Partnership Promotes ‘Women-Centric’ Homes

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HARTLAND, WI— It’s a question that has been asked throughout the millennia: What do women want?
For men, the answer has been elusive, at best.

But Terri Goetz thinks she has the answer, at least when it comes to home design. Her concept: a “Woman Centric” home.
It came to her in 1998 when, as she puts it, the “wheels started turning. I wanted to build a new home, and I had two young children. I wanted lots of storage areas for toys and winter boots, all that stuff,” she explains.

But the model homes she was walking into were more cookie cutter, less efficient, with rear-entry mud and laundry rooms with a washer and dryer.

Goetz wanted more: more storage space, more convenience, more of what a women in today’s modern era needs.
As she thought about it, the concept took on a life of its own. Goetz wanted to have a kitchen that not only served as a centerpiece of home entertainment, but a place where her kids could do their homework as she cooked. She wanted a bathroom that would allow her to “de-stress.”

And, unlike most women who just dream of these things, Goetz was in an industry where she could do something about it – not just for herself, but for many other women who share her design dream. A builder whose dream would inspire her to partner with a visionary design firm, Goetz conceived of a series of homes that would truly work for the way women live today.

Her vision is coming full circle this spring as she’s subdivided 60 acres of her family farm in southeastern Wisconsin into 30 “women-centric” homes.

The first of these homes is in the process of construction. “This is a no-brainer. It makes total sense,” says Goetz, whose business is based in Hartland, WI. “I recently saw a statistic that 91 percent of women either make the decision to buy a home or have a huge influence on the decision. And many traditional builders forget or ignore the fact that women make these decisions in the home and do the basic providing of services.”

Outside the Box

Goetz decided to think outside the box and design a home for a woman’s all-around needs. She wanted a large kitchen island for the kids to do their homework or crafts, but an island that could also serve as an informal place for entertaining guests. She also wanted a large walk-in pantry that could accommodate everything from paper and dry goods to tool boxes and crafts for her kids.

She attended a design seminar with a company that did just that, Design Basics, based in Omaha, NE, which focuses on a woman’s needs in the home.

“I’ve always jumped into projects,” says Goetz. “I’ve designed and done general contracting, and worked as a project manager in new homes. And I’ve always wanted to build spec homes.”

Woman-Centric Home Design is a trademark of Design Basics, the largest designer of home plans in the country. The company began focusing its plans around the needs of women in 2003, and Goetz’s firm, Heritage Hill Builders, forged an exclusive agreement with Design Basics for floor plans in three growing counties of southeastern Wisconsin: Waukesha, Washington and Jefferson counties.

Goetz sees the kitchen as the hub of activity in most homes, and she believes the home will serve as a fine entertainment venue if the kitchen is open to other entertaining spaces, such as the dining area, a Great Room and an outdoor living area. Openness will allow a family to accommodate a large number of people during holidays and gatherings, while allowing the host to prepare meals.

Likewise, sufficient storage will allow a family to become more organized when those holidays come upon them too quickly.
“When looking for a new house, women tend to view the home for how it fits into her and her family’s lifestyle and living habits,” Goetz says. “Topping the agenda of what women want are larger kitchens, open floor plans and plenty of storage space.”

Goetz says that what busy modern women – often working outside the home or spending hours taxiing children to and from events – don’t want is to return home to a cluttered laundry room filled with piles of clothing, or a small kitchen that lacks the storage necessary to keep matters neat.

“The frustration that accompanies women entering an untidy home can be greatly reduced by designing a home around ‘her’ needs,” she notes.

And a home should be a sanctuary, Goetz believes. Personalizing that sanctuary for the female home-owner could mean installing a spa shower in the master bath or a cozy reading area elsewhere in the home. There could be an outdoor living space for enjoying the good weather, or an exercise or craft room designed into the floor plan.

Clearly, Goetz notes, the concept goes far beyond the kitchen and laundry room. Rather, it’s a whole-home concept that revolves around maximizing the entire home experience. The key, however, is personalizing the design for the woman who is using it.

For instance, Goetz knows some of her clients want a dedicated exercise room, not merely a room that also accommodates exercise machines. Many families need an office in the home, or even two. But here, placement is critical. For instance, Goetz wanted her own office on the main floor – not in a spare bedroom – so “I always know what’s going on outside with the kids.”

And she puts the same kind of thought and care into the homes she builds and designs. Goetz wants her clients to know she’s taken care of the details in a new home. She wants them to be confident there will be lots of storage space, with a big pantry that can multi-task. She wants them to know there will be a dedicated area for the trash cans and recycling bins, little touches that are often overlooked, she says.

“It is about giving her permission to relax in her home,” she says.

And, she works with clients to find easy-care materials for items such as countertops. For example, granite is beautiful, she says, but its maintenance can be intensive. Depending on the client’s needs, she may steer her toward other materials that require less maintenance.

Ample storage space is also addressed throughout the house, she adds.

In Goetz’ world, simplicity is the key: Every garage in her home designs have a “drop zone” near the entry that allows for neat storage of outer wear, mail, newspapers, keys and the like. Designing to a minimum size of 24'x24' means men are happy as well, with plenty of space for their projects and adequate room for cars. And, what man could argue with a women who is happy with her home, Goetz asks.

Goetz’ business philosophy is summed up this way: “It’s to build homes that have well-designed, flexible floor plans, and our goal is to fill our customers’ needs before they know it’s a need.”