“This is not my beautiful house…”

Last week we completed (mostly) our move from our house of 15+ years to a new rental in South Tulsa.  Too many reasons to go into detail as to why — the thing I’m talking about now is DESIGN and how when it’s absent, you notice it.

Background:  our house in Midtown Tulsa was built in 1938.  2,608 sq. ft, with 3 bedrooms and 3 baths upstairs, and and 1/2-bath down — not small, but not “McMansion” sized.  The former rented room behind the garage is now a 240 sq. ft. office, bringing the total up to 2.848.  I haven’t been able to tell with certainty if it was built as a spec home from a builder, or if someone bought the lot and then bought house plans.  That was common in those days, and if so there are lots of variations of our house in the neighborhood.

So we move to our new rented digs — built in 1996, over 3,000 sq. ft., and all the features that folks want: southTulsahouse open kitchen, adjacent great room, and 3-car garage. Everything on main level except the large playroom/whatever up.

My gripe?  It’s badly designed.

That statement of course implies that it actually HAD a designer, and not just a builder with delusions.

When we walked around it the first few times, we kept saying (first to ourselves, and then aloud):  “There should be a powder room…here.”  Which there wasn’t.

Go into the main bathroom, and…why is there all that space outside the tub?  Do you put a chair there?  Why?  How are those halogen sconces gonna light up this room?  Why don’t those sconces have a switch with the others?  What’s that mystery switch do?

Why does a house this big only have one AC condenser?  Shouldn’t it be a split system?  Where are the air returns in each room?

The infrastructure changes we made in midtown over 15 years have made that house fairly energy efficient — monthly Summer AC bills have gone down to the mid-$200s from the mid-$400s.

When we had our midtown home up for sale, potential buyers would give us grief about how it wasn’t updated with an open kitchen, or that there was no downstairs master bedroom/bath.  I would answer: this is a midtown home.  You can get those details in a house for $100K more, or you can buy this and put those things in for the savings.

We’ve owned homes built in 1950, 1922, 1994, 1947/61 (West Seattle: there’s a story there for another day), 1938, and now a 1996 rental.  This has made me think of the following things my next home needs:

  • motion-sensor light switches
  • programmable thermostat
  • tankless hot water systems…maybe two
  • if not tankless hot water, then at least insulated hot water pipes — I cringe at the wasted water every time I wait for the hot water to make its’ way from the tank in the garage
  • windows that support the Passive House Institute US specifications, or at the least transom-style clerestory windows near the top of the walls to vent out heat

I think I now know a bit more about why people choose to build…

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