clever house design ideas wanted
October 8, 2010 10:02 AM   Subscribe

I'm designing a house, and am looking for advice, and descriptions of your favorite house features. I'd especially like clever tricks, unique solutions, and the unusual.

For example, one house I stayed in had a gap in the toe space, under the kitchen sink. When sweeping the kitchen floor, the detritus could be swept into this hole. The dirt would end up in a shallow tray that sat, below floor level, in the cabinet under the sink. It was covered with a removable lid, and could be pulled out and emptied periodically (or the wedding ring that got swept up could be retrieved, giving this an advantage over a central vac). This saved the trouble of getting out a dust pan every time.

In another house, some of the basement stairs were hinged, and hid compartments useful for storing valuables.

Another house I heard about had a tube between the wall by the kitchen sink and the recycling bin in the garage, sort of a laundry chute for recyclables.

This is the sort of thing I'm looking for -- clever ideas that aren't mainstream and which will solve a problem in a unique way.

But while you're at it, feel free to describe the more common things you really love in your house. Pet peeves are appreciated too.
posted by Capri to Home & Garden (81 answers total) 178 users marked this as a favorite
In one of the later Little House on The Prairie books Laura Ingalls Wilder described how her new husband, when building their house by hand, had outfitted the kitchen with drawers. A big one full of flour, a little one full of brown sugar, etc.

I don't know how practical this is (a drawer full of flour kind of sounds like weevil heaven) but I have always loved the idea of having all your baking ingredients built right into the counter you did your cooking on.
posted by Juliet Banana at 10:06 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Stairs with drawers

Attic stairs

Design ideas from Resource Furniture. Everything folds and tucks away!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:08 AM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

If you can, take a look at the book A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander. There are pages and pages of stuff like that in there.
posted by jquinby at 10:09 AM on October 8, 2010

If applicable put outlets outside on the roof line attached to a switch be the front door for Christmas lights.

Also run cable conduit to every room in your house from the basement with cable leads (the kind you can pull through). At some point this will save you a major headache.

Finally put in the largest possible basement windows. Future you will thank you.
posted by saradarlin at 10:11 AM on October 8, 2010

Best answer: Pioneer Woman's sugar/flour drawers are pretty darn cool for anyone who bakes frequently.
posted by litnerd at 10:11 AM on October 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

My grandmother swore by wall-mounted toilets, because they're easily cleaned and you don't have to scrub those gross bolts on the floor. Harder to do on a remodel but easy in new construction.

I designed a small tilt-out drawer in the water closet of the master bath, sized to hold an extra roll of tissue paper as well as a box of tampons.

That gap in the toe space is brilliant. If I were designing another house now my first thought with everything would be "how will this be cleaned"?
posted by cyndigo at 10:12 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, and I could happily live in Alton Brown's kitchen set from Good Eats. So, so many little good ideas, like a knife block integrated with the counter, magnetic strips for spice jars, etc, etc. The film set you see is a near-duplicate of the home of the producer.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:12 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh. And I would add an extra 5 feet to the width of the garage on one side for lawn mowers, shelves, snow blower etc.

Also not design but just good planning. Install a 200 amp electrical panel and give your self 2 or 3 ouitlets together behind the flatscreen area and where your planned office computer will go.
posted by saradarlin at 10:14 AM on October 8, 2010

I asked a similar question a few years ago and there were many great responses.
posted by bondcliff at 10:17 AM on October 8, 2010

This question from bondcliff is full of awesome ideas.
posted by Aizkolari at 10:20 AM on October 8, 2010

Make the whole kitchen and bath out of stainless steel with a drain in the floor. Then you can clean it all with a pressure washer.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 10:20 AM on October 8, 2010

Oh and also since the house in question has since been lived in for a couple years now, I should add that the things I really wish we had added a place for the litter box and a place for the Christmas tree. We manage with both things but a little nook for the litter box in the laundry room or bathroom would be nice to have. We didn't really think about it at the time.

As for the Christmas tree, again, we manage, but it would have been nice to have given it more thought.

These things aren't as minor as they might seem on paper.
posted by bondcliff at 10:22 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Aha! I was just looking for bondcliff's post, but couldn't find it. I'll repeat what I said in that thread: Put electrical outlets everywhere, both down by the baseboards and further up the wall. I live in a WWI-era house, and I don't have nearly enough outlets.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:22 AM on October 8, 2010

If the house is more than one story, plan to put the laundry where the bedrooms are, to save lugging laundry up and down the stairs. Do the laundry where most of it is actually generated.

A door at the end of a hallway can do an enormous amount to dampen noise between living spaces and sleeping spaces.

Put bedroom closets on interior walls for another layer of sound privacy and to free exterior walls for windows. Cross-ventilation in bedrooms is a big plus.

I saw a house once where the wall between the kitchen and dining room had cupboards with doors on both sides- you could put clean dishes away from the kitchen side, and later when you wanted to set the table in the dining room open the other side of the cabinet to access everything. I thought that was a fantastic idea.

Seconding A Pattern Language. Chock full of good ideas.
posted by ambrosia at 10:24 AM on October 8, 2010 [4 favorites]

Just majorly remodeled a year are my thoughts.

My pets water bowls are in the laundry room. I did not have room for a sink, but put a pot filler faucet in the laundry room to refill their bowls to avoid splashing water all over the hardwood floors carrying them from the kitchen sink to the laundry room.

Not so clever but love it:
I have one large kitchen sink (not a divided one). Everyone comments on how great it is to have all that space to do pots and pans (it is). I have never understood the point of the divided sink if you aren't hand-washing dishes.

All drawers for the bottom kitchen cabinets. No more squating and peering behind things in the cabinet for me.

Storage: Grab all you can and build in space where you can. Under stairs is a great space catcher.

Laundry room on the same floor as bedrooms (or a laundry chute)

Instant hot water at the kitchen sink.

Gas to the fireplace. You don't need the gas logs but you can avoid paper and kindling.

Electrical plugs on front and rear outdoor porches and power/lights on a detached shed.

Celiing fan on the covered front porch.

Keyless deadbolt (for houseguests and service people)

Wish I had put one in:
A whole house attic fan. I had one in my old house and when you opened windows and turned it on, it instantly dragged a ton of fresh air in from the windows and aired the house out (great for when you burn food and smoke fills the I have heard)

Wish I could afford it:

Retractable window screens. I hate having screens over the windows -- it makes the view outside dingy. But there are some built in retractable kinds that allow you to pull them down when needed and retract them when you are done.
posted by murrey at 10:28 AM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

A pattern language is an architectural design resource that has tons of amazing ideas; for instance:
Windows wherever possible; and on two walls in a room whenever possible.
Guidelines to create a House for a couple
Or a House for a small family.

Also, this bookshelf staircase was a big hit on Apartment Therapy.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:29 AM on October 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

I wholeheartedly agree with the upthread poster's assertion that the cat litter needs a special nook where it's out of sight and out of smell-range. If you or any future house owners ever get a cat, you'll thank us.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:32 AM on October 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

Bay windows with window seats are fantastic. Failing that, nice deep windowsills.

Laundry facilities right next to the bedrooms so you don't have to haul the laundry up and down stairs.

A Tea and Toast station. This can be in your dining room instead of the kitchen. Most of your mugs can go here, your kettle, toaster, biscuit tin and all your hot drink making paraphernalia. Saves an impressive amount of space in the kitchen and makes getting a cuppa much easier. You can also store your glasses and booze here. Nobody who is getting a drink or making a snack needs to be in the way of someone who's trying to cook.

Sockets for floor standing lights, mounted in the floor. Saves trailing cable everywhere.

Lots of well concealed storage for coats and shoes and hats next to the front door, along with a paper recycling bin, into which you throw all the junk mail and envelopes and so on.

A kitchen where the pan drawer is under the hob, the oven is at optimum turkey-shoving height, the knives are right next to the place where you cut things.

Kitchen units designed for the height of the particular person who will use them most, or even kitchen units of varying height if there are several people of different heights using it.

A pantry.
posted by emilyw at 10:33 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Will you have laundry in the basement? I love my laundry chute going into the basement. If you won't have basement laundry, could you have the bathroom and laundry room back to back with a small passthrough between?
posted by TrarNoir at 10:33 AM on October 8, 2010

I visited an older couple who had designed their own home. They routinely had toast with breakfast, so had a special slide-out shelf, behind a cupboard door, in the section of kitchen cabinet between the kitchen and dining area. The toaster sat on the shelf where it could be pulled within reach of the table, along with salt and pepper shakers, napkins, that sort of thing. The amazing part was the outlet INSIDE the cupboard. No moving a crumby toaster over to the table every day (as my own grandparents do). So handy, if you eat much toast.

From my own experience - I like having the bedroom window open at night, but have to keep it closed in winter as it faces the direction of prevailing wind and rain. If I ever planned a house, I would consider wind direction when deciding where to situate the master bedroom.

Also, I miss having a window over the bathtub. Nothing like having a little cool, fresh air inside a steamy shower. The bathroom vent just isn't the same!
posted by dorey_oh at 10:34 AM on October 8, 2010

I would love to have a kitty litter closet. I hate having cat poop in the living areas of the house. I am doing an addition very soon and I plan to use QuietRock drywall all over for sound/noise reduction. I'm also planning to do a dish drying rack above the sink - it just makes so much sense. Run cable and leads everywhere, even to rooms you don't think you'll need it in.

I love the under the sink dust pan idea. I'll be using that!
posted by PorcineWithMe at 10:37 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Put electrical outlets on the mantle in case you ever want to sit lamps up there. It's also handy if you want garland with twinkly lights for the holidays. Also, locate your washer/dryer in your master bedroom closet. That's where most of the dirty laundry is generated when you undress, and where it is put away once it's clean.
posted by MelissaSimon at 10:38 AM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

There are a bunch of neat cleaning related stuff you can do. Similar to the toe gap idea I saw a house that had a hole with removable inset in the kitchen counter, directly above the trash can, so you could wipe stuff directly into it. My step farther built his own house and has a some neat things such as a fireplace that backs onto the garage with a door into it so you could clean it from the outside without getting ash in the living room. the garage also has the outlet for the laundry chute which dumps everything into a cupboard right opposite the washing machine.
posted by tallus at 10:39 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Not so much a "trick", but awareness of terrain and prevailing climate is a skill that's often missing from modern templated house design. It's something that you see in the windcatchers of Iran, and the villas of Palladio. Just having the house oriented in the right direction for light and wind solves all manner of problems.

On the "trick" side: multiple light switches for rooms with more than one point of entry, especially if you're entering from outdoors. Pantries are great. Pantries that make use of subterranean cool are even better.
posted by holgate at 10:41 AM on October 8, 2010

Also, seen elsewhere, a sealed bathroom floor with a drain built in.
posted by tallus at 10:43 AM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

When we finish our basement next year, we're putting in a room specifically for the cats. They sleep in the basement now, so this won't be unusual for them. It'll house their litterboxes and have cushy places for them to sleep. So, yeah, a litterbox nook or a place for a dog crate. Future owners will love you for it.

And, I must say, make a secret room!! If you have space, that is.

We remodeled our kitchen three years ago and one of the best things we did was push out the countertops a few inches. So, we can put the toaster and coffee maker on the counter but still have full countertop depth from there. Does that make sense? I think it was 3-4 inches (maybe?) added on and it makes a world of difference. We didn't lose any prep space by having those things remain on the counters.
posted by cooker girl at 10:44 AM on October 8, 2010

Oh man, I just got a whole house fan installed on Labor Day weekend (thanks to my beloved stepdad) and I don't know how I lived so long without it. I live in a climate with summer days that can be blisteringly hot, but the nights are cool. It's an absolute lifesaver to be able to turn that fan on at night and have all that cool air sucked directly into my house. Box fans at the windows have NOTHING on a whole house fan. And I situated mine in the laundry room directly off the kitchen, so bad kitchen smells are of no consequence at all. Last night the pie I was baking spilled over and all the scorched odors got sucked out by the fan before they could permeate the house. Amazing!

Definitely a hot water tap. Outlets everywhere. More cabinets and closets than you think you need. Linen cabinets in the bathrooms (mine are on the outside and I HATE it). I love the idea of wall mounted toilets and sinks for easy bathroom cleaning. If I had a two story house I'd definitely put the laundry room upstairs. Laundry chutes are nice, but you still have to get the clothes back up the stairs. Or put in a dumbwaiter!

If you're putting in a staircase, consider how you'll get furniture up it. My aunt's spec house has a narrow staircase behind a wall, and she put a sort of passthrough in that wall so you wouldn't have to navigate furniture through the angles. Ugh, I'm doing a horrible job of explaining that. Just consider how you'll get furniture through your house as you design.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:44 AM on October 8, 2010

Ah - windows in the bathrooms. We had one in our last house but don't have one in our master bath right now and I didn't realize what a big deal it was to have natural light (and occasionally venting of steaminess).

2nding the whole house fan.
posted by jquinby at 10:57 AM on October 8, 2010


- I LOVE bedrooms featuring a small hallway before the room opens up (sometimes the hallway features a closet.)

- I LOVE bathrooms that are removed (by doors and hallways) from the rest of the dwelling. In my current home, the main bath is down a longish hallway that features storage closets. This hallway has a door that shuts it off from the living room. In Southern California where I live, this "bathroom privacy" seems a common feature of 30's 40's and 50's architecture.
posted by jbenben at 10:59 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ok, I’m going to add a few more things because I learned a lot both from that thread and from going through the process. These are all things that we did that we did and love or things we didn’t do and wish we had. They’re all random and from the top of my head.

Laundry: Ditto putting it on the same room as the bedrooms. Have a nice thick door to close it off so you can run the dryer before you go to bed. Don’t put the litter box in the laundry room because then you can’t keep the door closed unless you put a cat door on it. (you may not own cats, but since a lot of people do you should think about this)

Mechanicals: Don’t put an attic air handler so close above your bed that the air duct is only six feet long when it exits directly above your bed. You learn to live with it, but it’s kind of loud. Put basement and attic mechanicals in a place where they won’t be too disturbing for rooms above and below them.

Kitchen: If you cook, design the kitchen for cooking. Big prep areas. Small prep sink by the prep area. Think in terms of tasks: Prep, cook, dirty dishes, putting away leftovers, clean dishes and glasses, etc. Keep similar tasks (leftovers, dirty dishes) close to each other and have everything you need to complete those tasks (Saran wrap, tupperwear, foil, sink) near that area.

Mostly drawers in the lower kitchen cabinets. Nice deep drawers for baking supplies and tupperwear. Shallow drawers for utensils.

Mail area / command center. This should be one of the first things you arrive at when you enter the house by whatever door you'll be entering from. Drop the mail, charge the phone, hang the keys, etc.

Big ass single sink for dishes, small sink for prep. Both should have sprayers.

If you bake (pies or bread), have an area of the counter a few inches lower to make kneading bread and rolling dough a lot easier.

If you drink (cocktails, scotch, wine) have a nice bar area. It’s just a nice thing to have.

Again, if you bake, they make fold-out shelves for stand mixers. Put an outlet in the cabinet so you can just fold the mixer out whenever you want to use it and it’s all ready to go. This is one of the single best things we did.

Central vac. Do it. They also make “magic dust pans” sorta like you said in your post only they’re attached to the vacuum.

Think about how sound travels. Have kids? Make sure you can watch TV and talk in the living room without them hearing every word. Sound travels a bit too much in my house. That may be due to the (still) lack of curtains and other sound-absorbing stuff.

Windows. Seriously, put in a shitload of good quality windows. Light = happiness.

We have a breakfast nook with benches and we put deep, deep drawers in the benches. Perfect for storing the BBQ equipment and other odd-shaped stuff.

Keep rooms like the dining room off the main flow of traffic. Otherwise you’ll tend to plop things down on the table when you go by.

If you watch TV, even a tiny little bit, give serious thought to where you’ll put the TV. I have at least two Ask Me threads out there that I asked because we didn’t give the TV enough thought.

Put a lot of thought into lighting and know how bright lights are before you install them. I have four new light fixtures at home waiting to be installed to replace some near-useless Restoration Hardware fixtures that give off all the brightness of a Palin family reunion.

If you’re putting in a fireplace, consider an insert or a negative pressure fireplace. (google Fireplace Xtrodinair) because they’re WAY more efficient then a regular fireplace and they’ll keep you nice and toasty warm.

Electrical: Code will pretty much make you put outlets all over the place, but think about what kind of stuff you’ll be plugging in where and add outlets specifically for those purposes. A quad near the TV, maybe one on the floor if your couch will be in the middle of a room, one on either side of the bed, etc. Put one in a closet/pantry for battery chargers and the Dustbuster.

Cat-5 near desks and where the TV will go. Put a couple where the TV will go, in fact. Things are moving that way and while almost everything uses WiFi it’s nice to have the speed of Cat-5 (or 6 or 7 or whatever The Kids are installing these days)

Put lights in every closet. Do this. It’ll make you very happy. Ditto under the upper cabinets.

Have a mudroom with some stone or tile floors. Slate is hard to keep clean.

They make these toilet seats that go down slowly rather than slamming down. They’re way more fun than you’d think they would be.

Skylights, but not in bedrooms unless there’s some way of shading them.

At least one exterior outlet in the front of the house should be controllable by an indoor switch.

Timers on the bath fans. Repeat: Timers on the bath fans. Greatest thing ever.

Pocket doors and French doors. An open floor plan is nice but it’s also nice to be able to close off areas when you need to.

Patio with a door from the kitchen so you can grill year round.

Think about views from room to room and to the outside. It’s nice to see the fireplace from the room down the hall or to enjoy the view out the porch from the dining room.

I don’t know where you are but an attached garage sure makes a New England winter much more tolerable.

Good luck!
posted by bondcliff at 11:01 AM on October 8, 2010 [10 favorites]

When my parents remodeled the house I grew up in, they put the laundry room upstairs with the bedrooms. It's brilliant. (Just make sure there's some sort of metal pan under the washer...) and huge drawers in the kitchen that pull all the way out.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 11:02 AM on October 8, 2010

My parents have a toy train set collection and they built the back rooms of our house (a multi-purpose room that is mostly a dining area + a small office) in a way that all the walls around the office part don't go all the way up to the ceiling so that they can have their train go back and forth up there. Which I guess translates to "think about ways to display collections in a way that is cool".

They also have high-up windows that face east so with prisms in them so that the room is covered in rainbows when they eat breakfast.

My bedroom when I was a kid had a loft in it, which was totally awesome. I was the envy of all of my friends. It was, however, the hottest place in the house, and so I constantly was getting up and turning the AC on in the middle of the night. I really wished that the sensor for the AC was in my loft so it didn't turn off when the living room reached 78 or whatever when it was still approximately the temperature of the planet Venus in my loft.

If you're tall, a ceiling-mounted showerhead is awesome. It pours water on your head instead of your clavicles!

Individual bathroom cabinets for every family member for their shaving stuff/medicines/tampons/etc.

My parents also have a pond in the backyard that provides endless entertainment for them and the rest of the family. My grandfather has Alzheimer's and so doing stuff like playing games or watching movies is hard for him, but watching and/or feeding the fish is great for him.

Biggest pet peeves: Lightswitches that are outside of the rooms they control the lights for, hiding toilet paper. (I don't know what is up with that, but a friend's house had toilet paper mounted in a place where it wasn't immediately obvious where it was.)
posted by NoraReed at 11:02 AM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Bondcliff has a ton of awesome ideas. I just wanted to call out Central Vac. It really is that amazing.
posted by cuando at 11:04 AM on October 8, 2010

Fireplaces should be placed against an interior wall, so that heat isn't just wasted on an exterior wall.

Sliding bookcases - great space-saver.

If the kitchen has an island, put it on wheels rather than having it immobile.
posted by coolguymichael at 11:06 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Have your laundry facilities close to where you store your clothes. My mother designed her house so that her walk-through closet connected to the laundry which connected to the kitchen. Brilliant arrangement.
posted by kimdog at 11:11 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Something else, and feel free to yell at me if I'm hoggin' up the thread, but think about light throughout the day. Put the breakfast area and master bath on the East side of the house. Stumbling into the bathroom in the morning and getting blasted with a sunrise is a really sweet way to start the day. Sunsets from the living room and porch is a nice way to end it.
posted by bondcliff at 11:13 AM on October 8, 2010 [4 favorites]

In my current house I adore my radiant heat floors. They are a miracle in the winter. We also have a laundry chute even though it's a one story house. The laundry room and the bathroom share a wall, so right outside the bathroom door there is a little flap in the wall that lets us drop our laundry into a small closet in the laundry room. We just had to put a big container in there to catch it. It really cuts down on the laundry that gets left in the bathroom.

I would kill for some kind of shower right inside my back door. If it was in the laundry room that would be a bonus. That way when my husband comes in from working on the car or the kids come in from making a mud village in the back yard I can just have them strip down and hose off without running through the whole house. The whole Mud Room concept is a beautiful thing.

If I was designing a house from scratch I'd add secret rooms everywhere. Secret rooms are awesome and can make great storage places. If you could do a hidden stairway that would be even more awesome.
posted by TooFewShoes at 11:14 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Agreed about adding secret rooms.
posted by The Pusher Robot at 11:21 AM on October 8, 2010 [4 favorites]

I haven't read everything here or in all the links, so please forgive if this has already been suggested, but one simple thing I love are lid racks like these in the kitchen. I don't even put them inside a pantry door. They're right on my kitchen wall by the stove so I can grab a lid when I need it.
posted by trip and a half at 11:24 AM on October 8, 2010

Put lights in every closet. Do this.

Yes, do this, and wire them with door switches rather than standard manual switches. You can generally count on wanting the light on when the closet door is open and off when it's closed.
posted by contraption at 11:37 AM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

People have already mentioned two that jumped to mind immediately when I saw this question: secret rooms and laundry on the same floor as the bedroom.
I'll add one that I'm really enjoying in our house, two sets of stairs from the first to the second floor. Our house is long and kind of narrow, so being able to go upstairs from the back of the house rather than walking to the front, then upstairs then to the back is quite convenient. It's not really a clever idea but it's an aspect of our house that I enjoy.
Another not really clever idea but kind of similar to the dustpan under the cabinet thing is a sink that's flush with the counter so you can just wipe stuff into the sink without having to clean out the rim around the sink.
posted by zorrine at 11:39 AM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I don't think you mentioned whether or not you have a cat, but I would suggest putting a built in litter box in a bathroom like this guy did. The brilliant thing is that the cat has to walk over a thin "hallway" with a mat on its way out of the box, so litter can't get tracked out, and dogs can't get in to partake of delicious catpoop snacks.
posted by zoetrope at 11:43 AM on October 8, 2010 [6 favorites]

Three things not mentioned here that we have/had and loved:

• A small folddown ironing board in the master bathroom. Looks like a thin cabinet but holds an iron some water and a board that flips down. Put an outlet in there, too. Great for quick shirt touchups.

• A kitchen cutting board that slides out from a slot right above the trash cans that slide out from under the counter. You chop, then simply slide the trash into the trash.

• Speakers in the ceiling. Loved music wafting down from various rooms.
posted by lpsguy at 11:46 AM on October 8, 2010

Tons of closets.

The clever part of this plan is that it sucks when you don't have enough closets. Just trust me.
posted by that's candlepin at 11:59 AM on October 8, 2010

Two cautions I've heard about putting the laundry room on the second floor: one is that if they ever overflow, the water will come through your dining room ceiling, or whatever. So make sure you build in a safety for that. The other is the vibrations from the washer and dryer are very well absorbed in a basement by your homes foundation. A second floor construction is not necessarily built for that kind of action, so you may want to build in some kind of absorption. (I am not a builder, and these are just things I've heard around my heavily renovated neighbourhood.)
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 12:01 PM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: These ideas are just great. I didn't mark them all as best answer only because that would look silly, but they're all great ideas. I've already put many of them in my design plans, for my architect, but several others are new to me and I'm going to add them, definitely.

We're putting the toe-space thing in the kitchen, the bathroom, and the cat room. I love the pull-out drawers in the stairs. The built-in cat litter box is great, and now that I think about it, I'm going to put a small fan above it, to vent it to the outside world. There is no end to cool kitchen tricks that will end up in the house, including the compost-hole in the counter and the deep drawers and the flour drawers. My grandmother had those, and they're so cool. I'm thinking about putting them above the counter, with a sifter built in at the bottom, so I can just sift directly into a cup-measure below, like the old Hoosier cabinets had. Because I use so many kinds of flour, I'll end up with a whole row of them along one wall ... like a row of cow teets I think!

A secret room ... what would you put in your secret room?
posted by Capri at 12:08 PM on October 8, 2010

Best answer: A secret room ... what would you put in your secret room?

You put your weed in there. Duh.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:10 PM on October 8, 2010 [3 favorites]

Cable outlet and phone outlet on the same wall somewhere convenient in the house, not on opposite sides of the room in every single room. This is because in order to do a cable/phone/internet thing, they have to run a cord from a cable outlet to a phone jack. In my house, the builder put them on different walls in every single room, so now I have a cord that runs alllllll the way around the baseboards in one room (luckily it's a room where I don't care if it's not perfect). It was a pain for the cable installer guy as well.
posted by marginaliana at 12:11 PM on October 8, 2010

Whole house surge protector.

There are tons of electronics in expensive things that don't usually get surge protected, such as a fridge or washing machine.

They are easy to add to your electrical panel.
posted by ninebucks at 12:25 PM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Here's a nice cat box solution I just ran across, I think this might be finding it's way into our renovation/rebuilding.

Bulthaup makes incredibly expensive kitchens, but they have a ton of useful ideas that don't look like they would be too hard to copy. My favorite is the 4" thick back splash storage between the upper and lower cabinets.

If you can lay out your bathroom so you either don't need a shower curtain or can use a single glass pane, it will look much larger and be so much easier to clean.

Outlets in bathroom drawers, so you can leave things like hair dryers plugged in but out of site.

For houses where there is only one bathroom, I've seen it divided into two connected rooms, the outer with the toilet and sink and the inner with a tub and/or shower. Then two people can use it at once, and guests don't need to see your bath stuff.

I would like a switch in the bathroom that turns on a very dim light, so I need neither a night light running all the time or to blind myself with the regular light.

I would love an area for getting dressed that is separate enough from the bed and bathroom that two people don't bother each other when getting ready at once or when one is still asleep.

If I had a guest room that doubled as an office, I would put in a murphey bed so the rarely-used bed didn't take over a room usually used as something else.
posted by sepviva at 12:31 PM on October 8, 2010

I recently saw a really cool set of stairs in an older home that was counter-weighted. It was in the kitchen behind a door and in the 'down' position it lead up to the attic area. In the 'up' position it was how you got to the basement. Very simple to just lift or pull them either way to get to those areas.
posted by pappy at 12:31 PM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

A big bathtub with a view of trees and/or sky!
posted by mareli at 12:33 PM on October 8, 2010

Build your floors, walls and staircases well to muffle noises and avoid creaks. I really noticed how noisy the second floor was when visiting a friend's house recently.

If kids might ever live in this house....have a mud room right off the entry way. Give up a front hallway in exchange for this, especially if you will never use the front door.

Kids' toys take up a lot of space. Give them large closets and bins and shelves.

I love built-in pantries, bookcases, bathroom vanities - they make a house look complete.

Woodstoves are warmer than fireplaces.

I love the little drawer under my kitchen sink that folds out for sponges.
posted by Sukey Says at 12:42 PM on October 8, 2010

Best answer: A secret room ... what would you put in your secret room?

Your secret lover.

Perhaps your workbench where you tinker on your secret projects and hobbies. Or where you create handmade gifts for people.

Even just using it for storage space, it would create an automatic magnification of the mystique of The Attic.

Gameroom / den / quiet space away from the family.

Private Library and writing desk.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:47 PM on October 8, 2010

So sorry if this is repetitive -- so many great ideas here, my eyes are crossing!

I don't have a cat, but I once saw an apartment with the litter area in the wall. It was completely hidden from the rest of the house; the cats entered through a cat door on one side (in a hallway), and on the other side of the wall (I believe this was a closet or bathroom), there was a human-sized door for people to access the space to change litter/scoop/etc. This eliminated any stink and was super easy and wonderful.

In my house, rather than having an attic storage space, we have high ceilings and some very high cabinets in a few rooms. I really like being able to access storage space without having to pull down a trapdoor ladder and have my stuff take on an attic smell.

In the laundry room (which I agree with others should be placed near where clothing is stored -- so if you have upstairs bedrooms, it should be upstairs!), make room for organization in there. Some shelves/drawers and a clothing hanging bar are wonderful to have in the laundry room for drip-dried items. I have hooks EVERYWHERE for everything -- my iron and ironing board, a foldable dolly/cart, a clothes drying rack -- and also shelves for storing cleaning supplies, light bulbs, etc., as well as detergent. It's incredibly helpful.

In the kitchen, pull-out drawers that are heavy-duty and can hold heavy things such as glass bakeware, full canisters of flours and such, and small appliances are awesome. If you have a corner cabinet and you're putting in a lazy susan, definitely spend the money to get or build a heavy-duty corner lazy susan unit. The previous owners of my house put in a cheap plastic one and I hate life every time I have to use it.

Also, in general, the more flexible you make your organizational systems/pieces, the better. This goes for whomever will live in the house initially (as storage needs change constantly) as well as any subsequent occupants. I really really really love the elfa system (disclaimer: I used to work at Container Store, the main place to purchase elfa in the USA. I don't work there anymore, but I genuinely think elfa is awesome). It's extremely durable, relatively inexpensive, easy to figure out and use (install/change/whatever) and of excellent quality, plus replacement parts and pieces are readily available. The system includes a huge array of shelving and drawer options for all kinds of spaces, and they are super easy to change out. I have elfa in my closets, in my home office (as a desk/workspace), and on a couple of doors. It's a great system. I prefer it in many situations to custom-built closets or spaces because it's so much easier to change it out when your storage needs change.

Anyway, my point is that incorporating a system (elfa or whatever else) that is easy to move and change is good so it can grow with you.

Also: put in as much "anticipatory" wiring as you can, like, whatever hookups you think you might need for electrical/ethernet/phone lines/etc, plus more. And plenty of faucets and outlets outside.
posted by hansbrough at 1:01 PM on October 8, 2010

Just a couple more ideas.

Put storage for toilet paper and the plunger by the toilet. Personally, I want to have a hidden cabinet that contains both, but everyone needs a plunger and they are ugly, so have somewhere to hide it where you can also store a bunch of extra toilet paper.

Think about where to put your trash cans. Most cities now have mandated size trash and recycling, make sure you have a place to put them and where it is easy to bring them out to the curb. You do not want to have to pull your car out of the garage to get your trash cans out.

Put an overhang by your front door so people don't have to stand in the rain.

Get the quietest dishwasher you can afford.

Soft close drawers in your kitchen, and the soft close toilet seats (as mentioned above) are awesome.

If you have space in your kitchen I would put in one dishwasher and second dish drawer. That way if you have a party, or lots of pots and pans, you can still get everything washed.

Make sure you have nooks in your shower/tub walls to put shampoo, soap, etc. Also, think about making the controls to your shower not directly under your shower head. It will be more work for the plumber, but on those cold winter mornings it will be wonderful to be able to turn the shower on and let it get hot, without being covered in cold water.
posted by bove at 1:17 PM on October 8, 2010

Best answer: An outdoor shower. This is the greatest luxury you can imagine. Who doesn't love being naked under running water outdoors in the sunshine? Or under the moon and stars! It can be simple or very complex and beautifully landscaped, with pavers, ferns, hanging orchids, all kinds of imaginative towel racks and soap dishes. Roof it or not, or partly. Halfway-up walls, or stone walls, or fence, or stainless steel sheet walls. Corrugated plastic. Go crazy. Build your fantasy. It's the most fun you'll have designing anything, and the most fun you'll have using it for years. I know people who, literally, haven't a shower indoors in decades. Even in colder weather, hot water keeps you warm. Mostly just for fun, but very practical after gardening, shop work, car work, pet washing, etc. Really, I've had about 20 houses and building an outdoor shower is one of the first things I've always done. Haven't got one here yet, though. Still planning it.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 1:40 PM on October 8, 2010 [9 favorites]

The house I grew up in had a half door on the family room which was like a built in baby gate for us kids that was easy for adults to open and not ugly. My mother-in-law liked the idea so much she put dutch doors on her kitchen and tv so that she could keep an eye on her puppy and/or future grandchildren when she's in a different room.
posted by elvissa at 2:42 PM on October 8, 2010

Reading this thread makes me want to gut my house and start over.

I'd have more storage. Then even more storage. Honestly, this is what I hate most about our 15-year-old house - there is just not enough closed storage, and we've even built a closet.

Build the garage so it'll fit however many cars PLUS all your outdoor equipment (lawn mower, patio furniture, etc) easily. Or build a storage shed at the same time. Just make sure you've got a place to get everything out of the weather at once.

N'thing times a million the laundry on the same floor as the bedrooms. If you can't do that (or it's a one-story house), make the laundry room twice the size you think you need. Build in hanging space, ironing space, maybe two utility sinks - one for soaking laundry, one for actual cleaning needs. Hell, if the house is big enough, have a utility room like this in addition to upstairs laundry.

Make your kitchen counters deeper (from the wall out) than standard. Build in dedicated spaces for trash and recycling (and don't put them under the sink). I'd love to have tilt-out bins for trash and recycling cans. Also, if you have a pet, include a tilt-out bin for pet food. Every cabinet under the counter should have roll-out shelves. Dedicate one cabinet for cookie sheets and other large, relatively flat pans, with a rack to hold them sorted and upright. Do the same for pot lids.

In the bathroom, make the counter the same height as your kitchen counters - my husband and I are taller than average, and our standard-height bathroom counters are just too damn low. Definitely two sinks. Make this counter deep like the kitchen counters, too. Build the shower so that it doesn't need a door or a curtain, if possible. Flat entry with a slope to the drain will make the shower that much more accessible.

In general, I'd go with hard-surface flooring throughout the house. You can always add area rugs - even large ones - if you need to soften up some surfaces, and they are much easier to replace than wall-to-wall carpeting. Wood, tile, slate, whatever - just avoid carpet.

Try to include all the little finishing touches you can think of - crown molding, for example - and make them the best quality with the best finishes you can afford. The cheap bulk-builder-supply stuff in my house, like the narrow baseboards and ugly brass-colored door knobs and hinges and hallway lights, are so annoying and petty and EXPENSIVE to replace. Put that money in up front, so you're not looking at it later and cringing.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 3:04 PM on October 8, 2010

If you can, take a look at the book A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander.

Seconded. And one of the things in that book would be my answer to your question: Rooms that have light on (at least) two sides. There is a marked difference between a room that has windows only on one side, and a room that has windows on two or more sides. Alexander explains it better and in more depth, but that's a basic feature I look for in any house, in every room.
posted by cribcage at 3:10 PM on October 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Also: put in as much "anticipatory" wiring as you can, like, whatever hookups you think you might need for electrical/ethernet/phone lines/etc, plus more.

This, plus big fat conduit to key locations (wherever services come in from the street, the main media room, master bedroom, etc.) Also if you have portions of the house that have crawlspaces separated from one another, like basement in one area and and attic in another, or a foyer with a big raised ceiling that makes the crawlspace effectively unnavigable from one side to the other, bridge them with multiple runs of large conduit.

Any time you're pulling low voltage wire to a location that won't have conduit just throw in an extra CAT6 or two, it's very cheap insurance.
posted by contraption at 4:18 PM on October 8, 2010

A big bathtub with a view of trees and/or sky!

And a fireplace in the room!
posted by jgirl at 4:39 PM on October 8, 2010

A secret room ... what would you put in your secret room?

Asked and answered!
posted by Orinda at 5:15 PM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I was going to say an outdoor shower - so, seconded.

A fireplace in a wall between the living room and the master bedroom, so that it is visible from both sides. If privacy needs allow.

A urinal in the bathroom. A bidet in the bathroom.

Add 12 feet to the end and about 20 feet to the side of a garage. I HATE garages with room for the cars and nothing else.

A turret. With a coffee pot.
posted by yclipse at 5:32 PM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

If I were starting from scratch, designing a house of my own, I'd build in a wood stove rather than a fireplace. It's not as pretty but it converts wood to heat more efficiently and you can do a lot of cooking on it in the winter—daylong simmered stuff (with pots up on trivets to moderate the heat) or regular stovetop cooking in power outages.

Speaking of power outages, if you live in an area that's prone to hurricanes, heavy snowfall, ice storms, etc., now might be a good time to consider getting a generator, or preparing to get one later in the life of the house. If I understand right, a gas generator has to be run outdoors on a reasonably firm and level surface. You might want to plan a storage bay for a generator in the garage that's handy to a roof-covered but open-air patio, and also plan for whatever wiring is needed to convey the power indoors.

Do you garden, or plan to take up gardening? Consider a potting bench with built-in storage for potting soil and other supplies. A bin that sits in one end of the bench, with the top of the bin level with the countertop, allows potting soil to be scooped out and then swept back in.

I'd plan for bike parking in the garage too.

If you want to grow old and retire in this house, put the master bedroom and all essentials (kitchen, laundry, full bath) on the ground floor and make that whole floor universally accessible or easily modified to be so: doorways wide enough for a walker or wheel chair, no steps or raised sills, arthritis-friendly door handles instead of knobs, bathroom wheel chair accessible, grab bars around the tub/shower, entryway constructed to allow for later addition of a ramp, etc.

I agree with fivesavagepalms — outdoor showers are great. If you can contrive for it to use solar-heated water, so much the better. One simple way to do this would be to build in a hook at the appropriate height for a Sun Shower (perhaps in addition to a conventional shower head with piped-in water).
posted by Orinda at 5:48 PM on October 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah—seconding the dish drying rack over the sink that PorcineWithMe mentioned. It can be hidden behind cabinet doors if you like. That is, if you don't prefer to have a window with a view of a bird feeder over the sink so there's something to watch while washing the dishes.
posted by Orinda at 5:51 PM on October 8, 2010

Making things universally accessible is a good idea even if you aren't planning to grow old while living in that house. Plenty of younger people end up having to use a wheelchair temporarily, or if your own parents get older and come to visit these things will be helpful.

Radiant heat in the floors makes things feel nice and cozy, or if you want just a little bit of warm floor there are electric units that install under the flooring.

Make all the outdoor faucets the hydrant type that has built in freeze protection.

In the summer I find myself envying people with carports. It is possible to have one that looks nice, built on as part of the house.

Enclosed patio/garden area in the middle of the house. As in outdoors, but surrounded by house (climate permitting). Most of the adjacent rooms with doors into the middle area.

Ability to heat or cool a subset of the house if part is not being used.

I'm a big fan of walls with interesting shapes, but if I couldn't have those I'd do cove ceilings in a few rooms. I also like nichos and bancos. Not having windowsills is inconvenient, I used to have some that were over a foot deep and it was a nice place to put plants.

Adobe walls can be nice, as well as holding a lot of heat in the winter. Having to get out a drill and masonry bit to hang pictures was not so great, but a different type of plaster might not have that issue.

I don't care for the look of picture moldings, but they do have their good points.
posted by yohko at 7:47 PM on October 8, 2010

Oooh, I love that bathroom cabinet for every family member idea.

Our house has a "Florida room," a south-facing room entirely lined with windows. In winter, this pretty much keeps our house heated; we almost never even turn the heat on. Sadly for us, "winter" here lasts about a month, and the rest of the year it makes the house really, really hot and costs a ton to air condition; I've stapled a couple of blankets up over the blinds trying to cut down on the heat, as well as planting a few trees for shade. Next house: UV blocking film.

So if you live somewhere that gets decent sun in winter, AND you don't need to worry so much about overheating for 3/4 of the year, this is a great idea. Ours is effectively an enclosed front porch, which we can use for a number of things (among them, an extra door between the dogs and the front door so we NEVER have anyone accidentally running out of the house).

Consider access to things you'll need to occasionally repair, like plumbing or wiring. There may not be a lot you can do, but do what you can. Everything breaks over time.

I keep thinking I'm going to build a few shallow bookcases for my paperbacks. They only need half the depth of a standard bookcase.

Our current house doesn't have any way to get anything extra-wide in without disassembling it. The turns down the hallways to the bedrooms mean anything extra long can't get in, either, even if no longer extra-wide. We have two beloved pieces of furniture stored because there's no way to get them in the house! Our last house had reasonably wide hallways, and had one sliding glass door that we could use for overly large furniture. Next house: going to be better.

One of our main complaints about our house is that it is halfway down a very, very gentle slope. With no way to redirect water around the house. When it rains, and water runs down the hill, it pools on the back porch. Don't do this.

If you think you may be in the house for an extended period of time, consider handicapped access. My plan for our next house is to put the master on the ground floor and have a step- or roll-in shower and toilet with grab bars in the master bathroom, along with various other things (a way to put in a ramp if there are stairs up a porch, etc).

I'll never understand master bathrooms built with a single sink. Isn't that by definition the area of the house that's most likely to have two people trying to use it at the same time? Even if a particular family has only one person residing in their master bedroom, they won't live there forever, and someday saleability is going to be an issue.
posted by galadriel at 8:03 PM on October 8, 2010

I would want pocket doors wherever possible inside instead of hinged doors. Maybe there's some engineering type reason we don't see more of them but I love them and I'd want them everywhere. They give you so much more floor space and wall space but still let you close off rooms. I adore the one in my apartment - between the kitchen and dining room.

I live in an older apartment and one of the things I love (well, more the idea of than in real life since it's never worked while I've lived here) is there a wall heater in the bathroom. Since most of the year here (California) I don't need to heat the whole apartment, I could just heat the bathroom on very cold mornings. So maybe on a larger scale - the ability to heat or cool just the areas that really need it?
posted by marylynn at 8:51 PM on October 8, 2010

Here's a paranoid one that helped sell me on our house floorplan: stairways should be bent, with more than one straight section per story. Maybe nobody will ever trip and fall down the stairs, but if someone does wouldn't it be nicer to go down only half a flight?

Large bathrooms are nice, but too-large is possible; you want something that is small enough for the air to warm up by the time you step out of even a quick hot shower on a cold morning. (ignore this constraint if you put in heated floors)
posted by roystgnr at 9:34 PM on October 8, 2010

One thing with heated floors is that they are often too hot for dogs to lie on comfortably so something to consider if you have dogs.

If you live somewhere snowy put a metal roof on and make sure it doesn't shed onto your front steps. Like mine does, grr. And also make the overhangs as big as possible. It cuts down on ice damming issues immensely.

In my current house I have a pull through driveway and you can back a vehicle or trailer up to my front door both of which are super handy. Anything going into the basement currently has to be disassembled into tiny parts thought which is a pita. I'm going to make the stair rail removable to help with this next year which will still be a pain but probably the only way I'll ever get another couch down there. A friend of mine has a window that is easily removed for the purpose of getting furniture in and out of their daylight basement so that's an option too, though it certainly would be a security risk in some neighborhoods.

If you have hot water heat and like to garden consider having a separate loop that you can turn on in the spring and use to heat a greenhouse or even an insulated raised bed for starts. Soooo awesome in colder climates and pretty cheap. Run plumbing and conduit to your potential greenhouse site now too. If it's at all possible a lean-to greenhouse would be super cool. My dream house will have a sunken, lean to greenhouse with a hot tub built in.

If you have gas consider running it to an outdoor firepit or even a fancy oven/ bbq/ fireplace with a chimney deal on the patio. My parents used to have one of these and it was awesome. Until an earthquake cracked the gas line (maybe don't bury it under 1' of concrete and if you do remember where you buried it).

Drainage: use permeable surfaces for walkways and parking areas where possible and think about where your roof water will go. A pond or rain garden is a nice option as noted above.

Wire the house so it can be run off a generator, or at least critical things can, even if you don't have a generator yet. Wire more circuits than you think you need, especially to the kitchen, workroom and garage.

Put enough towel rails in your bathroom. One for each person plus one. I don't have enough and it's such a pain.
posted by fshgrl at 12:13 AM on October 9, 2010

A house by the Park might be a good resource. The blog is written by a guy who is designing/building a home from scratch without much knowledge of the process. He discusses each phase of the project and details issues/resolutions as well as prices of each phase. The house is complete and he has only a few more posts coming out.
posted by k1ng at 7:45 AM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

My parents have a wide stairwell that goes straight from the garage to the basement. It faces a door to the patio, which sure makes storing the outdoor furniture easy.

Insulate or somehow otherwise baffle interior walls. It's amazing how much sound travels between rooms in houses with wallboard construction, compared to our old plaster-and-lathe house. Do the ceilings, too.
posted by mimi at 2:42 PM on October 9, 2010

Lots of people saying to put the laundry room in your bedroom - don't y'all have to take it outside to dry it anyway?

Anyway, some suggestions:

Wherever you put the laundry room, someone's going to have to get the appliances in there - make sure there's a convenient path. Washing machines can weigh 200 lbs + so to lift one up stairs you'll want manoeuvring room for two people as well.

Put a smooth finish on the garage floor (like you can achieve with self-levelling cement) so you can walk in there with socks/bare feet.

When you're laying out the plumbing you'll probably be tempted to put in waste pipes that don't slope very steeply, as it gives you greater design flexibility. Resist this temptation unless you like dealing with blocked/leaking drains.

Consider which parts of the outside of the house will need maintenance - replacement, painting and so on, and how you'll situate a ladder to get up to do it. Consider loops for safety ropes if you'll be more than 25' off the ground; much quicker to paint when you can take both hands off the ladder!

Some gardeners I know store the rainwater from their roof and use it to water their gardens. The fewer downpipes there are, the easier it is to get all the water.
posted by Mike1024 at 4:21 PM on October 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This is on my list:

Foot-pedal faucet controller (in addition to knobs/handles) in the kitchen! If you cook or bake often, it is an amazing upgrade.
posted by maya at 9:03 PM on October 9, 2010

I am amazed that nobody (I think) mentions energy saving/solar efficiency ... maybe that is a given, if not let me put it out there!

Getting winter sun inside while keeping the summer sun out, reducing heating bills, they figure pretty high on my list.

In the vein of the above though, plenty of storage space would be my contribution.
posted by GeeEmm at 12:54 AM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Haven't read all of the comments yet... Here are my 2 suggestions:

If you don't have your laundry on the same floor as your bedrooms, install a laundry chute and while you are doing that to presumably take your laundry from the second floor to the basement, consider putting in an access on on the main floor. Our old house had an access hidden in one of the kitchen cupboards. When we remodeled and turned that section of the kitchen into a powder room, we hid the opening behind a hinged mirror. Very handy for napkins, dishtowels, etc.

Put kitchen cupboards all the way to the ceiling.. storage trumps soffit space.
posted by sarajane at 7:10 AM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Stuff we have that I love (built by the first generation of co-opers who bought the house):

*A kitchen island that has a butcher's block counter and a built-in knife rack.

*A wall-mounted mailbox by the door with a slot for each person in the house.

*A second floor balcony-porch that overlooks the front yard and street.
posted by mai at 12:29 PM on October 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Skylights. Natural lighting is great.

If you are running CAT5 or CAT6 all over the house, perhaps concealed modem and server storage.

Double glazed windows - heat and sound insulation. Add some fly screens so you can keep the windows open in summer without having to deal with the bugs.

Indirect lighting, i.e., wall sconces, instead of overheard lighting.

Wall mounted coat rackin the hallway.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:24 PM on October 10, 2010

Further to Orinda's comment, the Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University has a bunch of free, useful information about incorporating universal design into new homes or renovations.
posted by quidividi at 12:32 AM on October 11, 2010

Best answer: This just popped into my head last night, I don't know why, since it has been a few weeks since you posted.

My BIL just bought a new house last year. It has a basement, and int that basement, something very clever! It has a master control area for all the plumbing in the house. I have never seen anything like it before, and am so envious. From the master control, you can shut off the water to any area of the house, even down to hot and cold. It almost looks like an electrical control board.
posted by annsunny at 8:46 AM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

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