Embrace Women’s Preferences

Embrace Women’s Preferences

It’s a marketing trifecta: “know thy customer”; industry leadership; and having the best products and services. Each of those three distinctions is a powerful reason for home buyers to choose a particular builder. Combined, they make the case that that builder is remarkable.

The intersection of those three distinctions can happen when a builder truly comes to embrace women’s preferences in the home. As detailed in previous blog posts, women think differently about their homes than their male counterparts. For many home builders, that begins with developing a keener understanding of what women generally want and expect when purchasing and building a new home.

Marketing Trifecta

That’s also the starting point of Woman-Centric Matters!®, Design Basics’ holistic program for helping builders transform their businesses around women’s choices. Beyond merely learning about women’s preferences through onsite training, builders who enroll in this program put these newfound insights into practice companywide. Every member of the builder’s team identifies goals – ways they themselves could positively impact the experiences women home buyers have with that company. From cleaner jobsites to more livable home designs, improved communications to outstanding warranty service, such builders put “knowing thy customer” into action.

Home buyers and real estate sales professionals notice, appreciate, and come to prefer to do business with Woman-Centric home builders. In recognizing and connecting with how Woman-Centric home builders and the homes they build are different, people come to ascribe leadership with this Woman-Centric approach. And they tell others. Woman-Centric home builders enjoy high levels of word-of-mouth accolades and referrals. Buyers in particular come to appreciate how Woman-Centric home builders have focused on taking the entire customer experience from stressful to delightful.

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Search more than 700 Woman-Centric home designs on DesignBasics.com.

Woman-Centric home plans are perceived as different and better. That’s not surprising, since customer feedback, mostly from women, inspired our designers to develop innovative solutions to the real-world challenges and opportunities women discussed with us. Complimenting the home design is a new appreciation for the included products, as well as options and upgrades available, found in Woman-Centric homes. From products that give back a little more time to healthier and greener options, Woman-Centric home builders strive to educate home buyers about the choices they can make, helping those buyers make wise, informed decisions and get the best new home value.

Already working with a certified Woman-Centric Matters! home builder? Congratulations! Looking for a Woman-Centric home builder in your area? Check our Find a Builder page and look for the Woman-Centric Matters! logo (shown in the Marketing Trifecta image above) next to the builder name. No Woman-Centric home builder in your area? Have the builder you want to work with contact Design Basics about how we can help them and help you get a better home, because you deserve a Woman-Centric Home!

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Why Does Woman-Centric Home Design Matter?

Why Does Woman-Centric Home Design Matter?

Research confirms what home builders have long known – women are the primary or sole decision maker in the majority of new home purchase decisions. Which neighborhood… builder… floor plan… countertops… embracing women’s preferences in the home is Marketing 101 – “know thy customer.”

Husband and wife walk into a model home of the Hickory Cottage (plan #42235), pausing in the entry to remove their shoes. He’s seeing the great room’s corner fireplace; she’s noticed that the 6’-9” entry hall is wider than expected, the twin display niches on the left, repeating arches on all sides, the hickory floors, swank light fixture, and paint colors. Men tend to fixate on a single, often long view, focal point (think spotlight), while women tend to take in more of the whole picture and pick up more on the details (think floodlight).

With two young children, she’s looking for a layout with all of the bedrooms near each other, and at least for the time being, the bunk beds would fit nicely in BR 3, freeing BR 2 for use while her husband is still working from home. More than men, women tend to think about a new home purchase through the eyes of everyone in the home.

Hickory Cottage - #42235

(Click on image to enlarge.)

Drop Zone

He picks up on the garage size and in particular, the big 18-foot by 8-foot high garage door. She tends to appreciate the garage size a bit differently, noticing especially the 20-inch recess at the back and 16-inch recess along the side for storage, minimizing hassles of traipsing around bikes and outdoor products. Coming in from the garage, they both appreciate the Drop Zone and closet, but she’s keener on the seat. And while he becomes aware the laundry room is off the rear foyer, she values having a window, sink, folding counter, and storage!

Storage is one of the “lenses” women have told us they use in evaluating home plans. In keeping with the idea that “storage can be beautiful,” she catches the cabinet-style twin doors into the deep kitchen pantry. So also, the quiet, soft-close cabinetry hardware, as women take in more through their senses than men.

The sunny sitting area at the rear of her suite’s bedroom brings visions of curling up on the chaise with her newest book. In the bathroom, she favors the doorless walk-in shower because it eliminates the task of squeegeeing the shower doors as well as the visual appeal and privacy of the glass block window. Transom windows over the vanity enhance applying makeup, another consideration she cares about that’s not on his radar screen.

The bottom line? Woman-Centric home design is better. From innovative solutions to improved livability and style, Woman-Centric home design talks to women (see also: Homes Talk To Women). That connection, on an emotional level, says to her that this builder cares, and that she/he understands what’s important to her.

Which is where we pick up next time – home builders having embraced this Woman-Centric approach in their businesses.

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Tour This Home Through the Mind of a Woman

Tour This Home Through the Mind of a Woman

So… what does a Woman-Centric approach to home design actually look like? Join us as we tour a floor plan through the collective eyes of scores of women we’ve talked with. The Mackenzie (plan #42067) is a family-oriented two-story home that’s just 40-feet wide, fitting perfectly on today’s increasingly common 50-foot wide lots.

Since we go in and out of our homes through the garage 92% of the time (Recon Analytics), the design of the rear foyer receives as much attention as the front entry. We heard tales of having hands full walking in from the garage and needing a place to put things – but not the kitchen island or counters! That inspired the Drop Zone. The coat closet was nothing new, but since kids knew how to use lockers at school, bringing lockers into the home meant a familiar place for everything they needed, from coats to gym clothes to art projects. That would help de-stress the morning rush. A bench meant a place to sit when tying and untying shoes, and since pets are often considered full-fledged family members, a pet shower. Importantly, that essential rear foyer transition space was not to be the laundry room!

Mackenzie rear foyer amenities include a Drop Zone and Pet Shower (click on images to enlarge).

While we have been told we’ve never designed a home with too much storage space, the Mackenzie’s kitchen might come close! The long wall of cabinets is interrupted only by the sink and is complemented by the 5’-2” by 6’-9” pantry – deep enough for cabinetry at one end. Meal prep space is essential, and abundant in this kitchen, while three transom windows over the range add sunlight. Also note the location of the door onto the covered rear porch. Unlike most designs that access the back yard via a door in the eating area, this design solves the problems of that door dictating placement of the table and chairs.

Mackenzie - #42067

Holidays coming up? Go ahead and add the two leaves to your table – the Mackenzie’s 17-foot-deep dining area can easily expand for larger gatherings – so important to women we spoke with. The Great Room’s triple windows deliver daylight, while its sloping ceiling provides drama. Built-in storage for books, games, electronics, and display items is suggested along either side of the home’s fireplace. 

Just off the entryway, the den/home office is close to the powder bath, ideal when receiving clients and colleagues into your home. Just past the front door, a seat recessed between the garage and stairs is handy in case another client shows up early, while the angled office entry provides visual privacy.

So many items on wish-lists are accommodated in your suite! The double door entry is a reminder that this suite is special. Splitting the windows to the corners of the bedroom provides another possible location for your bed. There’s a provision for furniture and/or an entertainment center at one end, and it’s a stunning view into your bathroom with sloping ceiling through yet another set of double doors. Bathing options include both a corner soaking tub and 6’-4” by 4’-9” doorless shower (no door to clean!). Women told us showers should be large enough that her elbows don’t run into the sides when washing her hair.

Mackenzie - #42067 UL

Separate vanities mean they can be built at differing heights, which is a more comfortable solution if your partner’s height is quite a bit different than yours, and a gentle radius countertop adds a bit of sophistication. There’s also a makeup counter area next to the interior vanity. Regardless of how long you’ve been together, there are times when you just need your privacy. Hence the toilet area design with storage shelves, because when you’re sitting in there and there’s no provision for additional rolls of toilet paper or hygiene items, it’s simply not good design. And at 10’-1” by 9’-3”, your walk-in closet provides generous storage.

We learned maximum closet space is also a priority in the secondary bedrooms that, in this design, are separated by a compartmented bathroom. With the toilet and tub separate, two people can use this bathroom at the same time, easing schedule conflicts. The linen closet is also big enough for extra bed and bath items. A study desk in the hall provides another option for completing homework. And for homes with all bedrooms upstairs, locating the laundry room on that second-floor also means avoiding carrying overflowing laundry baskets up and down stairs, which can be dangerous as well as annoying. That laundry area design also answers the calls for natural light/fresh air, a folding counter, sink for washing delicates, plus storage.

Mackenzie - #42067 4-Bed

Larger households may prefer the four-bedroom Mackenzie (plan #42067-4Bed) option. Lost is the sloping ceiling in the great room, in order to gain another full suite with private bathroom and walk-in closet. Or turn this space into an upstairs playroom for the kids when you have neighbors over. How you purpose this additional 318 square feet of space upstairs is entirely up to you!

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If You Need “Me Space” – Sanctuary!

If You Need “Me Space” – Sanctuary!

This is a high priority among today’s home buyers, whether spoken or not. We long for such a space in our homes, particularly in light of COVID-19 limitations. “Me space” in the home, whether it’s exercising… prayer/meditation… reading... whatever you like to do to relax, re-center, or recharge.

Pandemic fatigue set in for many of us working from home and learning remotely. While most of us found ways to adapt our homes to the realities COVID ushered in, we kept hearing things like parents hiding out in their bathrooms for a few minutes of sanity. Along with work from home and remote learning solutions, personal space took on heightened importance.

Sanctuary Defined Block

In response, we’ve started incorporating a Sanctuary Space™ – your private getaway, directly off your bedroom suite – in select home plans. For example, in the Trufant (plan #29323, below), the 9-foot by 15-foot outdoor storage area can become your Sanctuary Space! Bathed in healthy, natural light and afforded maximum privacy, such a space in your home may be exactly what you’re looking for!

Trufant - #29323 Sanctuary Space Option
Trufant - #29323

Intrigued by this concept? Looking for ways to combat fatigue, increase energy levels, and improve your outlook on life? Ask us about incorporating a Sanctuary Space in a design(s) you’re interested in!

For more ideas on Sanctuary Space in home design, see also: I Need My Space!

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America’s Premier Woman-Centric Home Designer

America’s Premier Woman-Centric Home Designer

What began as a discussion in January 2003, traveling back from the NAHB International Builders’ Show, has turned out to be one of the most powerful drivers in residential design – a Woman-Centric approach. Design Basics was already at that time one of the largest home plan design firms, yet something was missing. We were seeking and getting great feedback about our home plans from customers – mostly professional builders. Builders loved our home designs and provided valuable insights, positive and negative, into how to make them even better.

But we weren’t enjoying such communication with the home buyers, and in particular, we weren’t hearing much from women about our designs. Could it be that men and women looked at a home’s design differently?

Couple reviewing design

Most architects are men. Most engineers are men. Most home builders are men. Most home building tradespeople are men. Did the sexes look at total square footage differently? Not really, though it’s always a consideration. The home design’s influence on cost-per-square-foot? While price is important, that wasn’t a key differentiator. How about an energy-efficient, green home? That interested both genders, though men were more likely to brag about it.

Without realizing it, as we later came to recognize, the comments and suggestions we had been receiving from our trade customers were mostly being relayed through a set of “male filters.” We purposely embarked on a mission to achieve an ever-greater understanding of, and appreciation for, women’s preferences in the home. Women told us about things they would change if they could regarding home design and construction as well as things they would do differently if they could do it all over again. They also pointed out design challenges that had no obvious solution, but still caused frustration and sometimes regret.

Through focus groups, one-on-one interviews, observing how women overcame design deficiencies in their homes, asking lots of questions and listening – really listening – Design Basics was inspired to develop homes with increased livability and style. Author Marti Barletta had identified that women’s value equation demanded both function and aesthetics. There would be no more entering the home from the garage through a laundry/mudroom. There was a new appreciation for storage, and that storage can be beautiful. Women were tired of dusting big, unused bathtubs. Pets were part of the family, too, and pet accommodations were an important aspect of home design.

We also learned that perhaps even more important than function and form was the two-sided coin of social design: “What this home says about me,” and “How this home makes me feel about myself.” We reveal ourselves – our beliefs, what we care about, who we are – through our homes. The exact same dollar investment in windows might be used to create a remarkable window wall with dreamy views out the back, or to provide standard-size windows on two sides of multiple rooms in the home for increased light levels and cross breezes.

Our research uncovered the four primary “lenses” women reported using to judge a home design’s suitability for her and her household. This became the basis for Livability at a Glance™, using color coding on the floorplans to identify areas corresponding to each of those lenses. As we started to design homes through these lenses, we, too, began to “see” design differently. We even developed a fun online quiz that identifies which lens is most important to you – and your future home – which you can take here.

livability logo
Livability at a Glance Image

Color coded floor plans bring the Livability at a Glance concept to life, making it easier to appreciate design elements and envision how this home ‘lives.’ (pictured: Locklear Grove – plan #42314)

The marketplace has voted. With their dollars. Woman-Centric home designs are seen as different, and better. In obvious and not-so-obvious ways, women’s feedback has inspired so many design amenities that solve real-world problems, like getting the entire family out the door on time in the morning with everything, contributing to a less stressful morning. Design Basics has been recognized for industry-leading design innovation, but really, it’s simply designing solutions to challenges that women brought to our attention.

Whether the basis for new home design or modifying an existing home plan for enhanced livability and style, Woman-Centric home design is how we help buyers get the best home for their investment. Woman-Centric home design is having a profound impact on American housing, but it’s not sexist. Rather, in the historically male-dominated home building industry, Woman-Centric design is helping return the pendulum of home design to a more gender-neutral position, appreciating everyone in the household.

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Cover photo: <a href='https://www.freepik.com/photos/background'>Background photo created by pressfoto - www.freepik.com</a>

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