Do You Really Need the Best of the Best for Your Home?

Channels like HGTV have spawned our interest in housing and all things interior and exterior design. 

A house isn’t nice enough if it doesn’t have granite countertops and a gourmet kitchen.  No longer is the master bedroom simply bigger than the other bedrooms in the home.  Instead, we want an en suite complete with a large bathroom (his and her sinks are a must), walk in closets with built in shelves and a sitting area.  The bathroom must have a Jacuzzi hot tub.


When did this become the norm?

Of course it’s nice to live in lavish surroundings, but if you have trouble making ends meet or have debt to pay off, do you really need all of this?

Houses 60 Years Ago Were Very Different

The simple truth is that 50 or 60 years ago, houses were much simpler.

Everyone having their own room wasn’t a necessity.  There weren’t fancy upgrades like granite countertops, en suites, and Jacuzzi hot tubs.  Houses were much smaller.

“Back in the 1950s and ’60s, people thought it was normal for a family to have one bathroom, or for two or three growing boys to share a bedroom. . .The average American house size has more than doubled since the 1950s; it now stands at 2,349 square feet (in 2006)” (NPR).

Sure, the recession has made some people decide that they don’t need McMansions, but houses are still plenty bigger than they were 5 or 6 decades ago.

Do We Really Need a Large Home with So Many Luxuries

You don't need to keep up with the Jones' with your home.Perhaps it’s time that we step back and look at the lavish luxuries we have in our homes as well as the square footage.  After all, if Warren Buffett, a man worth billions, can live in the same 5 bedroom house he purchased decades ago for $31,500, do we need all of the excess we have now?

Of course, you’re free to choose any home that you would like, but if you want to live like the millionaires next store (and grow rich like them), maybe a simpler existence is what you need.

Maybe it’s time to stop competing with the Jones’ and find a house with just enough features to make you and your family comfortable without having expensive upgrades.

Have a Smarter House, Not a More Expensive One

Susan Susanka, an architect interviewed in USA Today recently renovated her home.  “She didn’t use pricey granite or edgy concrete for her countertops.  She used laminate.  Her cabinets:  Ikea.  “You can save thousands of dollars by using simple materials in a well-designed space,” she says.

We’re used to thinking that the cost of upgrades like granite countertops and gourmet kitchens can be recouped when we sell, but the most recent market shows us that it’s not always true.  Homes don’t always go up in value.

Kermit Baker, chief economist of the American Institute of Architects says, “Plummeting home values have caused many people to stop seeing houses as an investment but rather as a place to live.  Home-size declines probably will continue among high-end buyers, who began scaling back even before the recession” (USA Today).

Instead of insisting that everything in a home contain high end features, why not focus on areas that are most important to you.  If you cook for your family every day and entertain, yes, by all means look for a house with a big kitchen.  But does it have to have a double oven?  Do you have to have stainless steel appliances or are the ones that are there currently just fine?


The economy has shown us that we need to be smart with our money to get ahead in this environment.  We’ve also learned that houses don’t always go up in value and fancy upgrades don’t always pay off.

If you want to amass wealth, take a clue from Warren Buffett and realize when enough is good enough.  You don’t always have to be in pursuit of the next best thing you can afford.

Sometimes the home you have is good enough.

What do you think?

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Published or updated July 28, 2013.


  1. My younger daughter – not my older one – keeps clamoring for her own room. I finally got mine when I was around 15, and I am grateful now that I had to share with my two brothers until then.

    We could accommodate separate rooms for the girls by giving the attic over to one of them, but so much of their growing up together would be lost. And with the older one set to go to high school in about a month, they won’t see that much of each other during the week.

    That we are doing the right thing by standing our ground became clear to me late last night when, for the second night in a row, I found the younger one snuggled up against the older one together in the same bed.

    • Glen Craig says:

      Haha, yeah we have a similar situation David. Our 2 middle kids share a room now. We actually have a room to use if we wanted to separate them but being together in the same room bonds their friendship. We hear them talking about their days to each other, it’s so cute (they are 6 and 4 right now).

      Sometimes smaller has some real benefits like family bonding.

      • Hi Glen! I love your blog. When I separated from my husband, and moved from Chicago, back to Memphis, (my hometown); I bought an early 50’s home. It has three bedrooms, one bath, LR, eat in kitchen. Basically that is it. I wanted this home for its covered porch and porch swing. My son, has used the largest room for a recording studio. He is doing an awesome job of running it. Occasionally, I do wish for an extra half bath, but we are making do, and it is paid for. I also have three dogs who share our home. We are blessed!

  2. I could not agree more Melissa! There’s a fine line between having something nice and simply going overboard. We have a family member who put hundreds of thousands of dollars into a remodel and it does not even feel like a home anymore. Sure, it looks nice, but I would not want to live there – and the value of their home has not gone up to match what they spent. Which, of course, has them wishing they did not spend as much as they did.

    • Glen Craig says:

      Ouch John. I think if you are going to remodel then you really have to look at the value and enrichment it will bring to you and your family. What are you really getting out of it? Is it just to show off your home to others or will it add quality of life to your family?

  3. I grew up in a home which was built in 1929. Things may have been simpler, but there was always quality and built to last. As I get older, my needs are simpler too. I want a single story home, 2-3 bedrooms, en suite bathrooms, less rooms and a good solid neighborhood.

    • Glen Craig says:

      A solid neighborhood is big for us. And I can see the benefit of a single story home. We vacationed at a town home with three levels. The place was awesome but I can’t imagine climbing up and down all the time if we lived there permanently.

  4. Science shows us that experiences make us happier than stuff. I’m happy to have a simple, one bathroom house and no car. Because it means I can spend every weekend out on the lake. And the entire month of September sailing in Panama.

    If I were working hard to support a bigger house, I’d miss out on some truly spectacular experiences.

    I bet no one ever felt relieved from their deathbed that they splurged on granite countertops.

    BTW, a contractor friend of mine said that he got 5 years of work replacing all the Corian countertops he installed 20 years ago with granite as fashions changed. What a waste of resources and money.

  5. Our world has really gone materialistic and the clamor for things that are just way too expensive and sometimes less useful seemed to be the trend. Remodeling seems to be a good idea, but not if we are going to spend money we do not really have and even if we do have, we need to think first before making any move to remodel our place and spend all those hard earned cash simply because you think everyone else is doing it.

What Do You Think?