News Flash – Storage Sells!

News Flash – Storage Sells!

Home builders and real estate agents have long accepted that kitchens and owner’s suites sell homes. And they do. First impressions matter. Perhaps not as fully appreciated though is storage and organization’s impact on the buyer’s new home decisions. The keys to effective storage are: 1) devoting adequate space for storage, 2) locating storage where it is needed, and 3) organization within to maximize storage. All three of those elements are showcased in closets.

Comparing Design Basics’ top-selling 1600 sq. ft. ranch plans from 25 years ago (plan #1767 – Rosebury) and today (plan #42392 – Shelton Farm) reveals 34% more square footage devoted to closets in the Shelton Farm. There’s more appreciation for storage space among home buyers and designers.

Rosebury (plan #1767) - 1604 sq ft

Shelton Farm (plan #42392) - 1603 sq ft

Closets (bedrooms, coats, linen, pantry) in the new Shelton Farm plan (top right) provide 34% more storage space than in the older Rosebury plan (top left).

Tailored Living 3-Tier Closet

Triple clothes rods that clex up and down for ease of access. Photo courtesy of Tailored Living

Sometimes lineal feet of hanging (the closet’s interior perimeter for clothes rods/shelves) is used to measure closet storage. The Rosebury’s owner’s bedroom closet offers 16 lineal feet of hanging, not a whole lot less than the 18-feet 6-inches lineal feet of hanging in the Shelton Farm. But the Rosebury’s owner’s bedroom closet is very tight, particularly with its modest 24-inch wide door swung open. The more comfortable 32-inch pocket door accessing the Shelton Farm’s owner’s suite closet solves that door swing issue and allows for dressing within the closet. To maximize storage, two clothes rods and shelves (upper and lower) can be installed for shorter hanging articles like shirts and pants, with a smaller space dedicated to a single rod and shelf for long-hanging items such as gowns and dresses. Additionally, the Shelton Farm’s 9-foot high ceiling offers the potential of triple clothes rods and shelves; not advised with the Rosebury’s shorter 8-foot ceilings. As a rule of thumb, look for walk-in closets that are at least seven feet wide, in order to provide two feet of hanging on either side and a three-foot walkway in between.

Closet organization can be tailored to your preferences. Shelving and accessories to the rescue! Since many items in your closet don’t hang, shelves provide organized storage for lay-flat items such as sweaters, boxes, and baskets. Shoe cubbies/racks or shelves can keep your footwear paired up and off the floor making quick work of vacuuming up closet dust bunnies. Free-standing or built-in dressers within walk-in closets keep everything you need, from underwear to socks, handy. Some closet systems make it easy to adjust the height of rods and shelves, so you can quickly re-configure your closet as needs change. And specialized hangers can help corral accessories such as belts, ties, scarves, and purses.

Glass shelves can be beautiful, but you will typically choose between solid wood or wire shelving, both of which have advantages. Small items can sometimes slip through wire shelving, and you may not want to lay sweaters on wire shelves due to the resultant creases. But solid shelving blocks air movement. Wire shelving allows the naturally occurring air currents within your home to move about freely between your clothes, keeping them fresher, longer. If you choose wire shelving, be sure to look for products that allow clothes hangers to slide freely, rather than the annoying systems that may provide only a few inches of travel for your hangers between stops.

To make quick work of finding what you’re looking for, some people choose to organize clothes by casual vs. work, or by color. Either way, good lighting within your closet will make a big difference in easily identifying what you want. In addition to ceiling light fixtures, you may want to consider lighted shelving or lighted clothes rods. Whenever practical, cheery natural light is welcome, especially for discerning colors.

Depending on your elevation styling, a window in the closet will complement the home’s exterior. If your closet has room for a window seat, that’s a trifecta: sunlight, a seat for dressing, and storage under the seat for shoes, etc. Note also in this plan (Durango - #50020) the handy mirror positioned opposite that seat and convenient connection to the laundry area, making both quick work of hanging clothes up out of the dryer as well as providing a quiet exit if you’re catching an early flight and your spouse is still sleeping.

Often overlooked is the convenience of electrical outlets in your walk-in closet. It could be for ironing or something in your closet that needs to be charged/plugged in. Other amenities, typically found in larger closets, include fold-out ironing boards, island storage, and/or seating. Recently, we’ve started getting requests for a makeup space in the closet, too. Also, mirrors in your closet reflect light making your closet brighter, in addition to helping you see how everything looks. If you’ve already dedicated every square inch of wall space to storage, consider adding a mirror on the back side of the closet door.

A Travel Center in your closet is ideal not only for keeping the suitcase out of the way so you’re not constantly kicking it or tripping over it, but also for packing the suitcase (as shown in the Tristan - plan #42211).

You have valuables and perhaps a firearm. Where’s the best place to keep them safe? Your closet can be a secret location for a fireproof safe, as shown in the Wendling Park (plan #42473) at left.

Yet another in-demand amenity is having your personal laundry station right in the closet as in the Fairchild Knoll (plan #42422) at right.

Also typically overlooked is your closet décor. While drab, off-white is the default color for most walk-in closets, what do you want to see when you enter your closet? From windows and lighting fixtures to built-ins, which become display niches for cherished items, a well-thought-out closet can be one of your favorite aspects of your new home. And, if it makes a big difference to you, it probably will to the next owner of that home, helping ensure a quicker sale at a better price.

Thoughtful linen storage addresses both the storing and de-stressing points of view, as it’s aggravating when you lack storage for towels, sheets, and blankets. A linen closet should be on your “non-negotiable” list and shouldn’t be checked off that list until you’re happy with its placement. Is it near the bathrooms or bedrooms where it is needed, or just where a little closet space was available?

Rear foyerMore regionally specific is the desirability of coat closets, as half of Americans live in cooler climates. But even in “must-have” northern areas, coat closets have fallen out of favor vis-à-vis benches topped with coat hooks or a cubbies and lockers solution in the rear foyer coming in from the garage.

Cost of storage unit vs. built-in storage. Ten-foot by ten-foot storage units rent for an average of $95 per month (source: SpareFoot) and according to the Self-Storage Association, nearly 10% of U.S. households rent a storage unit. For that same $95 per month, you could finance an additional $16,000 in terms of your mortgage (assume 5% APR). So, a new home, with thoughtful attention to storage, might solve your dilemma of where to put everything and save your money at the same time!

Next week: Storage solutions in the bathroom.

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 courtesy of Organized Living.

Storage…Just Imagine the Possibilities!

Storage…Just Imagine the Possibilities!

Garage OrganizationSpecial glasses? You understand it for a 3-D movie, but for a model home tour? Still, you’re intrigued, and you don’t want to be rude to the salesperson here in the home’s garage, so you accept the glasses and slip them on.

Then you see it. Funny, you hadn’t noticed it before. Along most of the garage wall, shelving – some open for easy scanning, some with bins. Then there are the hooks for garden tools and bicycles to hang from. You look back at the salesperson’s work area, but now what you see is a lawn mower, trimmer, edger, snow blower, garbage can, and recycling bins. You slide the glasses down on your nose, peering over the top. It’s all gone. There’s just a deep recessed area and bare garage walls. Now you get it!

Rear Foyer - Elise, Maggie

Rear Foyer Concept

You step into the rear foyer from the garage, glasses in hand. You see a partitioned bench. A little cabinet. A sliding door. You put the glasses back on. Directly in front of you, several pairs of shoes parked neatly under that bench. Great idea! A place to sit, remove and store shoes out of the way, and not track dirt into the home. Organized within one of the partitions, you see a backpack, jacket, gym clothes, and lunch container. The adjoining one is like it, except there aren’t any gym clothes but there is something that might be a science project? You realize the partitions above the seat work like open lockers, organizing everything your kids might need on their way to school. What a relief!

Drop Zone

Drop Zone Concept

You turn your attention to the cabinet and discover a paper shredder resting on the pull-out base cabinet drawer. Perfect place for a shredder and sorting mail. The pull-out drawer above looks like the junk drawer in your kitchen – the one with glue and tape, scissors and markers, flashlights and batteries – but this one’s not in the kitchen! There are even USB and AC charging outlets. The sign says, “Drop Zone.”

Your focus turns to the pocket door. Sliding it open reveals hanging for off-season coats and shelves with bulk packs of toilet paper and paper towels as well as baskets with gloves, stocking hats, and ball caps. Again, you look out over the top of those glasses. Hanging rod and shelves. Nothing else.

Drawer dividers

Photo courtesy: KraftMaid Cabinetry; Tony Giammarino/ Giammarino & Dworkin, Design: Marge Thomas

The unique double island and beautiful cabinetry catch your eye in the kitchen. No need for the glasses to appreciate that storage can be beautiful! But just for fun, you put the glasses back on. You open the smaller island’s base cabinet and discover the specialty organizers built in. Your foot seems drawn to nudge that drawer under the cabinet door and a toe-kick drawer pops out with baking sheets and cake pans. Twin tall cabinet doors in the corner of the kitchen probably lead to a four-foot by four-foot pantry, but you discover not only a well-organized long storage wall, but also deep base shelves and a counter top at the back along with small appliances plugged in, ready to use. Perfect!

These sturdy cabinet drawers can store heavy dishes. Removable dividers let you configure interiors. 

These glasses are wild! Walking towards the owner’s suite your gaze is drawn to a door next to the staircase. Behind that door, board games, children’s books, and a basket of toys. And as you turn around, a six-foot coat closet, so there’ll be no need to lay guest’s coats across your bed when entertaining.

The owner’s suite. You love that bayed window. But you are seemingly pulled towards the short, arched hallway leading to the bathroom. That walk-in closet has double rods and shelves, providing over 17 feet of hanging on each long side, along with a single rod and shelf for long hanging at the back. With that much room there won’t be any need to put clothes back in the dryer on “touch up” just to get wrinkles out. You realize there’s also a wonderful fragrance. It’s stronger back in that short hall. Sure enough, sliding the mirrored door on the off-season closet reveals it was lined with cedar.

Two vanity cabinets in the bathroom handle your storage needs at each sink and linen storage above the toilet is home to your towels and washcloths. But no storage for bed linens? They’ve done everything else right. Was that just an oversight?

As you make your way towards the front bedrooms, there it is. The hallway closet holding all the extra sheets, blankets, and pillows. To your surprise, there’s a second closet for bed linens in the hall bathroom as well as its own towel linen storage in the tub/toilet area. Equally impressive are the deeper closets for both secondary bedrooms.

Pretty cool, these glasses. Calling attention to, and helping you see all the storing amenities in this home. Oh wait, one more door. Ah, the laundry room, with shelving above the washer and dryer and folding counter. One more time you put the glasses on. In addition to all the laundry room supplies stored on those shelves, you see laundry baskets stored beneath the folding counter, and scrap booking supplies on shelves beneath the glass block window to the right of the regular window. There’s even a closet in that laundry room that opens to reveal storage for your vacuum cleaner, broom, and mop. You begin to wonder, what ever happened to broom closets, anyway? It’s not like we don’t have brooms!

With advancements in technology, we may not be too far off from having such “magic glasses.” Until then, Design Basics’ Livability at a Glance™ floor plan colorization can help you identify all of the (orange) storage amenities within our designs. Then, just envision how you would use those spaces to make that new home perfect!

Along with Entertaining, Flexible Living, and De-stressing, Storing is one of the four lenses women told us they typically use when looking at a home design’s suitability for her and her household. Design Basics' fun Livability at a Glance Quiz can help you identify which of these four lenses is most important to you. Of all of the people who took that quiz last year, Storing was the top priority for 70%!

For more resources on storage and organization:

Kitchen Storage can be Beautiful!

Kitchen Storage can be Beautiful!

Some people step into a model home’s kitchen and see the beauty of having all that storage. Others step into that kitchen and are stunned by that storage’s beautiful finishes. Practicality and aesthetics.  Nowhere else in the home are those two elements of design more on display.

Strasser - #42420_kitchen

Custom kitchen in the Strasser Pointe (plan #42420FB). Photo by Renee D. Calvin Photography

With kitchens more open to entertaining areas in the home, they are being designed as an integral part of your entertaining. As such, form allows your personal style to shine. Light woods? Dark woods? Stained or painted? Cabinet profiles? Staggered heights and depths? Perhaps you prefer the look of stainless steel, laminates, or composites? Or modern clean lines where kitchen storage is virtually invisible? Then there’s the companion question of whether there will be exposed hardware, sometimes referred to as the “jewelry of the kitchen.” Styles range from practical to whimsical, classic to ultra-contemporary.

In tandem with style is the preference of most buyers to want uncluttered counter tops as they are stressful and can be an embarrassment when entertaining. Plus, when everyone brings a dish to your potluck dinner, you’ll want all available counter space.

Regardless of style, function dictates storage should be located where it is most needed. Storage for pots and pans should be near the cook top. A pull-out wastebasket drawer next to the kitchen sink (that’s also a great place for your recycling bin, as most recyclables need to be washed out first and you don’t want a water spot trail en route to your recycling container). In fact, pull-out base cabinet drawers in general are preferable, making quick work of retrieving the item you want as compared to simple base cabinets where you have to bend over to search for that item.

Drawer dividers

These sturdy cabinet drawers can store heavy dishes. Removable dividers let you configure interiors. Photo courtesy: KraftMaid Cabinetry; Tony Giammarino/ Giammarino & Dworkin, Design: Marge Thomas

Other cabinetry amenities can have a major impact of the usefulness of your storage, too. Having the light automatically turn on when you open the pantry door; drawer dividers for your tableware; creative solutions that put an end to impracticable, hard to reach storage in base corner cabinets. A tilt-out tray in front of your kitchen sink can hide your dish sponge. And, though it doesn’t increase storage, soft-close cabinetry hardware eliminates the noisy “bang” from doors closing.  

As a nation we’re cooking less, but not eating less. That means more storage for prepackaged foods. A 2019 National Association of Home Builders' report, What Home Buyers Really Want, identified that 83% of new home buyers today are looking for a walk-in pantry. As a loose rule of thumb, pantry size may correlate to the home’s overall size. We at Design Basics have never designed a home with too large of a pantry. Pantry cabinets gave way to corner walk-in pantries. Even larger walk-in pantries are in vogue today, with the ultimate being “prep pantries” large enough for storage and a food prep area, and “Work-in” (not mere “walk-in”) pantries complete with sink and dishwasher, and sometimes other appliances. Appliances create heat, so make sure your cooling system layout includes duct work for a Work-in pantry. Importantly, increasing the size of a walk-in pantry can provide the additional storage you want less expensively than the same amount of added storage accomplished through additional cabinetry. We’ve even designed large Work-in pantries to be built as safe rooms!

Dane Mills - #35084 pantry

Cabinet Pantry 3' shelves in the Dane Mills - plan #35084 (1209 sq ft).

Zinnia - #42041 Pantry

Prep Pantry 6'-0" x 11'-4" deep enough for base cabinets in the Zinnia - plan #42041 (2449 sq ft).

Teglia Farm - #42482 pantry

Corner Pantry 4' x 4', 7' shelves in the Teglia Farm - plan #42482 (1642 sq ft).

DiMarco - #50014 pantry

Work-in Pantry 10'-10" x 7'-6" with sink, dishwasher, and other appliances in the DiMarco - plan #50014 (2782 sq ft).

Angel Springs - #42409 pantry

Hidden Pantry 3'-9" x 7'-9" with 13' shelves in the Angel Springs - plan #42409 (2154 sq ft).

Revenna Springs - #35079 pantry

Walk-in Pantry 7'-0" x 6'-3" doubles as a safe room in the Revenna Springs - plan #35079 (2396 sq ft).

Whichever you prioritize, practicality or aesthetics, it shows when it comes to small appliances. Think toaster, coffee maker, crock pot, griddle, mixer, blender, and the like. Our practical side wants them plugged in and ready to use, while our appreciation for clean lines and uninterrupted beauty in our kitchens wants them off the counter tops and out of sight. The solution lies in a small appliance center, near the kitchen or within the pantry; if the pantry is large enough to have base cabinets, counter top and electrical outlets on at least one side.

Larimar Park - #42453 pantry

The Larimar Park’s (plan - #42453) Appliance Center, just outside the main kitchen, helps keep your kitchen counters free from clutter and your small appliances plugged in and ready to use.

Coming next week: Concepts in closet storage.

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:

Your Garage: Vehicles vs. Storage

Your Garage: Vehicles vs. Storage

You probably wouldn’t put your king-size bed in a loft space overlooking the great room. Yet we accept leaving our vehicles parked outside because there’s just no room for them in the garage! Storage has always been a challenge to be addressed in our homes, and even as our homes grew larger, we’ve increasingly come to depend on our garages for storage, particularly as restrictions and prohibitions against backyard sheds became popular. In fact, the 2019 National Association of Home Builders' What Home Buyers Really Want report found 85% of new home buyers are looking for storage in the garage!

Hickory Cottage - #42234_garage storage

At 24 feet in depth, storage opportunities exist along the back of the garage as well as the recess along the side of the Hickory Cottage’s (plan #42235) garage.

Garage size dictates what you can store in your garage. Toyota’s RAV4, the best-selling SUV in America, measures over 15 feet long. Providing a couple feet behind the vehicle for closing the garage door and 3 feet in front for a path into your home means dedicating 20 feet of garage depth for your vehicle(s). So, at Design Basics, we suggest storage possibilities exist when the garage is at least 22 feet deep. Similarly, we consider storage opportunities exist when the (2-car) garage is at least 22-feet wide, allotting room for two vehicles, including space to open those car doors. Still, garage storage possibilities aren’t necessarily limited to length and width, as garages with tall ceilings can provide overhead storage opportunities as well.

Think of sectioning off garage storage in “zones.” Outdoor equipment (lawn mower, snow blower); ladders and tools; sports gear; automotive supplies; and, kids’ outdoor toys and activities are good examples of such zones. To get the most out of your garage storage space, look into shelving and organization systems. There is a tremendous variety of DIY garage storage systems and numerous contractors who specialize in garage storage solutions. But it all starts with a plan that meets your specific needs and wants. Also, if garbage and recycling bins will be stored in the garage, what’s the shortest/easiest path for transferring them out of the garage and to the curb?

Storage accessed from the outside is rapidly gaining popularity. Ever find yourself peering into other people’s garages when those garage doors are left open? That actually reveals a lot about what your neighbors value! If you would rather not have everything stashed in your garage visible to passersby, look for home designs with built-in storage that’s accessed from the outside. That’s especially useful for outdoor items such as mowers, lawn games, camping gear, patio furniture, etc.

A pair of 36-inch wide doors access the 14-foot storage area alongside the kitchen in the Neeson (plan #50011). From lawn mowers and garden tools to winter storage for your patio furniture, storage accessed from the outside frees space in your garage for other items.

Example of outdoor storage (Zinnia plan #42041 - as built by Fox Builders, Ontario, OH).

Coming next week: kitchen storage can be beautiful!

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:

Take the Stress Out of Working from Home

Take the Stress Out of Working from Home

Fifty percent of all businesses in the United States are home-based businesses, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Forty-three percent of American employees work remotely (telecommute) at least some of the time. Whether operating a full-time startup, working from home three days a week, or simply bringing work home there wasn’t time to finish at the office, creating the perfect area for working from home can help alleviate some of the stress of that job.

The location of your home office affects stress levels. If you work alone, views and a connection to the outdoors may be important for relaxing, concentration, and even inspiration. We see creatives turning attics into wonderful studios, but if clients or colleagues will be dropping by, you may want a home office with its own exterior entrance, or one that’s located just off the entry foyer. Especially if a visitor would find stairs to be an obstacle, a no-step front entry welcoming everyone regardless of their mobility shows great consideration for your visitors. A third option is creating an entry vestibule, reducing the stress of having your visitors traipsing through your home. And if there will be frequent meetings, do you want them to take place in your home work space?

Privacy vs. Accessibility. Are other people home when you’re working? If so, balancing your privacy and accessibility are paramount. Older kids won’t need your attention like toddlers will. If you moved a parent in with you, realistically, what are the demands on your time as a caregiver?

Bath accommodations are also an aspect of location. It may be a mild inconvenience or even a welcome break to walk across the house to the bathroom, but the convenience of an adjoining or nearby bathroom can’t be overstated. And is that bathroom mostly dedicated to your home office? It can be quite stressful to keep your hall bathroom that’s used by your kids always tidy and presentable for business guests.

Design your work space with you at the center. It’s stressful when your back is to others. If your room layout dictates such an arrangement, consider having a mirror in front of you to see what’s going on behind you. Ergonomic seating, especially for longer tasks, can help alleviate body tension; while another, more comfortable seating option will be a welcome break and studies suggest may spur creativity.

Then there’s the question of how much space you really need? Running a successful home-based business may require storage for inventory or specialized equipment, or perhaps a dedicated meeting space, while a modest Pocket Office might be perfect if you occasionally bring work home to complete.

Lighting is surprisingly important, starting with sunlight. People who’ve worked from basement home offices without daylight report their biorhythms get messed up and that they feel less productive. Sunlight’s health benefits are well documented – including improved concentration, and reduced irritability and headaches. Still, too many windows can actually be a distraction, and may dictate where computers must be placed to avoid washing out those screens. Careful consideration of both indirect and direct/task lighting can help prevent eye fatigue; avoid fluorescent lighting in general.

Functional and fashionable task lighting for your home office. (Photos courtesy of Kichler®. Shown: Ellerbeck™ 1 Light Wall Sconce.)

Kichler Wall Sconce
Kichler Wall Sconce over Desk

Clutter sucks energy. The best types of storage will be dictated by your personal preferences. Open shelves, cubbies, and baskets can make finding specific items easier, while cabinets, drawers, and closets can provide discreet storage and organization. Visual organization and communication might also be aided through large wall calendars, bulletin boards, white boards, etc. A walk-in closet is a viable option if you need to keep a lot of supplies or product on hand, giving you a place to store and keep items organized.

Work area. You may be surprised to learn that the majority of people we’ve spoken with, and especially women, do not want a traditional desk as their work area. Modular units, storage amenities on casters for easy movement, and counter-top work surfaces (adjustable height if possible!) all garner more interest. Some people need lots of work surface to spread things out, while others find that the more work surface they have, the more that clutter is a problem. Items that inspire, from photos and artwork to trophies and memorabilia, can spur creative approaches and problem-solving – obvious stress reducers. Even the paint colors used can foster calm or add energy. A task chair on casters may not move freely on carpet, adding frustration, so flooring choice is often a trade-off between the warmth and sound-deadening attributes of carpet versus the vibe and feel of hard surface flooring options.

Leinart floor plan - shipping vestibuleShipping and Receiving. Hooray! Twelve online sales over the weekend – closing out your record-setting week. But you have to put your life somewhat on “hold” waiting for your shipper to pick up those items. Working around that driver’s timetable can be a thing of the past with a secure shipping vestibule, often located within your home office. Imagine opening a door and placing your shipments and shipping documents in a “closet.” Now you have the freedom to leave if you want. When the shipper arrives at your house, he/she unlocks the exterior door of that closet, retrieves those items/drops off the supplies you had ordered, and locks that exterior door. You come back home, unlock the interior door, and fetch the supplies. No longer are you bound by your shipping and receiving schedule.

The Leinart's (plan #29336) shipping vestibule at the front entrance provides a secure location for shipping and receiving packages. In addition, the home-based business configuration presents a separate entrance for clients, dedicated bathroom, and a conference or waiting room.

Coming next week: Storing solutions for all areas of your home!

Download our Home Office Planner to aid in the design of your home office space. 

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="">Business photo created by yanalya -</a>

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