Multi-Generational Living

Multi-Generational Living

By definition, multi-generational households have at least two adult generations living in the home. Today, about 1 in 5 Americans live in multi-generational households. Traditionally, in-law suites were the design solution — in a pinch, mom and/or dad moved into one of the secondary bedrooms. But better for achieving both independence and togetherness is a bedroom suite with its own entertaining area, a private bathroom, and a generous closet. That way mom can have the ladies over without having to “schedule” the primary entertaining space.

Design Basics 42027Design Basics’ McAllister (42027) plan illustrates this arrangement beautifully. With the addition of its own exterior door off the front porch, plus its kitchenette, the in-law suite’s living area is sure to please. Increased natural light levels are paramount as we age and this plan delivers with windows on two sides of both the second suite’s bedroom and living space. With an older family member in that suite, you’ll also want to consider zoned heating and cooling, as older individuals typically need warmer temperatures to be comfortable. And, while tile continues to be the preferred flooring choice in bathrooms, falls are the leading cause of fatal injury among seniors. Selecting slip-resistant tile flooring just makes sense.


According to PEW Research of U.S. Census data, 45% of college graduates move back in with their parents after graduation. Dubbed by some the “boomerang” generation, 7 in 10 college seniors graduated with student loan debt averaging nearly $30,000 each, as of 2013. At other times, adult children were moving back in with parents following a job loss or divorce.

Design Basics 42302These scenarios have given rise to the popularity of “casitas” – independent living quarters with private access – often found atop or behind the main home’s attached garage. Design Basics’ Petaluma (42290) and Westerly (42302) both exemplify these options.

Accessed from its own entrance/staircase behind the garage, the Petaluma’s casita over the garage presents a sizable living space, kitchen with eating bar and private bedroom suite with oversized shower and walk-in closet. Alternatively, the Westerly’s casita (at left) is positioned behind the garage and main home’s kitchen. Again, there is private access from behind the garage and this ground-level casita layout offers a pocket office, too.

Recently, the McAllister plan was re-designed as the McAllister Knoll OTB (42319) with the addition of a “roomer” off the rear covered porch. Think small studio apartment with private bedroom and bath plus modest living space equipped with kitchenette for your college student or perhaps your separate home office.

No matter what multi-generational living arrangement presents itself, our plan specialists can assist you in finding the right fit for your situation. Search Plans

Planning for the Future

Planning for the Future

There are many design elements that can be added to your home at a later date, but some things should be incorporated during the planning stages. Here we present two such items – one is an almost impossible change after the fact, and one will simply save you time, money, and unnecessary headache.

Basement Design

Slightly less than one-half of the homes built in the U.S. are built on basements. If your new home will sit atop a basement foundation, before you build, do your best to determine future uses for your basement. For example, you’re probably going to want taller basement walls in order to have a ceiling height that is at least 8-feet. You’ll know where to rough in plumbing for a bathroom, where to optimally locate structural poles, and where a small kitchen or bar might be situated. You will also want to make sure you don’t finish off too much of that lower level at the expense of much needed storage!

Happy Feet

If your feet are warm, chances are you’ll feel warm all over. But the converse is also true. And few things at home are more dreaded than climbing out of a warm bed or after bathing and stepping onto cold floors! Concrete, stone, tile, and even wood floors can be quite cold to bare feet. Radiant floor heating, in which either warming electrical wires or recirculating hot water lines are installed under the flooring, creates a wonderful, warm floor. Importantly, the decision to spend money for warm floors must be made prior to construction!

Read more home design tips on our Design Resources page.



Physiologically, we are drawn to natural light. That’s not surprising as natural light has been shown to provide numerous health benefits – both physically and mentally. Natural light promotes concentration and relaxation.

Numerous studies also conclude that we’re “wired” to be in community. Most people will recall time spent with family and friends as the best, and most important times in their lives; therefore, it’s no surprise that sunny spaces are golden for entertaining.

A natural conclusion is that areas in your home bathed in daylight would be ideal for making memories. Whether you relish delicious moments alone for personal reflection or growth or life-giving time spent with loved ones, “light, bright, and airy” describes the perfect space.

Design Basics BarclayHence, the long-standing popularity of sunrooms in our homes. Lined with windows on at least two sides to maximize natural light levels, sunrooms also connect us with nature’s beauty. And when the sunroom flows directly into your dining area, as seen in the Barclay (56392) plan, magic happens! Your dining space becomes so much more attractive, and the windows add a feeling of spaciousness. Practically, such design adds flexibility to your entertaining options as well. For instance, if on holidays you’ll have 12 people for dinner, you can add those leaves to your dining table (or set up another adjoining table) and all generations are together for that special meal!

View the plan: 56392

More Than a Feeling

More Than a Feeling

Most model homes are a beauty to behold, designed to elicit all kinds of responses from visitors and prospective home buyers. But we have five senses. Are you marketing to all of them?

Touch. Some surfaces, such as flooring, are going to be encountered. Plush carpeting with the right pad can feel luxurious; tile bathroom floors can be cold. Some surfaces beg to be touched: tumbled stone backsplashes, come to mind. But to engage the sense of touch, sometimes an invitation is needed. According to one of the nation’s largest cabinet manufacturers, the majority of model home visitors do not open cabinet drawers/doors. You may need to invite model home visitors to open the cabinet doors to experience the soft close hinges.

45 degree drawers

Photo courtesy Mark Samu, Design: Jean Stoffer Designs, Ltd.

Hearing. Continuing the cabinetry illustration, soft-close hardware is quiet. While quiet may not be top-of-mind for prospective home buyers, its importance should not be undervalued. Quiet appliances, HVAC, kitchen exhaust and bath fans, food waste disposers, and garage door openers can become differentiators, especially when pointed out. Similarly, solid core interior doors, insulated plumbing walls adjoining entertaining areas and/or bedrooms, and even superior air sealing in exterior walls can contribute to a dreamy, serene environment.

Smell. Some studies suggest smell is the strongest of all of our senses. While your model home might smell “new,” those material off-gassing odors can trigger respiratory ailments among some buyers, particularly those with chemical sensitivities. The sense of smell has the ability to transport us to another time and place – bread baking at grandma’s house, for example. Department stores have long known that adding the scent of baby powder to their baby department increases sales. From potpourri and fresh flowers to delicious kitchen aromas, adding fragrance to your model home can create a much more pleasurable buying environment.

Taste. The sense of taste is the trickiest of the senses to deal with, because the introduction of food and/or beverages ushers in the likelihood of added clean-ups. Yet, people linger more in the home when refreshments are available. Some builders restrict where food/beverages are to be consumed, posting signs such as “Please enjoy our refreshments here in the information center.” Savvy builders are also tying into cause-related marketing, serving only responsibly-sourced fruits or coffee that comes from a third-world country women’s cooperative.

Why all the fuss over multi-sensory marketing? Engage three of more of your model home visitors’ senses and your home will be twice as memorable as homes that are mere eye candy. 

More home design articles on our Design Trends website page.

Focused on a Home’s Livability – PATCO Construction, Inc.

Focused on a Home’s Livability – PATCO Construction, Inc.

PATCO Front FoyerWhile southern Maine may be best known for Lobster and Lighthouses, homebuilder Mark Patterson is making strong inroads for adding a third “L” – Livability. “It’s evident when you walk into one of our homes or our showroom,” Mark said, adding, “We put livability first. For example, our buyers may be looking for an open floorplan, well-planned storage, or an oversized, walk-in shower, amenities you just won’t find in used homes.”

But all new homes are not created equal. Mark continued, “Some builders build what they like. At PATCO, we focus on what our buyers value and appreciate.” That includes practical as well as aesthetic features. “It starts when you arrive home. Just inside the door from the garage you’ll find our ‘drop zone,’ which is great whether you need a place to set heavy things down or to keep clutter out of the kitchen.

“We’re the only homebuilder in the area that has a design center, which makes choosing products for their new home so much simpler. From stylish door options to designer carpeting, beautiful cabinetry and hardware choices, our clients find our showroom takes the selections process from stressful to delightful.”

Furthermore, PATCO’s design center is an educational environment in which home buyers discover and gain an appreciation for products for their new home, such as one-piece fiberglass bathtub/shower enclosures that are low maintenance, giving homeowners back a little more time. Mark is quick to point out the well-known products, “People trust brand names and it’s an important element in knowing they’re getting a quality home.”

Construction quality is non-negotiable with PATCO’s customers. That’s why PATCO homes are highly energy efficient, utilizing Tyvek® house wrap, Low E and Argon gas insulated windows and performance insulation in the walls and ceilings. The company’s homes are also backed by 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty, providing the peace of mind that comes with a 10-year structural warranty.

Read more about PATCO Construction, Inc., including photos of their design center and newest home!


Embracing a Woman-Centric Approach to Building

Embracing a Woman-Centric Approach to Building

Darcy Baylis didn’t step into homebuilding like most others. The time had come for a new home for her family, and Darcy’s father, a retired air force veteran, encouraged her to be her own general contractor. However, Darcy, a special needs educator, didn’t feel she had the time nor knowledge, so she hired a builder. And, fell in love with homebuilding!

Aubrey Homes Great Room

Great room, kitchen, dining area

Through the process of having her home built, Darcy saw that she could do it. Yes, there was much to learn, and Darcy credits her builder – along with other sub-contractors – with taking the time to help her learn the trade. Darcy describes her father as a “real go-getter” (a trait she says she inherited) and she and her dad built their first home together in 1999. That home sold right away and they started a second home, which likewise sold quickly. After that, local banks were willing to make construction loans for Darcy, so her father no longer needed to put up the money to acquire the home site and for construction. That’s when Darcy left the teaching profession to pursue her homebuilding career full-time, naming her business “Aubrey Homes” after her eldest daughter.

The company builds homes priced from $250,000 to $1,000,000 in the hill country and suburbs surrounding Austin, Texas. Darcy prides herself on crafting homes that meet the needs of everyone in the household. About 75% of the homes built by Aubrey Homes are market homes, available for immediate possession. When Darcy discovered the Woman-Centric Matters!® approach to building homes, she was attracted to teaming up with Design Basics, LLC. “You can tell when a home has been designed and built by a woman,” Darcy says.

“Our homes are centered around all of the buyers’ needs. We look at every detail. I’m happy to work with each of my clients from the design phase through product selections and finishes to get the home they truly want.”

What’s it like being a woman builder in a male-dominated industry? According to Darcy, “It’s pretty cool, actually. I don’t get shunned. Occasionally there’s a sub-contractor that doesn’t want to work with a woman but generally I’ve been treated well. It’s an exciting time for women to be involved in the homebuilding industry and the education opportunities are endless.”

Aubrey Homes Drop Zone

Rear foyer drop zone

It was the Greater Austin Home Builders Association’s “Green Boots” classes that helped shape Aubrey Homes’ focus on the environment. Darcy just finished building Design Basics’ “Bonham” plan, which sold for $415,700, and featured blown-in cellulose insulation in the walls and spray foam insulation in the attic, creating a highly energy efficient home. The heating and air conditioning systems were sized properly for such energy-efficient construction and ductwork sealed to minimize air duct leakage. Construction Waste Recyclers of Texas, who Darcy was referred to at the Green Boots classes, was able to recycle approximately 85% of the jobsite waste, keeping tons of debris out of area landfills.

Read more about Aubrey Homes and the Bonham plan.

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