Sorta OT - Making my life easier

adellabedella_usaJune 12, 2006

I know the house won't clean itself, but I'm brainstorming ideas for making the upkeep easier. We're moving at whatever point finds a job that he wants. We want our next house(s) to be lower maintenance. I'm looking for ideas.

Here's what we know so far.

-We want four bedrooms instead of three so we can have a computer/craft room.

-Our next house will be either brick or rock so we don't have to have the thing repainted every three years.

-There will be no more carpet because it just traps too much dirt and smells.

-The landscaping will be friendlier even if we have to plant it ourself.

- I want a room specifically for the washer and dryer so the clean clothes don't get dropped in the living room.

I know this topic has probably been done in one fashion or another. What changes have you made or would make to make your residence more livable?

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well, I redid my kitchen to have slab doors, cyindrical pulls, Corian counter w/ integral sink, sheet-vinyl floor.

I plan on replacing my open CD shelves w/ ones that have doors--no more exposed storage for me; I want EVERYTHING behind doors. OK, there will still be SOME dust, but not as much!

I'd have built-in dressers, etc., if I could. Neighbors in our co-op building redid their home, and that's what they did--no dust-bunnies under the dresser or behind the night stand.

I want a wall-mounted toilet.

Swanstone tub surround--no grout of any sort on the walls, so I can squeegee the shower walls down.

No more venetian blinds.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2006 at 6:14PM
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I can address the no-carpet household. We put in carpet only in the master bedroom because the DH does drop his hearing aides there once in a while. Unless you have a really well designed entry area, you will need to clean all public areas daily.

I vacuum my entry hallway and swiffer the halls, stairs, living room, dining room and kitchen DAILY. There are six of us so that makes a small difference, but I had these great dreams of taking a dust mop and just dusting it quickly. Hahahahahaha..... I have built it into my routines so that it only takes me five minutes a day. If I skip a day or two, make it a half hour. So, I really stay on top of the floors to save myself time. That carpet hides stuff for a reason. I still love how they look, though.

Totally flat (Talley called them slab) cabinet doors in the kitchen have been a lifesaver. There were in this house, so I probably wouldn't have picked them, but they are wonderful to wipe down. No little grooves to collect spills and grease. Now I'm sold on them and wish I had them in the bathrooms as well.

If I was going to get some more furniture, I would only get leather. My leather love seat from Penney's has held up wonderfully, while the Broyhill and Flexsteel couches picked at the same time look trashed. I can just wipe up spills on the leather and of course you can guess how it looks on fabric.

I have hot water base board heat. Couldn't live with forced air again because of all of the dust. My house only needs a quick dusting every couple of months. Of course, we don't need ductwork for air conditioning up here.

A new home was just built up the street. Probably close to a million. It has vinyl siding and vinyl clad wood windows. Looks great! I like their heated driveway but they are going to find they have to drive over a big old ice berm to get in the drive all winter.

I have a very large laundry room and I don't see how the size of the room matters much. I think location of the laundry is more important. Our laundry room is on the same floor as most of the bedrooms. I'm not hauling laundry up and down flights of stairs. It's not on the same floor as the living room. I fold clothing right on my bed and put it away since all of the dressers are close. My two older sons are on a different floor, but since they do their own laundry, I don't care if they have to haul it up and down. They are a lot younger than me!

I would like stained woodwork, rather than painted. Mine always needs wiping. The stained would have the same amount of fingerprints, but it just wouldn't show as much. Same with baseboards. All of my interior doors are stained, rather than painted and I really like them.

I would think about brushed surfaces for things like faucets and doorknobs. Mine are shiny and show every water spot. I'm always wiping them with a towel. I really like my brushed stainless sink. It doesn't stain from the coffee and stuff like my colored sink did.

The same for picking out light fixtures. Look at the amount of nooks and crannies to hold dust. No clear glass which needs cleaning. I picked vintage fixtures and really like them. They are milk glass and don't show the dust. They are even good at hiding to occasional dead fly.

Tilt out windows, especially on second floors. I have a hard time getting my windows cleaned on the outside.

If you get a chance to build, I would spend a great deal of time listing what you need to store, how often you need the items, etc. I was able to plan storage in this house (total remodel) and have found that just having the items close by rather than the traditional placement for storage has been a tremendous help. When a broom is only two feet from where you need to use it, clean-up is much easier.

I'm not crazy about built-ins, but I would have really liked them in my craft room area and the DH's home office. Now, I have all freestanding bookshelves and they don't look nearly as nice as I would like. Someday, I just hire a carpenter if I can ever find one to do the work.

I tucked shelving in under the stair landing which is almost a hallway. We keep games, dictionaries, etc. there. In most houses it would have just been wasted space.

I have two solid doors to the outside, which I'm going to replace with the kind with the mini-blinds in-between the sheets of glass. I don't want to deal with curtains or shades on the doors because the kids will be going in and out. I'm hoping they will be easier to wipe down while allowing in the light. I'd love to get away from mini-blinds, but since we have almost 24 hours of daylight in the summer I really need them for light control.

I really like tile in the bathrooms and kitchen, so I wasn't willing to go with solid surfacing. I found if I stuck with white non-glossy tile and white grout it's really easy to keep clean and doesn't show water spots. The glossy tile was harder to keep up.

The only thing I wish I could change is our wall texture. All of the walls I've seen here have the knock-down texture crud. I guess we don't have good drywall craftsmen. It's much harder to wipe busy areas like my entry hall where the kids always drag their hands. I'm ready to repaint some areas and we've been here less than two years.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2006 at 9:19PM
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Many years ago I thought having hard flooring vs. carpet would be the answer to everything. Well, I am so sick of trying to clean 2,600 sq. feet of hard flooring. It shows every single dust bunny, loose dog hair, sand and dirt from the outside that snuck inside. I CAN'T STAND IT ANYMORE LOL. The thought of carpet and a vacuum cleaner makes me salivate. If all goes well, I'm closing/selling my house this week and moving to a house with mostly carpet. I already have a vacuum cleaner ready to go! And yes, my bib is on *laughing*.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2006 at 8:49AM
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quiltglo, I so agree with you about the laundry!

Last month I was at a housewarming, and I was most enamored of the closet. It was a large walk-in closet, with beautiful wood built-ins, not the crummy wire stuff that I have. ;)

Adjoining the closet was the laundry room, with a front loading washer and its dryer twin. There was a large pass-through from the LR to the closet, with a large flat surface, so one could fold the laundry and put it right into the closet!

It was eminently logical as well as aesthetically appealing.

The entire house was wonderful, but now I am annoyed as I trudge up and down the stairs with my hampers as I think of the pain my knees would be spared with the other set up. Ah, a girl can dream, can't she?

    Bookmark   June 13, 2006 at 9:17AM
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I agree with quiltglo's list - ditto the stained trim. I would also have all my outdoor wood (trim, deck, fences, etc.) stained rather than painted. I am so sick of scraping paint!

Some kind of TRULY scrubbable paint for the interior.

I wouldn't want the huge bathrooms that I see in many new houses. My 2 baths are both quite small but perfectly adequate. I would like to have a big linen closet, though!

Closets that are big enough - I wouldn't want huge things that ended up as dumpsters, but roomy and well set-up.

I love my hardwood floor and use a vacuum. Why not?

I'd like to have those dishwasher drawers, because I don't usually have a full load of dishes every night.

My sister designed her house to be very low maintenance. She has: stacking washer and dryers in the master suite, and another set on the bottom floor where the kids' rooms are. She has all tile floors and radiant heat (no dust blowing around - heaven!) A fairly small kitchen with a good sized pantry closet. Slab-type cabinets with no hardware - they have some sort of magnetic catch; you just press the door to open them. It is based on a Lindal-style home, so it is mostly glass and wood. Cedar shingles that require little maintenance. Slip-covers on the couches that can be machine washed. Mesh-type blinds that don't collect dust. Long, shallow closets in the kids room with clever shelving and drawers - they don't need dressers! An office with a built in office wall - files, bookcases, computer desk, cubbies. A deck and a screened in porch overlooking the lake, so they can eat outside a good portion of the year. She is very minimalist, but is a fantastic photographer and her DS is a painter - the house shows off the art beautifully.
She's got her kids well trained too - that's probably the biggest labor saver of all!

I wish I had a fireplace - do you all think they are more trouble than they are worth? It just doesn't feel like home without a fireplace to me!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2006 at 3:28PM
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postum, I never had a fireplace until I moved to Alaska. I've seen several gas models in action and they don't impress me after having "the real thing." I'd take a gas if that was the only solution.

Of course, we have lots of darkness and cold and the fireplace really cozies up the living room. I designed my living room to be small, since all we do in there is sit. Read, watch TV, talk in front of the fire, so when you are on the couch you are only 9 feet or so from the fireplace. We also have a fireplace in our bedroom. It was a family room, which I turned into bedrooms for us and the two youngest kids. Very nice.

I do use a vac on the floors, but to me, they are really way more work. With carpet you can just hit the traffic areas. With the way my house is set up, you come up steps (it's not a split entry, but very strange) and your eyes are level with the floor. Everything shows.

Another thing I forgot to mention to the OP is look at access to water and electrical plugs outside. I have hot water access to the outside and we have several places to plug in the mower, fountains, lights, etc.


    Bookmark   June 13, 2006 at 4:47PM
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Mud room.

3-car extra-deep garage.

No more 2-story. Ranch on a basement, separate entrance to the basement which would much be for hosting the kids who show up here. Keep that sweaty boy smell out of the living areas.

A Boys Bathroom, It would look more like a locker room, totally tiled, urinal, drain on the floor and hose for a shower head so cleaning would be a matter of hosing it out. That would make my life soooo much easier!

And DH gets his own office far away from the rest of the living areas. Maybe above that garage.

My neighbor is in sales for a wood-substitute product. He demonstrated for me, it's amazing. It's a composite of some sort, never needs replaced or painted. I'd replace all the window frames with that. The humidity and intense sun just rots the wood frames.

And I want the windows that tilt in for cleaning. Used to have those in a different house, I really miss them. Cleaning the outside was as easy as cleaning the inside, so it got done more often. (Like a couple times a year instead of NEVER!)

2 clothes dryers.
But the one I have just buzzed, so I'm done day dreaming and need to actually work around here.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2006 at 5:25PM
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Stephanie - I love your idea of a boys bathroom! We have 3 boys here, including DH.

Here's my partial list:

*more electrical outlets outside (we have ONE. And who designs a front porch without an outlet??? I'm still waiting for DH to install one.)

*front hose bib OUTSIDE, not in the garage (grrr....)

*ditch the living room for a bonus room

*ditch the dining room for a larger eating area in the kitchen

*decrease the size of master bedroom and increase the size of the walk-in closet.

*more walkways in backyard, more patios, less planting beds and lawn!!!

*3 car extra-deep garage

*walk-in pantry with room for extra fridge/freezer

*warming drawers in kitchen

*craft room with built-ins


    Bookmark   June 14, 2006 at 1:45AM
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Sheryl, great idea about a walk-in pantry with room for extra fridge/freezer.

I would make sure that upper kitchen cabinets are deep enough. Mine now are only 10" deep and don't hold very much.

My wish list would include 2 dishwashers or the one with 2 drawers.

Built-ins everywhere. I prefer these to stand alone furniture.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2006 at 10:57AM
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* Mansion

* Maid

* Cook

* Gardener

* Personal Assistant

* Limo driver

My, that was painless! Okay, back to reality.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2006 at 6:41AM
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We'll be building a new house soon. We had to pick from the builder's plans because it's in a development, but we've walked through a model of the same house several times & think we'll be very pleased.

*Larger kitchen with space on both sides of the cooktop
*Island in the kitchen
*Brushed finish hardware & plumbing fixtures
*Coat closet near entrance
*Garage - we haven't had one before & are really looking forward to it. The utility sink & water heater are in garage, saving space in the house.
*All hardwood & tile floors - for me it's much easier to Swiffer than to vacuum
*Recessed can lighting in a lot of areas, which reduces dusting light fixtures
*Slipcovered sofa & chairs
*Single story (we will have a finished room over the garage with a bath)
*Easier attic access - door on stair landing & door in room over garage. No more hauling things up & down those steep pull-down stairs!
*Brick exterior
*Vinyl tilt-in windows
*No living room, just a family room
*Space for an office & craft room
*Enclosed storage. DH thinks I go too far with wanting bookcases with doors, an entertainment armoire, & the computer in an armoire instead of just on a desk. For one thing, there's less visual clutter. The other is less dust, so it's easier to clean.
*Large master suite closet with plenty of hanging space & shelves.

To make things even simpler, we are building in a development where they take care of the exterior maintenance. Yes, we will have to pay HOA dues for this, but for the price it's worth it. DH & I both have very busy jobs. Because of our hours, we would really need to hire someone to do the lawn anyway. We also won't have the expense of buying & having maintenance done on a lawn mower.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2006 at 10:19AM
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Thanks! You guys have given me some more things to think about. This next house purchase will probably be an older home in a still good neighborhood costing below our means so we can afford to change a few important details to our specifications.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2006 at 9:34AM
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When were house-hunting, I noticed I liked: laundry upstairs near bedrooms and bath,instead of in the basement; clothes closet (with organizer partitions) running the full length of the bedroom wall; kids play area far away from bedrooms;, polyurethane wood flooring,not carpets; lots and lots of windows. Did I buy a house with these atributes? No, unfortunately. Maybe if I buy more lotto cards.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2006 at 7:24PM
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Thanks so much; we are remodeling the castle & dungeon (garage)and I have been agonizing about whether to get all wood floors or some carpet. DH almost had me convinced that wood floors throughout are low maintenance.
I have had built-ins in all the rooms and we are taking them out. This house was designed for my family years ago and the cabinetmaker even did built in bunk beds plus desk for son; daughter had built in book case, dresser, desk on one wall. Problem was that if you put it on the East wall they later want it on the West wall, and think you are controlling to have nailed it in.
Thanks Quiltglo for the tip about swiffering daily. Maybe I got by without swiffering because we have such awful lighting in the hall, and with dark cathedral ceilings I think I have been getting away with minimal cleaning. And maybe that explains how the dog disappeared. However we are putting tons of new lighting in and painting the ceiling white. So I had better rethink everybody's maintenance tips. thanks

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 12:49AM
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