Making A House Hunting Wish List

First off, my cheeky hubby has decided he’s deserving of a public “you were right.” So here it is. Check out this video from a year ago where he calls that we’ll move someday while I vehemently deny it (skip to 5 minutes and 45 seconds). Who’s married to a know it all? This girl (points to self with thumbs).

Before I climbed on the moving bandwagon UHaul with my smarty pants spouse, we rethought a bunch of potential layout adjustments to this house and even entertained the idea of an addition instead (which we also tossed out as an option in the above video over a year ago). But the fact that the already-here part of our home isn’t very flexible (the layout would have to stay pretty much the same) made us realize that an addition wouldn’t change things about the existing layout and allow us as much function and potential as an entirely new house would. So I slowly started to come around. But the revelation hardly happened overnight. Here’s my range of emotions over the last half of a year of so:

No! I love it here. I’ll die here. You’ll have to pry this house out of my cold dead hands. Wait. More projects? More function? I am kind of a function freak. I’ll think about it. Nope, I don’t care. We got married here! We can’t just abandon our beloved house. Grr, I wish we just had one more bedroom and a full second bath instead of a half bath. What about an addition? Hmm, you’re right, that’s not going to work. But I love it here! We love it here! It’s our home! Well, I am kind of bored. Are you bored? Fine, you might be right. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a pantry? Oh don’t play the Clara card. Fine, I agree that it would be an amazing thing for our family. And we wouldn’t be bored anymore. And it would be fun for the blog since we’d have a million new projects to share. Geez louise. Am I actually considering this? I am? Fine. I’m in. Let’s do this crazy thing! Wanna go house hunting after dinner?

I’m one of those people. I can fight something with every fiber of my being, but once I decide to go for it I’m 100% in. No more fluctuating or hemming and hawing. It’s like I run a full body scan about how I feel for a few months by playing devil’s advocate to be sure it’s really what I want. And then I submit with boundless puppy-like enthusiasm.

So that’s how we got here. As for what we’re looking for, we basically have a good amount of living space in this house (a sunroom, a den, a living room, a kitchen, a dining area, a front porch, a back patio) but we only have three very small bedrooms on the other side of the house. So with a baby, a need for a full time two person office, and a bedroom for ourselves we’re bursting at the seams. And we realize that with a future kid (or kids) on the agenda in a few years it’ll definitely get even tighter. It’s amazing how when we moved in just four and a half years ago we didn’t use either of the two spare bedrooms and now we work/play/sleep guests in one and sleep our baby in the other. It’s just funny how things change.

Which is why we’re gonna go for a McMansion this time. Something along these lines:

Just kidding. Of course we’re looking for another humble and modestly sized seen-better-days home – with maybe two full bathrooms instead of one and a half and one more bedroom, but nothing too insane. We’d hate to clean a huge house anyway. We’re more in the market for a home with just a bit more space than we currently have (which adds up to around 1700 square feet counting the sunroom and the basement, which aren’t heated and cooled, which is why our house is labeled as 1350 finished square feet). To have room for another bambino someday would be grand. And a wee bit more breathing room would be nice in the meantime – especially since we live and work from home, so we’re here nearly 24/7. Oh and the idea of two showers instead of one thrills us to no end. You know, so we can renovate one while using the other (instead of hosing John down outside in sub zero temperatures like we did when we tackled our current bath redo).

And of course we’re looking for a different layout since we mentioned that part of the reason an addition wasn’t the answer to “saving” this house because the existing floor plan isn’t quite doing it for us anymore. Speaking of the layout, here’s what we’d love in the next house (we don’t think we’ll get all of these features in one house, but it’s nice to map them all out and hopefully find something with a good amount of them):

  • Easy access from the kitchen to a BBQ/eating area on a patio or back deck (right now we walk through the den, laundry nook, sunroom and then go down stairs and all the way across our patio to get to the table and the grill- which is probably why we hardly ever eat outside)
  • A kitchen that we can expand into a family room (yay for knocking down walls) with a big island for kids to do homework and a cozy sectional in the seating area beyond. We’ve always loved the idea of creating a place where a lot of our friends and family can gather (and being able to accommodate everyone in one big room would be awesome).
  • A pantry. That would just be fun since we’ve been using two kitchen cabinets as a pantry for so long. We’d feel like royalty with a pantry to call our own.
  • Four bedrooms (or three bedrooms and an office) of which at least three bedrooms are on one floor. Since the fourth room can be devoted to an office it doesn’t need to be near the other three – but if we have two kids someday we’ll want a way to keep their rooms and our bedroom on the same level while they’re in that young don’t-leave-them-up-to-their-own-devices stage.
  • High ceilings would be amazing, but that might just be a pipe dream. Consider this bullet “icing on the cake” territory.
  • A flat-ish backyard without a big treacherous drop off (for B & C’s safety).

We’re definitely open to all home types (colonials, split levels, bungalows, another ranch, etc). Just as long as it’s nice and old and not too monstrous in size. Who knows where we’ll actually end up. But speaking of the age of the house, here are some of our non negotiable must haves:

  • Built a nice long time ago (we just love an old home with character and eons of potential behind all those dated decorating decisions of yore)
  • Located in a walkable neighborhood (our long evening walks keep all four of us happy and sane)
  • Within our budget (duh)
  • Great schools (Clara’s education is the most important thing in the end)
  • A safe and well loved neighborhood (the reasoning behind the word “safe” is obvious, and the “well loved” thing just means that even if our house needs help we’d love to be on a block with a few homes that have already been spruced up, so we don’t risk over-improving our house for a crumbling-around-us neighborhood). We’re trying to keep that whole” pick-the-worst-house-in-the-best-neighborhood” thing in our head.

We’re also looking for a house just like this one was (totally livable and safe for us to work on it as we went) as opposed to a falling down house that needs months of work to make it habitable. You know cause we have a baby and a dainty-ish small dog. Plus updating kitchens and bathrooms and making other cosmetic changes while we live there is the sweet spot for us anyway.

Beyond our must-haves and our layout like-to-haves, we have a few other would-be-nice features on our list:

  • A fenced in backyard that’s Burger-ready (of course we can tackle this project if we don’t find one as-is)
  • A private backyard (we just love ours so much that it might be the hardest thing to leave behind)
  • A garage (since we have things like mowers and bikes that we’d rather not store inside- although a shed could work too)

We figure we’ll know when we find the one, just like we knew instantly when we walked into this house. And we’ll get to add another key to our key frame. So stay tuned for more house hunting details as we embark on those adventures. Of course we plan to share what we look at and what we like/dislike along the way…

McMansion image found here.


  1. Lesley says

    Do you guys worry at all about lead paint (or other unsafe building materials used) with buying such an older house?

    • says

      Great question! We have learned all about lead paint (there are tons of websites that can shed some light on the subject) but basically as long as your walls and ceilings aren’t cracking and chipping and you have a fresh seal of paint on the walls it seals the lead in. Basically we plan to have an inspection (which can identify chipped or peeling lead paint hazards) and then paint everything fresh when we move in (for even more “insurance” against the lead paint that will then be layers beneath the surface thanks to the new paint). The only time we worry about it is when we knock down walls, but using plastic sheets to contain renovation dust and then wiping down everything with TSP is the recommended lead paint remediation approach, so we’re very careful and of course will keep Clara and Burger well clear of anything like that!


  2. says

    Oooh! Okay, I’m ready to go house hunting now! {I am coming with you, right?} I just love walking through ‘for sale’ homes and imagining all the possibilities. The only bad part about picking one is not getting to peruse everyone else’s homes anymore. Can’t wait to see what you look at and find. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Katie says

    Ooh. I love wish lists! We made one during our house hunt & when we found our dream house, we knew right away! I hope your list comes true too!

    Our list:
    50’s ranch with character. 3 bed. 1.5 to 2 bath. Move in ready, but ready to be made-our-own. Full basement. Attached garage. Big backyard w/ privacy. A place to eat outside (patio/deck/screened porch).

  4. Lesley says

    I knew your guys would have it covered! :) I didn’t realize that lead paint was easy to contain, provided there are no chips/cracks–good to know! Thank you as always for the quick and very informative response!

  5. says


    I’m *totally* the same way when it comes to my thoughts processes. The last big decision like that was made when we decided to get married. One day I wanted nothing to do with it, the next day I was ready to get married IMMEDIATELY! I’m sure the same thing will happen when I decide to have kids (not yet, but I bet it’ll be a complete 180).

    And ya know what??? That’s OKAY by me! GOOD LUCK WITH EVERYTHING!!!


  6. LauraC says

    Neat! Your list sounds really similar to our list of a year and a half ago. We love our home (’48 brick Cape Cod)! The only thing we didn’t get in the I-really-want-it-but-it’s-not-a-must was a porch, of the Craftsman variety. Oh well. We did end up with a 3 bdm as opposed to a 4, but it has an open, attached-to-the kitchen room which functions as our office. It’s great! We do only have two bedrooms upstairs, but our two kiddos are sharing for now. Also, I hear you in the needs-to-be-livable-while-we-fix-it-up category. We’ve done a lot, but only cosmetically. I’m proud to announce that as of two days ago there is no longer any wallpaper in our home!!! Now to paint . . .

  7. Ashley says

    I just wanted to say that I completely understand what you mean about a pantry being high on your list of wants! My husband and I just bought our first home and one of the things I was most excited about was the pantry. I had never lived anywhere with one before (my parent’s house doesn’t even have a pantry!). So yeah, it changed my life. And I know it will change yours too!

  8. says

    we didn’t want to move from our last place, and so we put the (sunroom) addition on, not thinking that it didn’t actually solve the problem we had with the layout of the house (no separate office for this work-from-home girl, only one bathroom, etc.) when we sold two years later, it probably helped sell our house more quickly, because it was different from the competition, but we certainly didn’t get all of that money back.

    good for you for thinking it through and making a good decision for you and your family!

  9. TG says

    A couple of thoughts on your house hunt: watch the age of the mechanicals in the older homes in terms functionality and efficiency. A heater may be old and working but it may cost you a lot more to run. Also, since you have an office in your house the electrical threshhold may be lower than what you use. My home office computers seriuosly inflated my electrical bill and periodically blew fuses. I needed an electrical upgrade since we have more devices. Good luck. I am looking forward to reading about your new house adventures.

  10. says

    actually, i think updating a mcmansion could be kind of fun. imagine– tossing all of the “lowest price at home depot” fixtures and putting some REAL stuff into that house!
    (gold tone faucets and beige wall-to-wall carpet spring to mind. shudder. how awful.)

  11. says

    It’s tough to know what you really need in a home until you’ve bought one of your own. Personally, I went from (pre-house), “laundry in the garage isn’t so bad” to (now), “MUST have a laundry room in the next house!” Luckily, I’m not quite in that “forever” home :).

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