Home » building a house » My favorite things – Part Deux

My favorite things – Part Deux

Every once in a while, I’ll open up my blog dashboard and check the stats. Without fail, I have to shake my head and laugh. Here I am, a contemplative writer, eager to share my deepest thoughts and observations, and the one post that generates hundreds of views every day?

This one.

Y’all. I didn’t even open a Pinterest account or board or whateveritscalled until last week when I needed a new hairstyle. But somehow the pictures of my house ended up on Pinterest, and people like them. So in the spirit of peace on earth and goodwill to moms, I’ve compiled a sequel—which, in my opinion, is even better than the first because we’ve lived in our house for almost four years, so these are the tried-and-true, I-really-do-love-them kind of ideas.

1. The hutch in the kitchen. I store my cookbooks and casual serving pieces here, and the countertop is where we always put the drink station when we host a big party. It’s also next to our dining table, so I store all the silverware, placemats, and napkins in the drawers. It works beautifully. (Especially after the Christmas decorations go back into the attic.)


2. The island. Both our architect and our builder double-checked to make sure we didn’t want to put the sink or stovetop on the island, but it was never a question for us. We had the same island (minus a foot or two) in our old house, and we loved it. This is where everyone gathers for parties. It’s long enough to fit all the food, plates, and utensils for a large gathering. The trash can is the pull-out on the end, so I can wipe all the crumbs straight in. We have five feet between the island and the counter so there is plenty of room for passing through while people fill their plates.

Plus, this is where the kids set up shop—just as we intended. They eat their breakfasts, do their homework, read the comics, have their snacks—all in this space as I cook dinner or wipe down the counter or sort the mail. It’s a safe place for them to talk to me, and I love it. Meghan’s “office” is in the lefthand corner. Most days, you can find there her laptop, notes, papers, socks, shoes, dance bag, and three dozen cups & plates from the past two weeks. That I don’t love so much.


3. Dining room storage. We got this idea from Michael’s parents, who built their house with similar cabinets when he was three years old. As you may have noticed, I can’t stand clutter, and I’m a tad OCD about stacks and piles. But disorganized clutter in a family of five is inevitable, so I’m all about hiding stuff behind closed doors. I don’t want to look at the crap. Here is the first example of A Beautiful Coverup.


4. Mixer stand with pop-up platform. I can’t remember where I first saw this, but I loooooove it. Those KitchenAid mixers are a beast, man. You could easily throw your back out trying to lift it. And again, I don’t want to see it, so this is a perfect solution. The pull-out drawer at the bottom is perfect for the mixer accessories. (Helpful hint for homebuilders: remember to put an outlet at the back of this cabinet.)


5. Mud room lockers. Again, it’s all about the cover-up. Baskets for shoes, locker with a door for each family member. We also put two hooks, a shelf, and an outlet for charging devices. In theory, this is where the devices would sleep overnight, but that doesn’t always happen. My friend, Gracie, built her house before ours, and she didn’t put doors on their lockers. She told me that every time she walks into her mudroom, she thinks, “This does NOT look like the Pottery Barn catalog!” I highly recommend the doors. Doors also contain the odors of gym bags and forgotten lunch bags.


6. Spice racks. These make me happy.


7. Broom/cleaning closet. I think I found this on Houzz when we were in the final stages of building. It works superbly well. We need to add a light to this closet, but otherwise, it’s almost perfect. Also, I should have made at least one shelf a little taller for large bottles of vinegar and vacuum attachments that now only fit on the floor.


8. Fireproof cabinets for photo albums. I KNOW, RIGHT?!? When our first two kids were babies and we lived in our first house, I had a nightmare that woke me up in a cold sweat. I had dreamed the house was on fire, and I told my husband, “YOU GET THE KIDS! I’LL GET THE SCRAPBOOKS!” …and when I woke, I started thinking cognitively about how that would work. Um, it wouldn’t. And that sent me into a panic. I have dozens of scrapbooks worth hundreds and hundreds of hours—and dollars—of work (I was scrapbooking before we had internet and digital cameras). So I began devising a plan, and this is the result:



I ordered the cabinets from an office supply wholesaler, gave the measurements to our architect, and he designed a cabinet space for them. The actual process of installing them didn’t happen as smoothly as it should have—the sub-contractors built the space 1/2″ too narrow, and the cabinets wouldn’t fit in them, so the builder had to tear out dry wall, the cabinet maker had to rebuild the doors…it was a little bit of a mess, but it turned out fine. That’s usually how life goes.

The bottom drawer keeps our important documents (passports, wills, birth certificates), and the space above the cabinets holds extra throw blankets and pillows:


9. Master bathroom appliance garage. All credit goes to our architect for throwing in this little gem. I love it so much. My hair dryer, flat iron, curling iron, and electric toothbrush charger are all within reach, but I don’t have to look at them or their messy cords.



So there you go. Four years later, I still walk around our house thinking, “I can’t believe we get to live here!” We had an excruciating amount of time to dream, design, and plan, and it was worth every second.

I love to hide all the clutter in my house, but otherwise I’m all about transparency and authenticity. After you pin and copy and collect ideas for your own home, I hope you’ll stick around and check out some of my deeper thoughts.


7 thoughts on “My favorite things – Part Deux

  1. Pingback: My Favorite Things: A Novel (Written from Prison) | from the corner of my couch

  2. What do I ask my builder? Is it a built in sound system you have?? Thank you for sharing your favorites!! Building our first home!

  3. I know this is an older post but I am just now seeing it. Love the island. what are the dimensions if you don’t mind.

  4. Obviously your post has really been helpful! I have written down things I want when we build, but none of this stuff which makes way more sense! Thanks for this and post more if you think of something!

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