For 45 years, my husband and I have been moving. We usually have had a project. Sometimes, rearranging to make room for another child. Other times, buying a “fixer-upper” so we could afford more space.

The common scenario seems to have revolved around doing the kitchen last, resulting in me rarely getting to enjoy the improvements. (We didn’t plan it that way. We just didn’t plan it another way.)

But now, we are building – from the ground up – our 18th home. Maybe this will be our last? Secretly, I doubt it. But we’ll see.

As we approach 70, the need for change may abate a bit and we just might find ourselves settling in. Nine years is our record for staying in the same house, so if we stay in this one nine years, we may decide we are old enough to sit tight.

Building, instead of remodeling, means I get to choose what is important to me in all parts of the house. Figuring out what I (we) want has been a process.

This River Home is not large, has simplistic design, and has great space for our lifestyle of hospitality and welcoming. The details that I have never needed to choose, after years of making what we had work, have made me think about what I want in my home.

As we have put it together, I find I care about a few things pretty deeply. Here are seven important parts of my soon-to-be new home that have become important to me as we have planned and designed.

Outside Space

We are fortunate to have purchased land years ago that we held on to. It is rural, wooded and has a river running through it. But I don’t want to watch the birds and sky and season changes from inside.

A large porch on the north side, open to the lane and overlooking the walnut grove towards the road was a must. Even in the unfinished stage, there is a hammock between the supporting cedar posts.

Another porch, screened in, is going to be on the east, looking over an eventual redbud patch and the creek below. I requested a gas hookup there, for the possibility of extending our use into the chilly Midwestern fall and winter.

With French doors from the living room and the master bedroom, the east porch will function as living space for much of the year… outdoors, but with screen barrier to the mosquitos and other critters.

Lots of Counter Space

Even though my time of feeding our family of seven is long past, I still love being in the kitchen. I’m hopeful that our home at the River will be a favorite destination for family and friends ready for a relaxed time of food and love.

And for that, I need space. Room to spread out with no claustrophobia when there is more than one person working in the kitchen. Counter space and an island with seating for three or four. I envision grandchildren perched, watching and learning and waiting for some memorable treat.

Windows – and Lots of Them

Windows are a must, even at the expense of upper cabinets in the kitchen. I’ve just about worked out where everything will go, except for drinking glasses.

It’s hard to think of stashing drinking glasses in a drawer or lower cabinet, but that dilemma is worth having when natural light streaming in from three directions and giving outside views from the open living area of kitchen and great room is the topic in question.

And, of course, there is a window over the kitchen sink – a must, even if there were going to be upper cabinets!

A Wood Burning Fireplace

My favorite chilly evening is spent in front of a fire. Reading. Knitting. Watching television. Writing. In front of a fire.

In a nod towards the future, with the reality of impending physical changes, we put a gas starter in the fireplace. Still burning wood, but much easier to get it going. I think we will get used to not having to build the paper/kindling pyramids to get the fire burning.

Pantry Space

The pantry has become one of my favorite features as I imagine life in our in-progress home. Partly, I look forward to the ability to have space to purchase what we need with fewer trips to the store, since we’ll be a bit of a distance to my preferred shopping places.

But also, I have space in the pantry for working. I can use my KitchenAid mixer there, without having the mess in the kitchen. Pots and pans will hang on a wire grid on the wall, for easy reach. And, yet to be finalized, there will be order in my pantry. A place for everything and everything in its place.

A particular splurge is going to be a cabinet lift for the KitchenAid! That is a brilliant idea. No more wrangling of that favorite appliance.

Walk-In Closet

I don’t need a huge closet, but I want to be able to walk in it. I am a purger, getting rid of unworn clothes at the change of every season, and my husband has no suits or golfing clothes. But I don’t want to be cramped in my closet.

And I want there to be a full-length mirror.

The more I researched, I decided that I could do without a built-in ironing board though it would be nice to have it. More than anything, I wanted to spend the money in other places – like that awesome KitchenAid cabinet lift!

I can tuck the ironing board, which isn’t used that often, beside the washer and dryer.

Warm Floors!

I grew up in Texas but have lived in the Midwest for most of my married life. When we move into this River Home, my feet will be warm in the winter for the first time in 40+ years.

And, if your feet are warm, you are warm. And if you are not a native Texan with cold feet, you just might be in a perpetual good mood!

Luckily, it turns out that radiant heat in our home with high ceilings should be efficient, as well as comfy.

As a realtor, I often tell my clients that their “perfect” home will be 80% of what they hoped for. Even as we build our own home, after having years to figure out what we really want, I see ways that this is my not-perfect home, and I am 100% okay with that.

As long as I have outside space, uncluttered counters, lots of windows, a fireplace, an orderly pantry, room to dress and warm floors – I will be satisfied.

What is important to you in your home space? Have you been able to personalize your home in ways that make you especially content? Where is your happy place in your home? Let’s have a cozy conversation in the comments below.

Debbie HensleighDebbie Hensleigh is a serial entrepreneur and business coach who is intent on living life on purpose. She is a speaker, writer and leads workshops on intentionally designing your best ThirdThird, from ​ages 60 to 90. Building on the FirstThird (learning years) and the SecondThird (earning years), the ThirdThird can be the best Third. Please visit Debbie’s website here.

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