As a child, all vacations were arranged to coincide with a Street of Dreams or Tour of Homes event. Sure, my brother and I thought we were going to Disney World and the crocodile farm, but that was after we took a look at the best housing Orlando had to offer. I thought we would fare better in Europe, but when we got home dad made us watch his video: two hours of crossbeams and stone masonry. (Note: Dad is a builder.)
I knew then: It is my fate. I tour new construction. And whether visiting a new-home event in Oregon or Florida, there are some things that seemingly never change. And I’ve decided to share with builders, designers and architects and all of you: a top 10 list of new-home pet peeves. (Some of these design flaws are apparent in "used" homes, too.)
Fix these glaring errors and I guarantee real estate agents can sell that house faster.
1. The master suite bathtub. I am a fairly athletic girl — a veritable elliptical genius. I can even tandem-cycle 20 miles. But one thing I can’t do is catapult naked over 4 feet of decorative tiles into a soaking tub tucked into a bay window. Getting high-centered on that gorgeous Italian travertine is a potential risk I won’t take. So here’s a thought: Move the tub closer to the people trying to get in it; or a step would help; or a small trampoline.
2. Mirror, mirror, on the wall. I can’t see anything. I am in the powder room, pretending to wash my hands after pretending to use the bathroom, and nope — I can see only my forehead. This would be OK, if my forehead needed washing or a reapplication of foundation. However, most days I think I’d rather take a quick glance at … oh, my face.
3. Placement of the powder room. Even some of the most exclusive mansions get this one wrong. The door to the powder room should not be visible from the kitchen or living room, nor should it share one of those area’s walls. The last thing your guest wants to think about is being timed in the restroom, or — God forbid — being heard in the restroom. Awkward!
4. Master closets. I realize that not all homes have the square footage to make the master closet an homage to clothing. But I think it’s essential that there should be some space in the master suite area (if not the closet) for an ironing board and a full-length mirror. There should also be a light. One step better would be a source of natural light. That’s not so elementary, is it?
5. Electrical plugs and light switches. Of all the things on this list, nothing irks me more than a master bathroom countertop with one electrical plug. The next-worst thing is when that singular electrical plug is on the wall next to a sink, giving me a full 2 inches in which to set my hair dryer down. Or, string the cord across the sink. Think of all the things we plug in that stay on the counter: toothbrushes, electric shavers, magnifying mirrors, phone chargers — even coffeemakers. One switch ain’t gonna cut it! (And please give me more counter space.)
6. Doors of giants. (Note: This comment does not apply to professional basketball players.) Getting lost in a door frame twice my height is daunting! Who are these 8-foot-tall doors for? Until this size differential is normalized, I’ll keep a sharp eye out for "Wonderland" candy bowls marked "Eat This" and vials of gem-colored liquid marked "Drink This."
7. Goliath’s kitchen. Grandiosity can be breathtaking. Some kitchens make you utterly melt — ahhh — the antiqued custom-scrolled cabinets, the glistening stone countertops, the wide-plank barn-wood floors. Take a picture! But then I get closer … and realize that I’m out of scale! Darn it! The countertop is right about armpit level (and I’m 5 feet 4 inches). Procuring a drinking glass and dinnerware would necessitate a small 6-foot stepladder. Does the home also come with that? Who will give me a leg-up when I’m trying to wash the center of the island? Impact-design is lost on me when it loses functionality.
8. The glass shower centerpiece. This one always makes me laugh. Because no matter how sexy you are, I’m sorry, nobody looks good squatting, bending and stretching all the way around a shower trying to squeegee 150 square feet of glass every morning. Some things are just better unseen. And remind me, why is it in the very middle of the bathroom?
9. The invisible laundry room. I wish my laundry room were invisible. I really do! But it’s not. I sadly spend more time in it than any other room of the house. Hours! Endless hours!
So I have two points here:
- First of all, do not position the laundry as a walk-through from garage to home. The last thing I need is muddy shoes, rain jackets and sporting equipment thrown haphazardly in my way when I’m trying to get stuff done.
- Secondly, do not put the laundry room down the stairs, across the auto mall, and in the furthest compass point from the bedroom. This just doesn’t make sense! No sense! Unless you have a maid. But even then, the maid would be left questioning the design, too.
10. Bedrooms unite! Lastly, I just want to call a halt to the hallway that leads to three or four bedrooms, all clustered together like peanut brittle. I’ve seen some major improvements in this category, but we still have to work together to ensure adults have their privacy. And a locked door. Down a hall no one knows about. Ever.
Well, there you have it! Foolproof, I tell you. Design is the essence of a great home. And real estate agents have an easier time selling great homes.