In 2003, Design Basics, in Omaha, Neb., one of the largest home plans design firms in the country, began interviewing couples about what they want in home plans and found that the most useful feedback came from the women who participated.

In 2006, this research led the company to create the Woman-Centric Matters program. “Whether building new or remodeling, we wanted to better understand what she wants in her home,” says Paul Foresman, vice president of Woman-Centric Matters, a division of Design Basics.

The Experience

Women want a home that reflects their tastes and interests. And, Foresman points out, the social reasons for upgrading a home are important to them but are often overlooked.


Credit: Matt Wood

Home view: “My home is unique.”

Brand view: Values brands for their design leadership, edginess, and user experience

  • Form over function
  • Contemporary/modern
  • Goal-oriented
  • Don’t ask why she wants to do something unique. She’ll respond with: “We’ve never done that before, but I’m looking forward to creating that cool detail.”

Credit: Matt Wood

Home view: “My home is my haven.”

Brand view: Values for their quality, reputation, and durability. Appreciates dependability and good warranties

  • Function over form
  • Practical/traditional
  • Family-oriented
  • Likes systems and procedures
  • Will give up master bedroom amenities for more closet space for her kids’ rooms

Credit: Matt Wood

Home view: “My home makes a statement.”

Brand view: Valued for the brand’s status and performance

  • Form and function
  • Formal/sophisticated
  • Quality-driven
  • Does a tremendous amount of research
  • Likes formal entertaining (which provides a potential referral network of people — her guests — for the remodeler)

Credit: Matt Wood

Home view: “My home is carefree.”

Brand view: Brand is less important; it’s more about what she likes, price-value, and ease of use

  • Function over form
  • Casual/spontaneous
  • Project- and activity-driven
  • Free-spirited
  • Wants flexibility and specialized storage for hobbies

Through classes, webinars, and in-person training with Woman-Centric Matters, remodelers can learn about designing the customer experience, and “a remarkable customer experience is where referrals come from,” Foresman says.

In 2008, the company updated the program to include a short quiz designed to indicate where a female client falls within four predefined personas. Remodelers can use these persona types to help them home in on design ideas that suit that specific client and make her feel the remodeler really understands what’s important to her. This will “build credibility and trust and win you her business,” Foresman says.

Dan Kleithermes, owner of Kliethermes Homes & Remodeling, uses the Women-Centric program. For him, similar to Sandler sales techniques, Women-Centric is a tool to aid communication. But, he adds, clients can be reluctant to fill out the 16-question online quiz, in which case a member of his staff goes through it with them.

Remodelers can expect to pay $2,000 to $5,000 during their first year of participation in the program, which includes on-site training and marketing materials. Design Basics continues to research the topic and presents new ideas in bimonthly webinars.

—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.


How a Home Lives

Paul Foresman, vice president of Woman-Centric Matters, a division of home plan design company Design Basics, says the “Livability at a Glance” color-coded plan system was developed after research identified that women look at a floor plan to determine “how the home lives,” using four “filters” to assess a plan’s livability for the household.

“[With the color coding,] we knew we were onto something, as the women were better able to understand and relate to this type of presentation artwork, mentally ‘moving in’ to the home,” Foresman says.

Remodeler Dan Kleithermes uses the Livability at a Glance color palette on his speculative home plans. He says that most people are reluctant to admit that they don’t understand floor plans, adding that all his clients — both men and women — find the color coding helpful. “It puts them at ease a lot quicker, and discussions are easier.” —Nina Patel