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House - beautiful vs practical....

(18 Posts)
Mamakata Tue 04-Aug-15 09:00:29

We currently live in a really 'practical' house. Spacious ground floor with lounge, playroom and big kitchen diner opening onto big garden. But we don't love it - it doesn't have any character, the rooms are fine but smallish, low ceilings, and it's in a quiet suburban area (not near to anything really). For that and other reasons we have decided to move (actually relocating to another town).

So....we have found a house that we love, but it is nowhere near as practical a layout as our current house. This house is big, Edwardian, high ceilings, big rooms, lovely proportions, loads of original features.
But it's a semi rather than detached. Six bedrooms so lots of space, but the house is tall rather than wide. So we would lose the playroom (big lounge and big dining room) and have a smaller kitchen (though big enough for a kitchen table for six). Much smaller (but pretty) garden, and garden is accessed by going down a few steps. A big basement we could convert in the future. Fantastic location for amenities.

I guess my question is - the trend today seems to be converting kitchens into big family living spaces, with seamless access to the garden, rather than having separate kitchen and dining rooms. There is more than enough space in the house but would never have that open plan family kitchen layout.

Would we be mad to buck the trend and have a more traditional layout? Has anyone else made this choice for a house they love? As soon as we walked in I could imagine living there, how I would decorate (we have two young dcs (so far!) for info).

TeddyBear5 Tue 04-Aug-15 09:02:50

The steps into the garden would be a massive no no for me. I'd take practical any day!

dontcallmelen Tue 04-Aug-15 10:22:37

Lovely over practical, loving the sound of high ceilings/features & would it be possible to maybe convert basement to playroom or if quite big & level with garden extend make that the kitchen.
Also the area sounds lovely, my house isnt that practical, but you find
ways of making it work, bog standard is boringsmile

MrsMarigold Tue 04-Aug-15 10:29:14

Go for what you love. i live in a house I love (built 1905) but everything is a bit decrepit but whenever I come back I breathe a sigh of relief because I love the high ceilings and old tiles. Everything is a bit hazardous - massive staircase, we couldn't have stairgates ever, but the DC learn to negotiate the hazards.

Orangeanddemons Tue 04-Aug-15 10:33:39

Sounds very expensive to heat to me. I lived in an Edwardian House. I got sick of repairs, draughts and astronomical heating bills. We chose to move because we couldn't actually afford the 5k heating bill every year

Mamakata Tue 04-Aug-15 13:38:40

Thank you.
Yes the steps are the biggest thing holding me back. And yes expect it will be more expensive to run. But glad there are some who went for the one they loved! Don't want to be blinded by its loveliness but keep thinking we would just adapt....

DelphiniumBlue Tue 04-Aug-15 13:50:52

It sounds lovely. And six bedrooms- you could have a dressing room!
As far as the downstairs layout is concerned, could you use the dining room as a playroom while the children are young? If the kitchen is big enough to eat in, you wouldn't actually need a separate dining room unless you entertain formally. You could turn the steps into a slope of some sort if the steps are a real problem, but I think I'd try to live with the steps for a while before making any decisions.
And the location sounds a vast improvement. You sound as if you really love the house, of course it's not perfect, nothing is, but the things you've mentioned don't seem like deal breakers to me ( though I never had a playroom so don't know how much you'd miss it!)

Mamakata Tue 04-Aug-15 14:24:54

Yy to the dressing room!

We would def use the dining room as a playroom practically, but would decorate as a dining room so could use for entertaining. We had the luxury of a separate sitting room here which we turned into a kind of wipe clean playroom where all the plastic could live - but it is a luxury and there is loads of storage in the house. Not sure my 2.5 year old cares where he plays!

Thanks for suggestions - erring on going for it at the moment!

Qwebec Tue 04-Aug-15 14:37:25

I don't see what is wrong with a few steps to the garden, nor the layout, but hearing the neighbors could be irritating. An older house needs care and costs more to heat as said by others. You need to make sure you can live with the time and money the house will require to live in. To me anyway that is the biggest possible issue. Can you ask for the heating bills?
Only you know what will be an issue for you and your family.
I went with a fifities house: a work load and cost I can manage niice original features and I'm replacing the ugly 80's parts with beautiful new ones that add character and suit the house better.

Lelivre Tue 04-Aug-15 14:39:56

Thinking about our recent move with similar aged children...My thought is that location counts for a great deal as is having a good gut feel about the house. However the lack of a decent sized garden would (now I have DCs) have been deal breaker for me. Additionally I would have a problem if my bedroom was on a different floor to DC's (you mention the house is tall) and I would have difficulty going from a detached house to a semi again.

beehappybe Tue 04-Aug-15 14:53:56

I think living in a practical house you start to take certain things for granted. If your current house is detached it is easy to forget what a huge difference it makes. We are in terraced house and I hear our neighbour cough while I am in my home office. The other side you can hear neighbours laugh and shout when they have people over in their living room.
I would gladly have a garden access via fireman sliding down pole if I could have a detached house....

CityDweller Tue 04-Aug-15 15:06:34

It sounds lovely. Not knowing you, or the houses in question, I think you should go for it!

A few steps aren't big deal - DC will quickly learn to negotiate them. It's not like the garden has a 6ft sheer drop onto a cement path...

While open plan is great (and something I'm personally drawn to) I think there's a lot to be said for separate rooms/ space to get away from each other as DC get older.

And at the ripe old age of 40 I've never lived in a detached house (terraced/ semis growing up and flats since I left home 20 years ago). I seem to have survived!

However, do as much as you can to scope out the neighbours/ neighbourhood. To the extent of knocking on neighbours doors and saying you're thinking of putting in an offer on the house and ask them what they think of the road, etc etc.

Gunpowderplot Tue 04-Aug-15 15:06:45

A semi is easier to maintain than a detached, and an old house will prob have thick walls. What is the problem with a few steps down to the garden? A toddler could manage that? The house sounds massive - could certainly use the dining room as a playroom, the children will use it a lot more than you will have dinner parties. Location is important.

Lelivre Tue 04-Aug-15 15:23:58

Just to add; open plan (kitchen finer/playroom) is great for keeping an eye on the kids, essential even at a certain stage (my youngest is quite adventurous and dangerous). But saying that I've come from a house were almost all the living plan was opened up to include the corridors/hall and stairwell to a very traditional layout and it is a welcome change. So we have created an opening between the kitchen and dining room (also playroom) and I have visibility but it has been made to receive double doors when we are ready. Its cosier and somehow more 'civilised' (IDKW?!) to have separate rooms for designated purposes.

Regarding leaving a detatched home; after living in flats and then semis for almost 20 years and having no desire for a detatched house but ending up in on one, I get why people find it a big deal. It's not just the neighbour noise, the privacy it's somehow so much more comfortable and really feels like our 'own place' plus; if your kids are as noisy as ours there is some comfort in knowing they are not disturbing others.

But I can feel your excitement and maybe you should adapt it beat you can to suit your lifestyle and requirements. It sounds as if you won't be able let it and I know that feeling so I say ; see it through smile

Janeyspamey Tue 04-Aug-15 22:27:38

I have steps down into our garden and I've never given it any thought. My oldest was 11 months when we moved in and it has not been a problem. Besides I'd rather have the steps down into the garden rather than steps down into the kitchen like my neighbour. I grew up in a country where open plan is the norm but actually now like my kitchen off the separate dining room - best of both worlds.

honeyandfizz Wed 05-Aug-15 07:33:24

We did this the other way round. Bought a large three storey Edwardian house with tons of character, 30ft kitchen, 4 large bedrooms. We moved last year after 5.5 years there. Hated the layout, the garden was around 60ft away from the front living room so if the dc were out there we couldn't see them. It felt like we lived in a corridor. The heating & electricity bills were huge. It is a stunning looking house but I don't miss it one bit. We moved to a 1930s semi which has a traditional layout which suits our family much better.

mandy214 Wed 05-Aug-15 09:15:42

I agree we are all different and so there is no real “answer” to your post. I think it depends on how you live your life, how often you entertain, whether you often have friends with children around, whether you’d have a problem being on different floors perhaps than sleeping children. Whether there is scope to knock a wall or two down, whether you’d want to! I have moved around quite a bit, have lived in detacheds, semis, a terraced, old, new, brand new and overall, it is the practicality of the house that has been successful (or not). Also, the layout that worked pre children in our 20s is not the layout that we need / want 15+ years later with 3 children. But, it comes down to what’s important to you. I don’t really care about detached or semi detached – makes no difference to me (think there is no general rule of thumb for noise, just depends on the actual house), and whilst I love the period features of our current house (stained class windows / period doors / picture rails etc) in my 1930s house now, it was the location that was important. If you can make the house work for your family, and have the period features then go for it. I agree with a previous poster though that although the 4 storey period terrace we lived in for 2 years was rented (so perhaps not massively well maintained), it was extortionate to heat and cold no matter what. Our neighbours (who owned their house) lovingly referred to their house and the “money pit”.

PlainHunting Wed 05-Aug-15 09:40:47

Go with gut feeling. We moved from practical (Victorian but entirely devoid of period features) to impractical (Georgian) but beautiful and I have very few regrets. It is cold and costs a small fortune to heat (but never gets warm) but it fills me with joy. I can't believe that I live here! I never felt that way about my last house at all.

Steps are a non issue for me. We have them up to our garden but I don't give it a moments thought. Being attached would other me however.

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