it insulated, and turn it into a garage band space for the kids when they are teens.

    even with four children we find three bedrooms enough, they want to be together and I'd rather make more use of communal space rather than sleep space
    *sigh* it won't be happening in this lifetime for us

  2. A kick-ass laundry room! Ha! I laughed out loud for that one! But I totally agree!

  3. Regarding having a laundry room where you can hang clothes to dry at any time of the year --

    I take it from point 15 that you also plan on using a woodstove(?) My husband built a drying rack beside our woodstove (our sole source of heating our house). The rack lays flat against the wall when not in use; it is hooked to a chain hanging from the ceiling to hold it in a horizontal position for use. Items dry quite quickly in the winter on this beside the stove! And when the weather is suitable, we use the clothesline outdoors. I guess some might say it's not as convenient as a dryer...but all you have to do is plan ahead, and keep up with the laundry. It saves a ton of money on electricity, and is far better for the clothes smell so good coming off the clothesline!

  4. Hi Gen, We have 50 acres of land with a 'fixer' upper house. We have owned this property for over 10 years now, while living in inner Ottawa and will be moving permanently in the fall. We are hoping to do a straw bale addition using ideally bales grown on our property. Our house is solely heated (very well) by a vermont casting wood stove. As times continue to get 'harder' it makes sense to be as self sufficient as possible and as local as possible. We have lots of ideas and resources, feel free to contact us once we get back after may 12th. Claudia