We haven’t done a “Building Series” post in a while, and I have been stockpiling a bunch of “do you regret doing…. when you built” questions. My house is currently in a confused standoff of pumpkins vs Christmas ornaments as I prepare holiday content, so now seems like a good time to answer a few!
First off, I will say because this is our 5th house and we spent SO much time being really thoughtful about our needs/wants for this hopefully forever home. So, that the regrets are thankfully few and far between. It’s a daunting task to take on the expense and decision making of building your own home, and every little decision can feel like the end all be all when you are in the thick of it!
We realized this time around that the floor plan was the number one thing we wanted to concentrate on. We cut costs in other areas to make sure we got the layout exactly right. I will say that we are to the limit on every single lot line in our allowed footprint, so there are a few spots where I would have bumped out the house differently here or there (more for architectural interest vs bigger space), but we weren’t able to do so due to our setback restrictions. I will also say, of course, that there are a zillion things we would have added if
the Mr. WE hadn’t been so committed to sticking to our budget. But off the top of my head, here are a few things that I would change.
Pantry – I love having a large walk-in pantry, but now that I have lived with it a bit, I would reconfigure a few things. I thought open shelving would be so great in here for my kids to just grab what they needed and go – and it is – BUT things are usually a mess in here after they come flying through after school. It’s really not that big of a deal, but this sliding door is always open, and I think doing big drawers along the bottom filled with snacks would have served us better in here.
These drawers we have in our kitchen would have been nice for the back wall, and I could tuck bins inside with different snack sections.
Fridge – while we are in the pantry, let’s talk about my regrets with my fridge/freezer situation. Looking back, I realized I have such a large pantry that I could have put a full-size freezer in the pantry and a full-size fridge in the kitchen. The appliance store manager actually suggested this at the time, but I couldn’t quite picture it. Now that I have seen several examples of this on Pinterest, I could kick myself. When we entertain in the summer, our fridge is constantly overflowing and this would have been SO nice! Our freezer is always jam-packed too because we live so far out from the grocery store and I try to stock up to save trips. In a dream world, I would also have put an ice maker in the pantry as well rather than on the fridge door. We run out of ice at least once a week in the summertime when we have a house full of kids and friends. It’s on my “someday years from now wish list” to reconfigure this space a bit.
Kitchen Island – I absolutely love the look of our island. Our cabinet maker did an amazing job on it. This is one spot where I picked form over function though. The open storage on the sides is such a fun detail, BUT if we hadn’t done that, we could have fit a full 4 barstools here. I anticipated us eating at the breakfast nook at all times and we do. The island was going to be a snack/homework place for the kids and it is, but I didn’t figure their friends into this scenario. It would be nice to fit the kids and their friends at the bar there after school.
Workout room – I haven’t even really shared this room on the blog as it’s not ready for its internet debut yet (you can see it on my Instagram tour) we have an extra bedroom/workout room in the basement as well as an unfinished storage space (also not ready for the internet!). I wish we had made the workout room a true guest bedroom and the unfinished storage space into a finished workout space. I was so excited at the thought of having basement storage that I forgot about the fact that we have an entire 2 stall garage across the street for storage. We really didn’t need both spaces. Our plans are still to have a guest space across the street in the pool house (which is why we didn’t worry about a guest room when we were building), but there have been a handful of times where a guest room in the house would have been helpful.
Closet – our master closet is smaller in this house than our last few houses, and it is constantly disorganized because of its size. If we both (ok really just me) were a bit more cutthroat with getting rid of some old things, we could make it work better for us. I also talk in this budgeting post about how we saved money in here by using wire closet systems. I think if we swap it out someday for a better closet system that will help. Our master bathroom is much bigger than it needs to be and we could have easily stolen some space from the bathroom for a bigger closet.
Heated floors – which leads me to another small regret, the tile floors in the bathroom! We have heated floors through our whole basement level and it is SO nice! Why our kids have nice toasty bathroom floors all winter long and we don’t is so not fair haha! I so wish this is something we would have added to the master too.
It’s a pretty short list so far, at least after 2 1/2 years of living here! Minus a few cosmetic things here and there (remember we already changed the carpet out in the basement and painting the wet bar cabinets is happening soon too!) those are my only regrets as of now. Here are a few reader questions that I’ve gotten as you all are building and making your own decisions:
Wood floors – Do I regret our engineered white oak wood floors (find them here)? I have a whole saved Instagram story on our flooring that is super helpful, but I will say that I still love these floors. They are beautiful in person and add a lot to our home. They have a raw UV oil finish, which is more high maintenance and we do have to worry more about spilling and moisture. We run a dehumidifier in the summer and a humidifier in the winter to keep them happy (although we had to do this in our last house on the lake with our solid wood floors too, it’s just one of the hard things about being so close to the water). That said, they didn’t have all the amazing luxury vinyl plank options when we were building and I have seen some really beautiful ones since. In fact, I think that is what will end up going in the pool house down the road. I think I would still choose these because I love them, but we know that we have to be careful in the kitchen especially. We have felt pads on everything, we don’t wear our shoes in the house, and we don’t have a house full of 80 lbs dogs running around.
Screened/Covered Porch – I have been asked numerous times now why we didn’t put in a screened porch or a covered porch off of our bedroom or dining area. I think covered porches are so nice, but I hate how closed in they make the space attached to them feel. It really cuts down on the natural light a room gets and I wasn’t willing to sacrifice that. We have a lot of mature trees surrounding our house thankfully so we have a good amount of shade most of the time. We also don’t deal with bugs too much out on the deck, not sure if it’s because we are up higher or there is good breeze off the lake? I also burn a citronella candle if we sit out there at night too.
The molding/board and batten/ceiling treatments in our house – Someone emailed me asking me if I think I will regret this down the road. The answer so far is no. I really wanted a classic, cottagey vibe and I think board and batten and wood molding is something that is pretty classic in that sense. My grandparents built a cottage across the lake 64 years ago and all the walls and ceilings are paneled in pine and I still love it. I think it adds character and interest without taking away from the lake views.
Kitchen configuration – Our kitchen isn’t set up like most new modern builds where there is one back counter and a massive island that is completely open to the rest of the home. It’s a bit more old school and feels like its own room tucked back into the corner. I actually love old houses (our first home was built in 1939), and if we didn’t live on the lake, I would love to redo an old home with all sorts of separate rooms and nooks and crannies. Not wanting to sacrifice lake views, we went with an open floor plan. I love that this kitchen feels completely open and part of the living/dining space and has a nice lake view, but it’s still cozy and tucked away from the front entry.
Slate floors – I always get questions on the upkeep of our slate and the grout (you can see them in our entry here). We had them sealed with a matte sealer when we first moved in and haven’t touched them since. We will probably seal them again before summer, but they clean up really well and we haven’t had any issues. Also in photos, the grout looks white, but it’s actually a grey/blue color so we haven’t had any discoloration issues there yet either.
Ok phew, my short list of regrets post is getting long! So I’ll leave it there, but this was such a fun question to think about! Back to the Christmas crazy prep, can’t wait to share that with you all soon!
Check out my other building series posts below: