Intelligent Design Ideas

arsenalfanMarch 13, 2012

First GW Post! We are building a new old farmhouse design, and I greatly appreciate the crowd-sourced wisdom and experience shared here.

As we finish the design phase, I want to be sure we've considered all the neat home features out there. I think about buying our last car which came with keyless entry - we thought it was unnecessary, but wife now finds it essential.

Like that (or an Apple product) I want our home to be full of "wow, someone thought about this" concepts, that are helpful. Emphasis on thoughtful, not neccesarily techy.

I've read the excellent recent discussion that had 7-8 links to "what you can't live without" and "big mistakes" and "2 yrs later - what would you do different/same", and am going more for the 1-2 things that reflect design thought and make their houses a home.

I'll go first, knock out the low-hanging fruit, and show what I'm thinking about:

1. Big Mudroom - everyone's opinion is different, but it will be off garage, have lockers, next to laundry, half bath. Yet to find a shoe storage option I like (hold 8 pairs per person, wife has boots, want them paired up and not in a basket, but also not staring at a wall of shoes.

2. Unique kitchen cabinetry: The list here could be huge and is very personal. Beyond spice racks/appliance garages/all lower cabinetry being drawers, we like: built-in towel holder to free up counter space; kitchen aid mixer stand mixer storage mechanism that brings it up (although we expect to take mixer off this, as using the mixer on high makes a vibrating racket on the mechanism); pots/pans slide-out drawers under our gas range-top (wife doesn't like hanging pots). Please share any novel kitchen storage ideas!

3. Counter-weighted pocket doors - pull right door open and left door opens the same amount as well. When we saw these in our builder's home, it was great - a not-obvious feature that, when you use it, immediately implies quality workmanship.

4. Shower ceiling light with built-in fan - looks great to hide fan entry; hopefully they work as well. And fan timer.

5. Closet door-jamb light switches. Clearly a "someone thought about this" feature. Didn't know about these until we saw them in a new home.

6. Kitchen island 5" mini-wall to hide kitchen mess. We have a 7'x13' island with farmhouse sink on one side and 6 stools on the other, and wanted to hide sink clutter. A 2-level island wasn't for us. So 6" beyond the sink we're putting up a 4" wide and 6" tall mini-wall that will run about 6 feet. Good ledge for flower vases and whatnot, can still talk to folks on stools, they have to crane to see what's in sink.

7. Master Bed Room switch to control the outdoor floods. Weird noise outside? Flip all the floods on.

8. Instant hot water. Ok, I cheated and this is techy, not so much design and more "what can't you live without." But an example of something we never thought we'd need until our current home came with it - now we love it as we're french press coffee/tea people.

9. Outdoor holiday light outlets. No more extension cords thru the garage/storm windows!

10. Outdoor grilling area gas and electric outlets - ok, I know, this is very basic and no-duh.

Cool but not for us:

1. Central vac with hide-a-hose and vacuum pans.

2. The lighting systems that have different schemes that let you light up different paths/turn everything off, etc.

Your turn, and thanks in advance!

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Awesome post.

Here's my dream mud room. There is a full bathroom in here with a shower and a big coat closet, so that those cubbies do not look like the cubbies in my house now. This room is accessed not through my garage, but through a separate door or side foyer. no one sees this room unless they walk into it.

#5 I have the jamb lights but only on my pantry, coat closets, and linen closets. I did not want them on my clothes closets as I knew that would force us to always close the doors--which would never happen.

#7 I love that idea. I am going to use it.

I could go on and on, but I won't.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 10:49AM
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Awesome post.

Here's my dream mud room. There is a full bathroom in here with a shower and a big coat closet, so that those cubbies do not look like the cubbies in my house now. This room is accessed not through my garage, but through a separate door or side foyer. no one sees this room unless they walk into it.

#5 I have the jamb lights but only on my pantry, coat closets, and linen closets. I did not want them on my clothes closets as I knew that would force us to always close the doors--which would never happen.

#7 I love that idea. I am going to use it.

I could go on and on, but I won't.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 11:00AM
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Everyone will love this post. Great ideas you've come up with. Wish I had thought of many of these. I don't really have much to share, but will tell you a couple things we did. We didn't do central vac either, it was so expensive, and I already have a good vacuum.

1. Stairs from garage to basement, and large lofts running the full length of the garage on both sides. Great storage area!
2. I know mudrooms are very popular, but I wanted to be able to shut the door to the "mess" because neighbors and family always use our family/garage entrance, so we have a very large walk in closet at this entrance. Has 12 foot clothes rod for all our coats, and a section to hang my large tablecloths. On the opposite side, are floor to ceiling shelves. The floor under the shelves is where we put all our boots. I purchased fabric bins for gloves, hats, scarves, etc, etc. I even have baskets for all the vacuum accessories, those fabric shopping bags, camera equipment. Well, I could go on and on about what we store there. The top shelf in extra deep goes all the way around the room, and large items are stored here: coolers, appliances like the pancake griddle and ice cream maker, extra paper towels, tp, tissues, and paper napkins. We also have a section of hooks with a bench beneath inside the closet.
3. Right by the back door as you enter, we have the nice looking cubbie/bench w/hooks for visitors to put their coat and shoes (we don't allow shoes in the house). Half bath is also right there.
3. We have a large multi-purpose room with the laundry, freezer, and my built in desk. It's right off the kitchen with a pocket door that I can close if needed. Love this room. I've had a desk in the kitchen before, and it was never very neat. Wanted to be able to hide it.
4. Regarding your mixer pull up shelf, I had the same concern you did about it vibrating. I chose to store my kitchen aid mixed in a regular cabinet under the counter where I use it. I use it so infrequently, that I don't mind just lifting it up to the counter when needed.
5. Since I am barely 5' tall, I had my double ovens installed lower than normal. Oh, so much easier to use.
6. I put switches by my bedroom door for the bath and closet so I can turn them all off when I walk out. Then I don' have to go back to the bathroom or closet if I forgot to turn the light off.
7. Game closet near the basement family room for the grandkids. Holds all their games, puzzles, and craft supplies.
8. We like having a beverage center in the kitchen.
9. Heated floor in bathoom, especially nice if you live in a cold climate. (oops, is this techie?)

I'll probably think of lots of little things later. Good luck in your build

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 12:22PM
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"We have a 7'x13' island "

The biggest suggestion that I can make to you here is to plan for the human dimension in your space. You would have to have 42" arms to be able to reach the middle of this island in order to clean it. It's an untenable design as you have stated it. Remember that you are designing a home for people not a cathedral to impress the neighbors and keep the size of the elements workable to the average person's height and reach. Don't forget that kids aren't adults and design some smaller scale features for them as well. Vanities with the bottom drawer as a pull out step stool for them is just one idea that will work to make the space efficient for the kids.

Some tall ceilings go to heights that humans can't even reach the bulbs in the recessed lights to change without scaffolding. Yes, a tall ceiling is a nice feature, but it doesn't need to be 18' high to give a feeling of spaciousness to the humans that inhabit it.

Remember that a seating grouping that is larger than 10x10 will be uncomfortable for humans to be able to maintain a conversation in. Great rooms need to be able to have multiple seating zones in them, plus be able to account for human sized walkways between the seating zones. If the ceiling is taller than the room is wide, you've got a proportion problem.

Remember that most of your waking life in the home will be in the family spaces in the home, so give them the majority of the home's square footage. Rooms like master suites shouldn't be cramped, but they shouldn't occupy 1/3 of the entire home's square footage.

The second best suggestion that I can give to you is to put your money into the invisible items in a home that will make it comfortable to live in rather than the blingy things that will be shiny doodads that date it. Put your money into quality insulation so that your utility bills will be low and your home will be quieter. Good quality doors and windows will also help to keep energy costs down and street noise out. Design the HVAC in zones so that you can maintain better control over the interior atmosphere. Don't forget the V portion of the HVAC. You'll want to be sure to have a fresh air exchange along with a ERV so you don't flush all of your paid for conditioned air into the exterior. This is especially important if you will have high powered cooking equipment that will need makeup air in order to use the ventilation system. Have a plumber go over your plans from the beginning in order to be able to design the water delivery system that will be the least wasteful. A centralized hot tankless hot water heater or two separate ones for separate home zones can mean far less time on waiting on the hot water to get to your bath or kitchen. If you live in a place that water is expensive and scarce, look into a graywater recovery system in order to be able to use the water twice. Look into alternative lawns and lanscaping, even if you are not in a water scarce environment. It might surprise you that a LOT of America has drought and water rationing issues beyond just the SW. Contact your local Agricultural Extension office before planning on which grass seed to sow and you could end up not needing a sprinkler system at all if you choose the right variety of turf.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 2:05PM
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Great post!

On your holiday light outlets, I recommend putting them on a switch, or getting timers (I know you said no fancy lighting schemes -- I don't mean those high tech control systems). It is nice to be able to have no extension cords, etc, but REALLY nice if you can flip the switch and all the holiday lights are on (I have an outlet everywhere I want it for holiday, but just bought a set of timers at Lowes and they all come on when I want -- cheap and easy).

What I got lazy to do during our build was to run a tube under the driveway for future wiring of anything --- haven't missed it so far, but could come in handy I suppose.

We have beverage drawers right near our breakfast area --- works well for drinks, milk, etc. and keeps kids and guests out of the kitchen main fridge. Plus, everybody thinks they are cool!

Our mudroom has some extra outlets on shelves to use as a charging station -- handy drop zone for when you walk in the door, you drop keys, plug in phones, etc.

Put in enough hose bibs -- not much more expense, but so much easier than dragging hose around house!

I'm sure I'll think of more once I hit "post," so here goes....

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 2:21PM
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"Counter-weighted pocket doors - pull right door open and left door opens the same amount as well."

This is not counter-weighted, but 'double acting.'

All it takes is a cable loop in the track and a couple brackets to tie the doors to opposite sides of the cable loop.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 2:52PM
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Alex House

I'm not so sure that a home building forum is the proper place to wade into the Intelligent Design versus Evolution debate, but oh well.

Anyways, what I don't see much of but am a big fan of is building kitchen cabinetry so that, like furniture, they show the quality of wood features and grains. Instead of one species of wood being used and highlights coming from how the wood is milled, why not use different species of wood, different colors of wood, to create the aesthetic effect. For instance, the panel could be a veneer of Tamo Ash bordered with Purpleheart and the frame could be a wood that highlights and contrasts the coloring of the panel and border. Sure, it's more difficult to build but now your cabinets are fine furniture grade in how they look and that would certainly meet your condition of unique kitchen cabinetry.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 6:40PM
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Thanks Everyone for their posts so far! It already has made me rethink and review some things.

RedLover: Good point on jamb lights and the door needing to be shut. Just our pantry and 2 coat closets for us - had been tempted to do WIC, but these doors may remain open. Keep your other ideas coming!

Joyce6333: Love to hide clutter. Pocket door will separate mudroom from kitchen/rest of house. Love all the assigned baskets. Big fan of hooks for hanging stuff - fighting temptation to put them everywhere. Use mixer 1-2x per month, so return might not be there on the mechanism - just thought it was neat. Dedicated game closet/drawer is neat; we are definitely going to have a heavier-duty (i.e. more cooling power) beverage center in our kitchen next to the eat-in table to minimize runs during meals (more milk please, etc).

GreenDesigns: Thanks. Noted. Don't be fooled by the thread's theme; we're not going for a house analogous to a pimped-out Geo Metro that cost $10k at the dealer + $20k in modifications! Before looking at geothermal and solar, our builder emphasized a tight build with high quality spray insulation and higher quality HVAC (heat pumps are good these days, huh?) and gas furnaces. Looking into a tankless water system. No volume ceilings for us - though I will need a ladder to change the 10' ceiling light bulbs. Appreciate dimensions notes -turns out I misspoke about island and it is 6' x 12', which I think should be ok since at most the depth will be 32-34" on one side, depending on how thick we make that obscuring wall . We're preserving the natural garden already in situ, and improving the well irrigation system. Any other advice?

Mythreesonsnc: Great idea on the switch/timer for holiday light outlets. Good to know beverage center works well for you. We are trying to figure out where to put electronics charging station/prison (i.e. no iphones/ipods upstairs after 8pm kids) - probably will be in a kitchen charging "garage" like the appliance garage. What would you conceivably need to put in that tube?

Brickeyee: Glad to know the correct term. Sounds simple - what's it cost? Guess we'll find out! Only on the pocket doors into the study.

Alexhouse: No Darwin pro/con discussion here - though perhaps Marvin or Jeld Wen may enter it sooner or later! The wood grain idea is a cool idea.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 7:30PM
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We designed our house so that once the kids are gone, we can live on one level. We have the master and a small laundry on the main floor, so that we won't have to climb stairs if we get to the point where we can't. I would at least make sure there is a full bath on the main floor. Some elderly people I know were in a pickle when one of them got congestive heart failure and could no longer climb stairs. A study/den could have easily been fitted out with a bed, but there was only a powder room available and that was down three steps.

We have an elevator shaft built in the center of our stairs. The pit is in the conrete slab of the basement and conduit for the wiring is run. Until we need the elevator, we have stacked closets.

The main floor closet is an oddity that only a family with three type 1 diabetics would think of but perhaps all should have: an infirmary. In the infirmary is a counter, upper cabinets for storing medicine, vitamins, and diabetes supplies,and sharps containers, an under counter fridge, a waste basket and a first aid cabinet. When I lopped the end of my finger off at Christmas time, it was nice to be able to sit on a stool and have my better half patch me up with all the tools at hand and no worries about bleeding on anything important. It's also nice to have all that mess out of the kitchen and bathroom cabinets.

The other odd thing we have is a sound proofed band room. It has been great. All the teenagers want to hang out there.

As Mythreesonsnc pointed out, running conduit now is so important. We have two 2 inch pvc pipes running from the furnace room in the basement all the way to the attic just in case all the low voltage wiring isn't enough or becomes obsolete. We have conduit under the drive, under the back yard, out to the back yard in case we ever put in a pool and want to use the geothermal to heat the pool, extra circuits run out and capped out in case we want to do any landsape lighting, etc, etc. We even had a dish tv guy come and pick the best spot for a dish and ran conduit and cable out there, in case we want to fire the cable company.

GreenDesigns, your comments are well taken, but I want to point out that not all humans are the same size. I thought our 8 foot doors were ridiculous and was considering putting in 6'8" doors with a transom when my 6'5" son came bounding into the kitchen in our old house and cracked his head on the header of the door frame. It was like having a stunned giant octupus in the doorway. The 8 ft. doors fit him much better. I actually have some photos of him standing in the frame of a 6'8" door and a 7'0" in one of my blog entries. Some of us have to build for giants. Including longer step treads to accomodate a size 14.

Here is a link that might be useful: scroll down to the end of the post

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 8:52PM
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Buckhead- we have a pool, that was built a few years after after we built this house which BTW does have geothermal. Too bad I wasn't better informed.

I did not know a pool could be heated with geothermal. You taught me something in case we ever do a pool in the new house.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 10:50AM
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A bath exhaust fan should be separate from the ceiling lighting so the shower light can be a recessed halogen in the shower space and the lighting at the lavatory can be wall mounted.

Door jamb switches must be able to tolerate a door that is not closed fully. I've seen switches that overheated and burned up from doors being left partially open. A better solution is a magnetic switch at the head of the door above the knob.

Electric heating cables under a tile floor in a bathroom should be for warming your feet but not for space heating. It should be on a timer because it is expensive to run. It is usually a good idea to buy the electric mat and thermostat from the tile installer in case there is a problem.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 8:53PM
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Renovator8: We are building an 8x10 sealed-off steam shower in a larger master bath, and planning for a fan/halogen light in there, sconces around the sinks, and a separate fan in the toilet closet. Do you think the exhaust fan should be separate from the ceiling light in the steam shower?

Thanks for the switch feedback - I will ask our GC's electrical person for feedback on magnetic switch vs door jamb.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 10:51PM
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red_lover, I hesitate to say very much about the geothermal pool heat, because I didn't really research it. I believe that you can either have an extra well/heat pump for the pool heater and have it all geothermal or have a similar set up for the pool heater as you do for the "free" hot water generated by a geothermal heat pump.

I'm really in over my head here. I hope that someone with more knowledge in this area will jump in and help me out. Maybe your geothermal contractor can give you a more intelligent answer. Ours recommended a conduit before pouring foundations or slab, so that we could tie in to the system in the future. It's just really nice to have a conduit from the furnace room to the back yard for many future uses.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 9:22AM
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It is best to avoid a ceiling mounted fan in the steam shower. A better solution would be a remote in-line fan like the ones from FanTech. These fans have a simple 7"+/- diam. ceiling intake grille that can have a 50w low voltage halogen light in the center of the grille if you like the appearance better than an enclosed recessed fixture with the same lamp.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 9:31AM
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A couple things we did that I don't think have been mentioned (but I didn't read everything in detail)...

1) In addition to door jamb lights (actually doing just one in foyer closet), we are doing motion detector lights in the pantry. We have a walk-in pantry, so once the doors open, the light comes on. Once we leave, the light goes out. I like it bc I'll probably have my hands full a lot of the time. And, I'm sure my boys will be in there, and leave the light on if we don't have that...ha!

2) We actually did 2 laundry areas - and none near the mudroom. We have a first floor master with the boys upstairs. We didn't want to haul laundry up/down stairs nor did we want to haul it across the house. My husband irons every morning, so he didn't want to walk around back/forth in the house in his underwear either...ha! So, we have a closet in the master with a stackable washer/dryer, and a space in mastger for ironing, etc. Then, the main laundry room is upstairs. Both are full size w/d sets, and the upstairs laundry has lots of storage.

3) We also designed a little office space bn the kitchen and family room. I'm not a fan of desks in the kitchen, and I didn't want everyone out of the "family" area surfing the net somewhere else. So, we did a small space that can be used as a desk, charging station, mail drop, etc. But, we can close the door on it also. In keeping with our farmhouse theme, it will have a barn door on it. So it looks cool if it's open or if it's closed.

4) We also did a back door off the mudroom....for coming in from outside, etc along with our plans for an eventual pool and easy access to a bathroom.

5) The last thing we did was a study are for boys upstairs. We aren't fans of TVs or computers in the bedroom, so we made a space for them to do homework, study, that's quiet but is not going to enable FB at 1AM!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 10:06AM
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Andi_K: Totally on the same page! Thinking through our floorplan, we are going with 1 door jamb light for hallway closet. Motion sensors for walk-in pantry, mudroom, WIC off mudroom, garage overheads, and floodlights outside garage area.

Would love to see any ideas for concealable kitchen desk area. We're having a charging station garage in the kitchen, to drop all mobile phones/ipads/etc. Unsure if we will be going for the desk - figure the island or kitchen table will be used for check writing/kids doing homework.

Definitely going to put an upstairs built-in ironing board in one of the MBR WICs.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 1:51PM
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We did this space bc we did not do an office or library on the first floor. I work from home and just finished above the garage for my home office, then I did the study are for the boys. So, we just wanted a drop spot for a laptop/ipad. It will also hold the cable boxes for the TVs in the kitchen, family room and screened porch.

Hopefully this comes out okay...the desk area is shown below...

here's an overhead close up...

And here's the interior design...

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 2:15PM
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Thanks for taking the time to do that - floorplan looks amazing. Barn doors will be wonderful.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 2:22PM
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That's a great list!

On kitchen storage, take a look at They have all kinds of clever pullouts and organization ideas.

This might already be on your list: built in sound system with multiple inputs (docking stations, TV, DVD/Blueray, CDs, etc.) and multiple zones, including outside. The speakers are easier to install when your walls are open/going up, than when you're all done.

Counter height: if you're doing custom cabinets you won't be stuck with standard heights. We raised all our counters (kitchens and all bathrooms) to 39" because we're tall. They are SO much more comfortable than our old standard 36" height (and 33" in the bathroom! It was like having a sink at my knees.) Likewise for those who are shorter and/or want a baking counter for rolling out dough, shorter than average counters will be more comfortable.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 4:38PM
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remote in-line fan like the ones from FanTech.

Off on a tangerine..but have you had good experience with these? Certainly, seem a lot more efficient than the typical six or seven separate roof and/or wall vents installed for wc's/laundries.

A feature that I've included a couple of times, but that I rarely see on even mansions: provision for food prep/storage in a master suite. At least, provide a separate circuit for a future fridge; and drains and supplies capped in the wall for a future sink.

I must be missing the wonders of pocket doors. Every Century home I've seen them in, they're hanging broken. The customer in a custom home I built several years ago insisted on three sets. Endless callbacks. Their four-year old girl had a knack for slamming them till something broke. There's something about the principle of leverage in action that is endlessly fascinating to small children--and inebriated loogans flipping cars for fun.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 5:27PM
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So many great ideas! Can I ask why is the Central vac with hide-a-hose not for you?

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 5:55PM
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Laura12: If you're asking me, I think it's just one of those personal things. Kind of like the Viking vs Thermador vs Wolf vs DCS vs etc....But because you asked, its because:
1. We have a weekly housecleaner who does the housecleaning
2. For the cost of a central vac with 3-4 HAH and 2-3 Vac Pans (4k-5k) we can easily by 3 nice Dysons to put on each floor + hand vacs, and have change to spare.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 7:32PM
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We paid a lot of attention to every detail when we did our house. Features we included:

1) Our pantry is a walk-in w/ doors opening from the kitchen and from right next to the garage door so groceries can enter easily and directly. The pantry has custom shelving, a full-height lazy susan and a counter area for a toaster oven:

2) Under cabinet and in-cabinet lighting. The kitchen is very bright w/o needing to put on the chandies:

3) Upstairs laundry room and separate laundry machines directly outside the master bath/closets

4) Instant hot AND water chiller

5) Whole house water filter so there is filtered water no matter where you are.

6) Lots and lots of custom pull-outs. Almost every cabinet in my kitchen has a custom pull-out. Here is just one example. Also, built-in paper towel and dish towel niche:

7) Custom closets to fit the things you want to store. Closets can be beautiful too! Here's mine:

8) In-drawer outlets in the bathroom to keep stuff off the counters:

9) If you have a pony-wall in the bathroom, make it a usable cabinet instead. Ours has a magazine rack in the sides and a pull-out in the front for toilet paper:

10) We did a remote control (moen iodigital) thermostatic shower and bath control. You can pre-program 4 different settings for the shower and the bath. Controls everything from pressure to temperature to water-fill level for the bath

11) A place for pets in the mudroom if you have pets. Here is ours:

The steps below the grooming tub pull out so the dogs can walk in and out

12) We put a built-in hutch in the dining room w/ a warming drawer as the top drawer. Warm bread and rolls during dinner- yum!

13) We also put a warming drawer rated for wet spaces and towel warming in our master bath. We used the dacor.

14) In-floor radiant heat. We did this in our kitchen, sunroom and master bath. I wish we had done it everywhere!

15) Charging station/mail organizer. Ours is in the mudroom:

Here is a link that might be useful: More pics of my house here.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 8:59PM
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arsenalfan - thanks for your comments about the Hide a Hose! I have been drooling over them, though I haven't priced them out. Even with the cost, I still know I want them! My house will be all hardwood and and they seem like an excellent solution!

On another note, I did price out some vac pans for about $25 each to add to an existing system (plus more hose). My aunt is putting them in, and her system runs in a crawl space under the house so modifying it is easy.

Regarding the holiday light plugs, would you put them towards the ground where most plugs are, or up hidden near the eaves?

Other ideas

- Plugs in the pantry for charging things
- A tall cabinet in the pantry (or laundry room/mud room) to hold brooms/mops and other long items so they are out of sight!
- Extra sound insulation around the master bedroom
- Wiring in the roof to be ready to add solar at a later date
- Plumbing natural gas into the backyard for a future natural gas bbq when we do the outdoor kitchen (whenever the money happens to be in the budget....)

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 9:20PM
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was it expensive to upgrade the pony wall to a cabinet? I just posted the idea on pinterest. you've went viral :) everyone loves the idea.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 10:09PM
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LOL gingerjenny, glad the idea went over well!

Cost would depend on who you have build it, but I would say that it could be done pretty cheaply. Our amazing and inexpensive custom cabinet maker Dutch Wood Kitchens made ours to match the other cabinets in our bathroom and I believe it was around $385 or somewhere thereabouts for the cabinet (plus the cost of the marble top we put on there, but that's optional of course).

Well worth the cost in my opinion!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 10:29PM
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These are great ideas! Thanks for starting the ideas rolling. I bought a e-book on the subject from which was excellent. On the same website there are many design solutions that can be accessed with no cost via past newsletters (called ezines).

I have no association with the above website I just found it helpful.


    Bookmark   March 20, 2012 at 8:12PM
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Loving this thread. If you aren't already on Pinterest, that's a great source for clever little home modifications.

Here are a few that I've pinned recently:

Laundry appliances raised on pedestals with room to slide baskets underneath:

Shoe drawers in mudroom:

Bookcase door:

Appliance "garage" or coffee station:

Vertical storage above wall oven for cookie sheets / cutting boards:

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 5:59PM
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Glad to know about Pinterest! Love that idea of the pedestals under the appliances with basket storage. Do you think with these pedestals the machines would shake more and make a racquet.


    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 7:56PM
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good question ontario? i wonder that too.

Has anyone checked out the SmartHouse website. it has a lot of neat ideas

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 9:48PM
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Can you give us the website address for Smarthouse? I googled it and was not sure what site you were referrring to.

Just in case anybody wanted to check out the website I suggested earlier I made an error witht the site. It is There is an ebook and free newsletters devoted to intelligent design ideas.


    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 1:50PM
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Carol, I googled the difference in the details site and found it :) I read a bunch of her old ezines. They provided some good points but most of them I had considered. Did you buy her book? was it worth it?

the smart house is mostly technology stuff.

stuff you could buy to install.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 5:44PM
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Hi Gingerjenny,

I really liked her book and felt it was well worth the cost. I bought it when we nearer to the beginning of the design phase so maybe by now I have read some of her ideas elsewhere (i.e. GW). How worthwhile the book would be to you would depend at what stage you are at with your build, and how much independent research you have done on intelligent design. Let me know if you want more info on the book.


    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 6:36PM
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Carol, we are just at the beginning. We do have a layout picked out. We are looking at land now. Still have to sell our current home.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 11:13AM
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