#122: If We Had To Make A House “Must Have” List…

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Whether you’re house hunting, building new, or just daydreaming, you’ve probably got a mental list of favorite home features that you either love having already or really want in your next home (or a little bit of both). So today we’re sharing our seven favorite home features based on what we’ve liked (and not liked) about our current and previous houses – along with our experiences working on new builds with a local builder and renovating two beach houses. You can hear our very favorite ceiling heights, where we actually don’t like to go “open concept,” and we lay out two things that we wish our house had – but probably never will. You can also hear how we implemented a new system for holiday decorating that helped not to counteract our year-long quest to simplify our home (it still feels festive and cozy – plus it saved us money!). And it turns out science has a strong opinion about when you should start decorating for the holidays… and the answer surprised us.


You can download this episode from Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsStitcherTuneIn Radio, and Spotify – or listen to it below! Note: If you’re reading in a feed reader, you may have to click through to the post to see the player.

What’s New

  • Here’s a sneak peek at how our holiday decorating is shaping up to be more simple than past years but still feels mighty festive. More to come in a blog post soon!
  • And here are the mercury glass trees that Sherry picked up: she got one 12.5″ one and one 8.5″ one (that’s the 12.5″ one below).

  • Last year was our first time trying to rein in our holiday decorations to keep the excess “stuff” under control. You can hear how that went in Episode #75.
  • For a few more recent conversations about simplifying our decor, check out Episode #111 and Episode #116 (this one’s our interview with Myquillyn Smith about her new book, Cozy Minimalist Home, which we reference a few times)
  • Here’s the article that includes both studies about Christmas decorations – including why people who decorate earlier are apparently happier according to science.
  • And if you want to see some of the deals we got on Black Friday, you can see our whole round-up of deals in this post. Plus the items we snagged for the duplex (and my wrist) that we mentioned in the episode are linked below. Sadly they’re not all sporting the same discounts, but some of them are still pretty darn good!

Listener Question

  • Here are some visual examples of the “ideal” features that we’d look for in a new home, whether we were house hunting or build new.
  • This is the beach house living room (which is downstairs where the ceilings are 9ft tall).

  • And we thought the best way to demonstrate what’s nice about having a lofted ceiling above your stairs was to share this before photo of the duplex when we first bought it (you can see more duplex before photos here). Notice how the slope of the ceiling matches the slope of the stairs, creating a “tunnel” of sorts?

  • It made a HUGE DIFFERENCE when we raised the ceiling during the renovation (and moved the wall at the top of the stairs)- so now it looks a lot more spacious! Don’t mind the stairs themselves, we still need to paint the risers.

  • I wanted to share a photo of how the open concept living area at our showhouse made it more challenging to decorate, but I don’t think we took any “after” pictures showing it from this far back (where you can see all three zones) – but here’s an in-construction photo that shows how seamless the living room, kitchen, and breakfast nook were. You can tour the full house here.

  • Below is a photo of the cased opening that separates our kitchen from our living room. We could’ve left the entire space completely open (it’s not a load-bearing wall) but the little bit of separation and definition between each room helped us furnish both spaces more easily and gave us a spot to build those wrap-around bookcases for extra storage and display space.

  • We also mentioned how maximizing natural light – like the sidelights around our front door – can help spaces feel brighter and cheerier. You can see the sunlight streaming through them onto the floor in the photo below. If you don’t have room for sidelights, a half-lite door (one that has glass on the top half, like the beach house front door) is a great option to let more light into your entryway.

  • Below you can see how our makeshift “mudroom” that’s situated in our kitchen (more on that here) but you can also read about how we actually considered adding a proper mudroom (emphasis on the ROOM part) in this kitchen floor planning post.

  • To hear more about why we prefer an upstairs laundry room, check out the listener question that we answered in Episode #105.

  • Below is the master bathroom in the showhouse where you guys convinced us (thank goodness!) to put in a water closet so the toilet could be behind its own door (more on that here). You can find more finished photos of this room (and sources, etc) here.

  • Lastly, since we asked your opinion about jack-and-jill bathrooms, here’s the one we designed for that same showhouse. This green vanity was in the room that connected the two kids’ bedrooms and behind another door was the toilet, shower, and tub.

  • So if you’ve lived with a similar jack-and-jill style bathroom, what’s your verdict on them?

We’re Digging

  • Below is a shot of one of the smart switches I installed after buying a couple more on Black Friday. This one is a three-way smart switch, but I’ve also used the single-pole switches as well.
  • And for reference, here are the smart plugs we use for our Christmas trees. There’s also a slimmer version if outlet space is an issue for you, or a full smart power strip!
    • NOTE: None of these switches or plugs require a separate hub to operate, so you don’t need to purchase anything else to use them – although voice control requires something like an Echo or Google Home. But without that you can completely control them with your phone. 
  • You can read more about the smart home tech around our house and how we use it.

  • And if you need a good movie for you and/or your kids, we highly recommend Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks The Internet!

If you’re looking for something we’ve dug in a past episode, but don’t remember which show notes to click into, here’s a master list of everything we’ve been digging from all of our past episodes. You can also see all the books we’ve recommended on our Book Club page.

And lastly, a big thank you to The Citizenry for sponsoring this episode. Start shopping beautiful goods from artisans all over the globe at CitizenryPodcast.com/YHL and use the code YHL to get $50 towards your first purchase of $200 or more!

Thanks for listening, guys!

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