When I first heard about the idea of the Woman-Centric home by Kliethermes Homes and Remodeling Inc., I’ll admit the feminist Spidey sense in me immediately perked up and I disliked the idea. My mind went to the old adage of “the woman’s place is in the home,” and I had to check it out to see if this was the case.
Although a sign on the front lawn read something along the lines of “tour this home through the mind of a woman,” I was determined to keep an open mind.
I’m glad I did. The house is beautiful, and if I had a big family and could afford a home valued between $300,000 and $400,000, I would snatch one up. And I don’t think it’s just my extra X-chromosome swooning. You see, the advertising is misleading; although it was a home built around findings from research conducted by interviewing women, this should be called the family-centric home.
Poor naming aside, the home boasts all the things sought-after, but rarely found together in one home. More cabinet space, more natural light, showers without shower doors to collect scum and a nice screened-in back patio are just a few.
The homes are designed with specific areas in mind, such as entertaining, de-stressing, storing and flexible living. All of these areas are taken into account when creating the home. An example of design for entertaining in the Woman-Centric home is creating rooms specifically for movies and sports or card-playing and board games. De-stressing areas include quiet porches and personal getaways. Storage is never a problem in these homes because the designers have included extra space in the garage, laundry room, pantries and linen closets. They have designed their flexible living areas to offer spaces that are multipurpose and can convert to offices, music rooms, guest rooms and dens.
Being a young female, I haven’t had the opportunity to see many homes, nor have I been forced to make decisions about what I would want in my ideal house. This experience opened my eyes to the things I don’t want in my home and the things I can’t live without.
My favorite addition was in the basement. A side door leading from the backyard opens into a small area designed with pets in mind. There is a pet shower as well as a spot for litter boxes, crates and all-things-animal to simplify your life. No need to drag your dirty dog through the house to a bathtub; now you can simply wash him off before he can leave any paw prints on your nice, eco-friendly carpet.
Walking through during the open house, I noticed small placards were placed prominently throughout to draw attention to the highlights of the home. A nook was placed by the entryway from the garage to house your keys, but it came with the addition of plug-ins and was thus transformed into a cell-phone charging station because the study found women wanted to keep their clutter away from places like the kitchen and living room spaces.
One such placard sat in the upstairs guest bathroom and discussed the sink and countertop. It read, "Women spend on average 14 hours a week cleaning the home …”
I did a double take. Why women? Why does it not say, “on average, it takes 14 hours a week to clean the home …"? Maybe it’s just my generation that has become enamored with the idea that there is household equality, and I do get the fact that the home was centered around the ideas and complaints of women, but today there are more men than ever staying home or working part time while the wife is out.
I don’t cook. I rarely do dishes. My boyfriend is the neat freak and it drives me crazy. If we were to get married, the duties of cleaning would either be split down the middle or consequently spill over onto him because I wind up with too many other things on my plate. I don’t make time to clean. He does.
I believe Kliethermes is on to something. Architects design homes, which typically seems to be a more male-leaning job. Men think differently than women, therefore housing preferences, designs and needs would differ. By finally bringing women in on the planning, you are able to get a balanced depiction of a home by both genders. As Dan Kliethermes said in his Columbia Business Times article, “The construction industry is dominated by men, but 91 percent of decisions about the home are made by women.”
That’s why I believe, not just for political correctness or gender equality, that the Woman-Centric home should be called the family-centric home. No longer are women the ones doing all the cleaning or deciding what the family will buy at the grocery store. Women are working more and traditional family roles have changed.
The staff at the home told me women are typically the ones who make decisions when house hunting, and to an extent I agree with them. Women tend to know what they like and don’t like right away and have a clear picture of what they are looking for, whether it comes to shoes, a wedding dress or a new house. As part of our personality traits, we just know it when we see it.
There’s a fine line between telling a woman, “we built this house so it will be more comfortable and enjoyable for you to live in with your family” and saying, “we built this house to make it easier for you to clean and take care of it.”
From what I saw of the Woman-Centric home, it is not only playing to the needs of a woman but to that of a man and children. It’s a wonderful, well-designed home, and I hope its labeling will not mislead or deter anyone from checking one out.
Tracy Barnes graduated from MU in 2008 with degrees in journalism and English. She is a former copy editor and multimedia editor for the Missourian. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.