While watching a lopsided college basketball game on television four days after Christmas, I began searching the Internet for creative recreational-property house plans. Would we consider a smaller place in the sun when our youngest child finally got out of school? If so, how would we use an actual second residence -- and would it eventually become our primary home? What features and furniture would I consider to be "must haves" and what furnishings would be designated to the "wish list"? My aching knees would appreciate a first-floor bedroom but could we keep that space far enough away from the kids' late-night visits to the kitchen and family room? Most importantly, how would we finance the place? Would there be any dimes left when the academic world is behind us? While deep into a next-home dreamland, my wife appeared with a measuring tape and enough energy to remodel our present home in one afternoon. The doorbell soon rang and her friend bounced in with a boatload of i...
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