Kitchen & Family Room
Organization. The best kitchens are organized so that the food prep area, sink and appliances are within a few steps of each other and there is adequate storage.
Razzle-dazzle. Great looking kitchens in model homes are often poorly planned for daily living. Look carefully!
Cabinetry. Spend some time studying the boxes behind the cabinet doors. Base cabinets are more useful if they have rollout trays instead of fixed shelves. You can store more things and you don’t have to take everything out to get the big pot in the back. Wall cabinets have more storage capacity when they run up to the ceiling.
Countertops. Plastic laminate is often derided as being “low rent,” easily scratched and easily stained. But cost wise it’s your best value, and, with reasonable care, it can easily last for 20 years or more.
Flooring. If you cook dishes that require you to stand at the stove for long periods, resilient flooring like linoleum is easier on your feet and legs than a hard material like tile or slate.
Size. There’s no optimum size; just make sure it’s big enough for everything you want to put in there, but not so big you’ll need a megaphone to talk to someone in the kitchen.
The television. Nearly every household intends to watch their television in the family room. Make sure that there’s a good place to put it, as you mentally place your own furniture in the space.
The computer workstation. If you plan to have one in your family room, make sure there’s a place for it as well.
Storage. When your kids are young, they want to bring toys into the family room. When they’re older, they bring other stuff. With adequate storage (for example, built-in base cabinets or multiple plastic milk crates), there will be less chaos and you will feel less stressed.
Furniture. It’s worth it to get one really good sofa, even if your kids are young, mostly on the floor, and they occasionally throw up on everything (you can cover it in fabric that is very easy to clean). The new sofa will be more comfortable, and you’ll feel better looking at something nice and not something “worn but still serviceable” that you’ve had since you started college.