Add These Genius Features to Your New Home

Chances are, you’ve read home-and-garden magazines until you could start your own recycling company. You’ve culled endless ideas from blogs and social-media sites. You’ve compiled all your favorite discoveries into one epic list of must-haves for your new custom Florida home.

Can we suggest a few more? Rather than lightning-bolt ideas, these are smaller bits of inspiration that may elude you at the beginning of the building process. Their potential impact could make Add These Genius Features to Your New Homeyou wish you’d thought of them sooner, so we thought we’d save you the aggravation now.

We know the features listed below may or may not be on your list. If they are, great minds think alike! If they’re not, consider adding them. Here we go.

Genius kitchen tips

Park Your Appliances

Blenders, toasters, rice cookers and many more apparatuses all shine at different times in your kitchen. You need to be able to grab what you need when you need it, not waste time digging for a specific gadget. But who wants to stare at a giant, commercial-grade stand mixer every day? Plus, it’s a countertop space hog!

The solution is to plan an appliance garage. Make a list of every motorized gadget you own or plan to buy, as guidance. Designate a large, easy-access kitchen cabinet — or pantry shelf — and park all your appliances in the same place. Do you only use the ice-cream maker a few times each year? It goes in the back. Is the food processor every-day mandatory? It goes in the front.

Don’t forget to make your appliance garage large enough. And leave extra space for future appliances.

Park Your Garbage and Recyclables

Recycling is a good thing and odds are your new community mandates it. However, the recycling pickup is usually only once a week. Where do all those empty tuna cans, milk cartons and jelly jars reside in the interim? What about all the garbage you can’t vanquish through the disposal?

Are those holding destinations smelly containers under the sink? In the garage? Ugh. We can’t help you with the smell, but we can help with the storage. Similar to designating space for an appliance garage, you can designate space for a trash and recyclables garage.

Pick a lower kitchen cabinet and ask your builder to install pullout bins — one for garbage, the other for recyclables. Ask for lids for those bins. They help squelch odor. Such a system makes it easy to put things in their proper place, then to lift out and carry to your curbside bins for pickup.

Genius cleaning tips

The implements we use to keep our homes neat and clean aren’t always the most attractive items. Although today’s home-goods market does have some fun by producing cheery-colored mops and brooms, and neon-colored plastics such as buckets, scrubbing brushes and so on.

For you, the homeowner planning a new build, addressing the chore areas of your new home not only gives you organization, but the opportunity to add a little design pizazz to ho-hum spaces.

Corral the Cleaners

Inventory everything you use to clean your home on a regular basis  — vacuum cleaners, dust mops, dust rags, mildew remover and trash bags, for example. Designate a closet to store it all. Hint: not the pantry. Who wants to reach in for tomato sauce and grab toilet cleaner instead?

Yes, it’s a good idea to tuck a sponge and extra dishwashing liquid in a lower kitchen cabinet, or extra paper products in the bathroom. But, all of your household cleaning supplies in the same place become magically easier and faster to find. There’s no but-I-don’t-know-where-it-is excuse!

Be as detailed as you like with your cleaning storage idea. Paint shelves or your closet interior a favorite outrageous color such as bright green. Tack up a funny sign — “A Master Cleaner Lives Here.” Stencil dancing cartoon-character mops and brooms along the top of the interior wall or exterior door. You’ll smile every time you see them.

You Want a Utility Room, Not a Laundry Room

Of course your washer and dryer should be in this room, perhaps with racks for drying delicate clothes. Or, maybe this is where flowers are if someone in your household is the crafty type. The point is this space should be super-useful, and not only a laundry dungeon. Even more useful? Connect it with a mudroom-entry off your new garage.

Install open shelves or cabinets. Stock them neatly with craft supplies and/or extra household linens. Unwieldy pantry items such as picnic baskets and ice cream churns can go here too. Give yourself enough room to install a pull-down ironing board and to operate a clothes steamer. Need to wash a dog? (keep reading).

Oh, and you’ll want a big, deep sink for when your mom shows up with a half-bushel of fresh snap beans that she couldn’t resist at the farmers market, or, for the fisherman who brings home a fresh catch.

A utility room is the place to make — and conceal — all those messes.

Clean Pets in Their Own Place

If furry friends are part of your household, planning and designing a new home is the perfect time to make their upkeep a bit easier. Need convincing?

Wouldn’t it be great to have dog bath similar to those at pet groomers, rather than forcing a 90-pound Golden Retriever into a human’s bathtub? How about not having to plop the cat food bag on the washing machine because there’s no convenient storage for it in your current home?

How many leashes have you replaced because they “disappear” in an overcrowded garage or utility room? We see your raised hands. Ask your builder to install a dog bath in your new utility or mudroom — or anywhere it makes sense, such as an indoor-outdoor alcove next to a porch or courtyard.

Steal the recycling and garbage garage idea above for pet food and kitty litter, especially if you buy in bulk. Add shelves for pet supplies and products, plus can’t-miss-it hooks for leashes.

Sounds better than throwing Fido in the pool and calling it a bath, doesn’t it? We thought so too.

Genius electrical tips

There’s nothing genius about electrical systems except how we lower our power bills, right? Wrong. Keeping expenses under control is important, but the two suggestions below will save you far more aggravation and cursing than some extra dollars and cents.

Both are think-ahead ideas for many homeowners, not instant must-haves. One idea is simple. The other, less so. But, once you’ve realized them, both require only a request from you to your builder.

Wiring for the Future

Because we all may be driving electric cars sooner than we think, and you’ll want at least one, if not two, 220V garage outlets in your home. But today, the more practical reason to have that extra electrical heft is to charge your golf cart.

You definitely should include 220V garage outlets if you’re building new with ICI Homes in Sienna at Nocatee (northeast Florida’s first electric vehicle-approved community), at Plantation Bay Golf and Country Club in Ormond Beach, or at Amelia National Golf and Country Club in Fernandina Beach.

Other future electrical updates could include a home theater, whole-house music systems or a more comprehensive home-security system with specialty cameras and alert sensors.

Our advice? If you’ve penciled it in for the future, do the research now. Rely on what electricians and system manufacturers can tell you about their requirements and don’t forget to research the products themselves, especially if you know a next-generation of whatever will be released at approximately the same time you’d like to (or can afford to) add it to your new home.

Why have to rip into drywall, or a lovely mature lawn, then repaint and re-sod later, if you don’t have to?

USB-Port Outlets

Now these ARE genius.

What if you could plug your electronic device of choice into any household outlet and charge that puppy up without a care? You can with USB-port outlets. The charging connection is built into the standard two-receptacle outlet we all know and love. You no longer must plug your device into a separate charger, then into an outlet. Just plug the USB-business end of your charging cord directly into any outlet.

And we do mean ANY outlet. Not simply in the kitchen, bedrooms and home office because you think those are the most practical locations for said outlets. They are, but.…

Make every outlet in your new ICI Homes home a USB-port outlet. You’ll thank us later, when you must stay on that mandatory work conference call — and your depleted phone — while your toddler screams for his or her freshly-laundered blanket waiting in the utility room.

Ready to apply all the genius ideas above to your new custom Florida home? ICI Homes is waiting to help! Start the conversation here.