When owning a ranch, or second home, it is fun to invite others to your special place. It is natural to want to share your place with family, friends, or clients, and the first year or two is especially great. You may find that after a while the allure has worn off. Many buyers don’t consider how they will use their home with guests. The follow considerations may help you to look at properties differently, or change your perspective how best to use your home to entertain and host others.
Think about how you will use your home with your guests in the home. Visualize them in your home in the different seasons of the year—or activities throughout the year. Think about all of your stuff, (and your guest’s stuff)—vehicles, gear, clothes, smelly muddy boots, etc. A barn, an outbuilding, a large garage, or mudroom can be a great amenity.
Who, how many?
Who will be visiting you at your home? How much space do you need for everyone to sit down and eat, or lounge around? The kitchen is always a gathering point and if you plan to host large groups an open floor plan with a large kitchen and living space can be key to entertaining or hosting overnight guest. What if you wanted to have your three favorite couples come visit—where would they all sleep/shower? Will you host couples’ trips? Gals’/guys’ reunions? Will king size beds in each room work for guys doubling up? It may be great to put the nieces and nephews or old college buddies in the bunkroom, but this might be awkward for mom and dad, or couples. Will you invite clients? Do the same answers work when substituting clients instead of family and friends?
Does “who” include their dog?
Do you want them to bring their dog? Will they bring their dog anyway? Of course a dog is a man’s best friend—but not always if it is your guest’s dog that barks all night, poops on the rug, or chews the leg of a favorite chair.
A large main house can be fun to have everyone together, but the option of a guesthouse can provide separation, and flexibility that may be perfect for accommodating the in-laws (just sayin’).
What to do with your guests?
Location, location, location are still the three most important factors in determining real estate value, and also should be a consideration on the front-end as you choose where you will buy your dream property especially if you will be hosting guests and what you will be doing with them.
It may be good to pick activities everyone can enjoy together—this could depend on your location and climate. Your guest’s ability level, skill and safety will determine whether you will want to put them on a horse, a four wheeler, or hand them a gun to go shoot something. A hike is a great group activity. Mountain biking might be a good non-mechanized option for some guests. If you have guests in the winter and there is snow—snowshoeing, Alpine or Nordic skiing might be an option. Fishing is a fun pursuit for most guests, especially the kids. You guest may enjoy going off on their own to do something as simple as bird watching or photographing wildflowers. It is good to recommend self-guided activities, and events that all your guests can enjoy.
The four-night rule
For some reason, four nights is just about the right amount of time to host family, friends and clients. You can put together a great schedule of activities and events, eat out a couple of nights, eat in a couple of nights, and finish your time together looking forward to seeing each other again. Drag it on too long and you may discover that “everyone is normal until you really get to know them!”
Great features of a ranch home/second home
I am often asked when working with buyers, “What are some of the more desirable features in a second home when accommodating guests?” If you are building a home or buying a home that needs work, you may consider integrating some of these features into your home remodel for your enjoyment. As well, when it comes time to sell your home, you will have a home that appeals to the majority of buyers.
Below is a list of items that are great to accommodate guests, and in my experience will appeal to most buyers:
Bathrooms and Large Groups: If you are remodeling or building your dream home and plan to accommodate large groups a few changes to your bathroom design can help provide some flexibility. I have three daughters and know that if they share a bathroom it can turn into a catfight quickly when one of them is “locked-out”. As an example a large bunkroom with a small bathroom will be problematic.
Think of the bathroom as separate “stations”. Having the shower, toilet and sinks separated by pocket-doors may ease
some of the tension and allow three or more people to use the bathroom at the same time. Setting up at least two (or three sinks) with a large mirror in your bathroom will turn a guest bedroom into a coveted “junior master”.
Steam Showers: If you have never had a steam shower, you may scratch your head. If you have one, you know how great they are. Many times, you get chilled to the bone from being outside in the rain, being in a cold river or stream, or after a cold day outside. A steam shower will warm you to the bone. Adding a steam shower to an existing shower may include replacing the tile and the board behind the tile, and increasing the ventilation.
Second Living Area: This could be above the garage or a finished walkout basement. This space may double as a media room. It is nice for kids to be able to go somewhere else and make noise.
Separate Bar Area: Every group has some that will want to turn in early, and others who will party into the night. Having a separate bar area can be a fun addition to your home, and may be an alternative to late nights out on the town with a long, dangerous drive home.
House Audio: This can be a nice addition and set the mood in your home (especially during the holidays). With the new wireless technology, the options are much easier to install in existing homes.
Outdoor Entertainment Space: A brush pile turned into a warm fire, circled by some lawn chairs, and a cooler of cold beverages may be all you want or need for your group. The other end of the spectrum includes a covered outdoor living entertainment area with a bar, a stone fireplace/fire pit, a hot tub or pool area, landscaping, outdoor lighting, audio, and a large flat screen TV to watch the game.
Deck/Patio: A deck or patio facing south to capture the sun is a great place to sit and have your morning coffee or end of the day to watch the sunset. This can be a great addition to a small home to extend the living space in the spring/summer/fall months.
Hardwood and Stone Floors: Distressed or scraped hardwood floors are desirable and will hide the scratches made by dogs, boots and heavy traffic. Having a tough surface near the exterior doors is a good idea. Put Slate or stone floors in the entryway or hallway.
Large Counter Space and Kitchen Sink: It is a good idea to have lots of counter space and a large sink or multiple sinks when entertaining large groups. Farmhouse sinks in hard-fired white porcelain, copper, or concrete are timeless and appealing.
Two Dishwashers in Kitchen: If you have the space, this can be great when entertaining. Also nice is a separate dishwasher in the bar that easily handles wine glasses.
Multiple Washers and Dryers: How long does it take to wash the towels and sheets when your guests leave? Having a second (or third) washer and dryer can save you (or your cleaning service) time.
Hooks: You cannot have enough hooks. Buy some quality decorative hooks (or find a local blacksmith to make them) and mount on barn wood, then hang on the walls. This is a good addition in the entryway, mudroom, bedrooms, bathrooms, and outside by the pool or hot tub.
Interior Sliding Barn Doors: These can be a nice addition to separate living areas in your home. You may decide to change out closet doors, bathroom doors, or bedroom doors in a long hallway. This is a great option for reclaimed wood. There are many options for materials, and metal rails.
If you take the time up-front to consider your family, friends and guests when you buy or build your dream home—you will enhance everyone’s lifelong memories!