DIY House Addition: Cool house features to consider before you build.

As I find myself being slowly buried in a pile of blueprints, how-to books, torn-out magazine pages, and contractor’s licensing forms, I can’t decide if waiting until Spring to break-ground on our addition was a good idea, or just a way to prolong the torture of asking ourselves “have we thought of everything?” every single day for the next three months.

Don’t even get me started on the minor panic attacks that occur every time I realize that the answer is “no”. Suffice it to say, if you ever want to meet me in the lumber asile of Lowe’s, I’m the girl whose left eye has an uncontrollable twitch.

Despite all of that, we are using our time wisely by planning for all of the little details in our house that are really going to push it over the edge of AWESOME. Things that you can’t just add in on a whim, but that are really going to make the place “ours”.

As if hammering every board together with our bare hands isn’t enough.

The Details:

Secret Passageways– Yeah, you read that right. Secret. Passageways. I don’t care how old you are, there is no possible way you don’t want to live in a house that has secret passageways. MysteryMan and I have made this a MUST HAVE in the Memorial house, but we can’t tell you exactly where they are because then they wouldn’t be secret. Obviously.


Things you need to consider before building:

  1. Where to put them. You have to take into consideration the structural elements of your house (any opening in a load bearing wall needs extra reinforcement)
  2. What they’ll look like. Is it a built in book case? A sliding panel in the wall? Keeping them a secret means you have to plan for finishing the area in a way that will make the passage unobtrusive.

Sites to check out:

You can get some good pre-fab hidden doors these days… who knew? Although you know me, I’m hell-bent on building one myself.

Fiber Optic Star Lighting– Twinkling lights over your bed, bath, home theater, or anywhere else in your home? Why not? I’m planning on these for over the tub in the master bath, so between these and the 2 way fireplace at the foot of the tub, I’m basically never going to leave the bathroom again.

Things you need to consider before building:

  1. Access. You need to have access to the space above the celiling where you want these to go. Not just for installation reasons, but because the main light fixture will reside up there as well.
  2. Electric. It doesn’t require more electricity than a regular fixture, but the hook-ups will be in different places.
  3. Installation. Apparently you can install these yourself with a nail and a piece of drywall, but the main light fixture needs to be mounted up in the ceiling, and as much as I like to tout my ability to hang a piece of drywall on the ceiling by myself, this is definitely a two-person job. At least.

Sites to check out:

Interior Barn Doors– It seems like these things are all the rage, but trendiness aside we love the rustic look of them.

Things to consider before building:

  1. Space. They look great, but they require double the space of the actual door opening.
  2. Weight. A solid wood barn door is going to require a little more support than mounting a shelf or picture on the wall. Make sure you plan to have studs in the appropriate places to accommodate the track for one of these.

Sites to check out:

Living Glass– Something a little different than your standard frosted look. I’m considering these for the shower in the master bath.

Things to consider before building:

  1. Mounting. Obviously you have to have a place for the glass, but how you mount it is really the key thing you need to think about ahead. The manufacturers will drill holes for a bottom/top mount, or finish edges that will be exposed… but you have to know before you order.

Sites to check out:

Drywall Speakers– I’m not big on seeing electronic components in the house… I don’t care how attractive you make speakers look, they are still speakers and I want to hear them, not see them. And these are invisible. Perfect.

Things you need to consider before building:

  1. Placement. Unlike regular speakers, these can’t be moved on a whim. Also, you need to have the template when you’re in the framing stage.
  2. Wiring. This is kind of a big DUH, but it is something you have to consider ahead of time.
  3. Finishing. These blend right into a flat finished wall, but if–like me–you prefer more texture on your walls, or any kind of paneling… well, maybe the ulgy black boxes in the corners of the room aren’t so bad.

Sites to check out:

What are some house features you like that need to be considered before you build?

20 Responses

  1. I like the way you think!

    We’re in a similar position – planning wise… so I’m all about getting inspiration out here. We didn’t do a barn door – but we have retrofitted a 5′ wide pocket door ‘barn-door-style’ for our new basement office. *Steal! – found it at the ReStore for $125, hardware included!*

    At this point, our planning ahead efforts are focused on what type of radiant heat we want in the floors… and we’re all about interior windows – we’ll have several transoms… just learned -from a visitor to my blog – about radiant windows… so we’ll have to plan ahead if we want them. (Can you tell it’s cold where I am right now?).

    Along the lines of your secret passageway – we were considering a dumbwaiter in our plans at one point… I haven’t completely dismissed it yet. Would be sweet to get it between the garage and the kitchen above – but we’d have to figure out how to do it to code (I’m thinking there must be some fire protection or maybe carbon monoxide issues…).

    Good stuff!

  2. That’s quite a creative list. I’ll add something boring but a total luxury… in floor radiant heating. Its a must have for bathrooms and kitchens in my book.

  3. Did you ever know that you’re my hero? I could fly higher than an eagle…..

    Thanks for the heads up on my comment page. I’m going to try to figure it out today.

  4. Can I just say… radiant floor heating is a must! I have it in my bathroom currently, and no shit, sometimes the cats and I just hang out on the bathmat and have a little pow-wow… it’s that nice.

  5. I love secret doors and such! Can’t wait to see what you do, or at least as much as you can show. I have always wanted them in our home. And that glass! Oh my goodness! It’s lovely. I am now coveting it very much.

  6. La Femme Makita,

    I have to admit a) we considered a secret door too, then reality hit and we couldn’t think of a place we could put it. It’s a row house and not wide to begin with. Form had to follow function and we had to lose that idea…but we really wanted to go there with you.

    Love the fiber-optic star idea too.

    Thanks for coming by. I never cease to be amazed at similar our tastes seem to be on many things.

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  10. I love secret doors and such! Can’t wait to see what you do, or at least as much as you can show. I have always wanted them in our home. And that glass! Oh my goodness! It’s lovely. I am now coveting it very much.

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