Top 10 Features to Incorporate into Your Dream Home

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Home renovation and design

What would you include in your dream home? Check out these home design ideas.
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As a child, I spent countless hours daydreaming about my future home. I would draw floor plans and meticulously plan where each piece of furniture would go, even going so far as to scale and cut out tiny paper versions of my dream furnishings. In my fantasy world, money was no object, and my home boasted indoor swimming pools, two-story libraries complete with rolling ladders, and massive playrooms. As I got older, my parents would receive catalogs from home builders, and I would eagerly pore over the different layouts and features available. Back then, the height of luxury was a den, office, sunroom, or bonus room over the garage – all of which are now considered standard in newly constructed homes.

Today’s home builders are creating homes with features that even my eight-year-old self couldn’t have imagined. If money were no object, what features would you include in your dream home? Would you focus on catering to your own tastes, or would you consider resale value? It’s important to remember that interior design trends are constantly evolving, and so are the features that potential buyers seek in a home.

Keep reading for a list of the top 10 must-have features to incorporate into your home today that will stand the test of time and appeal to future inhabitants.

10: Convenient Cleaning Spaces and Features

Why bother with features that make cleaning easier? While some may enjoy cleaning, it’s safe to say that most of us view it as a necessary but unpleasant chore. However, there are a variety of features that can be incorporated into your home to make cleaning less of a hassle and maybe even a bit more enjoyable.

Let’s start with laundry – a task that we all have to contend with. With a large, well-designed laundry room, washing clothes can even become a pleasant task. Cabinets, hooks, and open shelving can help organize cleaning supplies that would otherwise clutter up other areas of your home. A built-in cabinet with a fold-down ironing board is a handy addition, while a countertop or small table provides space to fold clothes instead of using your sofa. A sink is a great addition for hand-washing items, and a built-in drying rack or a ceiling-mounted one is a great option for those with lots of clothes to hang. Shirts that require immediate hanging can be placed on a mounted bar. And why lug laundry up and down the stairs when you can install a laundry chute? All you need is an unobstructed path (without wires or pipes) from a central upstairs location, such as a hallway, to a waiting basket in the laundry room.

Combining laundry rooms with mudrooms is a common practice, but the latter can also be separate or simply a part of the entryway. A mudroom is designed to store items like coats, jackets, gloves, hats, rain boots, shoes, sports equipment, backpacks, and purses that tend to clutter the foyer, hang over the backs of chairs, or spill out of a too-small coat closet. It can be as basic as a standalone cabinet with hooks and baskets inside, or an entire wall of built-in shelves and hooks. With a mudroom, laundry, outerwear, and cleaning supplies can be organized, but what about the vacuum? A central vacuum system can be installed instead of hauling around the vacuum cleaner. It consists of a fixed unit, typically located in a garage or utility room, with tubes running through the walls and inlets placed in different areas. You attach a hose with a power switch to an inlet, and vacuuming becomes a breeze. These features not only make your home tidier but also increase its value.

Green and energy-efficient features are prevalent terms, and they are equally important when it comes to home features. Making a home more environmentally friendly can start during the construction phase by working with an architect and designer who specializes in these features. This can include the orientation of the house with respect to the rising and setting of the sun and the placement of windows and doors, which can influence cooling and heating costs. For an existing house, there are various green and energy-efficient features to consider, such as energy efficiency, air quality, water conservation, and energy generation. Ensuring that major appliances have Energy Star labels and investing in a high-efficiency water heater and HVAC system can make a significant difference. Upgrading to an HVAC system with good filtration can improve air quality. Additionally, using low-VOC paint for the walls and choosing low-pollutant and renewable flooring like bamboo can help. Installing double-paned windows can keep the heat in during winter and the air conditioning in during summer. For those who want to take things to the next level, explore water conservation options like gray water systems or rainwater collection. Solar panels and wind turbines can also generate electricity for use in your home. While these features can be expensive, they are worth considering for those who prioritize being green.

8: Entertaining Outdoors

Gone are the days of a simple lawn with a few scattered trees and flower beds. Many homeowners are opting for xeriscaping, which uses drought-tolerant plants and less traditional grass to reduce water consumption and maintenance. However, there are also less extreme options such as using spreading plants that need little maintenance. For those who love gardening, resources are available to help create an English garden or a labyrinthine hedge. Outdoor spaces are now seen as an extension of the house, with sunrooms, screened porches, decks, and patios with built-in grills and burners becoming popular.

For those with a pool or hot tub, an infinity pool or a stationary pool that generates a current for exercise can be installed.

7: Safe Room

A safe room is a room that is designed to keep intruders out, protect from natural disasters or even a zombie apocalypse. FEMA has guidelines on building a residential safe room, which includes a strong door made of steel that is resistant to battering, bullets and fire. The room should have a solid foundation, steel studs, and a reinforced ceiling to prevent debris from entering. Walls can be made of concrete or include metal mesh. Additionally, a separate ventilation system, power supply and telephone line can be installed to ensure safety in case of an emergency.

If you find yourself in a situation where telephone lines are down, you can consider using a satellite phone or ham radio to communicate. It’s important to be prepared for an extended stay in your safe room by having cots, clothing, first aid supplies, ready-to-eat food, water, a portable toilet, flashlights, and any other necessary gear.

Safe rooms can sometimes be hidden or secret rooms, but they are not the same thing. Secret rooms can be created using classic bookcase over a doorway, faux fireplace revealing a tunnel, or rising staircases at the push of a button. To make the room truly secret, you may need professional help from companies that specialize in creating secret rooms.

For pet owners, including pet-friendly features in your home is important. Installing a pet door, fencing in a yard, and creating a safe outdoor area are all good options. You can even give your pets their own room with lots of light, a comfortable bed, toys, and a food station. Other pet-friendly features to consider include easy-to-clean flooring and cutouts, walkways, and ramps for cats to climb.

5: Play Areas and Game Rooms

When I was young, I didn’t know anyone who had a designated play area. I kept my toys in my bedroom, in a toy box and various containers. I could take my toys anywhere in the house, as long as I cleaned up afterwards. Nowadays, many children have a separate room just for playing, which not only stores their toys, but also bigger play structures, a desk, a computer, and an entertainment center.

Parents often get creative with the decor of play areas, especially if they didn’t do so in the child’s bedroom. For example, if your child loves nature, you could bring the outdoors inside with a built-in tree house or a swing hanging from the ceiling. Basketball fans would appreciate a hoop and court-style flooring. If there’s no room outside for a slide or climbing structure, or the weather is bad, why not have one inside? I’ve even seen a first-floor playroom that can be accessed from the bedroom above by an enclosed slide or a fireman’s pole. Built-in cabinets are perfect for storing toys, games, books, and DVDs, but open shelving or bookcases work too. When it’s time for bed, toys don’t need to be cleared away because they’re all contained elsewhere. A play area is definitely a plus for parents.

Game rooms are essentially play areas for adults. They can be a version of the traditional “man cave,” with items such as dart boards, poker tables, or pool tables. With enough space, imagine playing air hockey, Ms. Pac-Man, or Skee Ball with friends, all in the comfort of your own home. To maintain that realistic arcade experience, you could charge people for tokens and give out tickets for cheap plastic toys.

4: Bathroom Oasis


That’s one fancy bathroom!
Hemera/Thinkstock

Do you remember when bathrooms were just functional rooms? You went in there to use the toilet, get clean, take medicine, and so on. At some point, maybe it was Calgon’s fault, we started to view bathrooms as a potential refuge from the stresses of the day. Can’t afford to visit a spa? You can have a spa experience in your very own bathroom.

Usually, the master bathroom receives the royal treatment in these cases, but once again, what was once considered a luxury is now expected. There’s no longer any need to argue with your partner over the sink and mirror when getting ready; people expect to have two sinks, plenty of mirror space, and storage. It’s also common to have separate “toilet rooms,” a small room just for the commode to separate it from the rest of the bathroom. It makes sense that in Japanese culture, the toilet is always in a separate room from the shower and tub.

Luxury can mean different things to different people, but when it comes to bathrooms, bidets and high-tech toilets are becoming more popular in the United States. Other luxurious bathroom features include high-end materials like soapstone and teak, deep soaking tubs, showers for two or more people, and even the ability to listen to music or watch TV while bathing. Connecting the bathroom to a large walk-in closet can also enhance the experience.

In the kitchen, investing in high-end appliances like professional-grade stoves, flat top grills, and convection ovens can make cooking easier and faster. Other features like double ovens, warming drawers, and refrigerated drawers can also reduce stress levels. Customized cabinets and drawers with specialized storage for pots, pans, and spices can keep things organized. And for those who love to entertain, big dishwashers, fridges, and freezers can be a game changer. While the current economy may make it hard to recoup the cost of these luxury kitchen investments, they can make cooking and entertaining more enjoyable.

2: Home Theater

Who wouldn’t desire a home theater in their own house? The cost of going to the cinema has become expensive, and people’s behavior can often spoil the experience. However, with a home theater, you can make as much noise as you want, the refreshments are much cheaper, and there are no previews. Although the initial cost may be high, you can enjoy the comfort of your home. To create a true home theater experience, the room should be designed exclusively for TV and movie viewing. This often means a darkened, soundproofed room with large, comfortable sofas or recliners, drink holders, and trays. A mini-kitchen with a fridge, microwave, or popcorn machine can also be included. The TV is the main attraction and can be a high-definition LCD, plasma, LED, or DLP (rear projection) television. A 3D TV can also be an option if you have enough glasses for your guests. Wall-mounting your TV or a screen that folds or lowers from the ceiling is ideal. An HD Blu-ray player is necessary for the best viewing experience along with premium sound. Home theater systems with multiple speakers and a subwoofer can also be installed by professionals.

1: Integrated Home Electronics

Integrated home electronics or home automation is a system that can control your entire home’s electronics with a touch screen on the wall or via remote. It can also be controlled anywhere using the Internet, phone, or tablet computer. This system can include integrated music systems with speakers installed throughout the home and even outdoors. You can listen to your entire digital music library from any location. The system can also turn on the TV in any room and change the channel. Integrated home electronics can be as comprehensive as you want it to be.

Integrated home electronics offer more than just media control. With a home automation system, you can remotely manage and monitor various systems in your home, such as digital thermostats, lighting, sprinklers, electronic shades, garage doors, and even appliances like coffee makers. Additionally, you can enhance the safety of your home by monitoring motion detectors, video cameras, and detecting water or gas leaks. Overall, home automation offers both convenience and luxury, as well as energy efficiency and safety benefits.

For more information on the best things to build into your home, check out the author’s note on the top 10 recommendations. Although these features are based on personal preferences, they offer a range of options from game rooms to laundry and mudrooms to integrated home electronics. Additionally, explore related articles on kitchen building trends, green homes, and luxury home features.

Sources for this information include This Old House Magazine, HGTV Magazine, Austin Real Estate Market Trends, FEMA, Better Homes and Gardens, Integrated Home Technologies, Realtor Mag, Chicago Tribune, MSNBC, Dr. Dobb’s World of Software Development, and The New York Times.

FAQ

1. What are some unique features to add to a home?

Consider adding a home theater, wine cellar, or indoor sauna to your home. These features can not only add value to your property, but also create a luxurious and comfortable living space for you and your family to enjoy.

2. Are there any practical features to add to a home?

A home office, mudroom, or laundry room can be practical additions to a home. These features can help keep your space organized and functional, and also serve as a selling point if you decide to sell your home in the future.

3. What are some eco-friendly features to add to a home?

Consider adding solar panels, a green roof, or a rainwater harvesting system to your home. These features can help reduce your carbon footprint and lower your energy costs over time.

4. How can I add more storage to my home?

You can add storage to your home by building custom closets, installing built-in shelving units, or adding storage space under staircases. These options can help maximize your space and keep your home clutter-free.

5. Should I consider adding a pool to my home?

If you live in a warm climate and enjoy swimming, a pool can be a great addition to your home. However, keep in mind that pools can be expensive to install and maintain, and may not add much value to your property if you decide to sell in the future.

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