Sims 4 Overthinking: Wooden Outlet Covers

By Bay Posted Friday Dec 2, 2022

Filed under: Epilogue, The Sims 29 comments

Alright, where we left off two weeks ago, we had just ‘finished’ the house’s facade.

This is not the final finished exterior by a longshot, it can't be. With so many windows, there is nowhere for me to place stairs except for in the middle of the building, which I try to avoid.
This is not the final finished exterior by a longshot, it can't be. With so many windows, there is nowhere for me to place stairs except for in the middle of the building, which I try to avoid.

I’ve worked from a few reference images of real-life houses built in the early 1900s, but I’m mostly winging it. Half of the point of this project is to be low-maintenance while I get my bearings, so I suppose I should admit I don’t do a lot of historical research for these projects. It feels a bit dishonest to say ‘let’s go through one of my normal builds’ and then do a ton of research I never do on my own without an audience. Maybe I’ll do some research and disclose it, but if I’m honest, probably not. What I know comes from family, stories, and history I already have.

It’s a bit of a mixed bag, and a bit of a cop-out, to avoid research altogether. I know if I try to do things exactly right, and defend myself, I suddenly open myself up to criticism about what I’m doing and how ‘right’ it is. It’s a bit of a toxic system, the more work I do, the less rewarding it is. If I say ‘brick was really popular in 1923, so we’re going to use that’ I might get someone pointing out that the shingles I chose weren’t invented until 1940, making my efforts pointless at best, and downright self-destructive at worst.

But either way, time to press forward to the interior.

Wow, I hate it. The room in the back is supposed to be the kitchen. The house I grew up in had a door to the backyard right off the kitchen, and I end up trying to do that in many of my builds. Not sure if it’s nostalgia or habit. The first time I ever played The Sims was in that house, and it could have easily just become ‘how it was done’ in my mind. Either way, what is going on with the living room? Dining room? Living room? Entryway? No, this is garbage. I have intentionally backed myself into a corner with the fireplace. I put a chimney on the roof, so the fireplace must go below it, and, as it doesn’t fit upstairs, the fireplace has to sit exactly there. This leads to a problem since there is now a strange, extra room between the front door (bottom left) and the living room (room with fireplace).

It could be a dining room, but it seems odd to me to go in the front door right to the dining room. In general, this layout is a pain, let’s try to redo it.

Okay, much better. Now we have a weird little entryway for coats and boots, and the place is much more built for entertaining. I haven’t made the couple who lives here, but I have a vague understanding of their objectives. They work quite a bit on appearances, landscaping, and such, and I think they throw a lot of parties. If they are building the place from the ground up, they’d be imagining how they’d best have people over to actually see the place. Entryway for leaving coats, living room for coffee, dining room for dinner. At this stage of American history, they also have some hired help, so the kitchen is tucked far away from everything else, out of sight. There should actually be a door between the kitchen and everything else, but I’ll fix that in a moment.

Now we’re getting somewhere! Light fixtures were installed, and some wallpaper as well. I’ve put an arch between the entryway and the dining room, which I am not entirely sold on yet, but we’ll see. Blue appears to be a color theme here, as it is outside with the flowers, so I’ll assume going forward that the original owners loved blue.

The kitchen is painfully small, which is an unfortunate look into how the property owners consider their staff, but pretty common for the era.

The Sims 4 doesn’t have ‘period-friendly’ appliances for anything, really, but lucky for us we’re not staying in the 1900s, this is just a blueprint. Building in the past and bringing it into the present means we need to know where the pipes are, where the fridge later plugs in, etc. The later homeowners will have to grapple with where to put the laundry since when the house was built it was done by hand.

Ah, yes, speaking of, time for Mr. Hoadley’s Wood Block. The Sims 4 doesn’t offer electrical outlets of any kind, so we have to imagine up our own. Luckily, the square bracket keys  [ and ] offer different sizes of objects. Simply select the item in question, and press the right or left square bracket Left for smaller, right for bigger. and find your object shrink and grow to the size you desire. That trick is useful all over the place, but here we’re going to use it to turn this wood chopping block into a little outlet cover.

A wooden electrical socket sounds very safe.
A wooden electrical socket sounds very safe.

Obviously, it doesn’t have an actual outlet, but it isn’t too shabby for what we need it for. It would be far too easy to, down the line, simply place a lamp or TV anywhere we desire, we need the painful realism of groaning as the realization hits that we can’t.

Later, the inhabitants will cry because there is only one outlet by the kitchen counters. They should be instead rejoicing that the old homeowners needed a place to plug in the home phone.

 

Footnotes:

[1] Left for smaller, right for bigger.



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29 thoughts on “Sims 4 Overthinking: Wooden Outlet Covers

  1. MrGuy says:

    A wooden electrical socket sounds very safe.

    Doesn’t seem too unsafe to me. They’re still made and still allowed by code. More in high end homes for nostalgia.

    Wood is a pretty decent insulator (though that’s not a strict requirement – properly grounded metal outlet covers are safer). But you’re safe from a stray wire.

    The risk I’m assuming you’re worried about is fire from a spark. not as big a risk as you’d think. It takes a lot to light a solid block of wood. A spark from a plug might scorch the surface, but you’d need something sustained for it to catch fire. Drapes and curtains are a lot bigger risk.

    Electricity is interesting in how hard it is to modify. For plumbing, you’re pretty constrained by the need to tear up walls and floors/ceilings to get new pipe in. Depending on how your electricity is run, adding a new outlet in a new place might not be a huge deal. If you have an unfinished basement/crawl space, you can just drill up through the bottom plate of the wall and fish wires through the wall.

    I had multiple new outlets installed in locations my older home (built in the 30’s) didn’t anticipate, and the disruption was pretty minimal.

  2. Octal says:

    Say, what happened to that square area inside the angle of the staircase? Is it just walled off now, or is there a door I can’t see to make it a pantry or something?

    Ah, yes, speaking of, time for Mr. Hoadley’s Wood Block.

    Oh, this is clever! It does look right, at a glance–nice that you could find something with the right dimensions.

    1. Bay says:

      I would LOVE it if I could turn it into a pantry, and I might scuff it so it visually looks like one. But no, The Sims 4 doesn’t let you have livable space under stairs or roofs, much to my annoyance. I moved the stairs that way for visuals, and for the upstairs space we should be working on next, maybe it’ll be worth the loss of space, or I’ll change it, we’ll see.

      1. Octal says:

        Oh, I see! I didn’t even notice that the stairs themselves had also changed. Makes sense, too bad though.

  3. AndrzejSugier says:

    This look into a whole different way to experience a game I though I understood is fascinating. The idea of “art thriving on limitations” was known to me, but creating them yourself to make the process more enjoyable further on? That’s such an interesting idea.

    1. Fizban says:

      Enter speed runs, challenge runs, randomizers, etc. The trick is whether you can build it into the game or have to personally enforce the limit on yourself- I and many people find the latter far more stifling than if the game has a built-in feature, but others can thrive on their ability to make up new rules without anyone but themselves.

    2. Fiona says:

      It’s similar to something Every Frame a Painting talked about in their episode on Chuck Jones, how one of the things that made him such a phenomenal artist was his use of discipline in setting rules and restrictions for himself in the creative process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHpXle4NqWI

  4. Philadelphus says:

    This is a really neat idea and a good read, but also mildly depressing as it reminds me that, in the exceedingly unlikely event that I’m ever actually able to afford a house, probably all I can afford will be something built in the last millennium for which electricity and indoor plumbing were retrofitted decades later as an afterthought rather than something nice and modern. But please don’t take that as a criticism of the series. :)

    1. Sartharina says:

      At least those last longer than the houses I saw built in the 90s.

    2. Richard says:

      I find that statement somewhat strange.

      Over here, older homes are usually more expensive to extremely expensive, because they tend to have been built on larger plots, with larger rooms and higher ceilings, and nearer town/city centre amenities like train stations, pubs, shops, schools etc.

      New-build are squashed together as tightly as possible, on former industrial land, flood plains or (less often) farmland, as the developer makes more money by building three homes on the same amount of land that they would have built two homes on 20 years ago.
      – And farmers can barely make any money at all so are sorely tempted to sell to a housing developer.

      Of course, there are a few you can get for £10,000 to £50,000, but those tend to be empty shells so actually cost more like £100k+ once you’ve done the work needed to actually live there.

  5. Dreadjaws says:

    “The kitchen is painfully small”, says while showing a kitchen that’s three times the size of mine. As a matter of fact, I’ve lived in quite a number of different houses throughout my whole life, the great majority of them with my parents and sister, and I’ve never had a kitchen this big except in one of the old places we rented where the kitchen also doubled as dining room.

    Then again, there’s always been a notorious difference in the ways house are constructed depending on the country. I see in the US it seems to be very normal to have basements and attics, for instance, which are quite rare here (I personally never ecountered either in any house I’ve been into in my entire life). I guess we’re all used to have smaller kitchens too.

    When constructing houses in The Sims I’ve at least once per game tried to recreate a few of my old houses. Results have been mixed due to the nature of grid building, but I’ve managed reasonably good reproductions. In overall shape at least. Furniture is a whole other deal.

    1. Stu Friedberg says:

      Even in the US, basements vary by region. In areas where you have to get the foundations below the frost line, basements are nearly universal because they have to dig that far down to set the footings anyway. In warmer areas, it’s common to have only a crawl space.

      1. Moridin says:

        Now that I think of it, attics are probably based on the climate as well, as we have them quite commonly here in Finland. To protect against heavy snowfall, we have sloped roofs so that when the snow load gets too heavy, it slides off instead of causing the roof to collapse. This leads to awkward spaces that aren’t suitable for living, but are perfectly fine for storing things that don’t care about getting cold or hot (said spaces are usually not insulated very well, and in fact act as an extra layer of insulation for the rest of the house). Hence, attics.

      2. MrGuy says:

        Or nothing at all. Quite a lot of houses in the southern US are built on slab foundations.

    2. Simplex says:

      “The kitchen is painfully small”, says while showing a kitchen that’s three times the size of mine.”

      I was about to write the same :D If you live in a block of flats in Central Europe, kitchens are obscenely small.

      1. Bay says:

        I probably should have specified that the kitchen is small for a house of the era and location. I would kill for a kitchen of that size, I have a galley-style kitchen common in American apartments. The point there was it’s small for the house because our fictional homeowners intend to have dinner parties, which require a lot of cooking. The owners in question don’t do the cooking themselves so they don’t care to delegate extra resources to it.

    3. Philadelphus says:

      Both my grandparents’ houses had basements (though not attics) in Nebraska and Washington, but growing up in California and living in Hawaii as an adult I don’t think I’ve encountered a single house in either state that had either. As a kid I always thought basements and attics were so cool because I never had one. (As an adult, I think they’re incredibly cool because oh my word just look at all that empty storage space!)

      1. Randy says:

        Pretty sure basements are a rarity in areas prone to earthquakes and flooding for safety reasons. My area isn’t really prone to either (and due to frost, it’s probably a good idea to have a deep enough foundation that you may as well make a basement and save a bit on concrete), but every now and then a hurricane reaches far enough north to cause massive localized flooding, and it causes millions of dollars worth of damage from flooded basements and ground floors. I’m also given to understand that basements are rare in Florida because of flooding and in central California because of earthquakes.

  6. Ronan says:

    Later, the inhabitants will cry because there is only one outlet by the kitchen counters. They should be instead rejoicing that the old homeowners needed a place to plug in the home phone.

    Old phones didn’t need power outlets. But maybe the old phone outlet was repurposed into a power outlet by a later occupant ?

    I don’t think the phone would have been in the kitchen, if the kitchen was mostly used by staff. It was lore probably in the living room.

    1. LHN says:

      In the 1920s the phone wouldn’t have had a phone outlet, they were permanently installed. There’d be a wall mounted ringer box, with either a microphone built in and an earpiece you could lift, or a wire running to either a candlestick phone or a handset on a base.

      In later decades kitchen phones were almost always wall mounted (albeit with a full handset instead of just the earpiece). But googling shows a number of pictures from the 1920s with hand telephone sets on a counter or on top of the icebox.

      Though kitchen phones, or a second phone in the house of any kind, were pretty rare at that point.

  7. Benjamin Paul Hilton says:

    You want painful realism, as a new homeowner let me tell you about the joys of baseboard heating and needing everything to be a foot away from 75% of the walls

  8. I have some input on the layout. I don’t know anything about older houses, but I did work on procedural generation of modern houses and interiors. It’s not that uncommon to have windows on the wall along the stairs. My current house has that. They’re pretty high up and not ones you’re really supposed to look out though. I guess they’re there for extra light.

    The kitchen almost always connects to the dining room. The stairs also usually connect to the living room or entry room rather than the dining room. Also, the coat room doesn’t have much room to store coats with the two arches. Maybe it needs a closet somewhere?

    For the wood outlet covers, it’s reasonable that the outer cover is made of wood. The inner lining and wiring block would need to be a better insulator and likely more rigid, but the outside can be pretty much any material. Or maybe it’s really plastic with a wood finish to match the other wood trim in the house.

    I think the fireplace looks fine there. My house has the fireplace in the back of the living room with windows to either side like that.

    Are the railings for the stairs stuck inside the wall?

    Overall a very interesting post though. I’m curious to see how your house turns out.

    1. Richard says:

      It used to be part of the UK building regulations that stairwells had natural light as a safety feature – don’t want to trip and fall on the stairs, gas lamps are expensive, you know!

      So a great many homes still have a random window somewhere around the stairwell that doesn’t line up with any actual floors.

  9. RCN says:

    “At this stage of American history, they also have some hired help, so the kitchen is tucked far away from everything else, out of sight.”

    Now that I think about it, I lived in some houses that were like this.

    One was a very old apartment. The other was barely twenty years old when we moved in.

    And both also had what we call in my country the “housekeep room” because hired help was supposed to be in your house 24/7, working 24/7. And that’s for middle-class families (heck, WE had house help). Because of a gap in labor laws housekeeping wasn’t considered a real job until the 2010s so single mothers desperate to have a place to live, who happened to have a certain skin color because systemic racism, would accept way below minimum wage to live in another family’s house with their children.

    Anyway, we didn’t treat our housekeepers like that, but I would be lying if I said my family didn’t benefit from systemic racism since, well, we did have housekeepers who I’m pretty sure my mother didn’t pay minimum wage. Still, the “housekeep room” was more just like a changing room by that time because we didn’t keep them 24/7 in our house like they were prisoners. These rooms are at most 3 square meters of area (or 30 square feet, and no that’s not 30 BY 30, 30 feet TOTAL). I was appalled that someone was actually supposed to sleep and live in these rooms WITH their children. Of course, historically (what I’m talking about, this shit happens to this day) the housekeep was responsible for all meals, all cleaning and all chores around the house, but could NOT eat the food they prepared. They had to buy their own food with their own meager cash and, if lucky, they’d be allowed to prepare it in the same kitchen they cooked for their employers.

    “The kitchen is painfully small”

    THAT is a small kitchen?

    Sure, I lived in houses with bigger kitchens, but they were the exception and when I was living on favor with wealthier people.

    My current kitchen is, no joke, smaller than this house’s entry hall.

  10. William H says:

    I only played Sims 1 a bit
    I know the modding scene was pretty good for it
    Did you consider using mods for this project?

    1. RCN says:

      I always assumed EA banned mod capabilities because it would hurt their bottom-line of selling virtual items to people through expansions/dlcs.

      I could be wrong though. If so, I’d actually be very surprised for EA not doing the most greedy thing possible. Though with the amount of DLC I’ve seem The Sims 4 has, it is still pretty greedy.

      1. William H says:

        I hadn’t even heard of DLC in 2000

        1. RCN says:

          It used to be called “expansion packs”.

          Then they greatly reduced content and now call “DLC”.

  11. Th3Vangu4rd says:

    I’m really loving this series so far. Maybe most important, it feels like exactly the kind of content I’ve always come to this site for.

    Specific to The Sims, it takes me back to the earliest conversations I would have with my mom about the game. I got it first (first one, I must have been like 11) and played it as a person simulator. But when I showed my mom the extensibility of all the building and furnishing options, she fell in love with a half of the game I always saw as mechanically necessary. Job requires more athletics? Add a gym appliance…there, where it fits.

    My mom would see me do this and be baffled. How can you put the gym equipment next to the staircase? Many times she asked me where in this enormous house I’d built were people supposed to take off their shoes. “Sims don’t take off their shoes,” I’d explain, because to me that was all there was to it. Sims don’t put up coats, so I don’t need a room for coats. Fridges are pantries, so no need for pantries. I’d do aesthetics, but not real-world functional aesthetics.

    When my mom finally got a computer good enough to play Sims herself (I think it was Sims 2 to start, but she’s been through all of them and never played a minute of a single Sim’s life), she was unleashed. I would visit her and see these gorgeous, thought out houses, buildings you could plop into the real world and imagine an actual human living in. I would always ask how it felt to live/play in it. And i was continuously baffled that she said she was bored of it the second she finished building it, and only saved it to show me later.

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