When it comes to a house, there are things that are essential. Sure a floor, a ceiling, and walls all fall into this category, a house can’t exist without them. But, once the basics are in place, a house needs certain things to make it a home. The following five things help it do just that.

A playground: If you don’t have kids, you can probably do without putting a playground in your backyard. But, if the pitter-patter of little feet is a common sound in your house, a playground is a must have. Whether it’s something as simple as a swing set or a jungle gym complete with a bouncy bridge and monkey bars, a playground is essential to keeping your kids happy...and you sane.

Locks on Doors: This day and age, a house is not safe without locks - and deadbolts - on all entry doors. But, a home also needs locks on bedroom and bathroom doors. Without locks, people feel robbed of a sense of privacy: parents might feel insecure about being intimate, kids might feel as if they aren’t ever trusted, and a husband may worry that someone will come busting through the bathroom door, spotting him reading a Sweet Valley High book as he sits on the toilet. Locks on doors allow people to have time alone. Plus, locks can always be removed...say when your kids become teenagers.

A Peephole on the front door: Whenever there is a knock on the front door, it’s good to know who’s standing on the other side before you open it: a peephole is like the caller ID for the door world. Unlike peeking out a window, an act that can cause the person at the door to see you, a peephole allows you to be subtle: you can act like you’re not home whenever solicitors, nosy neighbors, or people to whom you owe money come a’knockin. A peephole also gives your children the best chance at making sure they don’t open the door to a stranger.

A Front or Back Porch: When it comes to spring and summer, few things are better than sitting on the porch and enjoying the nice weather. But, a porch isn’t just a place for relaxation: a back porch is great for barbequing and hosting summer dinner parties, while a front porch is a great place to sit and watch your kids play, and a great place to decorate with flowers and plants. Sitting out on your front porch and speaking to people who walk by is also a great way to meet and get to know your neighbors.

A Dining Room without a TV: Sitting down and having a family meal together may seem like a lost art, but that’s only true for those unwillingly to try to find it. When it comes to a quality family dinner, the television is the nemesis. Thus, the TV has got to go. This doesn’t mean you need to smash your plasma in a fit of rage or treat your Sony like it betrayed the mob by throwing it overboard into a desolate lake, just make sure your TV can’t be seen from your dining room. Once that happens, your family will be forced to talk to each other.