My mom and I went house hunting together recently (before Jeff and I decided that we want to rent for a while after we sell our house), and talked about how to decide which features are the most important when searching for a home.
For those who don’t know my mom, she is an interior designer and owned a design and home decor boutique for a few years. You can find her on Instagram as bungalowboutique, where she shares design trends she loves as well as pictures of her own beautiful home, which she designed and had custom built in Heber, UT.
And I’m offering you that little background on Mama Bear so you can appreciate how seriously we take her advice when it comes to house matters. It’s one of those topics where you can just rest assured that she’s right, even if you don’t see it or get it at the time. It’s her thing.
See? That’s my mom’s kitchen. She’s amazing. All the photos in this post are from her instagram.
Anyway, while we were out house hunting together, she mentioned that she thinks a lot of her taste in home design/architecture/decor was developed as a result of having moved 20+ times during her adult life. She got to experience life in dozens of different neighborhoods, different regions of the country, different home layouts, different eras of home building (from a 200-year old farmhouse in rural New York to a brand new craftsman bungalow here in Utah). She got to decorate and renovate home after home after home, which gave her the chance to experiment with different styles and figure out what exactly works best for her.
Thinking back on the places Jeff and I have lived as a couple (although there haven’t been a vast number of them), I came up with a few house opinions of my own based on places we’ve lived.
- Our very first apartment (which was roughly 12 square feet total) taught us that we would sure prefer to have more than 1 room to live in. Let’s not get crazy, we don’t need a mini-mansion, but it sure was a treat to leave that apartment and not have to sit shoulder-to-shoulder in the same room.
- Our second place, a townhouse in Iowa where we lived while Jeff was in chiropractic school, provided tons more space than our first apartment, but was a lesson in our preference for updated living spaces. Our townhouse was built in the 70s and nothing had ever been replaced or updated in the past 40 years. We weren’t thrilled with mustard yellow floral linoleum, dark and dingy kitchen cabinetry, or glitter fleck countertops in our bathrooms. The increase in square footage was a great change for us, but we learned how hard it can be to decorate an out of date space to make it feel fresh.
- We also learned from our Iowa townhouse that we love being close to walking/biking trails. Within half a block of home, we could hop onto beautiful winding trails, and hardly a day went by in decent weather that we didn’t take advantage of those trails for jogs or bike rides or walks with baby Forrest in the stroller. We currently live right on another walking trail, and use it nearly every day.
- During all this renting, I realized how much I missed having color on the walls. I’m far from wild when it comes to my color choices, but even the subtle paint colors in our current house feel like such a welcome change after years of white. I’ve seen lots of homes where people make white walls work. But I prefer a little color, however soft.
- When we moved back to Utah, we spent a year renting a basement apartment in one of the wealthier towns in our area. We had a hard time making friends there, and we never felt very welcomed or connected at church. Our feeling of being excluded certainly could have had something to do with the fact that we were short-term renters (we probably weren’t as friendly as we would have been if we planned to stay). But we definitely felt out of place in that wealthy neighborhood, and when we moved to our current town we vastly preferred the general feel here. It made us wonder . . . even if we have the money someday to buy a house in a ritzy area . . . do we want that?
- Very surprisingly, that basement apartment rental had fabulous natural light (a perk I never expected from a basement). I also loved that the kitchen, dining area, and living room all shared one huge space, so when it was time for us to look for a house, I ranked natural light and an open floor plan pretty highly on my list of priorities.
- In nearly every place we’ve lived, our laundry room has been as far as it possibly could be from the bedrooms. This seems like crap planning. Why not do the laundry where the clothes are kept? I’d love to end up in a house that has a laundry room closer to the bedrooms. I’m getting a bit tired of dragging laundry baskets up and down two flights of stairs.
What are some features you’ve come to love/hate based on places you’ve lived?