The New American Home is ultra clean & contemporary, but quite comfortable.
The architect and builder of the 2012 The New American Home (TNAH) – Phil Kean of Phil Kean Designs, Inc. in Winter Park, Florida – described this year’s residential showcase to the editors of Builder magazine as “white box meets modernism.” While inspired by the “Classic White Box” styles of the 1960s and ‘70s, this version is updated for today. Both the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and Builder magazine are co-sponsors of TNAH.
Finished in time for the International Builders’ Show, held in Orlando last month, TNAH is considered to be an annual laboratory that demonstrates the latest concepts, materials, designs, and construction techniques. In keeping with the increasing demand for energy and resource efficiency, TNAH 2012 achieved Emerald status under the National Green Building Standard, which was developed by the NAHB and is approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Emerald is the highest of the four levels of green building that the standard recognizes.
Perhaps fittingly for the times, TNAH is smaller in square footage – measuring 4,181 square feet – than previous incarnations. It also spoke to a different type of resident. The two-bedroom lay-out is designed to appeal to empty nesters who wish to continue their luxurious lifestyle in a smaller footprint. That said, if a family with children wanted to adapt this floor plan, there are four additional rooms (i.e. home office, a gym, studio, loft) that could be converted into sleeping quarters.
The overall concept for TNAH captures the current trend for blending indoor/outdoor living spaces. Granted this plan is most practical and effective in the warmer climates of the Sun Belt, however there are aspects of the design that can be modified to other areas of the country. The ample use of movable glass panels and motorized screens allow the prospective homeowner to maximize their comfort according to the weather conditions by either sliding back the floor-to-ceiling glass doors with telescoping panels to catch warm breezes or lower the nearly transparent shades (tucked neatly out of sight when not in use) to shield the casual lounging areas in the covered veranda/lanai area just off the dining room from the bright sun.
Most remarkably different in TNAH 2012 is the decision to install an art gallery instead of a living room as casual living space. Shown outfitted with a grand piano, a compact bar, and $300,000 of donated artwork, the gallery makes an eye-popping visual statement upon walking through the threshold of the front door. The area is large enough for the homeowners to do some serious entertaining in, and yet has several comfortable seating areas where one can read a book or stretch out.
Immediately facing the gallery through another set of glass walls is the courtyard pool, where an outdoor kitchen, a casual dining area with an unusual fountain table, and a small exterior studio (equipped with a modest bathroom) form an intimate oasis.
Adding to the spacious feeling throughout are touches such as the unobtrusive illumination from Progress Lighting and the choice of an open-rise staircase with a transparent glass balustrade that underscores the “floating” effect – especially since it is placed adjacent to the front glass wall facing the street. As a safety precaution, Progress Lighting’s step lights illuminate each stair.
The living room, dining area, and kitchen are all conjoined for easy flow. A corridor out of sight of the living room, but conveniently off of the kitchen, is lined with two ovens (one is a convection model), refrigerator/freezer, and plenty of storage cabinets. At the end of the hall is the laundry area plus an outside door leading to a side yard equipped with a doggie door and a handy dog shower.
Just as the downstairs living areas feature glass walls, so do the ones upstairs where the loft, exercise room, plus the master bedroom and master bath benefit from a generous helping of natural light. Clear balustrades on the upper decks enhance the feeling of openness.
The second floor is essentially considered to be the owners’ retreat. The loft space’s sitting area with walk-out deck is the first area one reaches after climbing the stairs or taking the small elevator (outfitted with LED lighting). It’s a nice transition space or landing spot to relax. To the left of the loft is the glass-enclosed exercise room/home gym, with its own deck. Just behind the loft lies the master bedroom and bath.
Besides the enormous his and her closet systems from Closet Factory, one of the stars of the master bath is the Kohler WaterTile® Ambient Rain® overhead showering panel that incorporates chromatherapy with mood-enhancing light sequences. An electronic touchpad allows the homeowners to program lighting schemes and music while they bathe. Instead of the more typical jetted tub, this bath utilizes Kohler’s BubbleMassage® technology (which uses air instead of water jets).
Decorative pendants above the sink put light closer to where the homeowner would be standing at the sink. Toekick lighting under the cabinets makes the vanities appear to be floating above the marble floor. Recessed lighting from Progress provides the ambient illumination for the master bath.
TNAH 2012 is outfitted with a whole-house lighting and security system that can be controlled via iPhone®, iPad®, or any device with Internet access. This super “smart” home is also equipped with an energy management system that can automatically shift energy consumption to discounted rate periods and decrease demand during high-rate periods. The system can also measure and display historical power usage and related costs.
Living inside a customized “resort” that blends the best attributes of both worlds – inside and out – is the true legacy of TNAH 2012. The notion of bringing the outdoors inside and vice versa is a concept that can be adapted to many floor plans and is an idea that many homeowners will be seeking when selecting their next new home.