New Home 101: Moving Into Your New Home, Part 3

Power tips showing how a design decision can affect the organization of your new home.

Now for the fun part: settling into your new home! Start off your new life on the right foot by developing an organization plan.

This article is the third part of a three-part series discussing the moving process. For part one, click here. For part two, click here.

Organizing Your New Home

Finding a place for your paperwork and your new house keys should be easy in your new home since many newly built homes have been carefully designed with built-in storage, planning desks, and thoughtfully located places to charge your smartphone, tablet, and laptop.

One of the best innovations in recent years in new home design is the “family foyer” or family entrance. This space is often located off the garage or it may have a separate side or back door entrance, but the functionality of this space reflects the way families live. You can usually design this space exactly as you want, with benches to sit on while you and your kids pull off your snow boots or muddy athletic shoes; a cubby where each family member can hang a coat and a backpack or briefcase, and perhaps a tall closet to handle a lacrosse stick, a hockey stick, or even skis. The availability of this space in an area away from where you entertain guests makes it far easier to keep your entire home neat and organized whether you have toddlers or teens.

You can choose to include a planning desk or charging station in the family foyer or in the kitchen, wherever you find it convenient. Depending on the size of your home, you may want a small hobby room or office located off the foyer that you can use to keep crafts organized when you have a young family and then to function as a homework station when the kids get older, and later, to become a reading nook or art studio for your empty nest phase.

Newly built homes often have an oversized pantry, too, either in the family foyer, off the garage, or in the kitchen, where you can store multipacks of paper towels and other bulk items. If you plan on entertaining frequently, this closet or other built-in shelving in your kitchen or dining area can be designed to hold your party platters and extra glassware.

Unpacking your belongings in a home where everything has its place can be far more enjoyable than struggling to fit too many possessions into a place with too few closets. Downsizing homeowners find that a newly built home has more efficiently designed storage space even if it’s smaller than their previous home.

“Moving into an active adult community was a great transition in terms of giving up snow removal and yard work, but it was also a psychological transition to less space,” says Jan Johnson, a buyer in an Epcon Communities development in Columbus, Ohio. “We don’t have a basement anymore so we have to be a bit more Spartan than we were, but otherwise it feels as if it’s almost the same size as our previous home.”

Landscaping Tips

Your newly built home probably came with a landscaping package. If you purchased a condominium, the common areas in your community will be landscaped and maintained by the builder and then by the condo association, but you could still have a private patio where you can have a garden.

Single-family homeowners may have a tiny plot of land of their own or acres to landscape, but most newly built homes include basic landscaping such as a seeded or sodded lawn and some shrubs or a tree or two. If you designed a custom home, your architect probably worked with a landscape designer to create a unified plan for the structure and its surroundings. In either case, you have an opportunity with your new home to develop a plan to add to your landscaping over time so that your property looks lovely today and in the future.

A local nursery can be a great resource for landscape planning. Some offer free advice or charge only a small fee when you purchase plants and trees. An important consideration if you plan to add trees to your grounds is to investigate their rate of growth and eventual anticipated size so that you don’t end up with an overpowering tree that blocks valuable natural light.

Just as you did before you chose options for your home, you should take your time choosing plants for your property. Even if you decide to work with a designer, you should think about the types of plants you like. You can find photos online or drive around your community to take photos of garden designs or individual plants that appeal to you. Think about your level of interest in gardening, too, because if you don’t have the time or desire to maintain your grounds, you’ll either need to hire someone or choose a low-maintenance landscaping plan. Landscapers recommend using native plants because they’re more likely to thrive in your particular climate and therefore will be easier to care for as well as look more natural.

Landscape planning isn’t just about plants, though. You’ll also want to consider how much space you want for entertaining and relaxing outdoors. You may already have a patio or deck in place or plan to add one later, so think about that space and how you want to use it before you plant expensive trees or shrubs. Outdoor fireplaces, fire pits, and kitchens are popular additions to today’s backyards, so you may want to focus on those features before you start planting. Water features, which range from a tiny trickling fountain to a stone waterfall, are also popular, so even if you don’t put one in right away, you might want to think about where one could go in the future.

Light, both natural and electrical, is an important element to your enjoyment of your outdoor space. If you appreciate the full sun flooding into your home and onto your deck, avoid planting trees that will eventually shade the space. However, for those who live in warm weather climates such as Florida or Arizona, planting sun-filtering or shade trees may be preferable. To use your outdoor space in the evenings or for entertaining, you should consider creating a lighting plan that offers enough light for safety and socializing without being so bright that the light disturbs your neighbors or blocks out the night sky.

While many features in the interior of your home will remain the same for years to come, your landscaping will evolve over time. One of the many pleasures of homeownership is the ability to try out new flowers or plant a few vegetables to enjoy or share with your friends and family.

Enjoy Your New Home!

Whether you’re daydreaming about your first tomato crop or looking forward to your housewarming party, you should pat yourself on the back. You did it! You bought a new home.

“When your new home is finished, all you have to do is turn the key and walk through the door —everything is done the way you want it,” KB Home’s Tom Silk says. “You’re not waiting to find the carpet guy to replace the ugly carpeting or waiting for your new fridge to be delivered.”

While you may be surrounded by boxes on move-in day, take a moment to congratulate yourself on a job well done: You’re moving into a home where no one else has ever lived. You’ll be the first to soak in the tub, the first to roast a chicken in the oven, and the first to light a fire in the fireplace. Your design choices have already personalized your home to reflect the way you want to live, and now you’re about to embark on the pleasure of organizing your space and adding those important touches that will make it even more your own.

For more expert advice on buying and building a home, check out the free eBook download of New Home 101: Your Guide to Buying and Building a New Home at 
NewHomeSource.com.

Michele Lerner is an award-winning freelance writer, editor and author who has been writing about real estate, personal finance and business topics for more than two decades. You can find her on Google+.

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