I don’t know about you but the way I see it living rooms and bedrooms are important in a house, but they are all about money. For the most part, they are square or rectangular spaces, sometimes odd shaped but not often, distinguished by the amount of money one puts between the walls. Simply, some like small and minimalist. And some like great rooms - literally – with seating areas, maybe what used to be called a card table in the day, but today is more likely to be a play station. Or some such.
From where I sit, the most important room in a house for anyone other than a bachelor, maybe, is the kitchen. It is where most folks congregate given the opportunity and where the soul comes from. So often those that do the food preparation in a family are bestowing love and not just calories and nourishment to those being fed.
In the old days, once we got past one-room cabins, kitchens were in a room separate from the living spaces so that the aromas or odors of the food preparation did not permeate the house. Today, most prefer open spaces that include a dining room or eating area, a living space or den space, or both, all open to one another, I have been in kitchens in custom homes in Snowmass, including a few owned by a hedge fund guy they refer to as a billionaire in the media, so I’ve seen high end. And I’ve been in some old homes in Hondo and in town where the funk just oozes from the kitchen where walls are uneven, floors even more so and little or no storage exists. Some are very very cool but not for everyone.
In today's world the range on cost to create a kitchen can be dramatic. There are as many choices of counter tops as there are for flooring. And the choices for appliances are almost endless. Appliances can be bought on sale and in packages, drop shipped, or sent by Amazon these days. ( Disclaimer: I don’t know if Prime applies to washers and dryers & those kinds of things.) Then there are cabinets and sinks, pantries and islands, and those costs can add up. Custom or premade, on line or in a brick and mortar store, touchable before you buy or just seen virtually – the options are there.
Here in the Taos area I always liked the kitchens that Rick and/or Max Edelman put in their custom homes. They created spaces that were the heart and soul of each house and their designs and finishes have held up well. I don’t think either is actively building in this area now but one can find them in the after market.
Personally I love a fireplace in a kitchen… but I love a fireplace in any space.
Can you build a kitchen for $25,000 or less? Likely, if you don’t go high end on your choices. And you are creative. But you also can spend $100,000 easily, and in those spiffy ski towns they can spend that much on the appliance packages.
While I consider the kitchen the most important public room in the house, the most important private room would be the master bath. (Although almost all bathrooms are private spaces, come to think of it.) Here I have seen folks create living spaces and not just room to poop and groom. And we’re not just talking bidets or Jacuzzi tubs any more. I have seen closets and work out areas or mini-gyms. I have seen fireplaces and sitting areas, steam rooms and saunas. Or both. And for some, couples prefer separate bathrooms, his and hers if you will.
Fixtures can be pricey in bathrooms especially once one gets into Jacuzzi tubs, stone flooring, fireplaces, and the like. Most prefer the privacy of a separate commode room. Most want twin sinks if they are going to share a bathroom, and I always loved a steam shower, made all the more delicious by our high desert climate. But must you have one-piece toilets or do older styles work for you? Are you interested in saving water when you purchase your commode or saving water on each use? Oh what one finds out about oneself thru this process.
Secondary bathrooms, or powder rooms, used to be real small. Some just about enough room to get the door closed behind you before you take care of business. Even those have grown for the most part, just as houses have gotten larger in general. And most folks want no less than one bathroom more than bedrooms so collectively they become important.
Where does all this lead us? Since this is a real estate magazine, I say if you are a seller pay attention to the kitchen and bathrooms in your home. You may not be able to change the footprint but know that your buyers will be paying close attention to them. Make sure they have character and color and personality because that is what sells houses here. IMHO. And if you are a buyer, look for what you want and if you can’t find it create it. It will be worth it. You only live once so go for the gusto.
Harvey Blaustein is a retired attorney and local real estate broker.
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