COLUMBIA — An ordinary home with brown brick and gray siding occupies a lot on Redmond Court on the west side of Columbia. A sign is posted in the grass: “Tour this home through the mind of a woman.”
This model home, built by Kliethermes Homes & Remodeling Inc., is the city's first design with Design Basics' Woman-Centric Matters approach, said Linda Reimer, president of Design Basics. Eighty builders are creating Woman-Centric homes across the country, with 91 built in Rhode Island last year alone, she said.
Builders from Kliethermes Homes & Remodeling say the homes are designed to maximize convenience, flexibility, organization, entertainment potential and peace of mind.
Extra shelves and pullout drawers in the kitchen, laundry room and other areas are designed to establish order in a hectic environment. Bedroom closets have storage systems that organize space for clothing and shoes.
Homes are designed with a rear foyer, where families will find cubbies for laptops, coats or children’s book bags.
A screened-in porch and walk-in shower are intended to provide ways to relax. Speakers throughout the house allow family members to communicate easily, while solid-core doors set up sound barriers for privacy.
Reimer founded Woman-Centric three years ago as a division of Design Basics, a home-plan company in Omaha, Neb.
On a trip home from an international builders show, Reimer said she read in Forbes magazine that Lowe's was gaining market share over Home Depot because it was listening to women. Even though the products typically sold are used by men, the article suggested, women are the key decision-makers at these places.
“I knew we could make home plans more successful then because women are also the primary decision-makers in the home,” she said.
Reimer began interviewing groups of women to come up with new criteria for building homes specifically with them in mind.
“We’re trying to de-stress the whole process,” she said. “We want to really help the builder understand what women want.”
Mike Pitts, the new homes sales manager for Kliethermes Homes & Remodeling, explained that when men come home at night, work is typically over for the day. Women, on the other hand, come home to a second job, he said, and their blood pressure rises.
“We like to provide convenient ways for families to live in order to make their lives easier,” Pitts said.
An open house on Sunday attracted families intrigued by the notion of a Woman-Centric home.
“I could tell they thought of women here,” Angeli Brooks said as she finished a home tour with her family, who moved to Columbia from Indiana.
Two of the family's previous homes had been built by Kliethermes Homes & Remodeling, and they are living in one he built across the street from the Woman-Centric model in Columbia.
“We are just here today to see the finished product,” Brooks said. “I recognize a lot of similarities to the home we’re living in now.”
Shelly and Dan Houston also live in a Kliethermes home after moving six months ago from Houston to Columbia. The couple is looking for a new home to possibly accommodate another family member.
“Everything is very functional and convenient,” Shelly Houston said. “Ovens, microwaves, even electrical outlets are all shorter and at mid-height."
Sandy Blomberg came to gather building ideas for a project she’s working on with her brother-in-law. She said women have ideas for features in a home that men may not normally consider or even think about.
“I want to improve for the future, and while I’m walking through, I think, wow, I should have done that,” she said.
Before working with Woman-Centric designs, Dan Kliethermes, president of Kliethermes Homes & Remodeling, said he always tried to pay attention to details.
“It’s all the little extra things that we add to the home that make the difference,” he said.