When you’re purchasing a house there is normally a list of “must haves” and a list of “deal breakers”.  For our first apartment our “must haves” list was very short. We wanted 2 bedrooms, <$700/month, and in a safe part of town. I’m not sure if we ever discussed “deal breakers” but active roach infestations would’ve probably been the entire list.

For our starter home (which we still have as a rental) our “must haves” and “deal breakers” lists were only slightly longer.

Dream home must haves

But for our dream home, where we hope to spend the next 30 years making memories, our lists got a whole lot longer.  Below are our must haves – Let me know if they become yours too!

Five Bedrooms

We could survive with 4 but 5 gives us options and room to grow. We want our kids to be able to have their own rooms when they’re older. Nearly all of our family live out-of-state so a guest bedroom is a necessity. Technically the kids could always sleep on an air mattress in the office, but if we’re building our dream home – why not making it everything we want?!

When you’re designing your dream home. Be sure to identify the numbers of bedrooms you’ll need in the future. Consider if you think aging parents will move in, if you’ll add children to the mix, or how often you have out-of-town guests.

 A Basement

My husband has wanted a basement home for a really long time. He has totally gotten me on the band wagon. I could go on for days about the perks of a basement.

Arizona is hotter than a ghost pepper pie. Basements are extremely easy to cool in sweltering summers and stay perfectly peachy all year-long.  It only took us one $600 electric bill to know an above ground 2 story was a DEAL BREAKER. If we could build the whole house underground we would probably consider it!

Must have basement ideas

Via the wow doctor


Basements can be used for so many purposes. Crafting, playroom, theater, paintball arena – the list is endless! Some areas don’t allow for basements due to flooding or the type of ground. But if you can fit one into your dream home plans, I highly recommend one.

Custom Kitchen

There are many beautiful and practical kitchens out there. Unfortunately they’re usually not both at the same time.  We have so many “must haves” for the kitchen that our dream kitchen will have its own blog post in the future.

Must have kitchen ideas

Via Craftsman Kitchens


But for now here’s a short list: 2 large islands, a farmhouse sink, a pot-filler, tile floors (it’s amazing how many people have wood floors in the kitchen), enough space to walk around someone doing dishes or looking in the fridge, and tons of storage.

Walk-in Pantry

Speaking of storage… We absolutely must have a butler’s pantry. Including counter space for appliances, a deep freezer, and a ridiculous amount of dry food storage space.

I’ve never lived in a house with a real walk in pantry. I can’t wait to organize it! Do they make custom pantry organizers like they do closets? If this isn’t a thing yet, it should be. By next year so I can get some!

Must have walk-in pantry

Via better homes and garden


Having a walk-in pantry will clear up cabinet space for dishes, cookware, and the like. It can also help keep your kitchen neat and organized. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who regretted that their home had one.

Walk-in Master Closet

We want an entire room for our clothes.  Our current bedroom always has clothes lying about and drawers half-open. I would say having a walk-in closet will fix that but honestly I will settle with it being out of sight and laying in the closet floor instead.

Walk-in closet must have

Via houzz


Honestly though, with both of us working, plus our hobbies of camping, running (me), and traveling we need a lot of clothing options and it can be difficult to pair this down to a regular closet. Plus I love having a place to store off-season clothing or being able to hide Christmas presents on the upper shelves!

Master Suite

Alright this should really be on the “because we can” list but since that doesn’t exist I put it here. We want a space to call our own that we can sneak away to when we need a break.  A small little sitting area in our bedroom will be just right – We aren’t even making it a separate room, just a space large enough for a love seat.

Master bedroom must haves

Via better homes and garden


A separate sitting room typically doesn’t get used. But a reading nook or window seat is just the thing to have a little space of your own. What would that look like in your dream home?

A Pool

I. Have. To. Have. A. Pool. Seriously. Spend a summer in AZ and tell me you don’t need a pool. Especially with kids.  We don’t have a pool currently. We spend all weekend cooped up inside because it’s literally (literal use of the word literally, rare occurrence now-a-days) too hot to do anything outside. I was not joking about the ghost pepper pie earlier.

Kids need activities they can do outdoors. I grew up with a trampoline and a swing set. I loved those! But it’s too hot here to use them all summer when the kids are out of school. Backyards should be functional and FUN! Other ideas to consider may be a sandbox (our entire backyard in the desert!), jungle gym, built-in splash pads, or sport courts.

A Grotto

I want the pool – the hubs wants a grotto in the pool. He’s kind of like a vampire in that he hates being in the sun. But he enjoys being near the water and relaxing. A pool grotto is just the thing! We will also have a covered patio for shade as well. It’s important to have several functional spaces in your backyard.

Pool must haves grotto

Via blue haven


If you’re an avid Griller, you may consider a custom grill area that includes a gas burner for a skillet, a sink for clean up, or even a mini fridge!

A Luxurious Walk-in Shower

With 2 shower heads. There is definitely a theme of things you can walk into on this list.  My husband and I are not bathtub people.  Many homes have outlandish Jacuzzi tubs and efficient but boring showers.  We want just the opposite.

Shower must haves

Via faburous designs


I think more of us use our showers over our bathtubs regularly. Why not make your shower luxurious? You deserve it.

Open Floor Plan

I like to cook. My hubs generally keeps the kids occupied while I’m cooking but I miss out on their shenanigans because there is a wall separating me and the fun.  Also when we have friends over either they hangout uncomfortably in the hard wooden chairs to chat with me or I miss out on the action again.

An open floor plan will allow for everyone to connect no matter what part of the great room they’re residing in. It will also help us keep an eye on the backyard from several positions as well.

A Place for a Garden

We like fresh produce.  I wouldn’t be doing my job if we didn’t get our daily vegetables and fruits. (Seriously tho, I’m a dietitian, it’s actually my job to eat healthy!)

I’ve failed at a square foot garden twice.  I’ve decided to wait to try again until we have a permanent place to nurture the soil and really work at cultivating a thriving garden.

Must haves garden space

Via period living


Self sustaining homestead are also becoming very popular. Dooms day preppers need to be able to feed themselves. I fit in the previous category, my husband in the latter. But a garden fulfills both of our needs.

A Split Floor Plan

I love my mother-in-law. That doesn’t mean I want her to sleep right across the hall from me for 2-4 weeks when she comes to visit! (PS It’s okay if I say that, she reads my blog and still likes me) Having our master on one side of the house and our kids rooms/guest room on the other was definitely a top priority for our floor plan.

Many people enjoy a split floor plan for those exact reasons! I honestly don’t know why you would want all the bedrooms huddled together.  I can speak from experience that it can make hubby/wifey time a little trickier.

Well that’s our initial must haves list. As we go, I’m sure we will be adding details to it. I already can’t wait to move in!

What must haves would you add to this list? I want to make sure I don’t forget anything!


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