Sunday, September 6, 2015

My Home of the Future

Long before I graduated college, I was inspired by HGTV shows to buy my own house, in order to renovate it and customize it to my liking.  I saved up money, while still in school, for my down payment, and fulfilled a quintessential American dream of buying a house on its own little property in a cozy neighborhood.  It was definitely a fixer-upper, not unlivable, but very much in need of love, updating and fixing.  But I very quickly learned how hard it is to modify and update an old house, built based on old requirements and technologies, and started yearning for the day I could build my dream house from scratch.  One of my favorite past times on Pinterest is to add photogenic pictures and novel ideas to my "Dream House Inspiration" board.  But for as much time as I spend dreaming about it, I hardly ever write about it.  Part of the reason is that there are SO MANY ideas out there, and it's a daunting task to think about sitting down and designing the perfect living space.  How many rooms are really needed?  If I could add a window here, would I really want to?  Or would it be convenient sometimes, and awful at others?  How luxurious can I make it while still being green and efficient?  How much automation will be available in the future? 

When I think about my dream house, I always imagine a ginormous basement, where a lot of the over-the-top expensive entertainment luxuries reside.  A wine cellar and cigar lounge (with proper ventilation), complete with old-world brick walls and chandeliers, and an embedded high-tech wine inventory system.  A bowling alley with at least two lanes, a bar and brick oven pizza kitchen, a kick-butt sound system, a pool table and retro arcade.  An in-house state-of-the-art theater for screening the latest movies or live football games, with a small stage in front in case we want to engage in live theater; the system would allow viewers to queue YouTube videos from their seats as well, and control the show from their phones.  The theater may also have a food and beverage delivery system built into the seats, so that users can order popcorn, chips and queso, a beer, a glass of wine, etc., and have it delivered through something like the old vacuum tubes of the banks directly to the seat, heated or chilled, sealed and ready to be served. 

I like the idea of having a large portion of the house underground for environmental purposes - the earth is a much better temperature insulator than the air above ground, and thus, heating and cooling and fully underground house would lead to almost negligible costs compared to heating and cooling a house all above ground.  I imagine a very modest-looking home above the surface; a two car garage and some rooms with windows just like my current house.  But when the two-car garage door is opened up, you see that it is not really a two-car garage at all, but a ramp down to a large garage that can hold up to 20 cars.  An elevator or stairway then takes me and my guests to the other underground floors of this underground mini-mansion.  The inherent problem with so much underground, besides the cost of digging, is that natural light is also very important to me.  Obviously the theater need not have natural light, nor even the bowling alley.  But where I read, write, work, cook, and play all would benefit from natural light.  So then I imagine huge networks of solar tubes and mirrors to bring that natural sunlight down below the surface.  Also, on the subject of heating and cooling, my feet are perpetually cold, so I would like heated floors in most main rooms. 

While being an underground mole has environmental benefits, I also have a love of stargazing that I strongly desire to be incorporated into my future master

bedroom.  I envision a large skylight opening up above my bed, allowing me to watch for meteors in the comfort of my bed.  Taking astronomy to another level, literally, I envision a skydeck being a big part of my future home, putting me above the city lights, with a full panoramic view of the night sky, comfy lounges to relax on, telescopes to use when I'm more actively gazing, equipment for awesome photography, and some kind of technology that can be activated to point out things like where Jupiter is and what constellation is where.  During the day, my skydeck can be used for sunbathing in the comfort of the climate control, reading and working or just generally taking a break. 

When it comes to the normal accessories of a house, like the kitchen, my desires are only slightly more practical.  The counter tops need to be at elbow height.  I haven't quite decided if that means they would be movable within a few inches to adjust to elbow height, or if I just make it at my elbow height because I have bad back and its my house.  I want more storage, like LOTS more storage, like this nifty idea to use a pull-out tie rack to hang pots and pans on.  And I want small appliances (toaster, toaster oven, George Foreman grill, waffle maker, crock pot, rice cooker) to have little cubby holes where they can be used without moving, but hidden when not in use.  I want more efficient appliances - ovens that have two compartments so I could cook a pizza while baking cookies or warming up a pie while the turkey is cooking, and dishwashers that similarly have two compartments so I could wash only whichever section is filled.  Assuming I don't have a robot or maid to empty the dishwasher, I would want it to be at a higher level, so that I don't hurt my back as much when loading and emptying it.  I'd also want a wine dispenser in which the bottles can be kept for days or weeks, while just pouring a glass at a time as I desire; maybe even a few beer taps for kegs as well.  I think it would be fun to have an ice maker / dispenser that dispensed different shapes of ice - I could
select which molds to freeze and it would build up inventories of each of those molds. And then there's this urban cultivator thing I saw once that I just don't think I could live without - it does all the growing for you to have fresh herbs and small vegetables right in your kitchen like an appliance.  If I liked lobster or seafood, I might similarly want a sizeable fish tank to keep dinner alive in for later, but that maybe not so necessary given my dislike of all things seafood.  But a fish tank for pets could be pretty sweet. 

I've been stuck on the bathroom for a long time; my love for baths driving my

indecision for what a perfect bath would be.  I would say that more often than not, I'd be bathing alone, so a one-person deep soaking bath with jets, a nice view, a fireplace, a TV, a book-holder, a table for dinner and a glass of wine, and an RO water spout sounds just about perfect.  But for the less frequent occasions I want my other half to join me in the bath, I'd need a bigger bath.  Yet I don't want to be wasting water when it's just me in the bath.  I've debated bath designs in which part of the bath could be comfortably blocked off when not in use with a water-proof barrier that is visually appealing.  Or perhaps I just need multiple baths, one for just me to be my primary, a love bath for when I want my honey with me, and a party bath, maybe on the rooftop or in the skydeck, for multiple guests.  For the showers, I would want either a small TV or streaming device like a tablet built into the wall with a
waterproof barrier to allow me to see the traffic and weather, watch the news or a Ted talk, listen to music, or practice a new language.  As for the toilets, I want bidets integrated with regular toilets, and maybe urinals because, urnials!  I don't know.  I definitely would want more clever ways to store all the different bathroom-y stuff that needs to be stored. 

Cleaning is practically the bane of my existence; a lot of things have storage places in which to be put away, and brought out only as needed, but I don't like putting things away.  I like to have them handy, but that clutters up my house.  As such, my dream house would have less of this non-functional storage, and more functional spaces.  I was inspired by a documentary on some celeb's mansion to have a gift wrapping room.  No joke, this lady actually had three such rooms, one for birthdays, one for showers and one for holidays, if I remember correctly.  The walls of each room were stockpiled with beautiful wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, gift tags and other decorations, and in the center of each room was a large work desk, complete with the scissors, pens, markers and tape needed to wrap pretty much any gift imaginable.  I think she even had some kind of bow maker.  I don't need three rooms, but one such room would be nice.  I'd probably also want some lockable storage to stash gifts away until it was time to wrap them.  Likewise, I have crafty hobbies that make a mess, but I don't do them so often that I have designated stations in my modest home currently.  I would love to have one giant craft room with storage for all my different materials, an ironing board, cutting board (for fabric), a workbench with a sewing machine section and free space for other hobbies, a wall of spindles, a wall of paints and brushes and easels, maybe a screen printer and some other neato craft-related tools.  I have converted a bedroom in my house to something of this nature already, but it just doesn't seem to be big enough.  I'd also want a TV in the room and a loungey area so that my honey could come spend time in the room while I'm working.  Like my love of crafting, I also enjoy building more durable objects, like headboards.  So I think it would be pretty awesome to have a full workshop with a table saw, jigsaw, circular saw, tile saw, etc.  The workshop would also be attached to the garage and have car lifts so I can pull my car in and work on it.  I'd also want a library, because as techno-savvy as I am, I also like to have
books I can pull off the shelf and reference, or shut down devices and just read.  The library, I imagine, would need a number of comfortable pieces of furniture, like chaise lounges, hammocks, and rope nets, all with with individual lights / natural light overhead or behind where the reader would sit.  On the topic of cleaning, I would also want recycling chutes and maybe even laundry chutes to make cleaning as easy as possible. 

My central living space always seems to be cluttered, not just with projects and crafts, but so many devices, books, food, Legos, latest purchases, and paper.  Having unique rooms for certain functions would definitely alleviate some of this clutter, but I suspect not all.  I think my central family room / living space would need to just be big, with lots of shelving, under-sofa storage, tables, recycling chutes, and an entertainment system that can accommodate all the game systems, streaming and recording devices and audio equipment we would want to have.  And a fireplace, because even though I don't light fires, I need a mantel to hang my Christmas stockings on each winter.  My very fictional dream for the Christmas tree may not come to fruition, but I always imagined a false floor and a lift underneath that would store the tree, fully decorated, for most of the year, but when it was time to put the tree up, I'd literally flip a switch and the tree would rise through the false floor.  Maybe I take the ornaments off every year, so that I'd have the freedom of choosing which theme to go with every November, but we'd be spared the challenge of actually assembling a fake tree, and the resulting cuts and scrapes.  Is that too much to ask for? 

Because health and exercise are simultaneously important to me and hard for me to get motivated for, I would want to have a few features that make it really, really easy and fun to exercise.  An indoor pool, I think, is necessary for a dream house, because it can be used year round, and is free from weather like rain or excessive heat.  That alone might do it for me, but I'd also want an exercise bike and weight room with a great entertainment system so I can get my exercise on while multi-tasking, watching my favorite TV shows, documentaries, TED talks or YouTube videos.  And since dance is so important to me, I'd want a modest dance studio with a fantastic wood floor, and maybe even a tumbling floor to practice aerials or gymnastics on, and to stretch on.  The dance studio would have mirrors on both sides, and a TV screen to stream practice videos on so I can follow along.  These two rooms would have to have their own climate control so I could make it really, really cold in there while using them without spending the money to cool the whole house.  I think both rooms would also be equipped with an RO water fountain and a Powerade fountain. 

Then there's musical aspirations in my life.  I used to play a few instruments and sing, and my honey is studying to be an audio engineer, and also plays (and aspires to play) lots of instruments.  So I think it's only natural we'd have a sound-proofed recording studio with all the fancy mixers and whatnot, but also a place to display and store the collection of instruments we've amassed. 

I'm also totally nuts, and I want a slide and a fireman's pole that extends at least two, if not three, stories.  I haven't figured out if a fireman's pole is also fit for pole dancing, but if its not, then I would also want a couple strategically placed poles for pole dancing as well.  Maybe a water slide, too.  And a rockwall.  A rockwall that goes up to the top of the slide?  Or maybe there's a rope at the top that you use to swing down into a pit of sponges or plastic balls or spaghetti.  I don't know.  But I want my house to be crazy fun, all the time.  I also want secret passage ways or hidden rooms.  I literally have dreams about a two-bedroom, one-bathroom suite behind my refrigerator, and a party lounge
that is reached only by going through a door in the back of a closet.  Neither of these seem practical, but things like secret doors in stairs, bookshelves disguising doors and push-this-brick passageways have always intrigued me.  I also like spiral staircases, a lot. 

I'd of course want some guest accommodations, but not so comfortable that they never leave.  I'm thinking capsules, bunk beds and Murphy beds. 

Clearly, I spend a lot more time thinking about the features of my dream house than about the layout and structure.  But if you look at my Pinterest board, a lot of the images are different styles, architectures, and designs.  While one of my inclinations, as previously described, is a modest house above ground, I have a weird obsession with turrets.  And the last house I lived in with my parents had a big two-story window which I loved dearly come Christmas time, because we had this stunning 12 foot tree centered in the window, and you could see it from blocks away.  Thus, these two architectural features contradict my modest above-ground house idea, and drive more of what I want from the outside of the house. 

As far as a yard goes, I absolutely hate yard work, probably even moreso than cleaning indoors.  So the landscaping needs to be either minimal effort to maintain, or I would need a landscaper.  I have enjoyed staying with friends who have fruit trees and can go out and pick their breakfast, so maybe fruit trees plus a landscaper is what is needed.  I would like some fake grass for me to roll around in, and my dog needs a yard to do her business in.  Beyond that, I've envisioned little reading nooks in canopies with hammocks or mattresses, and outdoor grills, even outdoor baths and such, but I'm not sold that I need any of those since I'm not usually comfortably outside for long. 

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