A Tale of Two Homes… What to Look for When Buying a House

We are currently in the process of buying a home here in Texas so today’s post is all about what to look for in a home. Whether buying your first home or a place to retire to ~ let’s look at some key home features…

Location Location Location

Location is always high on the list of priorities as we all want a house with great curb appeal in a good neighborhood. Lately I have seen some great houses but their locals weren’t so wonderful. Check out areas you think you might like to buy in then keep that in mind as you shop for your home.

One of the homes we were considering needed just a few updates. The cabinets were in good shape and solid wood so why rip those out to put in cheap particle board ones?  Removing the lower added mini cabinets with sliding doors and replacing the outdated lightboxes with strip lighting above would update this kitchen nicely.


The heart of the home is the kitchen and family room ~ the places where we spend the most time ~ so look at the layout of each of the homes you are looking at and considering. The flow of these rooms especially affect how we feel about our homes. 

If you don’t mind doing a little work, a fixer upper is usually a cost saver on the home loan side.  Check and see if the appliances are good enough to use until you can afford new ones and also check the layout of the kitchen.

Decide too if it is important to you to have a good view out the kitchen window. Or if there even IS a kitchen window.

Loved this kitchen with its granite counters and stainless appliance!
In this home we loved the brand new appliances but ultimately decided that the main room didn’t flow for what we were looking for. Buying a home because it has a beautiful kitchen and not a good flow in the main living areas can be a costly mistake.

Does the home need a remodel?

If you do buy a home with remodeling needs ask yourself if you can afford to make these changes over time. Fixing the vault of a room’s ceiling ~ you’ll need a structural contractor to give you an estimate. Adding new beams and headers if you are removing or moving walls ~ the same.


How set are you on having a fireplace in your next home? 

Condominiums and apartments don’t often have them and it was one of the high priorities we wanted in our first home.  Now we are looking at style of each fireplace. 

We would look to remodel this fireplace with removing these ugly grates
in the upper area and having a stone mason put in soldiers (brick standing
upright) spaced evenly apart to allow for passive heat flow with this ventilator.
These two photographs show two different fireplace layouts and both could be kept the way they are, or have some minor or major facelifts depending upon on one’s needs and tastes.

Garden and yard

If you are a gardener like me then you are probably looking at the curb appeal of your next home and its gardening potential. This home sat on almost a half acre and we loved it for its beautiful manicured English style gardens.

Laundry room

Newer construction gives us much bigger and usually better laid out laundry rooms but surprisingly not all of us require a large laundry area.  This one is charming and practical for when a hot water hose breaks ~ a drain is already set into the floor plus the room is sunken by 4″ to deal with major water spraying.

In our first home we had a hot water hose break while we were eating dinner. First we heard a strange hissing sound then saw a swirl of water turn the corner from the carpeted hallway coming rapidly into the kitchen!

Not the best way to end dinner ~ but insurance paid for all the repairs. 🙂

Something to look at on your home owners insurance ~ is flooding included in your policy? It should be but it is good to read through your policy to be sure. If the carpeting gets soaked during a pipe burst will your insurance replace all connected carpet and other damaged flooring?

Good things to make sure you have in place especially if looking at an older home.

Sorry this is a bit dark ~ taken with my iPhone.

Bedrooms, bathrooms and office spaces

For a room to be counted as a bedroom it must have an egress window in case of emergency plus a built in closet. I’ve seen some homes here in Texas that were advertised as having a certain amount of bedrooms but the room in question was really a play space ~ not very ethical and a potential for disaster.

Office spaces are wonderful especially if they come with built in shelving. A drawback is what to do if you already own cabinets and bookcases. Where would you now put yours?

Could you put those bookcases somewhere else in a potential home? Would you have to sell them?

That’s something to consider. 

Good layout for a powder room.  Could make an update down the road
with new cabinet and countertop.
In looking at the houses you visit you’ll want to check the layout of each bathroom in each house.  So important as we have found that many homes today look pretty but aren’t functional.

It is the trend today in some bathroom remodels in the Dallas-Fort Worth suburbs to take out the medicine cabinets in favor of just plain mirrors.  This may be all over the country, as far as I know, and this is perfectly fine as long as there is a base cabinet with drawers (such as in our soon-to-be home, below). 

Oddly enough, one flipper in our area took out the base cabinet in one master bathroom as well ~ a totally non-functional bathroom.  What he put in was beautiful with its granite countertop and pretty marble shower but there was absolutely no storage. It was a hotel bathroom and not a residential bathroom… big mistake and had we bought that home we planned on asking for money to make it functional.

Good design must include function as well as beauty.   🙂  

Sneaking this photo in of our soon-to-be home, if all goes through. 🙂

Putting in an offer

These are  two of the many homes we looked at over the past six months and considered as we were finding our first Texas home.  We lost out on the first house we bid on (the older home shared here in these photos which sat on almost 1/2 acre and had a lovely English garden… I was crushed at the time!).

This beautiful all white home was one we really thought about but ultimately decided not to go ahead.  But we did find another home we really like this and this second offer was accepted.

Yesterday’s post shared just a peek at our home-to-be… 🙂 Which is another thing to be prepared for: not having your offer accepted and it is very emotional and disappointing and often we don’t know why our offer wasn’t picked. Sometimes it is timing ~ that your offer is contingent upon your current home selling. Sometimes it’s just a matter of what the seller and realtor feel is best for them. In our case with the first home, the seller’s had a cash offer which trumped ours.   🙁

But don’t lose heart as there are plenty of good homes out there in a style you will love!  Keep looking and try for the one which has the most items in it that will suit your current needs.  

Happy house hunting,

A Quick Peek ~ Our New Home

After touring over 30 homes with our realtor and many open houses on weekends and also through one which is an open door construction/realty company, we have finally found a beautiful place to call our own…

Our second offer  on a home was accepted and we are happy with this sweet home! All week long we have been signing e-documents, picking up a check at the bank, scheduling the home inspection and contractors for things which will need fixing, etc.
And making plans and dreams…

And for some crazy reason this will be our third home with white carpeting! Crazy, I know… 

How this happens I’ll never know but I know that we are both attracted to basically white interiors as it always looks so clean and fresh ~ a clean slate, a new beginning.

I am especially in love with the kitchen! The countertops are already a beautiful whiter granite with purple flecks in it ~ I will have to find out what this type of granite is called, sooo pretty!

There are several work triangles in here which we will have to get used to since the kitchen is laid out in a square and we are already looking at adding gas lines to have a gas cooktop, if possible and for a gas dryer hook-up.  Part of this 7 day option period as part of buying a home here in Texas.

Our new master bathroom ~ lovely as is.

The master bathroom vanity does not have the granite the rest of the house has but is still very pretty as is. 

We will be doing a small remodel in the near future as the shower needs repairs due to someone falling in it ~ and should be part of the sellers’ concessions and included on our inspection later today.

The guest bathroom ~ equally lovely!

Here is the second bathroom/guest bathroom and it is lovely as is!  After all these years and going from whitewashed red oak cabinets in our first home, then to golden oak and painted white kitchen cabinets in our second home. I am liking these pretty cherry style cabinets here for our third home.

Our current bed ~ a California king ~ has no headboard… yet. 😉

Our queen sized bed frame was cherry and our daughter has it now since we moved up to a king, and oddly enough if she ever decided to move up this way, that bed would be a nice compliment here.

I think our current bed will fit nicely in our new master bedroom, as long as everything continues to move along in the home buying process.

Love love love these floral curtains in Laura’s kitchen!!!

I am already dreaming of curtains and bedding updates and getting inspiration from friends’ homes.
This is Laura’s home which is only an hour away.

Dusty but still intact ~ our 1880’s reproduction Louis XV armoire and my
French handcarved buffet, which I use as my bedroom dresser.

I am already space planning where our furniture will go once we get it shipped from California and out of our two storage units there.  

We will have to sell a lot or keep some in another storage facility for the next house ~ our retirement plan is to have a place where Hubby can get back to coaching pole vault to young athletes again.  Complete with pole vault pit and runway.

Yes, we looked at places to have that now but found nothing over this way.  It’s a 10 year plan for now.

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Always keep dreaming, friends,