Beyond the Basics with Tricia Baker

Tricia Baker, Plan Alterations DesignerDescribe your responsibilities at Design Basics.

As the plan alterations designer, I’m responsible for incorporating changes to plans in accordance with customer request and architectural specifications. I also review existing plans to identify how the design could be modified for increased livability and style. I work closely with our senior designer and our Woman-Centric Matters!® team to ensure our plans meet our Woman-Centric design standards. In addition, I am a CAD drafter and provide customer service to builders, homeowners, and other industry professionals, answering questions about design, making recommendations, and searching plans that fit our customers’ needs. I also utilize my education and training in selecting materials and colors for many of our homes’ exteriors and I really like how the rendered elevations are turning out!

What made you decide to be a designer?

I enjoyed interior design in high school and took Exploring scouts at a university while in high school. That got me on the path of wanting to be an interior designer. But, when I actually got partway through college, I found I enjoyed the more technical side of design, drafting, and designing the actual blueprints and changing blueprints to make designs more functional.

What made me passionate about custom changes to plans, though, was the experience of my parents building their house. They couldn’t decide if they wanted a fireplace in the family room; and, at the last minute they decided they did. We went to the house every day and noticed the jog for the firebox in the foundation wasn’t there. The contractor tore out the concrete and put in the foundation for the fireplace. What we didn’t realize is that when they put in the foundation for the fireplace, they didn’t stretch the garage back 2’-0” to accommodate the 2’-0” firebox, which resulted in the 3rd car stall not able to accommodate a regular-sized vehicle! Lesson learned – career path decided.

What do you enjoy most about working in the home design field?

Working with customers to learn more about their wants, needs, and desires; then, translating this into a house plan that meets the way they live. Helping a customer design their dream home is exciting and rewarding!

Where do you get your design inspiration from?

I get design inspiration from anywhere and everywhere! Just look all around you, everything has a design. Nature presents a fabulous palette of colors and textures from which to draw inspiration. The advances in technology and graphic arts has provided a wealth of new ways to look at design. And, of course, customers – what they are looking for, how they live, etc. Everything influences design. I usually tell people when it comes to design, ‘Do what you like not what’s trendy because trendy will eventually be dated and what you like never will.’

What advice would you give to other women interested in working in the trades?

Go for it! Do what makes you happy. There may be challenges and obstacles along the way, but learn as much as you can about your field of interest, find a mentor, volunteer to learn a new skill, etc. Once you have the credentials and experience, there’s no limit to what you can accomplish.

What are the biggest or most exciting changes in home design that you have seen over the years?

I love seeing the evolution of how design used to be to how we all live now. I would say the biggest change that I like is the design of the rear entry foyer. Years ago, we discovered that moving the laundry room out of the basement into the rear foyer was a much-desired design change. Now, we design that rear entry foyer with a drop zone, bench, and lockers for dropping off our stuff on the way into the house and have moved the laundry room to a location near the bedrooms or behind closed doors. Also, so many family and friends walk thru the garage to get in the house versus the front entry, having a space to put everything is great and not being greeted by the laundry is even better!

Tricia Baker and SonTell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a single mom with a very active teenage son named Rece. If I’m not supporting him and his team at one of his sporting events, I like to scrap book and play pool in my spare time, and play with our 13-pound fur baby, a toy Australian Sheppard named Diesel! I’m an avid sports fan and my favorite teams are the Nebraska Cornhuskers, the New England Patriots, and the Boston Red Sox as well as the Omaha Storm Chasers (KC Royals affiliate).

Tricia holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Science and Natural Resources – Interior Design from the University of Nebraska. Tricia's knowledge of Design Basics' home plans and processes combined with her enthusiasm for great design helps customers realize their dream home!

Learn more about Plan Customization from Design Basics and how we can help you realize your dream home.

(Photo credit: Cindy McAndrew, BrightSide Photography; the Shelton Farm (#42392) as built by Mark Hughes Construction)

Celebrating Women in Construction

Design Basics’ Executive Vice President, Natalie Wendling, is featured in the “Celebrating Women in Construction” section on Page 20 of the latest issue of Home Builders Association of Greater Des Moines' Blueprint Magazine! Read more about her experience as a woman working in the construction industry by clicking on the publication image to the right.

Design Basics is proud to be a member of the Home Builders Association of Greater Des Moines, a female-lead HBA!

Natalie Wendling
September 2020 DSM HBA Blueprint

Beyond the Basics with Carl

Design Basics - Carl CuozzoCarl Cuozzo
Senior Designer

What do you like best about working with Design Basics?

Design Basics has been a part of my life for a long time. I have met a lot of life-long friends over the years and we currently have a great group to be a part of.

What made you decide to become a designer?

I have been in drafting classes from 7th grade through high school. I felt this was what I was meant to do up until my senior year. I was very active with my church at that time and at the last minute I decided to go to a Bible College to become a youth minister. During my second year there, I really missed drafting and designing and made the decision to come back to Omaha to study at the University of Nebraska – Omaha.

What do you find is most fulfilling about working with our customers?

I love working with people and love designing houses. I am in a great position. I find that the excitement I see in my clients after I walk them through their final plans is the most fulfillment you can get out of a job well-done.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

What is spare time? Ha-ha! Every bit of spare time I find is spent with my family. I tend to work so much that I cherish the time I can get away with them. We enjoy going to the UNO Lancer hockey games and the Omaha Storm Chasers baseball games.

You hold a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. What do you enjoy most about it and do you still actively practice the discipline?

Unfortunately I don’t get to work out any more, but I still have a family in the martial arts that greet me with open arms when I get the chance to see them. The thing I liked most about training is teaching as I love being able share the tremendous information I have been taught.

Your son plays hockey and you host hockey players. What sparked your interest in the sport?

Jena [my wife] and I started going to Lancer games in the early 90’s. Neither of us had played the sport, but met a lot of great people at the games and got hooked. One game we were at in 2000, the staff announced they needed host families to house some of the players. Christian [my son] was 4 at the time and since we couldn’t have any more children, we thought we would open our home to these young men. That same year Christian started skating and enjoying playing the game. We have had 24 players, including 4 Europeans, over the years, and keep in touch with all but one. Christian is now playing for Missouri State and we enjoy getting down to watch his games whenever we can.

Name three things someone might not know about you:

  1. I was blessed to be born with two spleens! I got in a bike accident when younger and needed to have one removed; the second spleen grew, so I didn’t need shots.
  2. I met Jena’s kidney donor 30 years ago and didn’t realize it until two years after the transplant.
  3. In 30 years of martial arts, my only broken nose was when I won a light-weight title and had to fight the heavy champ for a Grand Champion title.

Learn more about our Team on our Contact Us page.

Beyond the Basics with Natalie

NatalieNatalie Wendling
Administrative Assistant

I liked that was a new industry for me. I do not have experience in the construction/home plan industry, so working at Design Basics would allow me to use my talents and experience in new and interesting ways while learning about an entirely new industry.

I love that no two days are ever the same. There is always something new to learn and I am surrounded by professionals with decades of experience.

My husband and I love to go skiing in Colorado and we wanted to share our love of the mountains with our close friends and family. We decided have a small wedding at our favorite ski resort in Colorado, which allowed us to use a venue that was mid-mountain. It is not accessible by car (only by ski, snowmobile, or off the gondola), so our guests were treated to gondola rides up and down the mountain and the wedding party took a giant snow cat. We were able to take pictures all over the mountain. It was so beautiful and a memory I will never forget.

I am currently completing my MBA, so free time isn’t something I get to experience very often. When I do have some time, I love to spend it with my husband, Ryan, and our two dogs, Winnie and Griffin. Ryan and I both love to cook and so you can usually find me in the kitchen if I am not studying. Ryan says that my favorite hobby is finding projects on Pinterest for him to complete.

I love to visit the mountains. For me, being in the mountains is the epitome of serene. Everything is so quiet and the air is crisp. I love to go skiing first thing in the morning after a night of constant snow. The world seems fresh and sparkling. On the other side of the spectrum, I absolutely love Manhattan. I love the energy of the city and that you can do anything there. You are only limited by your own imagination and work ethic. And, any place I can get an authentic gyro at 2 am is my kind of city!

I would love to visit Geneva. Geneva has the best of both worlds – unbelievable scenery while also being a global hub. It is a diplomacy magnet and houses cultures from around the world.


  • I used to competitively ride/show quarter horses.
  • My previous work experience includes working on political campaigns.
  • I am big Led Zeppelin fan.

Learn more about our Team on our Contact Us page.

Beyond the Basics with Delores Ames

Delores Ames, Business Office Manger at Design Basics, LLCAs the business office manager, Delores oversees operational and administrative functions, provides customer service, and manages the shipping department.

What do you like best about working at Design Basics?
The people I have worked with at Design Basics have been my second family. We work hard, get along great as a team, very family-oriented, and flexible. I've had the privilege to work in several different departments over the 22 years I've been here, which has given me the opportunity to learn more facets as to how the company is run.

You have been with Design Basics for over 20 years. What attracted you to the company and what has kept you here?
I have known [a past president of Design Basics] for over 50 years, and we had taught preschool together for 17 years. She began working at Design Basics part time, and when I decided to quit the preschool, she encouraged me to come in for an interview--I was hired on the spot. There hasn't been a day that I haven't looked forward to coming to work. God has really blessed me with a wonderful job and people.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time I enjoy walking, reading, baking, play cards, and spending time with friends. Someday I hope to spend more time with my kids and grandkids.

Favorite place you've ever visited and why?
One of my favorite trips was a 10-day Caribbean cruise with my six siblings and their spouses. We had a great time and it was fun to get off on the six different islands and do some sightseeing. Seeing the massive ocean was incredible, the food was amazing, and we took in a lot of shows. At the end of 10 days none of us were ready to get off!

Place you most want to visit and why?
The one place I would love to visit is the land of Israel. It would be so neat to see so many of the Biblical places talked about in the Bible, plus areas where Jesus walked and taught. With Israel being in the news so much, it would also help to know where the different areas are geographically.

You recently went white water rafting and zip lining (and, you enjoy amusement parks). Out of everything you have done, what was your favorite adventure? And, is there something you haven't done yet that you'd like to try?
Zip lining was so much fun. We went on eight different lines and there's just something so free feeling as you go flying through the air. I love that sensation! I have always wanted to go on a hot air balloon ride and also parachute out of a plane.

What genre(s) of books do you enjoy reading?
The books I generally read are non-fiction; biographies and autobiographies. I'm not a history buff but I love reading about people's lives and the experiences they have had. I do read some fiction, mostly suspense or mysteries. But, I'm not into cheesy romance books.

You enjoy live theater. What types of performances have you enjoyed most?
Broadway musicals at the Orpheum and shows at the Holland Center [both in Omaha, NE] are my favorites. Some of the ones I enjoyed most were Fiddler on the Roof, Les Miserables, Oklahoma, and Beauty and the Beast.

Tell us something that we might not know about you:
I do not know how to swim but I love the water. Just make sure I have a life jacket, floaty, or some other life saving device, just in case.

Learn more about Delores on our Contact page.

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