Design Adds Meaning and Value

Design Adds Meaning and Value

Everything is designed. Look around you. Everything you see was designed. The ceiling, lighting, your chair, the wastebasket, the door. Design can make or break a business – just look at Apple’s outstanding designs and now defunct Oldsmobile for lack of design innovation. The jeans you’re wearing – are they Wrangler jeans that set you back $20 from Walmart or a $100 pair of fashion jeans? They mean different things to you and have different “value” for you.

Not everything gets noticed. And that’s okay, because sometimes thoughtful design blends right in. We might not appreciate good home design because it already resolved potential issues. It’s kind of like how we don’t necessarily appreciate feeling good until we’re recovering from being sick. But as with chronic pain, bad design – such as doors that open into each other – calls attention to itself and definitely gets noticed!

Remarkable design is “whole brained.” You might be familiar with left-brain/right-brain theory wherein left-brain thinking is associated with logic and analytics. FUNCTION. It’s an essential part of design. Does it do what it is supposed to do; does it do it well; and does it do it reliably? The right-brain is associated with creativity. FORM. Is this attractive? Does it stir your heartstrings? Lean too heavy to left-brain thinking and you end up with homes that look like plain, boring boxes. With too much right-brain thinking, you may sacrifice both livability and cost. The SOCIAL side of design resides in the right brain as well, which asks “What does this design say about me?” And, “How does this design make me feel about myself?”

Design can revolutionize our thinking, or leave us wondering “What were they thinking?” Design solves problems – existing and new. Suitcase always in the way in your closet? The Travel Center is an elegant solution that also provides a place, so you don’t have to pack your suitcase on your clean bedspread. Conversely, there’s the random linen closet, nowhere near the bedrooms or bathrooms. Go figure.

Design is a reflection of who we are – and who we want to be. Design lets your personality come through. Design reveals your values. Claire is looking for the WOW! factor in her front entry views. Elise feels good about the walk-in closets for her kids’ bedrooms. Maggie dreams of a home that’s casual, fun, perhaps even a bit whimsical. And Margo’s home has the contemporary touches that make it unique – and uniquely hers. Yes, design tells us and others who we are and can even help us understand ourselves better. A window to our soul.

Finally About Me® - discover your new home personality (click any profile silhouette below to learn more).

Design is about freedom. Freedom to express our true selves. Freedom and the autonomy to make our own choices rather than settling for someone else’s. Design tells stories without using words. Chamfer drywall corners, 32-inch wide interior doors, no-step entries, and an oversize doorless shower all “speak” safety while welcoming everyone into your home.

Hy-Lite Bath

Photo courtesy: Hy-Lite®

Design is emotional. Pleasant Saturday morning solitude as you greet the sunrise on your private rear deck. The joy in Saturday night with a few close friends enjoying tasty barbecue on that same covered deck. You love how sunlight streams in through your bedroom’s transom windows. And the artistic glass block windows in your spa-inspired bathroom. Rather than “settling for,” you find inspiration in some of your design choices.

Design connects us. As humans, we were designed to live in community, and our homes are where that happens most. Design can bring us together, such as an expandable dining area for big family meals. Home plan design actually takes connection a step further, as the home design connects buyer and builder, sub-contractors and vendors, lender and building officials. Like a bicycle wheel hub whose spokes connect to every aspect of building your home.

Yes, design adds tremendous meaning and value. And cost. It must be expensive, particularly remarkable home design, right? Custom home plans typically range from $2.00 to $10.00 per square foot and will take from several weeks to months to complete. Pre-drawn home plans from leading residential designers average around $.50 per square foot and often can be delivered the same day. Customizing a pre-drawn plan to your specific desires can be significantly less costly and faster than starting from scratch. Your designer may also be able to suggest ways you could potentially reduce your new home’s cost. Scouring the internet, there may even be cheaper home plans, but do they provide good value? Design Basics’ talented residential designers solve design issues with creativity and innovation. Less experienced drafts people may resort to simply adding expensive square footage.

Good design can be the difference between elation and regret. Unfortunately, poor home design is a gift that keeps on giving too, as you experience the daily disappointments of the design shortcomings you learn to put up with. Living in a home that achieves your needs and wants is our designer’s gift to you – No Regrets!

For more resources on thoughtful design and products:

Design Concept: Rear Foyers

Design Concept: Rear Foyers

Problem: Most families enter their home through the garage, but once you get inside, where does your stuff go? Where do you hang your jackets, stash your shoes, backpacks, handbags, etc.? And, when you leave in the morning how can you make it more convenient to get out the door on time with everything you need?

Solution: The Rear Foyer Design, with a Drop Zone, offers organization and convenience for families of all sizes. When you include hooks for hanging, cubbies or baskets for small items, a spot for shoes, and a handy bench, you have taken your rear foyer design to the next level. Everyone can get out the door on time with everything!

If you've taken our Finally About Me® Quiz to identify your home buyer personality, you can appreciate the different styles of Rear Foyer design depicted here. The four personas are: Claire, Margo, Elise, and Maggie.

A 'Claire' persona prefers a formal, sophisticated style, which is reflected in the design using elegant cabinetry and doors to close off the clutter; while a 'Margo' prefers the contemporary look with sleek design, vibrant colors, and contrasting textures. An 'Elise' or a 'Maggie' tends toward a more practical design where items are easily accessible yet organized.

Rear Entry Foyer - Claire

Claire Rear Foyer Design

Rear Foyer - Margo

Margo Rear Foyer Design

Rear Foyer - Elise, Maggie

Maggie and Elise Rear Foyer Design

Take our Finally About Me® Quiz on our website to discover your design style!

For more resources on thoughtful design: 

Entertaining: Planning for Fun

Entertaining: Planning for Fun

Some prefer to entertain formally; others thrive on deep, life-giving conversation with a few close friends; and some prefer topical get-togethers such as book clubs and study groups. But when it’s Friday night, after a particularly trying week, you really appreciate an invitation to a fun night at Maggie’s house!

Finally About Me“Maggie” is the name we gave to one of the four primary personas in our Finally About Me® design personas, which are uncannily accurate in identifying what people prioritize in their homes. Energized by being around other people, Maggies don’t tend to take life too seriously and are focused on fun, which is one of the reasons they’re so popular – they’re fun people to be with! Regardless of which of the four personas best describes you, we can all learn from Maggie when it comes to home design for fun-filled entertaining.

Where does the big-screen TV go? Maggies actually have a difficult time seeing themselves living in a particular home until this question is answered, because media-related entertaining is super-important for Maggie. More evident in modest-size homes, this can become a bit more important when you enter directly into the home’s primary entertaining space and the only pathway through the home involves interrupting viewers’ line of sight of the TV.

It could be the hottest must-see show or the Super Bowl. The Bloom (plan #29303) provides a traditional front entry hall to help direct traffic. Most people will put the big TV above the fireplace, though we sometimes hear complaints that such a viewing angle is uncomfortably high, inducing a sore neck.

Bloom - #29303 traffic pattern

Slightly larger in square footage, the Greenwich (plan #8621) provides space for your big screen TV alongside the fireplace in the family room. But by design, that family room doubles as a hallway, meaning everyone entering or leaving the home via the front door will interrupt TV viewers’ line of sight.

Greenwich - #8621 traffic pattern

A companion issue to where the big TV goes may be related storage for associated electronics, from sound systems to game consoles. Preferred by some home buyers, built-in storage may be open shelving, discretely placed within cabinetry, or a combination of the two. But due to today’s wireless technology, which do not require line of sight, audio/electronics closets have sprung up in many homes.

Then there are noise issues, whether your sound system is too loud, or other things in your home are too loud to enjoy that TV. If your island contains the sink and dishwasher, since there is no full wall for the dishwasher to back up to and help absorb its noise level, you may want to invest in a quieter dishwasher if that island is open to your entertaining space. If that TV and speakers/sound bar are mounted on the wall shared with your bedroom and your spouse wants to rest, you may want to talk to your builder about various soundproofing measures that can be taken to reduce sound transfer through that wall.  

Revenna Springs - #35079

The Revenna Springs (plan #35079) suggests built-ins on either side of the fireplace, a traditional approach when the TV will go above the fireplace. Or, the TV may be mounted directly above one of those built-ins. Notice also there is an audio closet off the hallway leading into the family room providing space for the necessary electronics, yet not necessarily right next to the big screen. And, that island sink and dishwasher are open to the family room. This is the time to spend more money to get a quiet dishwasher, so you don’t have to go elsewhere in the home to enjoy movies while washing dishes.

Finished Basements. In many households, and especially homes with an upstairs and a downstairs, two separate entertaining areas are essential. It could be a billiards room downstairs in a finished lower level and the great room on the main floor. It could be a finished room over the garage for the kids’ gaming, minimizing the noise interruption of your first-floor socializing. It could even be a separate main floor gathering area for your mom and her friends while you have neighbors over for a cookout.

The Tollefson V (plan #42155FB) is an entertainer’s dream! The main floor (below left) is wide open with spacious rooms to handle larger gatherings. Downstairs (below right), there is another full kitchen and eating area, which will likely double as your game table. The family room is spacious enough for air hockey and Foosball, or your kids’ video game tournament with all their friends. There is even a dedicated home theater, which can receive special attention when it comes to soundproofing. If building on a basement foundation, how much of that space will you finish off for entertaining?

Tollefson V - #42155FB
Tollefson V - #42155FB

Outdoor Audio-Visual. While outdoor entertaining was the topic last time, we want to touch on the fun of outdoor audio and video entertaining here. In case you haven’t kept up, there are numerous exterior solutions for big screen TVs, from all-weather cabinets to amazing weather-tight outdoor hi-def TVs in a range of sizes. Where, on your covered porch/deck/loggia/patio will you mount the TV to avoid sun glare washing out the picture? Outdoor TV brightness capabilities vary, all the way up to TVs that can be used in direct sunlight, but as of the time this article was written, an electronics store was selling 55” outdoor TV’s for $2,000 rated for “full shade,” while the same brand 55” TV rated for “full sun” was priced at over $5,700.

Some people are content with just having their favorite tunes playing. Is your preference to install speakers? If so, will power need to be run to those speakers? Or would you be happier relying on battery powered wireless speakers paired to your smart device?

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:

Cover photo: <a href="">Party photo created by freepik -</a>

Letter from the President

As we reflect on 2019, we are pleased with the progress Design Basics, LLC, has made towards adding to our 2,800+ collection of home plans as well as building our brand by designing unique, well sought-after home designs, providing exceptional customer service, and fostering growth of our Woman-Centric Matters!® and Builder-Centric℠ preferred builder programs. In addition, we are thankful for our customers and their continued input and support. Not only is their feedback and recommendations important to our design process, but many new ideas arise from customers working with our Plan Specialists. And, we can’t forget our customer referrals!

NAHB International Builders’ Show®. This year is already off to a great start with the Design Basics’ team exhibiting at the NAHB International Builders’ Show on January 21-23, in Las Vegas. Our booth features brand new home designs, including a collection of multi-family home designs. Design Basics is recognized as one of just a handful of companies that has consistently exhibited for the last 25+ years, and the only home design firm with this distinction.

New Website. We launched our new website,, with a new search function that allows you to search by livability, collection, plan type, designer, and many other features…even place your order online! Additionally, you will find many useful references materials at your fingertips – preferred builder programs, thoughtful design concepts, home design articles, and other resources such as Her Home™, Livability at a Glance™, Finally About Me®, and our Bookstore. We invite you to peruse the site, search home plans, sign up for a newsletter, and complete a quiz to discover your new home personality!

Evolving Home Design Plan Book. We published and distributed a new home plan book, Evolving Home Design, featuring 75 of our new and best-selling home plans. Many of our new floor plans have been designed with versatility in mind and new plan badges identify design styles: Multi-Generational, Value-Engineered, and Woman-Centric. Floor plans are not only designed with her in mind but also as value-engineered plans, mindful of the constant fluctuation of building material costs. A win for everyone!

Neighborhood in a Box® (NIAB). We just revamped and relaunched NIAB, a fabulous residential development solution for home builders! Not just a collection of home plans, NIAB offers a total package for designing a neighborhood with a cohesive look with cost savings and resources for home builders.

From America’s Premier Woman-Centric Home Designer, we wish you much success in 2020 and look forward to working with you as your home design and marketing partner!

Patrick M. Carmichael
President and Chief Operating Officer

Resource Links

Neighborhood in a Box®:
Her Home™ Magazine:
Woman-Centric Matters!® Builder Program:
Builder-Centric℠ Program:

Homes Talk to Women through Her Personality

Homes Talk to Women through Her Personality

This last installment focuses on how ‘Homes Talk to Women’ through her personality. And, we’ll find out what Jacob and Aimee decided for their new home.

Our research also unveiled four primary home buyer personas that have an uncanny likelihood of predicting interest in certain aspect of the home. Let’s take a look into these four personas:

  • contemporary
  • work/life balance
  • form over function
  • edgy
  • goal oriented
  • individualistic
  • my home is unique
  • traditional
  • work/life balance
  • function over form
  • practical
  • family oriented
  • predictable
  • my home is my haven
  • formal
  • work/life balance
  • form and function
  • sophisticated
  • quality driven
  • detail oriented
  • my home makes a statement
  • casual
  • work/life balance
  • function over form
  • spontaneous
  • project/activity driven
  • free spirited
  • my home is carefree

With these characteristics in mind, how does each persona’s design preference differ and why? Let’s take front entries as an example. Almost everyone wants their front entry to say “Welcome.” Yet according to a ‘Margo’ in our office, “Our front entry views say ‘Cool’, with an open loft feel, leading to the great room with 10’ flat ceilings and contemporary kitchen. Homes with rustic finishes or a narrow entry say, ‘Not for me!’” In contrast, an ‘Elise’ insists on a front entry, “An open front entry says, ‘Welcome to our home’, an entry coat closet says, ‘Here, let me take your coat; make yourself at home.’” ‘Margo’ wants the wow-factor and a unique design, while ‘Elise’ is more traditional and practical.



Photo Courtesy: iLumigreen

After exploring their options, Jacob and Aimee have decided they want to buy new rather than remodel a resale home. They’re looking for a big walk-in closet and an eating area large enough to accommodate guests. Aimee’s dad is an electrician, so based on her experience and knowledge she’s keen on LED ceiling lighting without cans, quiet bath fans, and power outlets with USB charging. As newlyweds with good jobs and visions of a larger family, nice-size secondary bedrooms with larger closets are a higher priority than high-end fixtures and finishes. Aimee is thinking about a nursery within earshot of their bedroom, and how important it is for Jacob to have a place for video games – how he likes to unwind after work. Aimee’s an Elise with some Margo tendencies. Storage that is practical and maintenance-free gives back time for more important things. But she has already picked out some unique light fixtures and is leaning towards slate gray cork wood flooring. It’s all a part of her story – past, present, and future!

We invite you to learn more about the four personas and take our Finally About Me!® quiz to discover your new home personality. And, these other great articles regarding personas and design preferences:

If you missed the first three segments of this four-part series, click on the links below:

For more resources on thoughtful design: 

Pin It on Pinterest