10 Things to Look for in a House if You Have Children

10 Things to Look for in a House if You Have Children

Your life at home with children will be easier if your house has some version of these features.

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Houzz Contributor, Laura Gaskill

If you have kids (or are planning to) and you’re shopping for a house, your what-to-look-for checklist is probably already a mile long. To avoid getting swamped by the home buying process, focus on what you really want from your home. Beyond the basics of location, price, condition and school district, what would really make a home a great fit for your family? Consider adding these 10 items to your home buying wish list — and then share your own ideas in the Comments.

1. Entry storage. From the strollers and car seats of the baby stage to the sports gear and backpacks of the older years, a never-ending parade of stuff comes with having children in the house — and the more places you have to put this stuff when you walk in the door, the better! Look for a house with built-in entry storage, from closets and cabinets to cubbies and shelves. Having an entry out of view of the rest of the house is ideal, so you can enjoy your home without staring at the gear in the entryway all the time.

2. Convenient laundry. A laundry in the basement may not be the first thing you notice at an open house, but if you have young children, you might want to give the laundry zone a little more thought. Having the washer and dryer on the main level — in a mudroom or off the kitchen, for instance — comes in incredibly handy when you’re wrangling small children who go through more wardrobe changes in one day than Lady Gaga. A laundry near upstairs bedrooms is another good option, since this will likely mean a lot less schlepping of heavy baskets up and down the stairs.

3. Stairs that can be safely gated. Speaking of stairs, if you are looking at homes with more than one level, pay attention to the stairs and railings. Look for stairs that can be gated easily at the top and bottom, and sturdy railings without any wide gaps. Airy, open staircases may look beautiful, but if you can’t easily block them, life with a little one will be very stressful.

4. Ditto for the kitchen. While being able to see what’s going on in the living room while you chop veggies for dinner is a definite plus, it still pays to consider how you can gate off the cooking area to keep curious little hands out. Door openings that are larger than standard size may require custom (read: costlier) solutions. Of course, you may decide you don’t need to separate this area … but it never hurts to think about it before you buy.

5. Built-in storage. Built-in storage means more places to neatly stash your family’s stuff, without worrying about anchoring tall, topple-prone pieces of furniture to the wall. Ideally, look for built-in shelving in the living room or family room with open shelves above and closed cabinets below.

6. Kid-friendly bathroom. We’re not talking about a themed bathroom here, but a functional space that will work well for your family. Look for a bathroom with a tub and plenty of room to maneuver — you may be spending a remarkable number of hours perched on a stool beside that tub, so comfort and spaciousness count! Other details to look for include a bathroom mirror that comes down close to the sink (so little ones can actually see themselves), and storage space for bath toys and extra towels, and if you have a large family, multiple faucets are a big plus.

7. Bonus space. When you have kids, extra space is always a good thing. Look for an area of the home that has the potential to be used in a number of different ways, from playroom to home office to nursery for a future sibling. If the space (attic, basement) is not finished, find out what it would take to make this area usable in the future.

8. Fenced yard. Even a small yard can offer big possibilities to a child, from building play forts to digging in the dirt. For your own peace of mind, look for a backyard that is fully, securely fenced, so you can let creative play happen without worrying your little explorer will go toddling off toward the street.

9. A view of the outdoors. Being able to take care of a little chore inside and still have a view of your child playing can be a huge help. A bonus benefit of having a good view of your outdoor space — whether through generous windows, sliding glass doors or French doors — is that it will encourage you and your family to actually use it!

10. Master suite. As a parent, having a space to call your own is so important. Sure, you may end up sharing the space with a toddler who had bad dreams or a random pile of Lego bricks more often than you would like, but knowing that this space is officially yours is worth it. Look for a master bedroom with its own private bathroom and a spacious closet. French doors leading to your own private balcony or patio? Major bonus.

Grilles: The Perfect Finishing Touch to Any Home Style

Grilles: The Perfect Finishing Touch to Any Home Style

Planning a renovation or building new? Andersen Windows explains how window grilles can amplify your home’s style and highlight the best features of a home.

Brought to you by Andersen Windows

When it comes to the finishing touches on a home’s exterior, window grilles can amplify your home’s style and highlight the best features of a home. From stately colonials to quaint cottages, classic farmhouses to craftsman bungalows, grilles help frame views, inside and out.

400 Series Woodwright Double-Hung Windows, Custom Grilles   Prairie Home Style

Whether building new or replacing old windows, today’s grilles offer significant advantages over the traditional grille construction methods – meaning homeowners don’t have to sacrifice energy performance or simplified maintenance to achieve the look they want for their homes. Here’s a quick overview of the different grille construction methods used today:

Full divided light grilles: This style gives your window an authentic look with full divided light grilles that are permanently applied to the interior and exterior of the window with a spacer between the glass, giving the look of the classic grille window construction.
Simulated divided light grilles: Simulated divided light features permanent grilles on the exterior but for Andersen window styles, homeowners can choose between permanent or removable interior grilles. There is no spacer between the panes of glass.
Interior removable grilles: The grilles are only on the interior of the pane, and are removable for easy cleaning.
Between-the-panes: The style that perhaps makes cleaning and maintenance the easiest, Andersen® Finelight grilles are installed between the glass panes and feature a contoured profile.

Depending on the window, it may be possible to add grilles to an existing window, bringing even more value to a style upgrade that can be accomplished quickly and at minimal cost.

While the construction methods may be thoroughly modern, grille patterns can be ordered to match any style of a home—in fact, Andersen can create custom grille patterns for unique architectural projects or historic restoration work. An overview of the most popular grille patterns related to home styles across the country can be found in the Andersen Home Style Library.

Living in Style

Living in Style: Queen Anne

Love Victorian homes? Learn what makes the Queen Anne style predictably unpredictable.

Brought to you by Andersen Windows

From 1880 to 1910, the Queen Anne style so completely dominated Victorian residential architecture that it has become synonymous with the word “Victorian” for so many people.

Queen Anne architecture displays a taste for all things current and fashionable. This desire led people to embrace the possibilities of mass production that made design elements more affordable and more obtainable. As such, the wall surfaces in Queen Anne style homes became primary decorative elements by incorporating gables, bay windows, towers, overhangs, wall projections, trim and multiple cladding materials of various textures.

This beautiful New Orleans property is listed by Irene Lutkewitte with Coldwell Banker TEC Realtors for $2,875,000.

This “more is more” mindset is well represented in the many style elements found in Queen Ann architecture, such as:

• Textured surfaces, decorative patterns of wood or stone, various colors of shingles and slate
• Elaborate decorative trim, stained glass and an array of colors
• Towers, turrets, porches, balconies, and bay windows
• Tall, double-hung windows, with the upper sash decorated with art glass or with a decorative grille pattern

This stunning Queen Anne home located in Oak Bluff, MA is listed by Theresa Geary with Coldwell Banker Landmarks Real Estate for $3,650,000.

The result is an exuberant collection of eclectic details combined in delightful and unexpected ways. It’s this predictable unpredictability that makes Queen Anne one of our favorite styles at Andersen and explains the enduring charm and draw of this particular home style.

Learn more about the Queen Anne style at Andersen Windows’ online Home Style Library.

Some Ideas to Shake Up your Living Room

5 Living Room Design Ideas That Are Truly Smart

Many homeowners dream up living room design ideas that never take off. It could be that they don’t have the budget or the space to make those ideas a reality. If you want to give your living room a makeover, read on for some ultra-smart ideas to instantly update your  home.

1. Shake up a can of spray paint.

The best living room design ideas are often the simplest ones. If your home has a few items that have seen better days — perhaps a dusty old lamp or a scratched-up table — don’t toss them. Instead, reach for a can of spray paint. Just prime the pieces and spray on a fresh coat of paint. Here’s a helpful how-to before you get started.

2. Use paint and paper strategically.

Did you come across a gorgeous wallpaper that you’d love to see in your home? Don’t commit to papering the entire wall; apply only in look-at-me places, such as an art nook or inside a chair rail. The same idea goes for paint. Bring a cheery pop of yellow or soothing shade of green into your living room by painting a square above your couch or on an open wall.

3. Bring in a few statement pieces.

When thinking of living room design ideas, remember that it doesn’t take much to freshen up your space. Look for statement pieces in vibrant colors or bold prints, and arrange them around the room. You might opt for a uniquely patterned pillow or a one-of-a-kind knickknack from the Dallas Flea Market.

4. Perk up your color palette.

If you’ve played it safe with your living room decor, sticking to mostly neutral colors or blacks and whites, it may be time to pump up the energy. You can give your space an eclectic look and revamp the look and feel by bringing in some unexpected colors. Get some inspiration by checking out Pantone’s fall colors for 2015.

5. Forget about symmetry.

There’s no rule that says everything in your living room needs to be perfectly balanced. In fact, by throwing things out of whack a touch, you’ll do wonders for breathing new life into your room. Instead of centered directly over your couch, consider moving artwork off to the left or right. And instead of hanging a pendant light directly above a table, position it off to one side. By making these small tweaks, you’ll create a space that’s composed but not over-the-top organized.

There you have it: A few smart living room design ideas that go a long way towards reinvigorating the coziest room in your home. Which ideas will you try?