What Feature Do You Wish Your Home Had?

by Seattle Soccer Mom

The recent NY Times obit about Frances Gabe, inventor of the self-cleaning house, had me thinking about features I would like in a house. From the NY Times:

Ms. Gabe, a once-celebrated inventor who died in obscurity late last year, was the creator, and long the sole inhabitant, of the world’s only self-cleaning house….

“Housework is a thankless, unending job,” she told The Ottawa Citizen in 1996. “It’s a nerve-twangling bore. Who wants it? Nobody!”…

In each room, Ms. Gabe, tucked safely under an umbrella, could press a button that activated a sprinkler in the ceiling. The first spray sent a mist of sudsy water over walls and floor. A second spray rinsed everything. Jets of warm air blew it all dry. The full cycle took less than an hour.

Runoff escaped through drains in Ms. Gabe’s almost imperceptibly sloping floors. It was channeled outside and straight through her doghouse, where the dog was washed in the bargain.

Frances Gabe, Creator of the Only Self-Cleaning Home, Dies at 101

My dream is for a recirculating shower – clean water while I get clean – then a switch I can flip so the water recirculates (and is reheated) while I stand, guilt-free, under the lovely warm water. What’s your dream feature?


134 thoughts on “What Feature Do You Wish Your Home Had?

  1. Somewhat ironically, this morning it was hot enough in Seattle that after my morning run, I actually found a cold shower quite enjoyable. Of course most of you would probably laugh at what passes for hot in Seattle (though all the smoke from the wildfires in British Columbia does add to the experience).

  2. Some sort of whole house vacuum system. A salt water pool would be nice but we don’t have the room.

  3. “A salt water pool would be nice but we don’t have the room.”

    But you’re moving to CC, right? You should get an indoor pool. I knew a girl in high school who had that. Her dad was a lawyer.

  4. Hmm. And, clearly, Steve Jobs to tell me how to make these stupid links work on his stupid computer. Try this:

  5. Wait, and now I can see it on the first one but not the second? I give up.

  6. I want the house that Rhett posted. Don’t necessarily want the pool. The style would be a modern mid century, one level.
    Very few homes like that over here but those few are custom built and look great.
    My kids think I have gone batty wanting a “Beverly Hills” home.

  7. We have the pool but I would love Rhett’s retractable cover for winter. The expense would probably not be worth it and unless I could put in a new pool with 25 meter lap lanes it wouldn’t really make sense.

    The one thing we don’t have that would be nice is a screened in porch. A really big one that opens up to the deck.

  8. I want a huge, fully appointed woodworking shop so DH will stop talking about it.

  9. I want all of y’alls wants above.
    House with a pool , by the beach and a boat and a 4 car garage and a cook and a cleaner daily.

  10. In terms of real, actual things that I’d like in my house, now that I have the garage, I’m kinda pretty much set. Obviously a bigger garage. :-) A jetted tub — not the wussy little air bubble ones, the kind with the jets that pound your back. But whenever we finally do the guest bath, we’re going to add that anyway. A screened porch would be nice, but we have plenty of outside space that we don’t use enough as is, and the bugs aren’t really too bad. Probably the one thing that I’d like and don’t really have a spot for is a real mudroom, the kind you’d expect Martha Stewart to have, where all the kids could have designated zones for their school books and backpacks and such. We have made do with one area in the kids’ playroom up front and another in the back hall coming in from the garage, but boy I’d love one of those places where you can just close the door on the mess. :-)

    Oooh, ooooh, I know: a two-story library with a library ladder running around at least two sides and a big leaded glass skylight! And a turret bedroom. I have always wanted a turret.

  11. Many features that are lacking by reason of size and being in a condo cimpkex. Natural gas. Induction range to compensate. Full sized kitchen One unit has that, but she eliminated the powder room. Not happening. Zoned ac and heating – not worth the install cost. But I already have the Japanese toilet!!!

  12. No pool for me, ever! When we were house hunting, we told the realtor not to show us houses with pools because it would be a waste of time.
    I want the self-cleaning, self-organizing house. Short of that, a dishwasher that actually cleans the dishes, and a garbage disposal would be nice.

    I kind of wish our house had a fireplace, but never having had one, I tell myself they are probably as much work as a pool.

  13. A sauna. I may get one. I’d like to put it in the basement, but then I’d probably need to disassemble it to move it out someday.

    A bigger master bath shower. When we built almost 30 yrs ago, the standard shower offering was 32″x32″ and the option was 32″ x 54″. We opted for the larger one and had them run water/install a shower head at each end. They though we were nuts, since the whole big shower with room enough for two bathroom design thing hadn’t hit yet, at least around here. It’s been great, but when we redo the bathroom I’m going to expand it and take out the Jacuzzi. We never use that…maybe I average 1x/yr for the last several years. When the kids were little we used it more as they thought it was just great fun to be in all the bubbles.

    Dual zoned HVAC. It would be so much more comfortable upstairs. Not offered as an option when we build and we didn’t know enough to ask about (coming from LA where we used our heater and a/c maybe 10 days total in the 6 years we lived there). The main floor is fine; the upper floor has air circulation dead spots resulting in too hot in the summer and too cool (I don’t want to say cold) in the winter.

  14. Milo – yes totally moving to Cape Cod (if only there were well paying jobs there). I would love it, I’m over all the city stuff. My cousin has a house in Chatham with a 70s style indoor pool. And my husband just sent me this which his co-worker got from her Next Door neighborhood group. I”m hoping this can’t possibly be legitimate as it’s right around the time school gets out…

    Received from an office near this area:
    The Atlanta Police Department just confirmed a rumor that a group is planning violence against the Atlanta Police. The information we received indicated a vehicle accident will occur in the vicinity of W. Paces Ferry and I-75 this afternoon around 3:00. Please avoid this area if at all possible.
    While we do not have any additional information about this specific rumor or any other events, this notification is to remind you to always be keenly aware of your surroundings and to always call 911 in an emergency.

  15. @Rocky, send him out here — he can use DH’s any time, since DH isn’t using it much lately.

    And if you want an example of hedonic adaptation, this is it. DH started out with some benches along the wall of our townhouse garage. When we moved, he upgraded to a single bay; when we moved again, he upgraded to two bays. When we moved here, he took over the entire carriage house — so around the size of a full 2-car garage, but also with an unfinished upstairs that he can use for storage. It is even air-conditioned and heated. But if he had his ‘druthers, he would have a shop that is at least twice as big, if not 3x, so he didn’t have to move tools out into the work area and back when he was done; he would also like a separate finishing room, so he doesn’t have to worry about sawdust; and a sink at a bare minimum, but a toilet and shower as the ideal, so he can clean up before coming in.

    This is the real reason we can’t retire — if he didn’t have to go to a job, he’d be spending waaaaay too much time and money on the woodworking. :-) We even developed one garage design that was a tack-on to the existing carriage house, so we could reclaim the carriage house proper as the garage and move his shop to the back side of that. I would not be surprised if, on retirement, that plan gets resurrected and the whole thing turns into a Norm-worthy shop.

    Then again, in terms of hobbies, it’s way better than, say, racing motorcycles or visiting strip clubs, so there’s that.

  16. A big enough hot water so that two people can take a hot shower at the same time in my house, and zoned ac. Both are way too costly to retrofit our house with.

    No pool unless it comes with a full time pool person to clean it and deal with the chemicals.

    A full-time maid/cook to clean deeper than the twice monthly maid service and do the daily stuff that we tend to put off and have healthy meals on the table based on our erratic schedule.

    I guess, it is all doable, just not in the budget

  17. We don’t have central air, so I can’t even imagine what zoned HVAC might be, When we put the addition on, we briefly considered central air but would have had to replace all our steam radiators, which was a deal breaker for me. Honestly, I don’t see the point of central AC in our house. Most of our rooms have really good ventilation, and we have window ACs in the kid bedrooms. We also have ceiling fans in the bedrooms. This summer, the window ACs have only been on a few times because it has been kind of cool.

  18. Combining the Roomba and Alice comments, I’m hoping a robot maid will be available soon. Like the Jetsons had. The amazing advancements I hear about sex robots could be applied to maid robots. I believe that is how technological progress works.

    I’d like a two-car garage. Spurred by the retirement conflicts post of a few days ago, I learned my H wants a media room, his own study, a devoted exercise room, and a larger hobby room. We’ll have to up-size upon retirement!

  19. “a fireplace, but never having had one, I tell myself they are probably as much work as a pool.”

    Nowhere close. A fireplace sits there; gross stuff does not grow in it since it’s dry. As long as you burn seasoned hardwood there isn’t much buildup on the inside of the chimney. The ashes get pushed down the opening on the floor of the fireplace box whenever you think it needs cleaning up. To keep birds/critters from falling in from above and getting caught, install a vented cover. The biggest issue with our fireplace is remembering to order wood (which I guess should be on my do it now list for August) well before we need it so it can further season after we get it.

  20. I would like to replace the VENT FAN and the stove. (We only have 15K BTU right now!) Also a nicer master bathroom and to get rid of all the mice. And a full-time property person (fix the compost pile, get rid of the poison ivy, do the pool, weed the patio and the walkway, trim dead branches, trim hedges, etc.). An Alice would be nice too!

  21. I definitely would like a robot house cleaner.
    When I was in the U.K. years ago, in one location there was a self cleaning toilet exactly like the lady’s house. It was completely washed, dried and disinfected before the door opened to let the next person in.

  22. I, too, want a robot house keeper. That way, I don’t have to socialize with them. How awful is that??

  23. “Milo, this is what you need”

    It’s nice. I could walk to and from home football games and tailgaters, so that would be fun. But I can’t afford $4M. And big houses don’t do anything for me, at least not any more. My brother has an 8,000 sf house (with a basement sauna, Fred, that they have no plans of ever using). It’s just big. It’s not on the water. There’s no pool, because there’s a very nice community pool that their $500 monthly HOA dues support.

    Not to sound like an MMM type, but I don’t get it at all.

    Now, $1M, that’s something I can swing in the not-too-distant future.

    So on one hand there’s:

    Or if we’re more into the cruising lifestyle, something like this is also on Spa Creek, has virtually no maintenance, and comes with a deeded boat slip:


    Or…how about both (especially if we make the lake house a little smaller)?

  24. I’d like a bit more room (Risley… want to switch?), and a chauffeur to do all the pick up and drop offs on a whim. This way I wouldn’t have to balance DS1’s multiple appointments with DH and my jobs and my mom and DS2….

  25. MM – without zoned AC in a two story house, you have to decide who is going to be more comfortable – the people upstairs or downstairs – when the weather outside (98) is very different from the desired inside temps. In our house, if it is 75 downstairs (a bit chilly), it is 79 and stuffy upstairs (a bit uncomfortable) for working or studying. At night, to get it to be about 72 upstairs (nice sleeping temps per the DDs), it is 68 downstairs (great sleeping temp to me, but DP is cold). However, the cost of putting in a second unit and trying to get all the duct work redone is outrageous as the downstairs duct work is in the space between the two floors.

    Last week it, we hit a high of 106 and at 9 pm it was still 97! We leave for Northeast college visits Saturday. Read that people were complaining about the heat at 89/90 in that region. That is downright cool!

  26. Two or three car garage. I was at the Jersey shore yesterday and I stayed with friends in the most amazing house. I felt like I was in a dream and I just didn’t want to leave to come back to reality. I’ve been there before because they’re college friends, but I just noticed all of the details and I wanted to stay in their house forever. They have four kids, and they tore down the original house in ’09 and built this one to accommodate their family. Everything is planned because they lived in the original house for ten years before they built this newer house.

  27. Rhett – they have a Roomba. the husband bought it one day at Costco because their dog sheds. It was clear that they love it. The kids program it, and they said it has changed their life because their dog is white and they have dark hardwoods. The thing runs at night and they come down to clean floors instead of constantly sweeping. They love it so much that it sounds like it is almost another person in their family.

  28. Atlanta – I *really* like that house, and my recent trip taught me the relative merits of ponds vs. ocean in New England.

  29. Atlanta and Milo – provided that you can use the pond. Many ponds in RI and MA are polluted and, if you heed the local Department of Health’s advice, you shouldn’t kayak or swim in them. But I guess that’s anywhere really…

  30. Has anyone mentioned Nimoy reading that creepy sci-fi story yet? I’ll go read the comments.

  31. Oooh, Milo, *love* that Waterford Dr. home — that layout of the kitchen-eating-family area is exactly what I want, and I may be the last person on the Eastern Seaboard who still loves those wood cabinets. Although the FR carpet needs to go.

    “$500 monthly HOA dues” — ??? Does each house come with its own Rolls? Are invitations to HOA events hand-engraved? Holy bejeebers!

  32. I believe that’s what it was. Maybe $400. And that doesn’t even get you golf club membership, just the pool (and, of course, other HOA-related expenses).

    “Does each house come with its own Rolls?”

    No, but his neighbor in the cul-de-sac has two Gallardos, something like a Bentley, and then a big SUV.

    Fits well with my brother’s Elantra and Prius. And 12-year-old base Sienna with the missing hubcap.

  33. Milo – where did you go? Must have missed your trip (wasn’t on here too much while I was up there).

  34. “where did you go?”

    Bar Harbor. We got a pair of adjacent cabins on East Bay (the other one for my parents). We biked 50 miles of the carriage trails through Acadia over the course of a few days. We took a boat ride out to look at a bunch of lighthouses. Lobster, ice cream, that sort of thing.

    Oh, but we ended up doing our kayaking (adding a rented canoe) on Long Pond, which was a lot more inviting than the ocean up there, and safer for the kids (well, for anyone, really, when you’re comparing it to a 55-degree ocean — exposure sets in quickly). That’s where I realized how much more useful the (non-polluted) New England lake/pond could be.

  35. Rhode – I went to a farmer’s market while I was up on CC last month and this woman literally grabbed me as I was walking past to try to sell me some sort of magnet that you can use in the washing machine to clean your clothes instead of detergent (which is destroying the water supply). Then she shows me a knit dryer ball which I was to add essential oils to in order for the clothes to smell nice. I told her I didn’t live there and thank goodness my dad wasn’t with me because he would have been rolling his eyes six ways to Sunday, but it is a problem. And I also took the kids to “Brewster Conservation Day” (where they handed out a lot of plastic goodies which made me chuckle) where the Brewster Ponds Coalition had a table.


  36. They love it so much that it sounds like it is almost another person in their family.

    iRobot (IRBT up 183% since I bought it) reports that when they need a repair iRobot will offer to send a replacement but customer don’t want a new one, they want their “Rosie” fixed.

  37. Hidden gem alert San Francisco maritime national park fisherman’s wharf area. Milo have been

  38. Milo – nice!

    We rented a house on a pond in Brewster while I was there (need an extra house now with all of us up there at there at the same time) and the water was amazingly clear. The house came with a canoe which Dh just loved – I think it was the highlight of his trip.

  39. Location, location, location!! And a combo of these two tubs, in a bathroom with a sauna and a separate shower.

    You people did this to me! Before the Totebag, I had no interest in this kind of thing, no thoughts about housing (other than transforming the top shelves of our back-to-back closets into a cool sleeping loft) whatsoever. The first time there was a conversation about this sort of thing, I was gob-smacked. It was so foreign to me! And now look.

    SSM, such a Seattle dream! Made me smile. I wish we could take cold showers here. The handles for our showers are the kind that control temp and volume in one. I thought they were dumb in my grandma’s house when I was little, and think they’re dumb now. But even in the sinks, where you can open just the cold tap, the water isn’t always cool, if the sun has been shining on the water tower.

    Atlanta, I grew up in a house with central vacuuming. Dragging that hose around–and winding it up afterwards!–was a major PITA. When my parents had their Fla house built, my mom opted against one. But Roombas are getting cheaper. I wish they could make one they could switch between vacuuming carpets and cleaning other floors. July, that’s a mild version of my thoughts on Mars exploration and Japanese sex dolls

    Rhett, retractable? Why not screened in? You must like sharing your drink with bloodsuckers. That looks like a fun vacation house.

    Rocky, you could both lump together his Christmas, anniversary, & birthday for a year. or two, or three… and build that.

    LfB, you changed the color intensity. Your house is suited to a turret with a library, topped by your bedroom. You could have part of the ground floor be the mudroom (although reading that wish, I really get a sense of how little feeling of impending kid departure you must have)

    Scarlet, have you considered on of those systems that sets up a current to swim against? My ideal pool would be 25 yards (or meters), one or two lanes wide, with a plant-based filtration pool at one end and a hot tub with a waterfall at the other end. Most of the time, it would just look like a lovely gazing/reflecting pond with a patio on the house side and lovely beds of edible flowers & plants on the far side. Unlikely in my life, especially considering that I want to live in a city, but still a fun pipe dream.

    Zoned HVAC? Depends how much volume needed to be climatized. Summer electric bike here always make me cringe.

    Fireplaces are awesome. Just make sure your kid opens the damper when you’re hosting a fancy reception for a singer and what passes for high society in your town (not that I’ve ever been on the kid side of that, and seen my father, in his suit, pushing dressed-up guests aside as he rushed from a fireplace on one side of the house, through the kitchen and dining room, to a fireplace on the other side, yelling “damper! Damper! and throwing open the door in the foyer just as the guest of honor’s car approached the drive. Never).

    Hearing “And big houses don’t do anything for me, at least not any more” from Milo, I’m gobsmacked again. Next thing you know, Rhett won’t want cabana service bringing him his drinks and cooling foot massages at his pool.

    “A better hobby than racing motorcycles or visiting strip clubs” That comment deserves a golden totebag, for putting them on the same level, far beneath productive diy.

  40. *”Summer electric bills here always make me cringe.”

    Bills. I don’t do bikes here in the summer. I barely do nighttime walks.

  41. “I had no interest in this kind of thing”
    I really don’t, either. LfB mentioned the cabinets in that one lake house; I never would have even noticed them. For lake houses, I look at general feel and layout, then things like deck, screened porch, dock, boathouse, type of yard. If the kitchen cabinets are any shade of wood, or white, they’re fine by me.

    As for house size, we had the chance a couple years ago to buy an 8k sf house on our court that was in foreclosure or a short sale or something. That was when I realized I really didn’t care about that any more. Also, we already had our renovated deck and screened porch, and that house had nothing and still has nothing. The people who bought it, refugees from Montgomery County, are batshit crazy. Well, the mom is, at least. And if you were to ever think that there’s a “type” of person who should be living in an 8k sf house, with a certain look about her, and a certain level of deportment, she ain’t it.

  42. AustinMom, I was in Austin last year, in early September, and was flattened by the heat. It wasn’t just the heat, but the lack of trees, and the vast swaths of concrete in the area where I was staying. I had to walk about half a mile to get from my hotel to the hotel where the conference was (no taxis, no Uber, no sidewalks even) and I was just dying. I don’t know what it was – I have been in Albuquerque in August, and had no problem walking around.

  43. Milo, I love Bar Harbor. We have gone there several times. We like to camp in that area.

  44. We originally thought we’d camp there, but 1) the campgrounds were fairly expensive, and rental houses were fairly cheap; 2) my parents were fine with getting a campground cabin, but those were even more expensive, so we just didn’t see the point, especially since taking our camper would mean that we couldn’t take our own bikes. Obviously different calculus if you use a tent.

  45. SM – you are making me laugh. Next thing you know, you will have your own HGTV home design show.

  46. Among the realistic things I would like: A bigger garage, gas stove, a full-size hot tub, and a bigger backyard.

  47. “if you were to ever think that there’s a “type” of person who should be living in an 8k sf house, with a certain look about her, and a certain level of deportment,”
    Why would I think that? I do remember when you were mulling that over. I was surprised at your decision. But you and I see these things differently. I can’t know how much of a change you’ve made by thinking about that house, but your comments about boat houses and screened-in porches with the fans just right and boats and so forth fall into the “category of “stuff S&M never would have thought of before the totebag”. It’s sort of like when a fashionista says ” why would you wear that shirt with those shoes?” and I think “well, gee, it’s cold out and they’re both insulated” or whatever.

  48. Mooshi, there are lots of trees in Austin!! Notably live oak, but there are others too. Maybe you were missing fall colors?

  49. Austin – ha! I keep my home office at 76. But I have to turn down the heat in our bedroom to 70 to sleep. I am going to have trouble when we go to the lake this month if it is hot! (Hoping for 70s without rain)

  50. “boat houses and screened-in porches with the fans just right and boats and so forth ”

    I’d say that I have a strong bias toward optimization and function. (The boathouse picture I shared earlier at the top of this thread is obviously way over the top.) That’s why, for example, the shade of cabinets don’t matter to me, but a ceiling fan is essential on a screened porch.

    And Scarlett ought to just have a screened porch built; they’re worth it and they don’t have to be that expensive. $30k will do it.

  51. but I don’t get it at all.

    I think you’ve mentioned that your brother doesn’t like to go anywhere. So I could understand being a home body and preferring a big house. But in that case, I guess you’d say, if you’re not going to be going anywhere then you might as well be on a lake and have some amenities vs. just having a lot of rooms you never go in.

  52. Meme – if you’re nearby do eat at the Buena Vista, corner of Hyde & Beach (a block east of Ghirardelli), especially for breakfast. Or at least have a (basic) drink.

  53. Milo, part of it is probably that there is only one time in my life when I’ve considered buying. In the end, I did’t. The part that’s interesting to me is trying to figure out, for example, why I always really wanted to be cooking something when I was in my parents’ first kitchen in Florida, but haven’t felt that way elsewhere, no matter how well-stocked the kitchen is. I’m sure if you pay attention to the cabinets and the counters and whether there’s a second sink and where it’s placed and the colors and all those other things, you’ll come up with something that works for you, and then you can build those soffits. Between being a renter and moving across the ocean four times as an adult, and other moves frequently, I’m either going to be a decorator queen or just not care, as long as it’s clean. It was always the latter, by hearing people talk about things I considered details in their environment got me thinking more about it.

    I think the stuff everyone is mentioning is connected to how they’d like to feel in their home and experiences they want there. That’s true for me too. I’ve just never made decisions about how to get there, aside from, say, buying the little loveseat on which I just replaced the screws holding the legs on. I do remember a friend gasping at a picture of the huge iron claw foot bathtub I had in Berlin and thinking “what? There are different kinds of bathtubs?” That’s probably part of why freestanding bathtubs appeal to me now. And the jacuzzi like in the second one I posted? Pure experience, baby! I like sauna complexes where you go back and forth between rooms and pools of different temperatures. I think there’s something to their reputation as keeping you warm for days after and preventing colds & winter misery. So cold shower, hot sauna, hot whirlpool, cold outside–I could do the whole thing at home!

    It’s nap time. I’m probably rambling.

  54. Milo, I think we’re saying much the same thing. Color does affect mood, so can be part of optimization. A red car won’t go faster, but could have a different feel than a beige one of the exact same make, model, & trim. In some circumstances, dark can feel cozy and nice. In others it can feel crowded and tight. But there are a lot of other variables that come into play in saying which it is.

  55. Yeah, I suppose.

    Part of it is that, compared to my mom, they’re not really “into” houses in the way that she is. She’s constantly redecorating and trying out different furniture looks, and stuff like that. My brother and his wife had someone come from Ethan Allen, pick whatever they needed, and that was that. It’s plenty nice, but it’s not personalized or particularly interesting. And again, I’m not saying this as an MMM criticism, because my mom wastes a lot of money on house crap, and I’m going to waste a lot of money on a big boat some day. It’s more a matter that I can’t quite figure out what the underlying motivation is for it.

    Since they do always ask for advice and opinions, when they were shopping, I lobbied for the idea that they spend half as much on a house and use the other half for a lake house. But they said they would never go, and they’re probably right.

  56. Regarding Trees in Austin. It depends where you are, with a number of areas that are not pedestrian friendly and sparse on shade. It is the humidity. Right now it is 90 with 49% humidity – making it feel like 102. Add no wind or a hot wind blowing on you, it is not for the faint of heart!

  57. It’s more a matter that I can’t quite figure out what the underlying motivation is for it.

    What’s the alternative, have another $2500/month accumulate in the old checking account? You might say but then they could retire early. But, I assume they don’t really care to.

  58. Sitting through rain delay at Wrigley FIeld and watching the grounds crew remove the tarp and prepare the field. Have not been to a MLB game in ages and was expecting the baseball equivalent of a Zamboni but they are doing everything by HAND. Literally Now a bunch of guys are scattering what looks like sand from buckets, with their bare hands, and other guys are carefully rolling it into the dirt with giant brooms. Is this a universal practice or just a Wrigley quirk?

  59. Rhett – Nope, today only 49%…but last week it was 106. I didn’t even look to what the “real feel” was that day. It would have only made it feel worse.

  60. Milo,

    I will say it’s nice to have something you enjoy spending money on. We have a bunch of trips coming up and every part of the planning and anticipation fills me with unadulterated delight. In your case you have the current boat. And of course the future boat that you will hopefully be able to spend your 50s thoroughly enjoying. But imagine if you were just “meh” about everything. It would be kinda sad.

  61. Yeah, I know. I totally agree. But like I said, they never seemed all that interested in it. And I could be misreading that part, too. They could be quietly interested in, or at least feel very satisfied with it, and that would be great.

  62. Austin has a humid climate and Albuquerque is desert or near desert. “Dry heat” as they say.

    The combo of swim exercise pool and hot tub is very popular according to our spa dealer.

  63. “I think the stuff everyone is mentioning is connected to how they’d like to feel in their home and experiences they want there.”

    See, that’s exactly it for me. I am neither the decorator queen nor the “please just let it be clean.” But I have visited and lived in enough locations to start to recognize characteristics that make me happy (light, views, high ceilings, a sense of space; the feeling that someone cared that you get from quality materials or craftsmanship, like old houses with built-ins; a sense of solidity and protection, which again can come with age and type of construction; the welcome feeling you get from comfy furniture that you can put your feet up on; unique quirks or things that are a little off-center or non-grid, like my angled hallway or a bay window) and unhappy (anything from the ’70s; too dark/cramped; too cavernous and empty; too cold or too cloying/cutesy; boxes in boxes/too much square/too regular; too much effort on being showy/”perfect,” or spaces that don’t feel like you’d be comfortable in, all of which I guess you could characterize as style over substance).

    So in the end, there are actually any number of architectural and design styles I could be very happy in, but they all share key components, like space and light and natural materials, and maybe a few imperfections or quirks. And some of the stuff that architectural afficianados like leaves me cold — e.g., I don’t like the really old authentic NE colonials, because the ceilings are so low and the windows are small and the rooms are always square and boxy, so it feels claustrophobic to me; also not a huge fan of true Victorians, because all the froofy just seems to be trying too hard.

  64. Feasibly, the bigger house isn’t happening for years. So I guess of the things I could have – an organized house, a better master closet, a reno’d upstairs bath, and a new kitchen (cabinets, counter top, and back splash – appliances are new). In order of those happening – organizing the house, the closet, and then a toss up between the bathroom and kitchen.

    I really need to win a small lotto. I don’t need megamillions (because who am I to think that I’ll be immune to all those problems that lotto winners have? Plus my family is large enough, don’t need crazies coming out of the woodwork to join the crazies I already know) but just enough to get these things done. So, maybe $50k after taxes? How about $100k? I’ll have extra left over for a new car, beefed up savings, etc. But then… if I get to a $100k, really $200K plus selling our house now would get us the forever home… crap. Just hand me the megamillions and a set me up to be profiled on “lotto ruined my life”.

  65. We are having a relatively cooler summer. No one this year could be heard complaining of the heat because there wasn’t a stretch of brutally hot days. Now are heading towards the fall and the temperatures are slowly moving downwards.

  66. This WSJ article on TV antennas reads like The Onion.

    I set up a TV outside with an HD antenna for our Olympics party and people were amazed! It’s so clear! How does it work? Just the other day I was introduced as, “This is Rhett, he’s the guy that showed me how to get rid of cable by using an antenna.”

  67. “Just hand me the megamillions and a set me up to be profiled on “lotto ruined my life”.”

    I’m also willing to take that chance. :D

  68. @Rhett: I like the windows and can live with the columns. Otherwise, I would be too nervous waiting for the little men in white coats to arrive with my daily meds.

  69. Austin did not feel particularly humid to me. I lived in Houston when I was little – now THAT is humid. Florida is humid. Louisiana is humid. But at least at the time I visited, it was more of a dry heat, and relentless sun, and no shade anywhere. There were a few things that were called “trees”, but did not provide shade. I realize this was just one part of Austin, and hopefully there are more shady areas, but I really felt like they had developed the area to make the climate effects worse rather than better. I have lived in eastern Washington, so I am familiar with a no-tree landscape, but this was brutal.

    About 15 years ago, SIL’s husband’s company relocated to Austin. The company offered to move them, so they went for a week to see what it was like. When they came back, they turned down the move. Why? They said “There are no trees there!”.

  70. “Some sort of whole house vacuum system.”

    We have one, and while we really like it, I have some suggestions for anyone considering installing one.

  71. Aaaaaannnnnnnd it’s hailing here. Bright blue skies 10 minutes ago, then Wrath of God rain, and now hail.

    Meanwhile, the big cat wanted to go outside a few hours ago, so I let him. Oops. Poor guy has never even gotten wet before! He is going to be one miserable kitty whenever he finally comes back from wherever he’s hiding out. :-)

  72. However, the cost of putting in a second unit and trying to get all the duct work redone is outrageous as the downstairs duct work is in the space between the two floors.

    Why can’t you just put dampers in the existing ductwork? That’s how zoned heating works, you don’t have separate furnace for each zone.

  73. We zoned our upstairs system two years ago and I think it was $2K or $3K (can’t quite remember as we had some other costs in there). I think you have to have a separate system for each floor here. The guy who did our kitchen was very down on the zoned system and didn’t recommend them.

  74. The guy who did our kitchen was very down on the zoned system and didn’t recommend them.

    What does he prefer?

  75. I sometimes see TLC’s “The Lottery Changed My Life.”

    Not all of the profiled people have discovered only misery and heartache from their newfound wealth. And I’m sure if you start with a group like this with generally higher-than-average abilities in delayed gratification, you could hand each of us $250,000,000 and we’d be fine in 20 years.

    I sometimes ponder that question in terms of the debate about inherited wealth. When they say that an inheritance can “ruin” an heir by rendering him lazy, how certain are they that the alternative would have been much better?

  76. I’m renovating my kitchen (finally) so hopefully I’ll get stuff I want. Also, some type of magic dehumidifier. and a craft room. to store all my yarn.

  77. Rhett – I think just an old fashioned system. I think he just thought there were more things that could go wrong with a zoned system and it was less efficient. We haven’t had any trouble with ours but it’s only been two years.

  78. “I learned my H wants a media room, his own study, a devoted exercise room, and a larger hobby room. We’ll have to up-size upon retirement!”

    Some people repurpose their kids’ rooms.

  79. “our windows are like this and are not conducive to most models of window AC units”

    Then how about a split system? They are more expensive than window units, but much quieter in the AC space, and more efficient. You can also cut the cost/room by having multiple rooms share a single compressor unit.

  80. Rhett, your 2:39 post sounds like what people were saying to you when you said you have nothing to look forward to in retirement.

    Mooshi, it occurred to me after Austin’s lost that you may have been in Balcones. That area was just getting started when I lived in Austin. It looked like much of it was going to be concrete-heavy research campuses. Did you get down to Barton Springs in Zilker Park? That’s very green. Austin will probably need to correct me on the exact name of the park.

    Laura, you said it better than me again. It isn’t a vanity or status “make me look good” thing. It’s knowing what you like, and having the inkling that you need to make choices for your own home and can reflect on what’s felt good to you in the past to inform those choices. As it happens, the specifics you mention also appeal to me. The pic Rhett posted looks about ready to move into and begin decorating. Wood floors are nice, but some nice big area rugs could warm that floor up for less $$, says the renter.

    Tampa’s summer rain has been coming early recently, but today it’s back to the normal time. I just heard thunder. It is the best part of summer weather here.

  81. I think a cupola, especially with jalousie windows to let in light and wind, coupled with sloped ceilings to funnel hot air up into it, would be a very nice feature for a house here, making it brighter as well as cooler.

  82. July, my parents did size up. Added on a sunroom after the last kid left, planned to buy an RV for years, then decided on a 2k sf+ house instead, later switched for 3k. There still isn’t enough space for everyone to visit at once. After a week renting a place in the beach in the Outer Banks for a week and seeing how my sisters fought (the little one thought we should all be pretty with her), they decided against that.

  83. Finn – split system?

    S&M – Austin has grown by leaps and bounds. Zilker park is very green and so are parts of the city. But other areas that are newly developed have few or no trees as they are building on farm land. I can think of several areas of Austin (metro) that would meet MMs description. And, while we aren’t as humid as Houston, the humidity we do have combined with the heat can make it very unpleasant if you next stop isn’t a pool or springs.

    Austin has had a tree ordiance that required you to get a permit to cut down large trees, to reduce the removal of large trees just to put a bigger house or a development there. Well, the legislature (governor) doesn’t like the tree ordinance and legislation was passed to prohibit such a thing. So much for local control…but I digress

  84. And I’m sure if you start with a group like this with generally higher-than-average abilities in delayed gratification, you could hand each of us $250,000,000 and we’d be fine in 20 years.

    I haven’t watched the show a few times but from what I’ve seen one of the main problems is people thinking $5 or $10 million is more money than it actually is. Depending on their age and retirement savings $5 million at 5% isn’t going to represent that much of a lifestyle change for a Totebag family that wanted to stop working. We’d also be more likely to invest in index funds and bonds rather than car washes or restaurants.

  85. My sons eco house with the solar panels uses split system. It can be added to a home for both cooling and heating nd the existing heating system used only for bone cold nights. Or just for cooling. And Mooshi, I got central air at 56. In a much cooler area than yours,. Im never going back. With proper air intake filters it also helps with allergies, respiratory ailments, excess summer humidity.

  86. AustinMom, I enjoyed your tree photos. While those trees are more “tree” than what we had in eastern WA (sagebrush, and some scrub), you are right that they aren’t trees in the northeast sense.
    I have to look up the name of the area where I was. There were upscale malls.

  87. OK, the conference hotel was on, ironically, Arboretum Boulevard. Which I remember as being a outdoor mall development, with those little scrubby trees planted on either side. So right around the hotel there was some shade. But I was staying in another hotel about half mile away, and until I reached the block that the conference hotel was on, there were no trees, just 8 lane roads. Here is the location of the conference hotel

  88. This is very similar to the pool I had at my prior house, and there was blue plumbago spilling over the rocks around the waterfall that stayed in bloom for a ridiculous amount of time. This is the one thing I really wish our house had. It is so hot and sticky here that hovering under the waterfall when the water was cold felt so refreshing. No one in my family misses the pool at all but me, so I know we’re not getting another one. (Plus, we would never pay that much) But when I take a walk in the Houston summer, I really pine for this.

  89. “the conference hotel was on, ironically, Arboretum Boulevard.”

    THEre was a joke about this in a movie we used to laugh about at work.

    A developer was in the dessert southwest and planted a couple of imported trees and christened the new subdivision “The Oaks at Mesa Vista.”

    I feel like Owen Wilson was in the movie. You, Me, and Dupree?

  90. Any new construction site is cleaned up, trees are planted, that grow very quickly here so in three years or you you would never think that this was a hot, bare construction site not too long ago. Poorly designed homes with their many lopsided roofs and gaping windows are hidden by giant screens of trees. On some projects which put their “designed by” boards upfront I want to scrawl something nasty but this being a polite place, I just wait for the tree screen.

  91. Ha! I dated a guy who lived at the Arboretum. It is right around the area i was thinking of. He took the bus to work downtown (he was VP of a bank), used to try to tell me that his area was very smart, evonand pedestrian-friendly development. I disagreed. When he got his golden parachute, he started a new urbanism development group.

    Mooshi, what year did you leave Lex? My time in Austin was late 89-Dec 91.

  92. Re: the lotto

    It’s not me I’m worried about. It’s the fact I live in a state where you can’t remain anonymous. That means I’ll have family I never knew I had. I couldn’t live as the Millionaor Next Door!

    Though if I won enough of the pot, I suppose I could hire someone to vet people asking for money.

    Alone? It wouldn’t change me. Not significantly. My finance guy would see a bump in pay…

  93. MM – Yes. I am very familiar with that area. We live pretty close to that. I’m guessing you were staying at the Holiday Inn. That is a brutal half mile in the heat.

    However, the new development – Domain – has “stolen” most of the stores out of the Arborteum. The hotel is still the main anchor to that location. Across the street, the initial draw was an upscale Tom Thumb (think about one level below Whole Foods and with more mainstream products). There wasn’t enough demand in the early 90s for it.

  94. Finn – Have never seen that before. Interesting idea, may need to look into that.

  95. Our house is only about 10 years old, and we built it so we have lots of things I wanted. My favorite parts of the house are the walk-in pantry (if I had a magic wand I would double the size), the laundry room with shelves big enough to hold laundry baskets, and the mud-room-like cubbies. These 3 things are all in/off the hallway between the kitchen and garage and it’s pretty much my favorite area. I bumped out the laundry room to expand it vs. the model and also added the cubbies. I think changes make a huge change in my everyday life. A few years ago we screened in our deck and that was another big win. We love it and use it so much more now.

    I wish I had realized the boys’ bathroom layout was really terrible, and we should have rethought it. I want Alice too. And in a perfect world, it would have a fabulous gulf front view and be steps away from the beach. We are in flyover country so that is not an option.

    In other news, I’m hanging in Santa Barbara for an extra night after a business trip. Added a vacation day to get a day by the beach and pool. Give me my kindle, a cold drink and a water view and all is right in the world.

  96. It’s funny but when I googled MM’s Austin hotel location I saw lots of trees. I guess it’s relative since I grew up in the desert. I used to live in that general area of Austin, off Metric Boulevard, and it never struck me as lacking trees. Also, if you really want to talk about lack of trees, look at Notrees in west Texas, a few miles north of another place where I lived at one time.

  97. When we moved to Kansas we visited a new subdivision that advertised “wooded greenspace”. When I asked “where are the woods?” the broker replied “we haven’t planted them yet.” The concept of planting the woods was foreign to me. I learned quickly that “wooded lot” meant someone had plunked a maple sapling in the middle of the back yard.

  98. I stayed at the Hyatt House, which is on a divided multiland road, surrounded by vast parking lots. When I look at the satellite image (and I remember doing that when I was booking, to see what it looked like) it appears to be green, at least outside of the parking lots. So when I went there, I pictured something parklike. But no, those trees are what we would call ornamental trees, not shade trees. They are small and planted away from the sidewalks and parking lots, so the true effect is sun beating down on asphalt.

    July, the photo you posted looks a lot like the eastern Washington of my youth but much flatter.

  99. My late grandparents’ little 1948 cape cod has been totally remade into a two-story colonial. It’s kind of shocking. They kept the c. 1990 family room addition, which always was a great room with vaulted ceilings and windows on three sides, but they then added an additional, two-story “wing” at the other end of the house.

    Two-car detached garage is unchanged. There’s a scene in an early Mad Men of Don pulling into the garage in Ossining, and the details of the walls, with the exposed and faded framing, and some stuff hanging on it, it was a sudden memory rush.

  100. July, I recall that when I spent a semester at the Bureau of Economic Geogolgy (what a euphemism!), there was a topo sheet of some quadrant out in West Texas that actually included a tree, because being the only tree in the area made it a significant marker. I would love to know which quadrant it was, but can’t, for the life of me, remember. Do you have any idea?

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