By Mary Lynn Bruny

If we’re lucky enough to have a home during these troubling times, many of us are spending 24/7 (which often feels like 32/7) quarantining in them. Apparently this has led to an increased desire for snazzy home features. Not too surprising. Since we’re not out and about, our homes have become our de facto offices, restaurants, entertainment centers, health clubs and spas. Now more than ever before, people want gourmet kitchens, spa-like bathrooms, heated floors, home gyms, outdoor fireplaces and wireless automation devices. It’s unlikely this trend will abate after vaccinations: Who knows what the world will sling our way next?

Reading about this trend made me think about what we perceive as luxurious living and how it changes as we age. I remember in my late 20s when my husband and I bought our first property, a condo. After a decade of living in cruddy rentals and schlepping my laundry about, I was absolutely thrilled to have a washer/dryer in our unit. Between that and covered parking I was overwhelmed with happiness. (Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy convenience and that can make people pretty darn happy.)

In my 40s I thought we were living high when we purchased a home with a master bath that had two sinks – which I believe is one of the secrets of a happy partnership and avoiding daily homicidal thoughts. Now this is pretty standard feature even in starter homes. (The two sinks, not the homicidal thoughts.)

Before the pandemic hit, my husband and I finished a six-year meandering remodel of our current house, inside and out. (Well, we’re 95 percent finished. It is some remodeling rule that the last five percent must take you several more years just to drive you totally bonkers.) The finishes went from 80s funky to pretty dang nice, and we added a few sweet features.

Our new kitchen that gives me hives if I think too much about the expense now seems like a smart investment as we are preparing what feels like six meals a day. Cupboard organizers give me a ridiculous amount of organizational joy while putting things away for the thousandth time. Some cooks like warming drawers though we passed on this. (I’d prefer one in my bedroom for socks.)

My husband wanted a few items that I thought we didn’t need but agreed to because I’m such an accommodating spouse (yeah, right). One was a small kitchen wine cooler. “When would we ever need this much wine?” I asked. Turns out during a pandemic. We can’t keep that baby stocked. I’m sure folks with amazing wine cellars are digging them more than ever. Forget toilet paper; they have a huge supply of a true essential.

The other item my husband wanted was a gas fire pit in our back yard. I thought the use wouldn’t justify the expense. I don’t like to say this too often, but I was wrong. Before winter arrived in earnest we constantly used it. After hearing God-awful news all day, just getting out of the house and relaxing in an Adirondack chair while looking at its mesmerizing flames lowered our blood pressure. Some people have emotional support animals; we have an emotional support fire pit.

If we have to spend so much time in our houses, it is nice to do so in homes with nice features. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to test the wine cooler – make sure it’s properly cooling by opening a bottle. Good to do this each weekend, especially during a pandemic.

By Mary Lynn Bruny. Mary Lynn writes about local real estate and home-related topics. Contact her by e-mail at [email protected]. To read previous The Lighter Side articles, go to