rara171

Unique and Memorable Features

rara171
September 7, 2019

Hello!


My husband and I are doing a total home renovation ( demolition, adding the backhouse to the front house, adding a pool...etc). This allows for some customization and creative freedom.


I'd love to know ways in which you all have added unique features to your homes. Even if you haven't, what are some features you've seen or would love to add to your homes that would add character?

I'm interested in all home reno aspects.... curb appeal, backyard, interior...whatever!


I'd love to get some ideas that would make our home's appearance more interesting as well as living/hosting more fun!


Thanks!

Comments (50)

  • PRO
    JAN MOYER

    Too broad a question to even be answered. Use the site you are on, and create idea books for the spaces you are redoing.

    Living is personal. It's YOUR space, and should reflect your life within your home. How you work , play,, entertain and all that entails. Inside, outside. .........

    Think about what you need, wish you had, whether it's storage, serving, etc,. When you have all the ideas? Get an architect, AND designer, and a KD, if your reno involves the kitchen. Nobody can tell you what you want. Or need. : ) It requires much careful thought on your part, first. Not to mention a great house doesn't begin with bells and whistles, but with a great floor plan. And a budget. So...you have homework.

  • PRO
    Revolutionary Gardens

    Like Jan said, a good designer can help you figure out what you need. They can also either encourage you to let your freak flag fly, or rein you in. Just because I commissioned a custom Princess Bride themed art piece for my backyard and built a dining table with a streambed and waterfall built into it, that doesn't mean that's right for you :)

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  • Kirsten E.

    OP didn’t ask for a lecture; it was just a simple question about features people have added to their homes and enjoyed, or have seen and bookmarked as a cool idea. If they don’t like the idea, they don’t have to use it. The purpose of a forum is to brainstorm and get ideas, not be told time and again to get an architect and designer. And FYI, people can both source the internet and have a designer in the real world. Why limit yourself to one person’s perspective?

    Now, to actually try and answer the question asked...Our outdoor fire pit table is always a spot that people are drawn to during gatherings. Depending on your climate, that can certainly apply to interior fireplaces as well. To that end, we’re in the Midwest and are also having a gas line run to our three season porch to extend our use of the space for as long as possible.

    Another area we’re planning for that is more group-gathering focused is a game room with a chalkboard wall. The cool thing about the chalkboard wall is you can put the special coating over any color you want if chalkboard black isn’t for you, so it can blend seamlessly.

    What’s your climate? Can you describe the spaces you’re working with in a little more detail? Might help with more applicable ideas!

    rara171 thanked Kirsten E.
  • deb s

    not unique- but my favorites include heated floors, storage storage storage, use of natural elements (exposed rock walls, beams etc) but quite frankly my favorites are very unique pieces I have acquired through auction houses and finds that are re-purposed ie an antique armoire now used as my kitchen pantry etc. NO KITCHY HOME GOODS STUFF !! BUT as mentioned above your question is too broad

  • M R

    I don’t think it’s a broad question at all. I grew up in a house with a laundry chute and can’t tell you how many times I went down that thing as a kid. In my new build I’ve tried to think of things that will be memorable to my kids- things that don’t take a whole lot of $ but do take planning. We are doing a small (6x 7 I think) “secret room” between the two boys’ rooms- a place for forts, flashlights and other mischief. We’re also doing a hidden tube slide in our kitchen island that goes to basement. These are very kid specific examples, but hope it gives you some ideas!

    rara171 thanked M R
  • PRO
    RES 3d Sketches

    I'm trying to visualize the existing house and site but nothing's happening.

  • PRO
    JAN MOYER

    It isn't a lecture. It's the smart way to begin any home, build, remodel, simple re decorating. Half the problem for most? Too many ideas!! Billions of visuals and opinion with the click of a mouse or tap of a finger. But yes, you have to begin somewhere indeed. You do that with how you live now.....is it easy living? What do you love about what you have, or hate? What works for you, and what does not.

    When or IF you get a designer? Same thing. That's a one on two relationship. The designer and the homeowners. It is not helpful,or even wise, if and assuming you have found that person you trust.............to send her ideas and interpretation of YOUR wishes and dreams, out for a thousand differing opinions , or even the opinion of your girlfriend : )

    Design is a thoughtful process, one of editing, and editing some more. Until your loose dream becomes concrete ideas, and a lovely reality.

  • daki

    For us, our home has a sunroom across the back of the house - windows on three sides and a wonderful view. It's large but not fancy (prefab type) - and contractors have looked down on it as not being upscale enough for the area. The previous owners installed it, not us. It is sunny with a wonderful view and it is our favorite place to be. Our cats have their cat trees, we have a daybed and pillows to flop down and read a book, house plants, string lights along the tops of the windows, our pcs. It has no air conditioning or heat, so it gets too warm in the summer and cold in the winter, but it is the room we go to when we want to relax and unwind. We spend a lot of time in our other rooms as well, but this room has the most windows :)


  • PRO
    Virgil Carter Fine Art

    Well...here's what I would strive for:


    --a house which fits its site and is appropriate to the site;

    --a floor plan which is efficient, and offers spatial variety;

    --an interior where natural light is a major element;

    --an exterior of genuine architectural character, which is of a regional vernacular;

    --simple use of appropriate and durable materials on exterior and interior;

    --an energy efficient house which employs passive solar strategies.


    There's probably some other criteria, hopefully my point is clear: forget the gimmicks and trendy and focus on things of true, lasting value.

  • DLM2000-GW

    I don't think it's particularly unique but we have a walk-thru pantry from our back door/mud room into our kitchen. It became the natural choice as our house design developed with our architect. It makes for easy grocery unloading and drop zone but is pretty and can be used for a drink station for a large party. And since it leads not only into the kitchen but also the hallway to our living room, it can keep party traffic out of the kitchen And that leads into another feature that we borrowed from our old home - multiple circulation routes for living spaces.

  • cpartist

    Windows on at least two walls in every public space and in all bedrooms. Especially the bedrooms

    A house that has great circulation so there are no dead end or awkward spaces. This is even more important in a reno as I can’t begin to tell you how many houses we looked at where by their renovation they ruined the flow of the house

    A house that doesn’t try to be what it’s not. Meaning you don’t create an open floor plan in an older craftsman, victorian, etc house or you don’t get rid of what makes it have the style and charm of the house


  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting

    IMO to broad a question but I think you need to find a designer that you like their work because they work to make your home unique. I never wanted to be one of those designer that did a house and everyone who walked in knew who designed it. Your home needs to be for you not anyone else and that includes thinking resale. The most impportant room in all my homes has always been the kitchen with the best appliances I can afford. Any other ideas will come from you sharing pictures and a bit about you.

  • hu1967910

    We added a lean-to greenhouse on the back of our house. We've had fun growing orchids, begonias, cactus, citrus, and other plants (with varying levels of success) out there. For the front of the house, we researched old Better Homes & Gardens magazines from the 1940s to find landscaping ideas that were popular when our home was built.

  • remodeling1840

    The reason people are asking for more info (not lecturing) is we don’t know if the OP wants Hurst Castle or Madonna Inn unique. Does she want Fallingwaters or Scotty’s in Death Valley unique.

  • Shola Akins

    Op is not asking for suggestions. I think she’s asking for people to post what they think are unique features in their homes and she can either use some ideas or weed out things that she does not like.

    Op, I’m building an elevator shaft for future installation or resale since the master is upstairs.

    rara171 thanked Shola Akins
  • bpath Oh Sophie

    In my childhood home, there was a council ring tucked into a corner of the yard. You walked a flagstone path through a (very) small rose garden to get to it. Very classic, Jens Jensen Midwestera feature! This isn’t ours, though. Our fireplace in the middle had two slabs on either side of the fire, so you could sit or place a plate of marshmallows.


    A feature of my folks’ house is a stone Wall in the living room with the fireplace, and next to it the hearth continues as a step up, through double wood doors, to a paneled library. It feels “Secret” But really isn’t. (And yes, it’s true that double doors are a pain when it comes to light switch placement, but it’s still cool).

    For other landscape features, if it suits the house a curved walkway that travels through a garden or a grove of trees, even if it’s only a ”grove” of two trees, makes for a lovely approach to the house.

    Of course, I’m a fan of a wet bar in a family room. It’s great for entertaining. Small fridge, small ice maker, everyone stays out of the kitchen zone. Dad’s is down two steps, very cool. You can simply pull up two chairs to the bar if you want, no barstools necessary.

  • PRO
    RES 3d Sketches

    You should not begin a renovation with features. Its a difficult problem solving exercise that requires a careful systematic approach. If it is a major renovation, you will need measured existing condition plans drawings.

    A good architect will identify opportunities as you proceed through that process.

    Show us some photos and describe why you are renovating and something about your family, your lifestyle and budget.

  • Deb

    Our butler’s pantry with the hidden (behind cabinetry) walk-in pantry is my favorite feature of our reno...


    We also opted to get rid of a hall closet to put in a mudroom/bench as we need somewhere quick and easy to put shoes on and dump our stuff...


    Ill also advocate for smarthome stuff... leak sensors in the laundry room and under the dishwasher are security features for us...

  • Akila McConnell

    We had an upstairs loft space that we would NEVER have used and our architect designed wall-to-wall bookshelves and we're going to have a library ladder, converting basically a hallway into a library. It's one of the features I'm most excited about.


    And, one of the doorways to the guest bedroom/playroom is underneath the stairwell, so it's a 7.5 foot high ceiling (in comparison to 10 feet everywhere else), so we are converting that doorway into a bookcase door to make it into a secret playroom. That's the feature my daughter is most excited about!

  • partim

    Have a look at The Not So BIg House by Susan Susanka. She has plenty of ideas on how to make a house more versatile and inviting. Those things transcend styles and will add value. Also Renovating the Not So BIg House.

  • PRO
    JudyG Designs

    A half bath for visitors is worth its bang for a buck. You can have a fun time decorating it and it is always pristine for the unexpected guest.

    Quality interior doors with attractive hardware lends that extra touch.


    Quality interior paint with appropriate finishes will last you years.

    Sound surround with speakers outside, as well, and put one in that guest bathroom. Everyone appreciates it!

    Bottom line…no builder’s quality anything. The important basics are not the place to try and save money.

  • PRO
    JudyG Designs

    One more super important addition (depending on where you live) install a generator at construction and figure out with the electrician what you need should there be an extended power outage. Get the one which self tests once a week.

  • D E

    unique features I've seen in homes

    roof monitors
    Oculus
    enclosed courtyard
    cantilever
    faux cantilever
    window wall
    funny roofs
    unusual cladding like corrugated steel or exposed block or corten steel
    fancy exterior lighting
    fancy house numbers

    etc etc

  • PRO
    Lydia Derhake, LLC

    I think you're looking at this backwards. You're going to a site and asking people, "What's something neat you like?" Instead, consider what you would like. What doesn't work for you in your current home? What has always bothered you that it doesn't have? What is something that would make your life simpler or better to add or subtract from your home?


    Always, always start with function. Think about your day, your habits, your goals, and build a home from there. Do you exercise? Do you wish you exercised more? Maybe you would benefit from a home gym. Do you have trouble relaxing? Maybe you should start with a meditation room or a sauna.


    I know it's fun to look at other people's lives as inspiration and try to replicate them, but ultimately you will be disappointed if you start from there. Start instead with your values, goals, lifestyle, and "wants." Then you can ask for specific advice (what sauna system do you guys recommend? Which direction should I face my meditation room for the best light?).


    I don't think anyone is trying to lecture you, but I believe there's a lot of wisdom on this site that points toward open-ended questions as being self-defeating. Instead, make a list of what your day is like, or what your home is like, or what your goals are, and post that, then ask for advice on how to best renovate in that direction.


    Great example: I would LOVE to have a screened-in porch. I live in Missouri. If you're in Colorado, you probably don't need a screened-in porch.


    I hope this is helpful! Good luck!

  • chicagoans

    I don't know how unique this is, but I put backlit address numbers on my new front porch and I love them. Now people can find my house at night!



    When we did our addition, I wish we had put pocket half doors between the mudroom and kitchen and in a few other openings as well. Now that I have a dog, there are times I'd like to confine him to certain areas of the house without using a gate or needing a whole door to close.

    I'm a form-follows-function type, and I think unique ideas are best when they give you some functionality in a clever way. I spent last night on a friend's boat, and I love the way boat builders maximize space.

  • parkerc01

    When I was young, my dad designed our house (yup, architect) so that my sister and I had adjoing rooms that were separted by accordian doors all the way across the room. We could either have one big room to play together in, or close it off and have our own rooms.

  • rara171

    Hey,

    Thanks everyone for your input!


    I understand that some may think this was a broad question, but as some have noted, this was just a place for people to post what they like.

    My question was leaning more towards ideas on how to give the house character (i.e. custom cabinetry, wet bar ideas, as someone mentioned fire pit seating...etc).


    I'm not asking for someone to design my house for me, I just thought it would be cool to see what the Houzz community likes and has found unique and useful.


    I am open to all styles and suggestions. I don't limit myself to a particular style-genre, that's why all of your opinions have been helpful :)


    I appreciate all of the responses! You guys have definitely given me some awesome ideas!


    Also, for those wondering, we live in a ranch-style home in Southern California. We have a sizable backyard for our location.


    Thanks guys!

  • One Devoted Dame

    A few links that might be of interest.... :-)

    Things You Wish You Would Have Included

    Tips for Building with Large Families in Mind (good ideas, not just for big families!)

    Favorite Nuances

  • einportlandor

    House dreamin':


    I love an eat-in kitchen, and I'm not talking about an island. A kitchen table makes the space feel like a home, a place to sip coffee and gossip, play cards or sew.


    Multiple connections to the outdoors -- places to step out to small patios or balconies for a breath of fresh air, private seating areas for the family to gather, a dining space right off the kitchen, etc. Consider doors instead of windows where possible.


    Always loved the idea of a house built around a central courtyard.


    Lush landscaping can turn a simple house into a fabulous wonderland.


    Gas fireplaces are worth every penny in chilly locations. Flip the switch when you wake in the morning, flip it off when you leave for work. Repeat in the evening.


    Real hardwood floors beat everything else. Mine are 90 years old and still going strong. If you're really flush, look at some of the intricate designs found in European homes.


    Beautiful ceilings can elevate a room.


    Windows and doors of the best possible quality -- tall windows, clerestory windows, lots of windows. A statement front door. Substantial interior doors. Personally, I'd opt for a smaller house and better windows and doors.


    Beautiful handrails.


    Built-in drawers, cabinets, etc. provide stylish storage without a lot of bulky furniture.


    Love soapstone countertops -- wish I could afford them.


    That's it for now. Happy house building!

  • One Devoted Dame

    Aaaaahhhh.... A central courtyard.... Fully enclose it, make it a huge atrium, toss small trees, flowers, etc., in it... and... don't pinch me, because I don't want to wake up! :-D

  • tqtqtbw

    Keep accessibility in mind and energy needs, also. I would love to have solar panels and am thankful that our master is downstairs.

  • Kathi Steele

    I too love the idea of a house built around a central court yard!! Awesome!!

  • Lynne Om (9A, New Smyrna Beach,FL)

    Some things in my last house were purposeful, such as a round counter that extended from the normal counter...a perfect place for baking/decorating cookies, doing homework, grading papers, playing cards, informal meals, dumping grocery bags, etc. A dedicated cabinet for trays, cookie sheets & racks. A counter below a pass-through into the dining room that was the perfect place to roll out pie crusts or prepare an electric skillet dinner, with an open space below for dog bowls. A tall cabinet at the kitchen entrance whose upper 1/3 was shelves for cookbooks, middle 1/3 swivel TV set that could reverse to dining room & bottom 1/3 liqueur cabinet on kitchen side and wine storage on dining room side. Also in dr, a built in china hutch with drawers/cabinets below and glasses cabinets above. Linen closet across the width of the loft (12 ft) and adjoining 6 x 10 cedar closet. But what I truly loved were the various angles at which the ceilings of entry, dining room, living room, loft and open hallway met—I could lie on my back for hours and admire how the shadows changed.

  • bpath Oh Sophie

    You’re in Southern California? Can you do an H shape? Two courtyards, lots of windows!

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect

    Have a house designed so it fits the site, that is a unique feature compared to most of the houses I have seen posted here on Houzz.

  • sprink1es

    Depends where you live and $$$.

    Screen porch, or a simple porch that could be easily screened

    Walkout basements - with spancrete garage floor, to allow garage below car garage

    Heated garage floor

    Terraced floor theatre rooms

    Actual climate controlled wine rooms

    Creative outdoor living spaces. Ceiling heaters, outdoor TV's, outdoor fireplaces, building a deck up around a hottub/pool so it's flush entry

    Flex rooms that make sense. In a spot where loudness doesn't disrupt the entire house, something that makes sense for everything to gravitate toward (function with outdoor living...?) kind of like how everyone usually usually gravitates to the kitchen

    Do people hang out in their garages in your area? I've seen cool mancave setups with TV's and full living room sets in the garage. Showcase a classic car etc... A Den with windows overlooking garage with car collection...


    Need more specifics from you I think, to keep going

  • st5330

    some cool things ive seen: built-ins for storage, built in fish tank (as in, in a wall, I so want to do this), koi ponds, attached greenhouse, lanai (common in florida, but was new to me when I saw one)....

  • emmarene9


    Hidden room.

  • roarah

    I love large double openings with pocket doors or glass frenchdoors separating otherwise open rooms. It allows for the option of having open space for entertaining and quite more intimate spaces for daily living. Laundry shoots and dumb waiters are so nostalgic and seem so special now a days. I also adore front vestibules. The transition from a buffered tempature space between the exterior temps and room temp is a nice transition when entering or exiting a home.

  • Janie Gibbs-BRING SOPHIE BACK

    Fun question!

    If $$ wasn't an object and we were building a pool strictly for us, my hubby would incorporate some type of fun, wacky slide.

    http://feelitcool.com/crazy-cool-home-pool-slides-you-should-have-to-check/


  • PRO
  • auntthelma

    A library nook.


    Book Nook · More Info


    Colorful Elegance · More Info


  • Jennifer Hogan

    Sometimes very small changes can have a huge impact.

    Before and after of the front of my last home with trim color change and addition of the single trim board on the garage:






  • PRO
    Norwood Architects

    I will suggest that you consider the part of the country you live in and look at features that occur in your local vernacular architecture. For example if you live in the south a porch addition might make good sense as it allows for living space and can take advantage of breezes. If you live in the southwest a cooling water feature might be appropriate and very enjoyable. That's what I have for you this morning. Pretty general but offered as sincere advise. Good luck!

  • Jennifer Hogan

    My favorite unique feature in any home that I have been to is my sister's idea of having the kitchen counter open up to a counter in the laundry room/pantry. She keeps all her small appliances that she doesn't use every day in the laundry room/pantry




  • Jennifer Hogan

    My parents had a 40' long hallway going from the front of the house to the bedrooms. Typically hallways are an utter waste of space, but they had hidden closets the full length of the hallway till you reached the last 10 feet, where there were 3 stacks of drawers with a shelf for displaying beautiful objects. Great use of space. Who couldn't use an extra 30 linear feet of closet space?


  • frostyfootball

    Sounds like money’s no object, so let’s have fun.

    One word of caution:

    After total house Reno, neighbor looks like Wally World in the neighborhood and stands out in a really negative way. Keep in the character of your neighborhood and house or move to a new area.

    ********

    @rara171 If you celebrate Christmas, my long time dream feature would be a lazy-susan corner wall that spins or a closet with roll out floor to keep your Christmas tree fully decorated and hidden out of season and in the spot you want to display it. No moving the tree.

    ***********

    Exterior

    - Get a landscape architect and lighting designer

    - Outdoor kitchen w/fireplace and ample seating

    - Outdoor poolhouse cabana with shower

    - High end chaise lounges and umbrella around the pool

    - Sport court: tennis/bball and if you have the land do a chipping and putting green

    Interor

    - Double front doors

    - Highest ceilings you can do on every floor with attention to ceiling moldings and finishes

    - Wainscoting/board and batten/moldings trim

    - wide room transitions with arched transitions or interesting lines

    - Huge kitchen island for entertaining with honed marble or high end quartzite

    - Kitchen scullery/butlers pantry where all your small cooking appliances can be left out

    - Large single sink with awesome faucet

    - Double oven and high end appliances

    - Mounted TVs and hidden cable boxes etc, stereo surround

    - Smart systems controlling lights, temp etc

    - Biggest windows

    - Gym

    Garage

    - Built in open shelving, plenty of floor space under shelving

    - Overhead car wash stall

    - Floor finish

    -

    OK, have to run so that’s all for now...

  • Jennifer Hogan

    My parents had vanities with sinks built into each of the bedrooms in addition to having something just in the bathrooms. You had a place to sit and do your hair and makeup and didn't have to worry about someone else wanting to use the bathroom. It was 1963 when we moved into the house, so people didn't generally have a bedroom and bathroom for each kid. We had 6 kids and one kid's bathroom. But having the vanities in our bedrooms made mornings and bedtimes work without fighting.


    I created a makeup vanity area in my master sitting room, but it does not have a sink, just a closing makeup vanity. Looks like a narrow desk or table, but when you lift the top it has a mirror and all of my makeup and hair supplies inside.


    I also loved that my parents had a secret hiding place - the headboard had a latch and opened up if you knew how to open it.



  • Janie Gibbs-BRING SOPHIE BACK

    I think it was Lindsay who posted a picture of a trough kitchen sink a while back, it was HUGE and awesome!

    And was it Joe who posted a pic of that amazing industrial pulley wheel faucet?

    Yeah.

    That.

  • gthigpen

    Rather than a standard closet door, we opted for a Murphy bookcase door to access some extra storage in our attic space. More interesting than yet another door and you'd never know there was a room behind it. My daughter says that will be her hideout in the case of the apocalypse. ;)

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