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A Home For Hope Feels So Good Taking Natural Light to a Whole New Level Creating a Woman-Centric

Home Office

Hybrid Home Plans

The Best of Both Worlds



photo courtesy of






LIVABILITY AT A GLANCE A Better Way to Search Home Plans


BETTER LIVING Breaking the Mold




Her Home Thought of the Day


AND IN THIS ISSUE... Home Office Design


A Home For Hope


Creating a More Vistable World




Janie Murnane ART DIRECTOR

Annette Guy R E N D E R I N G I L L U S T R AT O R S

Shawn Doherty Cris Zandt SENIOR DESIGNER

Carl Cuozzo P L A N A L T E R AT I O N S D E S I G N E R


Paul Foresman

WHAT IF… You had a vision of a home that met your lifestyle needs?


Your vision could be a reflection of who you are and how you live in your home?


WHAT IF… Your 2-year old was perfect in public? Your teenagers were polite and didn’t argue? Your significant other did the dishes every day, plus laundry Money grew on trees


Myles Sherman C H I E F O P E R AT I N G O F F I C E R


Janie Murnane

We Can Help with everything but that third section


Paul Foresman D I R E C T O R O F W W W S T R AT E G I E S

Greg Dodge

PUBLISHED BY: Design Basics LLC 11112 John Galt Blvd., Omaha, NE 68137 email: phone: (800) 947-7526

Like many of you, I’ve settled for a home that someone else designed without me or my lifestyle in mind. That’s why I’m so excited about Livability SearchSM (see page 16) and the ability to search for home plans ideally suited to entertaining, de-stressing, flexible living and storing our stuff! In addition to their design and flow, I’m equally interested in building better homes which typically increases their resale value. Increasing daylight (“Feels So Good”, page 2); creating woman-centric home offices (page 7); and presenting environments in which everyone feels welcome (“Creating a More Visitable World”, page 21) are superb examples of change for the better. Just as our needs and desires for our homes evolve, products for the home are evolving and design is leading the way! I trust you will be inspired by what you take away from this issue of Her Home, particularly when you read “A Home For Hope” (page 18.) Of course, when you’re ready to move forward with that new home or renovation project, I hope you’ll contact us to provide you the plans for making your dream home a reality! Text and Design © 2011 by Design Basics LLC All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without prior written permission of the publisher.




FEELS GOOD TAKING NATURAL LIGHT TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL w r i t t e n b y Pa u l F o r e s m a n

photos courtesy of


We are drawn to places in our homes that are bathed in natural light. We don’t even think about it. But whether we’re having friends over or simply curling up with a good book, chances are we can be found in sunny spaces. So we ask for more windows in our homes, to create those “light, bright and airy” spaces. And therein begins the tradeoffs. Adding windows adds cost. No matter how advanced, windows are nowhere near as energy efficient as walls. Window placement may dictate furniture arrangements and even our landscaping plans. Then to top it all off, we spend more money covering up those windows for privacy.

Looking Up A sometimes overlooked solution— skylights—can often be the perfect answer. Not the old fashioned, big plastic “bubbles” seen on homes built decades ago. Just as we’ve come to take for granted no-iron fabrics and keyless entry fobs for our cars, advancements in skylight technology make today’s skylights as pleasurable and hasslefree as we could ask for.

And ask we did. Fortunately, someone was listening. In the midst of the housing “depression” VELUX (, the global leader in skylight manufacturing, conducted focus group research with three audiences—architects, builders and women. Her Home Magazine recently interviewed Tim Miller, President of VELUX America, who shared some of the insights gained and how VELUX responded. According to Miller, “Women told us they

wanted skylights, but also wanted them to be “invisible”. So VELUX redesigned our entire product line, changing the color of the skylights to blend in with the most popular roofing colors. We reduced the profile (height of the skylights) to make them less obvious and reduce shadows. We also reduced the visibility of the metal surround. “Inside, women said they wanted the skylights to blend with their ceilings. Previously, VELUX skylights’ featured a natural wood finish on the inside. But most ceilings are white, so now our skylights are finished white on the inside. Previously our bug screens were gray, now they blend in. The admittedly unsightly brown motors were redesigned and now look like drywall. We even redesigned the openers so that they’re narrower and also much quieter.” VELUX identified women as the primary decision-makers when it came to home building and renovation projects. And when it came to increasing daylight and improving ventilation of the home, women focused most often on certain areas. “Daylight in her bathroom,” said Miller “has a major effect on the color rendition of her makeup. Electric lighting produces various color hues, many of which are not


complimentary of skin tones. Then there are privacy concerns. A big window over the bathtub can usher in sunlight, but will be immediately covered over with window fashions for privacy. Rarely are the window fashions opened, defeating the purpose of installing the big window in the first place. And often there’s the hassle of having to step into the tub just to adjust the window coverings.” Kitchens and entertaining areas are also common places for skylight use. As in bath areas, both the practical and aesthetic sides of design are important. On the practical side, because skylights are oriented toward the sky they deliver three times as much daylight as would an identical size vertical window. Equally important is the unmatched drama afforded by skylights. VELUX research found that skylights were about self-expression and creating a WOW factor. And typically, women said they were more interested than their male counterparts in the look, feel and personality of their homes. “She’s more focused on the design touch,” said Miller. Many other areas in the home can benefit from natural light but are not conducive to traditional skylight installation. Walk-in closets, mudrooms and interior hallways and bathrooms are well suited to the VELUX TM SUN TUNNEL skylight, a small tubular skylight which provides illumination equivalent to a 60-watt light bulb on a cloudy winter day and up to four 100-watt light bulbs on a sunny day. The SUN TUNNEL skylights were also redesigned—based on women’s feedback—with both a low profile and a nearly imperceptible TLR flat glass panel model. Inside, the standard finish looks like a recessed can light. Additionally, to appeal to women’s design sense, VELUX teamed up with designer Ross Lovegrove to introduce a decorative ceiling fixture that’s visually striking and helps diffuse the light coming through the SUN TUNNEL skylight (see top right photo on page 3).


The simple joy of natural light!


In some areas such as laundry rooms, skylights may be your only option for daylight. PAGE 3 RIGHT:

The Ross Lovesgrove

Sun Tunnel. ABOVE: Due to their orientation to the sun, 3 times as much light will brighten your room via a skylight as compared with an identical size window inset in a vertical wall.

Her Home asked Miller what women who purchased skylights wish they had known or considered prior to their purchase. He responded “Eighty percent of women said ‘I don’t just want natural light, I want to control it. Sometimes I want all the light I can have; at other times I only want a partial amount. Diffused light would be ideal for certain occasions and there are also times I want to block out the skylight completely.’ So, VELUX created a full assortment of blind options and remote controls to address each of those scenarios. While some women liked the high-tech skylight remote controls, others asked for something easy to use, so we also developed a simple Up-Stop-Down remote opener.”

appeals vary by personality Personality had obvious implications for VELUX, too. Using Design Basics’ Finally TM About Me system for discovering your new home personality, Miller identified important preferences and attributes for each personality.


(modern, contemporary, individualistic, unique) “Skylights are only in about 30 percent of US homes, so they’re not all that common which will appeal to Margo,” said Miller, continuing, “Then, it’s how they’re used to create unique spaces. For women interested in treating their skylights as signature design elements, VELUX is currently working on fashion colors and shapes for the blinds and accessories. Think ceiling art.”


(informed, discerning, qualityoriented) “Claire knows what she wants drama…. the WOW factor. Skylights are a key design element, not just a light source. In addition, the VELUX brand name and quality reputation are important. Claire will likely go for many of the accessories offered, including practical features such as timed open/close operations and rain sensors which will automatically close an open skylight.”


Elise (traditional, practical, nurturer) “Elise places a high value on skylight benefits for the whole family. Numerous studies have shown students learn and perform better in environments that are lit with natural light rather than artificial light. Then there are the health benefits for all, from improved mood to the healthier indoor air quality afforded by venting out stale, trapped air. If there’s attic space or perhaps a children’s play room over the garage, Elise will want skylights in that (typically darker) area. Finally, Elise will find the VELUX ‘No-Leak Guarantee’ reassuring.”


(fun, casual, activity-oriented) “Being the most environmentally-conscious, Maggie appreciates the added light for her activities as well as the energy efficiency of skylights. It’s not just about reducing dependency on electric lighting; it’s also about taking pressure off the air conditioner. In a great room with cathedral ceiling, it may be a comfortable 75 degrees at the thermostat but over 100 degrees at the top of the tall ceiling. Opening the skylights can vent that trapped hot air directly outside, reducing the need to run the air conditioner.”

Whether you’re looking to add style and personality to a space or brighten up a room using the least amount of glass and energy, skylights add livability to your home. And they are not just a decision to be made when building a home, adding skylights are an enviable remodeling project. Want to liven up your kitchen? Cherry or birch cabinets would provide a nice change from oak, and stone countertops are “in”, but adding a couple of skylights could totally transform your kitchen. Or perhaps you just want to replace those dated, plastic bubbles that are admittedly an eyesore.

Today’s high-performance skylights may be exactly what your home needs to be perfect! 6




p h o t o c o u r t e s y o f M e r i l l a t C a b i n e t r y. c o m

A recent article in the Pittsburgh Sun-Times identified there are between 18 million and 38 million home-based businesses in the United States today, depending on who’s doing the counting . Telework Research Center estimates another 20 to 30 million Americans currently work from home at least one day a week. Add to those statistics the millions of us who bring work home from the office to finish at night or on the weekends and it’s easy to understand the increasing interest in home offices. We talked to a number of ladies who at least occasionally work from home and they shared wonderful insights and real world advice on creating an inspiring, productive home office.


The type of work you will do from home is one of the first considerations. Ruth, a corporate recruiter, needs quiet privacy. Cindy, a seamstress whose specialty is repairing flags, needs a large open space for folding those 50-foot flags. Take into consideration how often you will use this space (daily, twice a week, etc.) and whether it is your primary work space or simply supplements a traditional office elsewhere. Christy is an office manager who found a flex/computer room at home is fine for finishing accounting duties and other paperwork. Also, how long at one time would you be using that space? The “occasionally bring a couple hours’ worth of work home from the office to finish it” need for office amenities is quite different from someone who will be using the home office for several hours at a stretch. Sheri, who was running a graphic arts business out of her basement lamented the lack of natural light. “It threw off my body’s bio-rhythms. Without windows I would totally lose track of time.”

0 LAYOUT LOCATION As alluded to in the sidebar “What about other people?,” your privacy needs and whether or not you expect others in your home office help identify the best location for this space. When frequently meeting with colleagues and clients, a highly public location, such as a home office accessed from the entry foyer is often desirable. Conversely, many individuals who tend to work from home solo prefer a secluded location such as a rear corner in their home. Additionally, the question of a larger, open space vs. a more private space that can be closed off behind a door needs to be determined—often dictated by whether the office space will be kept clean and presentable all the time. If the flexibility of an open space is appealing, consider a divider such as bookcases or decorative panels to provide some privacy. ACCESS Location needs to be determined in tandem with access for your home office. A home office accessed from the entry is convenient and benefits from the design character of the entry foyer. Some home offices offer such public access as well as private access, such as from an adjoining master

What Ab o Will oth ut Other Peo ple? er peo ple be using t he off ice? - If so, how ma ny - At the same tim ? e or diff erent t imes of the day? - Family and oth er hou hold m seembers - Boun daries tha establ ished r t need to be espect “work ing time” Adjoinin g spac es. Exa you’re mple— thinkin if g office about space, an ope n p e lower rhaps level o in a r are yo second ua level, bedroo lso planning a teen m on th at leve that re l? su rassing lt in (perhaps Might ) interr embaruptions ? - Colle agu vendor es, clients an d s - Meetin g spac e


One of the most obvious evidences of a well-designed home office is adequate storage. After addressing the first question—how much storage is needed?—the follow-up question is open storage or discrete storage?

suite. Home work spaces accessed via a hallway can be made more special by careful selection of the door, perhaps a full-lite glass door. Do you have larger items going into this space? You’ll want to design with double doors in mind. Is frequent shipping and receiving a part of your home business? Consider a secure shipping vestibule where delivery persons can drop off items rather than leaving them on your front porch. Or, at least locate your office within a few steps of where the shipments and deliveries take place. Finally, some people attempt to achieve more separation for their home office by having a separate exterior entrance into the home office for visitors. If this is your desire, consider the impact of that door’s location on the overall look of the front of your home as seen from the street. B AT H R O O M A C C O M M O D AT I O N S This might seem like a minor point, but is one that comes up in people’s regrets. Bev, who along with her husband runs a building company from their family home, didn’t plan for an extra bathroom to serve the home office. This resulted in construction personnel, clients and her kids all using the same bathroom. And what about you? If you’re going to build a 2-story home with your bedroom upstairs and a main floor home office, you’re probably not going to want to run upstairs everytime you need to use the bathroom.


Having worked through the issues already discussed, it’s time to start designing your office space! Start with your actual work space. How much space do you need? Is the type of work pretty consistent or should this space be fairly flexible for easy re-configura8

tion as needs arise? And what type of furniture do you want? While some women we spoke with described a traditional desk setup, more often we heard requests for work surfaces that were counters or tables, not desks The seating you will primarily use is one of the most important considerations. If you will typically be seated in front of a computer or at a desk/workstation, posture and ergonomics are critical to reduce fatigue, increase comfort and productivity. Be sure to look for chairs that tilt, swivel and move easily on the flooring. Additionally, many people working from home are looking for another, more comfortable chair in their home office. Two such seating options address task-oriented work as well as fostering out-of-the-box creativity. Often an afterthought, consider the seating position and whether you would be facing others as they walk by or enter this space, or whether your back would be turned to them. Most of us feel uncomfortable when others see us but we’re not aware of them. If the only option for a functional workspace requires having your back exposed, think about placing a mirror directly in front of your workspace to observe what’s going on behind you. LIGHTING A nearly universal desire with regard to home offices is lots of natural light. Exposure to natural light has numerous health benefits, both physical and mental. Importantly, natural light has been shown to improve concentration, reduce eyestrain and fatigue, and generally improve mood.

For some who work from home, natural light must be accompanied by operable windows for fresh air and calming breezes and

nature sounds. Another camp requests multiple high transom windows only, providing the desired sunlight but avoiding the distraction of movement outside. When increasing windows simply is not an option, consider adding skylights to the home office space. Control over lighting makes a big difference. For natural light, that usually means easy-operating window shades or blinds. For added lighting, dimmers and individual on/off controls for the various lighting fixtures is welcome. Try to avoid lighting directly overhead computer screens as that can cause glare problems. Similarly, bright sunlight can wash out computer screens, another factor in deciding the best workspace design. Generally, people prefer lighting fixtures other than fluorescent tubes. When planning for lighting, combine general illumination (i.e., ceiling fixtures) with direct task lighting and indirect/accent lighting such as recessed lights and wall sconces. Care should be taken in choosing light bulbs and their “color temperature.” Incandescent, compact fluorescent, halogen and LED lights vary in color temperature, ranging from blue and green hues to more reddish and yellow shades. Many of today’s light bulb manufacturers offer color temperature choices across the different types of bulbs which you can try to match. STORAGE One of the most obvious evidences of a well-designed home office is adequate storage. After addressing the first question—how much storage is needed?— the follow-up question is open storage or discrete storage? Open storage, such as cubbies and shelving units, provides for quick scanning to locate what you’re looking for. Based




Often, people th office securit ink about ho me y in ter having ms of a home o locked door ffice a into the nd mea protec sures t compu to ter file don’t f s. But orget a bout - A fir eproof : safe f placea or irre b - Secur le items. ing sam p l es, invento ry, etc. How of te stored n you need to items. If infre access secure quent, storag a e area ment or in a ba attic ma se for yo y be ju st righ u. t

With open shelving a quick scan is all it takes to find what you’re looking for. p h o t o c o u r t e s y o f T h e C o n t a i n e r S t o r e , w w w. C o n t a i n e r S t o r e . c o m

on what you choose to have on display, it can also speak volumes about you to others who come to visit you. If wall shelving is your preference, be sure to note the weight which the shelves are designed to hold. A dramatic alternative to traditional wall shelves are glass shelving products that appear to “float” without visible brackets and hardware. Discrete storage includes all types of closets, cabinets, files, etc. Perhaps the most obvious benefit is visual—the reduction of clutter and a streamlined, organized appearance of the home office. Flexibility comes into play with storage, as several ladies identified a desire for easily reconfigurable storage systems such as stacking units and storage cabinets on casters. If storage is to be permanent, such as cabinetry or furniture, pre-plan amenities such as pull-out drawers and other built-ins. The opportunity of a storage area closed off by a door, curtains or even sliding walls from the rest of your home office allows you to keep everything from client files to paper clips to your fax machine out of public view. As well, such discrete storage areas do not necessarily have to be kept as tidy as the more public areas of your home office. Planning for waste is essential and practical. Avoid future regrets by deciding now the wastebasket size and placement (a pull out wastebasket drawer is wonderful!), and how to incorporate a recycling center.

ORGANIZATION. A close cousin to storage is organization. Visual scheduling and organization of concurrent projects came up often in our discussions, with typical solutions identified as large, write-on wall calendars and large “idea walls” which were usually envisioned as long bulletin boards or magnetic boards for temporarily adhering items to the wall (does your home office offer such wall space?) Write-on white boards were also frequently mentioned.

Large work surfaces were similarly important for organizing multiple projects-inprogress. Not having to stash everything else away when a conflicting deadline demands immediate attention is golden. Finally, determine where the items you need most frequently will be kept. Organizer accessories for everything from staplers and paper clips to pens and Post-It notes are one way to keep things organized. The bottom line—clutter sucks energy out of you. You won’t be happy (or productive) in a cluttered home office!

mize visible phone wires, so care should be exercised in having those jacks placed exactly where you want them. Computers have become an indispensible communication tool, and though many people are enjoying wireless connectivity between computers, to the internet and to the printer/scanner, currently the speed and reliability of wireless networks does not yet rival the traditional “hardwired” approach. At the time a home is being built, pulling data cabling into your future home office area represents a very minor expense which makes it a good investment. Also, folks working from home often talk about the need for a TV/DVD player in the home office. From watching training videos to monitoring news headlines and the weather, plan for where a TV would work well. If others may be joining you in your home office gathered around that TV, its location becomes even more critical. Electrical outlets and cable TV jacks properly located will again minimize visible wiring.

COMMUNICATION NEEDS. While the proliferation of cell phones makes having a separate land line for your home business optional, it’s probably wise to at least drop a phone jack into the future home office space. And if you have a separate fax machine from your office phone, might as well make that 2 phone jacks being installed. Importantly, the location of those jacks can in large part mini-


SENSEational home offices a multisensory approach to home office design


Taking a woman-centric approach to home office design means designing the environment for all of our senses. Compared with men, women’s senses are generally more acute than men’s, with women taking in much more than the guys via sensory appeals.

The materials you select, such as flooring, wall textures and furnishings all contribute

to the overall look you achieve.

TOUCH AND FEEL Certain products practically beg to be touched. Natural stone counters or work surfaces…interesting hardware…soft-closing doors…all are enhanced via their feel. Heavy, solid doors have a sense of heft that translates into security, permanence and success. Quality carpeting with a thick pad exudes a sense of luxury and comfort, while tile or wood flooring suggest traditional sophistication. Almost too obvious, the heating and cooling of your home office space is an issue of touch as well. If there are multiple electronic gadgets running, you may well produce excess heat which could make your office uncomfortably warm in the summer, though the rest of the home is cool. Be sure to discuss this aspect with your builder and heating/air conditioning contractor. TASTE Though perhaps the least important when it comes to designing your home office, many telecommuters wish for a minifridge and/or bottled water dispenser in their home office for themselves and their guests. Individuals who prefer their caffeine hot desire a coffee station or at least hot water


for tea. Yes, the kitchen may only be steps away, but that trek to the kitchen may interrupt a critical line of thought you are working with. So, reflect on your beverage preferences, factor in refreshments for visitors and talk about this issue with your builder (and possibly the plumber!) SOUNDS This is an interesting paradox— people are either striving to achieve serenity by minimizing noises that may be audible in the home office, or, people seek to add sounds to their home office to actually aid concentration or create a more calming or invigorating work area. Many things can be done to help soundproof a home office space. A major aspect is the flooring choice. Carpet and pad absorbs a lot of sound, but noises typically bounce off of hard flooring such as ceramic, woods, laminates and concrete. If you opt for hard surface floors, think about large area rugs to help control sound levels. Solid core doors, as opposed to less expensive hollow core doors, help keep other household noises out. Locating the home office away from frequently used areas of the home or loud areas


Sweeping curves on the ceiling and desk are contrasted by the shelving unit’s rectangular shapes.

p h o t o s c o u r t e s y o f L o r i C a r ro l l & A s s o c i a t e s a n d W i l l i a m Lesch Photograph MIDDLE:

A ‘disappearing’ home office, as the work surface folds down from the storage unit. photo courtesy of Flying RIGHT: A more formal, traditional home office that puts clients at ease.

such as a media room is important. And if peace and quiet is at the top of your list, talk to your builder about different soundproofing measures from insulating the walls to using quieter drywall products. On the other hand, adding background music can have a similar effect, in that you’re not as likely to hear other extraneous noises. We also heard several requests for natural sounds, whether that be operable windows opened for Mother Nature’s serenade or wind chimes. SCENTS This one is pretty straightforward. Fresh air and proper circulation help eliminate odors. An air cleaner makes a big difference for smoking environments or if your particular business deals with a product that

has its own distinct smell. In addition, lots of women add fragrance to the home office environment. Essential oils, fragrant candles and potpourri can help create a pleasing aroma. A word of caution—as you become used to your home office setting, you may be tempted to add higher levels of fragrance. Don’t, as it will overpower visitors! VISUAL This is limited only by your imagination. The materials you select, such as flooring, wall textures and furnishings all contribute to the overall look you achieve. Because they serve as the backdrop to most everything else, your walls (and ceiling—the “5th wall”) and the paint or wall paper chosen have a major impact on the visual story told by your home office.

Finally, what about you? What in your home office space would inspire you? Is it family photos or memorabilia? A waterfall? Artwork? These are “must-haves” in your new home office!

First impressions are strategically important if you will have clients and co-workers in your home office. As you approach the office area, what do you see? (Note, studies show women have greater peripheral vision than men!) Upon entering your home office, what is the main focal point? The decorations, the furnishings, the materials and surfaces and colors, unique pieces—what do you want them to say about you? Finally, what about you? What in your home office space would inspire you? Is it family photos or memorabilia? A waterfall? Artwork? These are “must-haves” in your new home office!


the best of both worlds raditionally, there have been two routes to purchasing the plans for your dream home. Browsing through a library of readily available home plans and selecting the one that works best for you provides a fast and inexpensive way to get a good set of plans. Or, you can hire a designer to custom-design your new home. You’ll get exactly what you want, but the design process can take quite some time and is considerably more expensive. A new approach from Design Basics—Hybrid Home Plans — combines the best of both approaches. Her Home talked with Design Basics’ Tricia Baker about Hybrid Home Plans. TM


thoughtful design today

#5180 the Holbrook | 1339 sq. ft.

dining room enlarge the

make the Garage bigger

translates into higher resale tomorrow “You’ve found a home plan from our extensive plan collection that’s close to what you’re looking for. Then call us and you’ll work with me or one of our designers to tailor the plan to make it perfect for you. A true custom home plan at a fraction of the time and cost of starting from scratch. “It’s a collaborative approach. You tell us what you like about the plan you select and what needs to change. That’s what we typically do in our Plan Alterations department. “But with Hybrid Home Plans, you’ll be working with a designer, so you’re not on your own when it comes to figuring out how you want something altered. Don’t be surprised if you are asked other questions. As leaders in the industry, we have the knowledge and experience to identify design features and amenities you may not have been considering, but would love to have in your new home! “As we work with you on the modifications to the original plan, we’re addressing all aspects of design. We want to make sure the

home functions the way you want it to, so, based upon what we’ve learned from you, we’ll be looking at the home’s livability for you and your household. I recently talked with some folks soon to become emptynesters about Design Basics’ Holbrook plan, #5180. They had identified that they wanted to widen the garage and enlarge the dining area by stretching it backwards. That’s typical, client-driven, and what we refer to as ‘Plan Alterations’. “But as we talked, the reality of walking in from the garage and there being no rear foyer/transition space came up. Further, in the original Holbrook design, you had to walk through the kitchen every time you entered through the garage. In fact, you had no choice but to walk right by the range where the cooktop might still be hot, risking injury. “So, we looked at a redesigning the entry from the garage and kitchen. Relocating the door in from the garage allowed us to slide the laundry room over and add a rear foyer

complete with drop zone and closet. Then, the refrigerator was moved, allowing for an island kitchen design so that they wouldn’t need to always be walking through the kitchen when coming in from the garage. “Sliding a bar stool away from the original design’s angled eating bar can be awkward if the great room is carpeted and there are hardwood or tile floors in the kitchen and dinette. Therefore, we’ve shown a straight seven-foot island. The resulting open kitchen design was quickly embraced and the rear foyer re-design created an opportunity for a huge walk-in pantry with counter space. To visually compliment the rest of the kitchen, that pantry is accessed by twin, fullheight cabinet doors. But the new rear foyer and pantry layout meant moving the laundry room. “The couple concurred they didn’t really need a tub and separate shower in the master bathroom, so the tub was deleted as there was a tub in the hall bath. A spa-type shower was envisioned where the tub was shown on


#42222 the Holbrook II | 1434 sq. ft.

A great design tailored specifically for you the original plan (yes, there are 1-piece shower floors designed for that exact size and shape,) topped by a glass block window. A window was added in the toilet area for fresh air. A more spacious vanity was made possible by tucking the linen storage just inside the walk-in closet and the closet ceiling was raised in order to add a third (high) hanging rod. “The new laundry area picked up a built-in ironing board and a welcome folding counter. The bedrooms were enlarged to be more accommodating. The home’s entire bedroom wing was stretched to the left, in line with the original design’s hall bath. Stretching the eating area to the rear and adding one-foot in width to the entry and great room added 131 square feet to the plan. We also stretched the garage two feet to the right as per their original request. Finally, we deleted the expensive eight-inch boxed-out windows at the back of the master bedroom and breakfast area. 14

“While we can’t provide pricing information on your home, we can be sensitive to the budget figure you have in mind. Design impacts the price of your home in many ways—some seen, some unseen. For example, designing around standard size building materials minimizes expensive waste. Or, we may make suggestions which would eliminate costly structural members, providing a more open feel. There have even been instances where adding square footage was less expensive than eliminating it. “Similarly, we design with the future in mind. Maybe you envision finishing space in a lower level or perhaps above a garage in a few years as your household grows or you finally start that home based business. And, some day you’ll likely want to resell the home. Thoughtful design today translates into higher resale tomorrow.

“Yes, with Design Basics home plans, you can opt to have changes made to the plans by a competent, qualified local draftsman of your choice. But when you work with our Plan Alterations team, you can rest assured the modified plans are buildable (unfortunately, that’s not always true of plans changed by others). In addition when you have Design Basics modify the plans, you remain eligible for full technical support throughout construction. But perhaps most importantly, it’s the fact that you’re working with a designer who has your specific best interests in mind when re-designing the home.” Hybrid Home Plans from Design Basics. A great design tailored specifically for you, fast turnaround and very reasonable prices.

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inexpensive design captureerthe media’s attention? A few years ago Design Basics 1] Is it elegantly simple? Is what makes your homes and you as touches sponsored a Showcase of Homes event to celebrate design, a builder different and better easy to understand? How can it Local and national of Exclusive Hom e Desi media attention gner s: was extensive and the word-of-mouth 2] Is it in the right universe? Does your elegantly simple meswas tremendous. sage truly matter to your audience? The Simpson Strong-Tie®

<download now> advanced building systems and products. be communicated moreOur compellingly Teamand memorably?

company’s Well-Connected Home™ simple message of builddesign, ing a stronger/safer home connected with me as I lived through through creative home ing our ion and leadership s, while protect a tornado when in my teens. “Delivering innovat s transformation solution ” marketing and busines maximizing value for our customers. 3] Is it polarizing? The authors point out that a “big bang” isn’t right to do so, neutral—it forces you to have a point of view. Design Basics

Did you know… Our staff averag es 17 Design Basics, a level of experience years each with and commitmen unsurpassed in t the industry.


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As a home builder, is your message unique, simple and memorable? Does it matter to the prospective buyers you are reaching? Does it force people to have a point of view (and side with you)? And is it compelling enough to get them, as well as the media, talking about you? If not, call us at Design Basics!

Woman-Centric homebuilder Gordon Cudd of Gordon T. Cudd alternate in Lynchburg, floorplan, creating Construction can see you’ve got a great Once l, as you Virginia was featured in the May 2011 d its market appea Design elevations will exten you can useCentral Virginia Home Magazine. The for just $10 per plan, marketing! below. Remember, tation artwork in your following excerpt is from that feature. Basics home plan presen

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“(Women) can recognize what works well and what does not work well in our homes…A woman is often perceptive enough to understand what makes an entire household run efficiently and harmoniously. She intuitively knows what is necessary to create a comfortable home not only for herself but for family and friends. WomanCentric Matters makes the whole process of building a home or adding a room so much simpler.” <<<click here to read the entire article>>>

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FOR HOME BUYERS— Her Home Thought of the Day

is generated from feedback we’ve received on issues buyers WISH they had known or considered. Sent 3 times per week.

Exclusively from Design Basics...Where Great Design Matters!

A Better Way to Search home plans Type. Square footage. Width. These are the ways most people search for home plans. It’s efficient because it narrows down the number of plans to look at. But that’s as far as it goes. Such search “filters” do little to help you find plans most suited to how you want to live in your new home. What if you could search based on what’s most important to you, your lifestyle and your preferences? That would be helpful, perhaps provide a few new insights and save lots of time! 16

Residential designer Design Basics introduced Livability At A Glance ® after the company’s research identified women primarily use four “lenses” when evaluating a home’s suitability for themselves and their households. Color coding the floorplans to highlight these four areas of livability made it easier to envision how the home would live. Favorable responses poured in, along the lines of “Wow! This plan I can understand!”


Select the importance of each Livability At A Glance® Lense


Compare plans by their Livability IndexSM

A NEW DAY Now you can search home plans by the relative importance of each Livability At A Glance ® lens. Preference indicators have been added to the home plan search options on, allowing you to identify how important each of the four aspects— Entertaining, De-stressing, Storing and Flexible Living—are to you. There’s simply nothing else like searching house plans based on their livability. Want to look at homes with superb de-stressing amenities? Select one of the ‘dots’ at the right on the de-stressing scale. Because you’ve prioritized what’s most important, the plans which show up on your search will likely be more appealing to you. Searching plans by square footage and type can be useful…it helps you rule out some designs. But if you want help finding the perfect home plan, according to your needs and wants, search as to the home’s livability.


Discover each plan’s Livability IndexSM

You’ll discover the heart and soul of its design. Once you’ve tried searching plans by their livability, you’ll never again be satisfied with just the old-fashioned search options.

A BETTER WAY Blunt search criteria such as house size and width keep you from wasting time looking at unworkable designs. Searching by the Livability lenses, because you’re in control, is much more focused and relevant. But when you start with perhaps 1,000 home plans, even after entering your Livability At A Glance® preferences, your search can yield dozens and dozens of matching plans. To further aid in your quest to find the perfect plan, Design Basics now lists the Livability IndexSM for each Livability At A Glance® enhanced floor plan. Livability IndexSM is a composite rating based on the home plan’s Entertaining, De-stressing, Storing and Flexible Living attributes. The higher the

number, the better the plan scored. In addition, you’ll see the range of Livability IndexSM scores for the plans in your search results. Fun and intriguing, comparing plans by their Livability Index SM may help you identify easily-overlooked amenities that significantly contribute to a home’s overall livability. Of course, your ultimate choice of a home design isn’t as simple as choosing the plan with the highest Livability IndexSM. But tailoring your search according to how you want your home to live and then presenting the most likely home designs first is intuitive. Livability At A Glance® enhanced plan searches and Livability IndexSM. Based on customer feedback—particularly from women—these unique new search tools from Design Basics have raised the bar, making traditional plan searches obsolete.


A HomeHope for

w r i t t e n b y Pa u l F o r e s m a n


e’ve all been given a precious gift—the lives that we’re living. But caught up in the busyness of life with all its worries, we’re often guilty of under-appreciating our gift. Then you meet someone like Charles Ruma, a cancer survivor, and you see someone who truly cherishes life. Defined more by a grateful heart than by his occupation as a homebuilder, Ruma recently found a unique way to thank those who cared for him as well as make a difference for future cancer patients. He created A Home For Hope. Ruma was diagnosed with testicular cancer late in 2006, at the age of 36 and today is cancer-free. “It was during my recovery that the idea which ultimately became A Home For Hope was born, said Ruma. “How could I thank all of the people at the Ohio State University’s James Cancer Hospital for the phenomenal care I received? What could I do to help raise awareness for cancer and what OSU is doing, both in terms of patient care at the James Center and what is happening with the medical center expansion? How could I get other people actively involved? I’m not a doctor—I’m a homebuilder.” Building a home and giving the net proceeds to the cancer charities was an obvious way Ruma could get involved. His company, Virginia Homes, already owned a homesite in Dublin, Ohio, on the northwest side of the Columbus metro area. According to Ruma, “Our partners in this project were wonderful. We envisioned not merely a new home, but a healthier home because cancer patients often have suppressed immune systems.”


PAGE 18: Virginia Homes’ owner’s suite sitting room. INSET PAGE 19 : A cold day for a ground breaking that would later war m many hearts. Pictured: Randy Stickler, Charles Ruma, John Reiner, David Schuller, Brooke Ruma and Andrew Sorenson. FAR LEFT: Natural light is essential in a healthy home. LEFT : Home For Hope buyer Bill McCoy with Charles Ruma. B O T T O M L E F T : A small statue. A big message. A comfortable great room. BOTTOM RIGHT: Renee Bean, executive chef of the James Cancer Center, provided insights for healthy cooking and easing food preparation that Virginia Homes now uses in all their homes.

The 3,100 square foot Home For Hope featured various aspects of creating a healthier home. To address indoor air quality issues, Sherwin Williams low-VOC paints and Mohawk SmartStrand carpeting using renewably sourced materials were chosen. Additionally, a UVAirX air purification system that reduces up to 99% of particulate, mold, fungi, bacteria, viruses and allergens was installed. A whole home water purification system was also selected for the home, as well as an active radon removal system. As reported by the National Cancer Institute, physical activity can reduce the risk for various cancers, so there was a home gym on the second level. And outside, a garden to promote healthy eating. Renee Bean, Executive Chef at the James Cancer Hospital, was called upon to assist with the kitchen design. The kitchen featured lots of storage including a work-in pantry for food preparation. Countertop space was maximized and the flow of the kitchen received high praise from people touring the home. 20

Additionally, Bean specified Thermador’s Steam and Convection oven, as steam cooking retains most of the vitamins in food lost to other cooking methods. On June 25, 2011, A Home For Hope was auctioned off for $400,000. Because of discounts and product donations, more than $60,000 was donated to the OSU James Cancer Hospital, OSU Solove Research Institute and Lance Armstrong’s LIVESTRONG organization for the fight against cancer. Perhaps the non-monetary results were even more significant. Dozens of businesses got involved with A Home For Hope and the project touched many of their employees. Hundreds of people toured the home, gaining a new understanding of the fight against cancers and what the Ohio State University medical center expansion is doing. Rated “exceptional” by the National Cancer Institute—its highest rating—the James Cancer hospital is the only freestanding cancer hospital in the Midwest and is the midst

of a $1 billion expansion. Coverage of the project and its website,, enlarged its audience and its impact. “I am thrilled with the outcome,” said Ruma. “Every single one of us can make a difference. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful family, good friends and a second chance. To see the community interest and support of A Home For Hope has been gratifying, knowing lives will be touched by the generosity of truly wonderful people.”

CREATING A MORE VISITABLE WORLD Steps to Achieving Universal Home Access w r i t t e n b y A d vo c a t e s fo r A c c e s s & B r a d l ey U n i ve r s i t y

In homes without basic accessiblity, there are only a few choices left for people with disabilities:

Expensive renovations – if a home is even amenable to renovation. Existing as a prisoner in a house – unable to exit independently or enter one’s own bathroom.

Moving out of one’s community into a nursing home – being forced to cope with the disturbance, misery and financial burden.

What happens to the baby boomer who falls and needs a wheelchair or walker for a few weeks? How will the child using a wheelchair make it to a friend’s birthday party at his home if she can’t get through the front door? What will the victim of a severe car accident do when he can no longer visit his old buddies in their houses?

Universal home accessibility is a widespread concern that has touched the lives of most people in the U.S., either personally or through the experiences of a friend. And the need is spreading. The demand to implement preventative care and home construction is now more important than ever. By 2050, 21 percent of U.S. households will have at least one resident with a physical limitation, according to projections from the U.S. Census Bureau. Over the next 40 years, the population aged 85 and over is projected to grow more than five-fold. This translates in to 21 million non-institutionalized people living with a disability, up from the current 4 million. “Basic access not only affects those with disabilities but also those who wish to have disabled or elderly people visit their home,” says Melody Reynolds, Director at Advocates for Access, a nonprofit organization that promotes independence for disabled individuals. “Building a house to be visitable also allows residents to stay in their home as they grow older, a concept called ‘aging in place’,” says Reynolds. Not including short-term disabilities or visitors with disabilities, 25 percent to 60 percent of all new houses will have a resident with a long-term or severe mobility impairment over the lifetime of the house, according to the Journal of the American Planning Association. Unfor-


FAR LEFT : A curbless, roll-in shower makes bathing easier. LEFT : Barrier-free entries ensure everyone is welcome in your home.

tunately, an estimated 95 percent of new houses do not have the fundamentals of an accessible home. In homes without basic accessibility, there are only a few choices left for people with disabilities: • Expensive renovations — if a home is even amenable to renovation. • Existing as a prisoner in a house — unable to exit independently or enter one’s own bathroom. • Moving out of one’s community into a nursing home — being forced to cope with the disturbance, misery, and financial burden. The vision of universal accessibility is becoming widespread as the term visitability develops in the home construction front. Visitability begins with three essential accessibility requirements: • One zero-step entrance, either at the front, back or side of the house. • All main floor doors must have at least 32 inches of clear passage space, including bathrooms. • At least one half bath on the main floor. There are preventative steps to reduce cost later when constructing a visitable home. “One of the solutions to cut later occurring costs is to position the house on a lot with 22

the zero-step entrance in mind,” says Burl George, a professor of construction at Bradley University. Since all lots have to be graded for development, this precautionary step only costs $100 to $200, a reasonable amount for a zero-step entrance constructed on a concrete slab. When the zero-step entrance is located over a crawl space or basement the price increases to $300-$600, still significantly less than a new construction project. For pre-existing homes requiring the addition of a zero-step entrance an average of $3,300 is needed – over 30 times the amount of constructing a zero-step entrance when initially building a house . A ramp must be built to code or dirt must be filled with a raised sidewalk to meet the porch. Often the porch needs to be raised to the floor, eliminating the step from porch to interior. “When it comes to accessible doorways, a wider opening is simply cut into the wall. The builder can simply change the entryways using CAD software to modify the plans to meet visitability requirements,” says George. Adding square footage is not necessary to create adequately wide doors. It is approximately $20 per home (10 doors at $2) to adjust the doorways. A desired clearance would be 2’ 10” to allow comfortable passage by a person in a wheelchair. This width is only two inches wider than traditionally

designed frames. The cost of retrofitting doorframes is an average of $700 to widen each interior doorway. In short, approximate costs to design a visitable home from initial construction is $200 for zero-step entrance plus $20 for widening interior doors with a total about $220. This is about 1/3 the cost of one bay window. Preinstalled visitability spares homeowners the expense of later renovations. “It’s an affordable design approach that supports lifestyle changes and enhances the resale value of the home,” says George. While not everyone is building a home from the ground up, there are other things visitability proponents can do to raise awareness of the issue. From supplying a local builder or construction group with information on visitability to encouraging a friend to consider visitablity when buying a new house – every contribution to the movement helps. “It requires the effort of thousands of participants to gradually reshape how homes are built in hopes of creating accessibility and independence for all,” says Reynolds. Advocates for Access is a private, nonprofit, non-residential organization established in 1985. Advocates for Access is managed by and for people with disabilities. For more information visit their website at

MOLD Most at risk are, infants and

young children.

Living in Omaha, Nebraska, in 2011 we experienced what is considered a 500-year flood of the Missouri River. Homes up and down the Missouri—and along many other rivers nationwide—suffered water damage. The magnitude of the obvious water damage restoration can be daunting, so much so that it can be easy to overlook the lingering potential for mold. But it doesn’t take a major flood to usher in mold problems. Any significant leak, such as around a sink, bathtub, clothes washer or dishwasher, can provide the moisture mold needs. Additionally, certain areas including bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and basements are prone to high humidity—just what mold needs to thrive. A 1994 Harvard University School of Public Health study of 10,000 homes in Canada and the United States found that half had water damage and indoor mold! In addition to deterioration of some materials like drywall, mold can have serious negative effects on your family’s health. According to the Centers for Disease Control, mold exposure can cause symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation in people with mold sensitivities. Mold can cause allergic reactions and can trigger asthma attacks. And, in 2004 the Institute of Medicine found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to mold with upper respiratory tract symptoms, coughing and wheezing in otherwise healthy people. Most at risk are infants and young children, pregnant women, individuals who have lowered immunities, the elderly and asthma sufferers. Bleach and water is a solution sometimes used to combat surface mold, but is effective only in the short term and doesn’t get to all of the mold in porous surfaces such as wood, grout and drywall. Of course, bleach must be used with caution and in well-ventilated areas.

Concrobium ® Mold Control is a nontoxic, EPA-registered 2-in-1 solution that both eliminates mold and prevents mold from coming back without resorting to hazardous chemicals that produce dangerous fumes. Concrobium works as it dries – hardening over the moldy surface to form an invisible film that physically crushes the mold micro-organism underneath. And Concrobium stays on surfaces to provide continual resistance against mold regrowth. According to its manufacturer, Concrobium is safe for any surface on which you can apply water and is completely non-toxic. Concrobium is available at home improvement retailers including Home Depot, Lowe’s and Menards, as well as local hardware and grocery stores. For more information visit


Helping buyers make wise, informed decisions regarding their homes and the products that go into those homes.

I HAD THOUGHT ABOUT... Thinking about a big flat planel TV? Big TVs help make movie night or football parties a joy. And because today’s flat panels are being made so thin, many buyers are foregoing the “built-in entertainment center”-look in favor of a more contemporary, streamlined, wall-mount installation. This ushers in a new problem—the ugly wall mount and unsightly cables. One solution is to double-frame the wall the TV will be mounted on (making it 8”-thick) and building a recess into which the TV will be mounted, with all the cabling and connections at the back of the recess and out of view. In the photo at left, follow the fireplace mantel to the left to see the tv recessed into the wall above the credenza. p h o t o c o u r t e s y o f S a m B r a d l ey H o m e s photo courtesy of E l i t e I n t e r n a t i o n a l P h o t o g r a p hy

Holiday lights Few things warm the heart as much as attractive holiday light displays. But stringing extension cords all over can be daunting—and hazardous. Adding electric outlets in the eaves under the roof overhangs as well as an outlet strategically located in the yard makes holiday lighting a pleasure. Be sure to have the electrician wire a switch inside the home (often located in the entry coat closet) to turn those lights on and off.

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Hardness Cindy writes, I wish our builder or flooring company would have talked to us about wood floor “hardness”. We chose birch for our wood flooring, but with four children and 2 dogs, it was a poor choice—too soft!” Hardwood floors have a beauty unmatched by other flooring choices. But all hardwoods are not equal in their relative “hardness”. The softer the wood species, the more susceptible it is to damage in terms or scratches and gouges. In the wood industry, a widely used scale is the Janka Hardness Test. Compare different wood species “hardness” at:

Now hear this Is there anything more relaxing than a long hot soak in your very own master bath? Unless the bathroom exhaust fan sound like it came from an old motel room! Removing excess moisture from the air in your home is good for your home—and for you. Among other things, excess moisture is necessary for mold to thrive, adversely affecting you and your home. So bathroom fans are installed to remove the excess moisture from the air. Bathroom fans are rated in terms of the sound levels they create. Fan volume is measured in sones, and the smaller the number, the quieter the fan. Many homeowners today are opting for the quiet fans in all bathrooms except the powder bath used by guests when entertaining. PICTURED: Panasonic’s Whisper LiteTM bathroom fan is ultra quiet, stylish and features an integral light and nightlight. p h o t o c o u r t e s y o f Pa n a s o n i c





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HER HOME Magazine! Winter 2012. Education & Ideas For Remodeling Or Building A New Home Gain insight into women's preferences in their...