See Your Home in a Whole New Light

See Your Home in a Whole New Light

Velux kitchenNatural light is an important design element. Not only does it make us feel good, natural light also provides many health benefits such as increased vitamin D production and improved calcium absorption, lowers blood pressure, improves concentration, and reduces irritability and headaches. You can increase the number and size of windows in your home, but think about how great it feels to bask in the sun coming from above!

Skylights are a great addition to your home as they not only bring in natural light, but they also serve as a design element. Forget the old “bubble” style – today’s skylights are both functional and stylish, and are available with several options.

Velux solarOne such new feature is from VELUX®, the world’s largest manufacturer of skylights. VELUX raised the bar with Solar Powered “Fresh Air” Skylights. Rather than having to hire an electrician to run power to the roof, the skylight’s solar panel uses daylight to recharge its concealed battery that opens and closes the skylight (the practical side of ushering in fresh air and exhausting warm air trapped near the ceiling). It can also power an optional skylight shade.

Design Basics’ HER HOME™ publication teamed up with VELUX to showcase some of the possibilities for brightening your home. View this digital plan book with approximately 40 home plans with skylights incorporated into the design. This edition also features information on why natural light is so important, not only to your home design, but to you and your family!


Learn more about VELUX® skylights:

“See Your Toilet in a Whole New Light”

“See Your Toilet in a Whole New Light”

Kohler Lighted Toilet…says Kohler, referring to their Nightlight lighted toilet seat. In the middle of the night, you don’t want to turn the bright bathroom light on, startling yourself awake. With Nightlight, it’s easy to see the toilet area with the lid down; and, with the lid up, you can select from two different brightness levels to illuminate the toilet bowl for improved sight in the dark. Powered by four “AA” batteries, Nightlight runs on a seven-hour cycle, so you need not remember to turn it on at night or off during the day!

Visit to learn more.

Note: Product spotlights are for informational purposes; we do not formally endorse any product or service.

Beyond the Basics with Kathy Dick

Kathy Dick, PresidentKathy Dick

You started working at Design Basics on a part-time basis, and now you are the President. Tell us a little bit about what that journey was like for you.

When I came to Design Basics, I was hired to do Accounts Payable; I quickly became more involved with helping in other areas of the Business Office. With the CFO living out of state, I was able to fill in with various tasks in the [Omaha] office and quickly took on more and more. Within just a few weeks I went from part-time to full-time. Soon, I had moved into the role of Assistant Controller; then, to Vice President of Operations. When the President of the company announced she would be retiring soon, I was approached by the owners about taking on the position. It just goes to show that you never know where life’s going to lead you next!

What do you enjoy most about working at Design Basics?

The staff at Design Basics truly cares about one another. Most have been here for several years – some 20-25+ years! – and, they made it easy for me to dive in and become part of their “family.” I love working with the great team of people that we have here!

What do you like to do outside of the office?

My husband and I enjoy camping (in our motorhome, not roughing it!), biking, hiking, walking, and spending time with our children and grandchildren.

Name three things someone might not know about you:

I was a cheerleader in high school.

I used to own and operate a coffee shop. Since I still have some supplies, I have my own little coffee bar at home so I can make specialty coffee any time. In fact, my husband and I just hosted a coffee bar for a friend’s daughter’s graduation and it was a big hit!

We have 10 grandchildren, the oldest of which is six, and two more on the way! We are a close-knit family and enjoy getting together often.

I went on a mission trip to Russia visiting orphanages where our group put on a variety of performances such as skits, songs, etc., spreading the love of Christ; we also visited a women’s prison and a boy’s prison. It was an unforgettable experience and a real eye-opener for me.

What’s your vision for Design Basics in the next 3-5 years?

To grow awareness of Design Basics’ home designs, services, and brands, both in our local market as well as across the United States. I am looking forward to our team designing more Woman-Centric homes and introducing plans that offer the most forward-thinking amenities. Most importantly, we want to help more builders sell more homes.

Learn more about Kathy.

A Legacy of Fine Home Building: Fine Line Homes

A Legacy of Fine Home Building: Fine Line Homes

The year was 1972. Don McLean’s “American Pie” topped the Billboard charts, “The Godfather” made big-screen history, Billie Jean King won her seventh Wimbledon Tennis championship, and George Parmer founded Fine Line Homes in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In the 45 years since, American Pie still enjoys significant airplay, The Godfather remains one of the top-rated movies of all time, Billie Jean King’s impact on gender equality in professional sports can still be felt, and thousands of Pennsylvania and New York families come home to a house built by Fine Line Homes.

Fine Line Homes - Belmont LivingSuch enduring legacies are neither accidental nor “good fortune.” Fine Line Homes has not merely survived, but thrived, for multiple generations in part because home building is a process, which Fine Line Homes has honed to near perfection. Then there are standards, such as name-brand building products. Yet it may be the company’s cornerstones of quality and integrity that laid the foundation for success, according to Mark Bittner, the company’s Director of Sales and Marketing.

“Under Mr. Parmer’s leadership, Fine Line Homes has grown to now serve all of Central and Northeast Pennsylvania as well as Southern New York,” said Bittner, continuing, “The company, and the homes we build, have evolved, but our ‘customer-first’ commitment is unwavering.”

Recently, Fine Line Homes’ customers Barbara and Jim Scheifley were interviewed in the Williamsport Sun-Gazette regarding their new home. Jim was quoted as saying, “They [Fine Line Homes] are very honest with you and there were no hidden prices.” And, “Their standard construction options are what other builders offer as extras.” Even the article headline, “On Budget and On Time,” attests to the company’s focus on the customer.

Fine Line Homes - MontereyEach of Fine Line Homes’ regional offices (Harrisburg, Lewisburg, State College, Hazleton, and Sayre) has a different model home built for prospective home buyers to tour. There, they’ll meet with one of Fine Line Homes’ Housing Consultants who will help them through the home design, product selections, and purchase processes. Bittner practically brags on the Housing Consultants, “The majority have been with Fine Line Homes for more than 10 years. They know the homes, they know the products, they know the process. They know what can and can’t be done. Their knowledge is a tremendous value for our customers.”

Better Decisions

Bittner says “Our home designs have evolved, based on customer feedback and input from Design Basics through their Woman-Centric Matters!® research into women’s preferences in the home. Our plans are more open and inviting, with larger kitchens and pantries, places to work from home, and more spacious bathrooms as well as enviable owner’s suites. Yet square footages have remained fairly constant over the past decade.” How? Most of today’s Fine Line Homes’ buyers favor one eating area as opposed to the formal dining room plus separate breakfast area layout, so the space formerly devoted to formal dining can be re-allocated. Similarly, a high majority of the company’s customers are choosing an oversized shower and dual sinks, but no bathtub in the owner’s bathroom.

Read the full feature story about Fine Line Homes by clicking here.

What do Your Homes Say about You?

What do Your Homes Say about You?

Nothing says more about a builder than the homes the company builds. Your homes communicate what you believe is important and what [you perceive] buyers want and value. Some aspects are obvious to prospective buyers; others are “hidden assets” buyers might overlook or not notice at all. That’s where your stories regarding those hidden assets can powerfully influence the buying decision. But ultimately, whether or not the home sells is based on the stories prospects tell themselves.

Design Basics 42348 MLWe’ll use Design Basics’ new Beckley Place (42348) home plan to illustrate. The eclectic exterior incorporates shake and horizontal siding plus stone accents. A combination of composite shingles and metal roofing, carriage-style garage doors, shuttered windows, and a covered front porch create a façade that’s new and distinctive. The volume entry foyer is wide and inviting, while the flex room to the left presents a great opportunity to stir the buyer’s emotions. Simply asking “How would you use this space?” will help you identify your prospect’s priorities. As designed, it might be an ideal parlor, music room, or sunroom. But if a craft room or home office is what the buyers have in mind, closing the space off with double doors can provide desired privacy. Just beyond, the staircase landing presents a window seat flanked by built-in shelving. Explaining that the window is both aesthetic and a safety issue (better lighting in the staircase), and that a split staircase, such as this design, reduces fall danger and serious injury, can help your buyers appreciate such an amenity. Some buyers might place books on the shelves; others may display nick-knacks that bring a smile every time she passes by them!

Drop zone stories tend to center around de-cluttering the kitchen; parents recognize the desirability of lockers for organizing their kids’ stuff; and, a bench by the lockers is great for removing shoes. A planning desk is also shown in this space, which could be repurposed as a coat closet or bulk item storage if preferred. A covered patio means your outdoor plans need not be cancelled due to rain, and the corner location offers added privacy as well as making this space more pleasurable on windy days.

The garage is wonderfully sized for active households, including the extra-deep outside bay, which is ideal for backing a boat into or perhaps a collector car. The generous storage area presents workshop opportunities or organization that eliminates the “trek-around-the-bikes-and-garden equipment” routine. Explaining it in this way triggers related memories!

Design Basics 42348 ULBuyer hot-button issues continue upstairs, starting with the owner’s suite. Three transom windows over the likely headboard wall are a visual delight. The combined shower/bathing area is trending upward and if your hopeful buyers aren’t “tub people,” the bathtub could be omitted and that space given over to an even larger walk-in closet. Because most of us disrobe in the bathroom, a door from the owner’s bath to the laundry room eliminates steps, and there is room between the laundry sink and dryer for a hamper/clothes basket. This is another one of those stories buyers rehearse when they’re contemplating their new home purchase with you. Two sinks AND separate vanities for the compartmentalized hall bath is a great way to reduce conflict, especially when teens are in a hurry. While some buyers love the spaciousness of a two-story entry, others see this as “wasted space.” For those individuals, suggesting this space could be finished and turned into a walk-in closet for bedroom #2 or hall cedar closet or open study area may help turn prospects into customers!

Search our library of home plans here.

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