Boyce Thompson Editorial Director
Anje Jager/ Boyce Thompson Editorial Director

You never know with dramatic new designs that buyers in a market haven’t really seen before. “These homes may set a new standard for Orlando, [Fla.]” says Craig Perry, the CEO of Centerline Homes, which built our three show homes for 2012. “Or they may not.”

Perry clearly hopes the former will be the case, and he has good reason to believe it will be, given that the designs for the homes, each aimed at a different demographic target, is based on some pretty strong research. But that was only the starting point for the design process. Intuition and creativity eventually took over as the group strove to create something special—homes that buyers didn’t even really know they wanted but must have once they see them.

Centerline is no stranger to taking calculated risks on product development. The South Florida–based builder took a chance two years ago when it started building homes in Eagle Creek, the subdivision where our show homes are located. Before Centerline arrived, a foreclosure pandemic had blighted the neighborhood. Working closely with the developer, Emerson International, Centerline fixed up the streetscape, filled in some holes in production, and started a new series of aspirational homes. Things were working so well that the company sold 10 homes a month at one time last year.

With more than a thousand lots to go, Centerline and Emerson were open to our idea of demonstrating that master plan communities in the future need to be demographically diverse. It may have worked to go after a small slice of the market during the housing boom. But during the bust, developers found that they needed to appeal to every buyer possible, often having new product lines designed to do just that. Besides, as some planners have maintained all along, it makes for a better, more vibrant community when you have all sorts of people living within a community.

There are several transformative concepts in these houses. The one that comes first to mind, though, is the wide-open living space in the 2,278-square-foot Gen Y home designed by Woodley Architectural Group. It’s fair to say that there is no boundary between indoor and outdoor space—a corner of the home rests on a pillar that’s in the pool. Sliders on two walls open to create one big living space. And you can get a production version of this home that may sell in the low-to-mid $200s.

The in-law apartment in the Gen X home designed by Canin and Associates goes well beyond what is typically done. A dedicated elevator takes you to a space that’s way cooler than most apartments, with its own kitchenette, accessible bath, and television viewing area. There’s no reason to ever come out of this in-law cave. The place could also be rented (with proper zoning) to a student working across the way at the new Burnam Medical Center.

Each of the homes has a multigenerational housing story to tell. The Baby Boomer home, also designed by Woodley, features two cribs for friends and family—the classic second-story boomerang child space, and a guest room with its own entrance off the courtyard. Kay Green, whose firm did the interiors for all three homes, outdid herself creating the ultimate party home for a mature couple looking to finally have some fun in life. With a killer front courtyard, sliders that open to the pool deck, and a wide-open interior, this, unexpectedly enough, is the ultimate party house.

There are many more ideas worth studying in our 2012 Builder Concept Homes. The homes not only showcase cutting-edge design ideas, but they contain many of the most innovative new products set to debut this year, products that could be used in any home. We invite you to read the story, then come see the homes for yourself during the IBS in Orlando, when they’ll be open for tours.

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Learn more about markets featured in this article: Orlando, FL.