9 Basic Principles for Your Forever Home

I enjoy it when a Client contacts me about their Forever Home.  Or, at least, the home that they bought expecting to live in forever, except for some minor or major changes.  (Also love a Forever Home that starts from scratch, but there are fewer of those in Pinellas County!)  These Clients have lived modestly while raising children or climbing the corporate ladder, made good money, and saved it, knowing that one day, they would find a better place to live and want to make it their own.

Placeholder image with 10 colorful houses of all sizes and styles.

The not-so-perfect home you bought

So, why did you buy the house, if you want to make changes?  Often, the location is key.  The sunshine brings many to Florida, and for those already here, they are drawn to certain neighborhoods or closer to the water.  And we have lots of water: beaches, rivers, lakes, springs, and plenty of options for everyone.  And so, they buy a house, which they already know will probably need some changes.  The kitchen they’ve always dreamed of.  The open spaces and large windows they’ve seen in magazines.  And even some more walls, because, it can get a little noisy when family and friends come together.

But living there “forever” also means getting older (because none of us are getting any younger) and we should realistically plan for that, too. So we listen and design for these other things, too. We’ve pulled them together into a list of 9 principles that many Clients mostly subscribe to.

  • One Story Living
  • Open Concept Floor Plan
  • Connection to Outdoors
  • Multiple Generations
  • Green and/or Energy Efficient
  • Low Maintenance
  • Aging-Gracefully-in-Place
  • Quality not Quantity
  • Resilient Design

Stay tuned, as we will dedicate separate blog articles to each of them.

Before & After photos of the front of a remodeled home as an example.

Your house doesn’t fit you anymore

While many times we start our adult lives living in cramped apartments, and gradually move into a house with a mortgage, we don’t always get to choose exactly what we want.  Realtors help you choose a house by what school district it sits in.  How close or far your commute to your job will be.  Maybe you’ve lived in a house long enough to see your neighborhood change, and not for the better.  As retirement starts to show up on the horizon, we all have moments of wanting something better.  Of wondering, deep inside, what do I really want out of life?  How do I really want to live?

And typically, “living” means remaining as independent as possible for as long as possible.  Financially, living within or below your means, without the fear of coming up short to pay for that big splurge you put on your credit card last month.  Fixing, replacing, or repairing parts of the house so something isn’t always breaking down.  Giving up the sunken living room with its 2 steps, or the second-floor Bedroom & Bathroom.  Selling, donating, or throwing out all the sentimental objects that you really won’t ever use again.  Because you have finally figured out what you really need and want to live, and you don’t have to “keep up with the Joneses” ever again.

And, yes, spend a little money now so you can keep most of it for a rainy day.  Whether that’s downsizing from your 4,000 square foot 4-bedroom, 5-bathroom, 3-car garage home with full basement.  Or just deciding to upgrade your insulation and windows so you can use that money for other things that you actually enjoy.

Nobody actually enjoys spending too much money on water or electric bills.  On storage units, for all the furniture your children don’t want to inherit.  On property taxes and insurance for a house that doesn’t fit your needs anymore.

Photo of the Architect with hat, sunglasses, and SPF shirt in the foreground, beautiful blue-green river water with trees and party-cloudy blue skies in background.

Living my best life – SUP adventure on the Rainbow River, Dunnellon, FL, February 2022.

How will you live your life? 

What do you enjoy?  What did you use to enjoy before “adulting” was determined to be a negative word?  What would you like to try out?

I’ve always loved the water.  I can take a bath until the water gets cold, and still not get out until I’ve finished the chapter in the book.  I was a mermaid every summer, swimming underwater in the pool, and then crashing in the waves on our annual beach vacation.  When I moved to Florida, I took advantage of living only 20 minutes from Clearwater Beach, and discovered Honeymoon Island, too.  

And a few years ago, I started to see people on Stand Up Paddleboards (SUP), and I thought, maybe I could try that?  So, I did, and now I am an adventurer, exploring new places to SUP.  I have fallen in love with the beauty of Florida’s springs from the top of a 10-foot-long styrofoam board.  And I discovered it was something fun that I could do by myself or together with a group, for no reason whatsoever except to have fun.  And you don’t have to be a kid to feel that way.

So, when you are thinking about retirement, and living in your Forever Home, think of the exciting things that you will be doing.  The hobbies you already have and the new things you will learn.  Entertaining family and friends, some for the evening, others for a few weeks. Relaxing, reading, cooking, baking, playing a few rounds of golf, and then watching the tournaments on TV. Will you (or your grandkids) drip water on the floor when coming in from swimming or paddling? Do you need a little away room to read magazines or watch your shows in private? Is there a special place for your pet’s bed and food, or would you prefer space for suitcases and travel gear?

Once you’ve spent time thinking, writing, or talking about your new life, then go through the 9 principles that I have listed above.  How do they fit in with how you will live your life?  How does your house fit in?  Because once you know these answers, and can communicate them to your Architect, you will very soon be living in your Forever Home!

Published by designfreedominc

Your Forever Home Architect

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