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Flexible Living: You Have Options

Flexible Living: You Have Options

“Have it your way,” wasn't just an advertising slogan; it's evident throughout our homes, showing up in our priorities. That’s why you sometimes see layout options highlighted alongside the original design’s presentation floor plan artwork. When the plan was being created, our designers recognized that suggesting a particular modification would appeal to a significant percentage of new home buyers and therefore included that option on the construction drawings.


The Teglia Place (plan #42481) provides a good example. As originally designed, the split three-bedroom plan offers a powder bath, highly prized by people who love to entertain, adjoining the staircase. However, some home buyers would be willing to forego the powder bath in favor of spacious walk-in closets for both secondary bedrooms. As both configurations are shown on the construction drawings, the option is also illustrated with the presentation artwork.


As originally designed, the second floor of the Dillon Park (plan #42477) shows a two-story high front entry and owner’s suite with dual-sink vanity, linen cabinet, toilet area that provides privacy without the claustrophobia of having a door, and 6’-4”’ x 7’-8”’ walk-in closet.

Some homeowners prize “me” space around the sink they use in their bathroom. In the “Alternate Owner’s Bath” rather than one vanity with two sinks, two separate vanities provide counter space for items each person uses. (This also helps when one wants to keep the vanity area clean, but that’s not important to the other.) And to avoid the door into your bathroom swinging against the vanity, a pocket door is suggested instead. A bonus is being able to peer into the mirror and see how you look from behind, as reflected in the other vanity’s mirror.

Dillon Park - #42477 Opt LaundryThat two-story entryway is a “Wow!” feature many buyers like or even expect; however, other buyers look at that space and wonder how much it costs to heat, considering it “wasted space.” For these buyers, instead of the two-story entry, they could opt to add the 6’-4” x 8’-8” “open to below” space to the walk-in closet, plus have a convenient seat for dressing (natural light is great for discerning colors in your wardrobe!).

Still another option in lieu of the two-story high entry is adding an upstairs laundry room. This home plan also has a first-floor owner’s suite and was designed with the laundry room on the main floor. Note: two-story high space is counted only one time when calculating a home’s square footage. Finishing off that space upstairs adds 58 square feet to the home.

Home Offices

People who work from home, whether that’s a full-time home-based business, telecommuting two days a week, or just finishing up a project at home, typically need dedicated space for where they’ll do their work. The Slater (plan #29333) suggests a couple options, starting with the traditional home office at the front. This location is popular for its convenience to the front door when clients and/or colleagues arrive, for its relative privacy, and proximity to a bathroom. Also, a private entrance into the office could be added from the front porch. Depending on your household size and preferences, we’ve also seen Bedroom 2 converted into a second home office or even a conference room.

Notice also there’s a Pocket Office off the owner’s suite. Most people have strong opinions against working from their owner’s bedroom, feeling that area must be set apart, a respite from work life; therefore, the pocket door is essential, closing off this ideal space with its sizable work surface, storage, and natural light.

Just under half of the homes built in America are built on basement foundations. So, the presence (or absence) of stairs going down to a basement can make a significant difference in a home plan. For the one-story Pelham Gables (plan #42446), no basement stairs can mean a much larger office space.

Kitchen Pantries

Even two-story homes are affected when eliminating basement stairs. In the Bassett Terrace (plan #42241), deleting the staircase going down off the kitchen means you can double the size of the kitchen pantry!

Garage Spaces

It’s even possible to turn garage space into living space. The Windsor Cottage (plan #42226) includes the option of a first-floor bedroom suite rather than the original design’s tandem third-car garage space.

Pre-configured floor plan options, included on the construction drawings and shown accompanying the standard presentation artwork, help you envision some of the popular ways plans can be tailored to your preferences. Please know that Design Basics also offers individualized Plan Customization, providing you the opportunity to have our design team modify the plan you choose so that it lives exactly how you want!

Join us next time for Changing Households and Lifestages.

Livability at a Glance™ is our proprietary color-coded floor plan system that highlights four different lenses especially important to women: Entertaining, De-stressing, Storing, and Flexible Living. Discover your Lifestyle Profile by taking our Livability at a Glance Quiz.

For more resources on thoughtful design and products:

Storage in Bathrooms is Non-negotiable

Storage in Bathrooms is Non-negotiable

“That’s not a closet – that’s a joke!” Such was one woman’s reaction to an 18-inch-wide linen closet in a very nice owner’s bathroom. Her dismay continued, “We have king size blankets, comforters, and bedspreads. Extra pillows and sheets. Then all the towels.” We at Design Basics were actually researching the “de-stressing” aspects of a home’s design. Not surprisingly, women often focused on their owner’s suite bathrooms. But the fact that lack of linen storage was so frequently brought up helped us realize the two sides of linen storage. Understanding that trade offs are ever-present in residential design, linen storage also frequently shows up in cabinetry, often between two sinks or over the toilet.

What’s most important to you? The Giles Park (plan #42401) standard owner’s bathroom layout includes a 6-foot shower and 3-foot linen closet. But if having a tub plus separate shower is your preference, there’s still a linen storage cabinet atop the toilet. Sometimes, linen storage is a cabinet separating two sinks, providing a sense of “me” space. Still, if your morning coffee trumps storage...

Linen Closet Design

Linen Storage Cabinet Design

Linen Cabinet on Counter Top Design

Counter top linen turned Coffee Bar?

Speaking of storage in a water closet (little toilet “room”) and at the risk of being indiscreet, when you’re sitting in there and there’s no storage, that’s just not good design. Then there’s the unsightly toilet plunger and cleaning brush, so often resting behind the toilet in a corner. Surely, we can do better! Look closely at the private toilet area in the Underwood (plan #50025) owner’s bathroom and you will see a slender orange recess in the wall. That signifies the “toilet valet” concept – in-wall storage between the wall’s studs for extra toilet paper, hygiene products, and cleaning supplies.

Toilet Valet Concept

Hy-dit® from Helber Industries, Inc., is an attractive solution for where to keep your toilet plunger, toilet bowl brush, and cleaner – in the wall and between the studs! Photo courtesy of Helber Industries, inc.

Yet another in-wall storage solution is medicine cabinets. Available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and finishes, these provide hidden storage and some models are lockable to help prevent any medication misuse. Over-the-sink models feature mirrored surfaces, and some have lighted mirrors.

Pojjo Vanity Drawer

Photo courtesy of Pojjo

Makeup ledges, typically behind the sinks, help keep often used items organized and available, yet off the sink or vanity counter tops. Within your vanity, elegant storage solutions from companies such as Pojjo provide always-plugged-in, ready-to-use access for hair care appliances such as curling irons and hair dryers as well as protective sleeves these hot appliances can safely be dropped into after use.

It seems so obvious. We get undressed in the bathroom to bathe, so it’s only natural to have a place for the dirty clothes. But that laundry basket’s always in the way! Design Basics’ innovative Stor-N-More™ design amenity answers the need for a seat in the bathroom with its padded bench. That bench top flips up to reveal laundry basket/dirty clothes storage. Around/behind the bench are towel hooks, and a linen cabinet above the seating area.

Even in the modest-size Wendling Park (plan #42473) owner’s bath, there’s room for a Stor-N-More™ solution for laundry basket/dirty clothes storage, towel hooks, and linens.

Nothing says “careless” louder than a beautiful, oversize shower with no storage. Yes, it was inspired by a spa or perhaps luxury resort, with multiple shower heads and room so that as you’re washing your hair your elbows don’t run into one of the walls. And then the shampoo and conditioner sit on the floor, while the soap, sponge, and razor hang from a shower head in a cheap plastic caddy. Whether it’s in-wall recesses, a built-in ledge, or tasteful corner shelving, avoid daily regrets by discussing your in-shower storage needs before building or remodeling. And if a grab bar is an important addition to your shower, look at the attractive storage options built with grab bars from manufacturers such as the Invisia Collection.

Invisia Shower Shelf

Photo courtesy Invisia Collection

This beautiful shower shelf from Invisia Collection is actually an ADA-compliant grab bar hidden in plain sight!


Look for our next blog series focusing on Flexible Living.

Livability at a Glance™ is our proprietary color-coded floor plan system that highlights four different lenses especially important to women: Entertaining, De-stressing, Storing, and Flexible Living. Discover your Lifestyle Profile by taking our Livability at a Glance Quiz.

For more resources on thoughtful design and products:

Is Your Home Stressing You Out?

Is Your Home Stressing You Out?

Gainsville - #6651 floor plan

When building new, if you’ll have individual garage doors, don’t settle for less than nine-foot wide doors. Note also when the front door is open in this layout, the stairs going up are blocked.

It’s been a long day, and you still don’t know what you’re serving for dinner tonight. You slowly pull into the garage, careful to avoid running one of the side mirrors into the garage door frame (curse those eight-foot wide garage doors!).

Fortunately, your granddaughter’s asleep as you lift the carrier out of its car seat base. Bags in the other hand, you navigate around the shelves, then fumble with your elbow for the light switch in the mudroom. You nearly trip over your grandson’s tennis shoes. And yes, you can actually feel your blood pressure rising.

Deep breath. As the grocery bags begin to cut off circulation to your fingers, you wonder why the kitchen is so far away from the garage. Finally, you set the groceries on the kitchen floor, because there’s no room on top of the island. With a sigh, now you remember the family size cereal boxes don’t fit standing up in the pantry cabinet. Lack of storage…tiny closets…that’s the first thing you would change about this house.

Spencer, your grandson, is loading the dishwasher. “Well, at least we did something right, there,” you think to yourself. Of course, when that dishwasher door is open, you can’t get by. “Just like when the front door is open, resting against the first stair, blocking staircase access.  What were they thinking when they designed this house?” And to the other side of the entryway, the home office – the definition of clutter – and there’s no way to hide it with those glass doors. You wince, just imagining your friends coming over and walking by that room.

Bed-Dresser Conflict

Two feet between the bed and dresser is uncomfortably tight. If possible, look for one bedroom dimension of eleven feet, providing a three-foot pathway.

With Abbie still asleep, you carry her up to the nursery bedroom, turning sideways to squeeze between the bed and the dresser. “If beds are 6 feet long and dressers are 2 feet deep, why would they make these bedrooms so tight?” you wonder. And it’s cold – these secondary bedrooms – “Why can’t all of the rooms be the same temperature?” you ask.

Getting into some comfortable clothes always helps, and you grab your favorite navy-blue sweatpants. But as you’re changing, you realize those are the snug, black sweatpants. A single naked light bulb in your closet – what a joke. And your bathroom isn’t much better. No windows. No natural light. Yes, there are more light bulbs, but they’re all on one switch. Off or on – dark or really bright. Note to self, ask Frank about a dimmer switch.

Door-Stair Conflict

Door swing conflicts – when a walking path is blocked because a door was opened – are stressful.

Time to get dinner thrown together. Back in the kitchen, you’re looking for the salad tongs, and they’re in that one drawer. The one that always sticks when you open it and just doesn’t close right. As you dig through the drawer, the ice cream scoop falls out. Great. A new gouge in those birch wood floors. Why didn’t someone tell us birch was so soft and wouldn’t hold up like some other hardwoods?

You bend over to retrieve the ice cream scoop and notice the cobwebs in the toe-kick area under the cabinets, realizing it must have been a month since the hard floors had a good cleaning. And dusting? “Maybe, if I put that on my to-do list for the weekend…” you think.

Abbie had fun playing with her food and some of it actually got swallowed. Your grandkids bring you such joy, you feel your body releasing some of the stress. After dinner, there are a few chores left. There was just enough room for Spencer to fit the dinner dishes in the dishwasher, while you get the laundry started. You can’t wait for Friday when Frank gets back from that business trip. He’s still struggling with being a single dad.

You turn the big TV on in the great room, but with the dishwasher running, you have to crank up the volume, and Spencer has homework tonight. So, you decide to watch the TV in your bedroom, but same problem. Next to your bedroom, that washer and dryer are too loud to enjoy the TV. It’s great they put the washer and dryer up with the bedrooms, but really – a little laundry closet in a home this size?

Ah-ha! A relaxing, hot shower would be perfect. You turn on the fan because the mirrors fog over from the steam. There it is again – noise. Frank always said that bathroom fan must have come from an army surplus store. And then, just for good measure, the toilet flushes…all by itself.

Laundry Closet

Note the laundry closet’s proximity to the bedrooms – noisier than an enclosed laundry room – may possibly interrupt watching TV, sleeping, etc.

The next morning you wake up early. Finally, it’s quiet. No stress headache, like the one you had when you went to bed. Tablet in hand, you decide to take matters into your own hands and de-stress your home. Poor lighting? Frank can probably replace the bathroom switch with a dimmer, and maybe he could put a motion-sensor switch so lights automatically turn on when coming in from the garage. Another light bulb in your closet would be great, but that would probably mean hiring an electrician. And more windows? That sounds like a serious remodel.

Replacing the bathroom fan would help achieve serenity, and a new, quieter laundry pair and/or a quiet dishwasher would be heavenly. You make a note to talk with the heating contractor when they come out to inspect the furnace about the uneven temperatures. Maybe they can do something to remedy that problem.

You decide you’ll buy a couple deck boxes that could go under the deck, to stash garage items and free up some space in the garage. Saturday morning is going to be set aside for organizing the office. No exceptions. There was that ad you saw for a handyman service, maybe they could fix that kitchen drawer. You consider a little more seriously the kitchen remodel for improved storage and organization, but is the kitchen just too small in the first place?

Lighted Closet Rod

Closets are notoriously dark areas. Lighted hanging rods may be just the answer you’re looking for! Photo courtesy of Task Lighting

You start to create a cleaning schedule and realize it’s doable – you could give up a bit of Facebook time, and Frank and Spencer could take on a little more of the household cleaning. Feeling better already, having a plan for things you can do to de-stress your environment, you also realize there’s no practical solution for some of the design flaws such as the door swings that block traffic; room sizes; the wasted space of that big landing at the top of the stairs; even the skinny door into the main floor powder bath that’s too small for your dad’s walker. Those things just aren’t correctable. If you do buy a brand-new home someday, these things are going to be non-negotiable.

If our homes are our havens, our retreats, our sanctuaries from all that life throws at us, how is it that our homes are actually adding to our stress? Stress’ negative impacts on our health are widely known, yet still we under-appreciate the stresses our homes contribute. When remodeling, or purchasing an existing or brand-new home, looking at the home through the lens of stress will help you see the home in an entirely different light – helping you identify areas that cause or add to your stress, and the ways you could improve on the design of those spaces.

Livability at a Glance™ is our proprietary color-coded floor plan system that highlights four different lenses especially important to women: Entertaining, De-stressing, Storing, and Flexible Living. Discover your Lifestyle Profile by taking our Livability at a Glance Quiz, and then search plans using our Livability at a Glance Plan Search...a better way to search home plans.
Cover photo courtesy: <a href="">People photo created by jcomp -</a>
De-stressing Concepts in Bathroom Design

De-stressing Concepts in Bathroom Design

78% of American adults don’t take baths. In an online survey of thousands of adults on our website, when asked If you have a tub in the owner’s bathroom, how often do you take a bath in that tub? Seventy-eight percent responded “Never.” In fact, bathtubs were stress-inducing, with comments such as, “I’m tired of dusting the tub,” “I feel guilty about all the water a tub bath takes,” and “I don’t like the thought of soaking in my own dead skin cells!” Tearing out bathtubs and installing oversize showers is the most popular remodeling project in America. And when it comes to resale, Realtors® tell us that regardless of the presence of a tub in the owner’s bathroom, if there isn’t a nice shower, many of today’s prospective home buyers are simply going on to the next home. Still, there’s a significant number of home buyers who dream of a long, hot soak melting stress away. So, whether you want a tub in the bathroom is one of the first questions to answer. Know that most men won’t bathe in a standard five-foot tub, due to its size; a six-foot tub is more acceptable. 

The Giles Farm (plan #42403) features a 6-foot shower plus 3-foot linen closet as the standard owner’s bath configuration, with the option of a 5-foot tub and 4-foot shower shown in the alternate master bath (requires 10-inch bump-out).

Bathing amenities make a big difference. Among the most frequently mentioned regrets was overlooking storage, whether in-wall or integral shelving, for shampoos, conditioner, soap, sponge, etc. Their big, beautiful shower has multiple shower heads including a handheld shower head, seat or toehold for shaving, and perhaps individualized temperature presets. But their shampoo and conditioner sit on the floor and sponge hangs from the handle set. In-wall recesses or thoughtfully planned shelves are essential. Additionally, if there is a dedicated shower, how is it accessed? Doorless showers are very popular but they can also be cold once you’ve turned the water off as there’s nothing to hold in the steam. In-wall or ceiling heaters, in-floor heating, or towel warmer/radiators are all great solutions to keep you from shivering, whether you have a doorless shower or perhaps the bathroom is situated over an unheated garage.

The Hepburn Terrace (plan #42421) features a doorless walk-in shower. With no door to clean, what would you do with the extra time? Note also that bathroom’s private toilet area, privacy…or claustrophobia?

No matter how long you’ve been married, there are just times you need your privacy. For some, that means the toilet must be in its own little “room.” But there are just as many people who don’t like the claustrophobic feeling nor cleaning challenges presented by those toilet rooms.

ClearMirror Classic

Photo courtesy: ClearMirror

Two sinks can be a marriage-saver, when couples both need to get ready at the same time. In contrast to a single long vanity, dual vanities allow one of the sinks to be at different height, truly appreciated by taller individuals. Separate vanities also provide “me space” so that one person’s clutter around the sink doesn’t have to stress out the other person. Raised make-up ledges at the back of the vanity are an expected amenity in some new home markets. Mirrors should not be an afterthought. If hot, steamy showers are routine, you may want to spend a few dollars more to have fogless mirrors. Lighting at the vanity is also a critical issue. The quantity of light bulbs and their color temperature can have a significant effect on applying makeup and how it looks.

Cleaning in general is a stress issue, and in the bathroom, cleaning concerns may dictate flooring choices, shower enclosure materials, and discreet storage for the ever-present toilet plunger and toilet bowl cleaner. Serenity is another issue – ultra-quiet bathroom fans to the rescue! Smell is the sense linked most strongly with memory – floral scents may have the power to transport you to your favorite getaway spot. Lighting is yet another priority. We often hear complaints regarding a lack of daylight in bathrooms, and one light switch, where (all) lights are on or (all) lights are off does little to help de-stress.

Shared hall bathrooms have many of the same issues. Compartmented designs, wherein the toilet and tub/shower are separated from the sink(s) eases schedule conflicts. When the shared bathroom has private access from the bedrooms it serves, sinks or even sinks + toilets can be separated from the bathing area. A powder bath (half-bath) means your dinner party guests need not admire all of the kids’ bathtub toys. But note, pedestal lavs, popular because of their size and style, provide no storage for extra toilet tissue, etc.

Vermillion - #43041 Bath

Vermillion - #43041

The Vermillion (plan #43041) provides a private bathroom for Bedroom 2 upstairs, and a compartmented shared bathroom for Bedrooms 3 and 4. The plan also shows an option to turn that shared bathroom into more of a Jack-and-Jill bath, replacing the original design’s linen closet with a private sink area serving Bedroom 3. Would that help de-stress your home?

Ultimately, a well-thought-out bathroom design, and included amenities, will not only help you de-stress, but also add value to your home.

Livability at a Glance™ is our proprietary color-coded floor plan system that highlights four different lenses especially important to women: Entertaining, De-stressing, Storing, and Flexible Living. Discover your Lifestyle Profile by taking our Livability at a Glance Quiz.

For more resources on thoughtful design and products:

Image Courtesy: ClearMirror
(Product spotlights are for informational purposes only.)

Powder Bath Considerations

Powder Bath Considerations

Being fortunate enough to have a powder bath (or ½ bath) means guests need not appreciate your child’s rubber duckies in the tub. If your new home will have a powder bath, its location and design are top considerations. Having a powder bath might also be a cost issue requiring further trade-offs.

Powder Bath Location. Convenience suggests that main bathrooms should be located near the bedrooms, freeing the powder bath to serve other areas of the home. But for powder baths, privacy is as important as an accommodating location. You wouldn’t want to see the toilet when you walk through your front door, nor an “extra seat” from the kitchen/dining area. Location privacy is also important as a sound buffer. While simply keeping the bathroom door shut at all times seems like a reasonable alternative, in reality, that solution doesn’t work because you never know if that bathroom is in use or not. Finally, “how you want your home to live” can affect location. Do you want that bathroom near the entrance in from the garage? Near your home office for clients’ and colleagues’ use?

Powder Bath Design. For many, the focus rests upon selecting the perfect pedestal lavatory and faucet to compliment the design of the rest of their home. In terms of aesthetics, those pedestal lavatories can be stunning, but excellence in design means combining the aesthetics and practicality – specifically, storage.

At the risk of being indiscreet, when you’re sitting on the stool and you don’t have what you need (extra roll of toilet paper, hygiene products, etc.), then it’s not a good bathroom design. An over-the-toilet or in-wall storage cabinet are a couple ways to deliver the practical as well as the aesthetic in a powder bath that features a pedestal lavatory as opposed to a sink that sits atop a vanity base cabinet.

Thoughtful Design vs. Cost. Consider two Design Basics’ plans – the Osborne (#6282) and the Limington (#43037) – that are almost identical, with the only significant difference being the addition of the powder bath and drop zone in the Limington, adding about 42 square feet. Yet, using the standard $150 per square foot rule of thumb (source:, that works out to an additional $6,300. It seems like a lot of money for a 1,600 square foot home, but the convenience of powder bath would sure be appreciated by both occupants and guests alike!

For more resources on thoughtful design:

Cover Photo: <a href=””>Business photo created by freepik –</a>

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