Think about your market these days. A buyer’s market, most likely, with prospects growing bolder in their demands—and perhaps bored with what they see. A market ­increasingly made up of aging Americans eager for a house that suits their active, multigenerational lifestyles, and also of buyers showing a sincere appreciation for environmental concerns.

Photos by James F. Wilson

The New American Home 2008 is all about rethinking your approach to changing markets and preparing for when the pace picks up again. Now in its 25th year as a harbinger of things to come in residential design and products, the house provides the building industry with real solutions to current issues.

Co-sponsored by Builder and the National Council of the Housing Industry/Supplier 100, The New American Home 2008 inspires new thought about market-savvy aesthetics, space planning, eco-friendliness, and lifestyle. Instead of being another Mediterranean knock-off, for instance, the house presents a refreshing Gulf Coast–inspired façade to the highest end of the Orlando, Fla., market. Rather than waste space throughout its generous, 6,725-square-foot floor plan, it offers carefully designed areas that deliver volume and drama while at the same time making efficient use of its entire footprint. And even though its buyer might not care about saving $150 a month on electricity, this year’s New American Home exploits solar power and high-performance construction to reduce its overall energy use by 42 percent compared to similar homes in the same climate.

Overall, The New American Home 2008 provides valuable lessons to an industry trying to regain its footing and ready itself for the next upswing. The house displays a thoughtful perspective on family gathering areas, outdoor living, modern lifestyle needs, access, volume, and resource efficiency. Its fresh take on floor planning and exterior detailing bucks the status quo and delivers the right combination of comfort, convenience, and luxury, which well-heeled baby boomers will demand in the current buyer’s market.

Simply, The New American Home 2008 doesn’t settle for what worked in the recent past. Instead, it seeks to set new standards that will inspire you to refine and rethink the modern house to suit ever-changing market conditions.

Plan of Attack

Designer Dan Sater combined an aesthetic concept from the builder with lessons he’s learned and applied about saving space and serving affluent boomers. On the first level, Sater’s plan allows for the formal areas of the house to share footage and views at the entry and adjacent grand salon. The curving staircase, meanwhile, conceals a convenient wine closet, another nod to space efficiency and a high-end market.

Sater also put the master suite on the main level, citing research he’s conducted that first-floor masters are a must among boomers. A studio apartment at the opposite end of the floor plan accommodates occasional out-of-town visitors or an independent yet elderly parent.

The real action on the main level, however, is along the back. Beyond its good looks and excellent functionality, the home’s main kitchen focuses outward to a lake view through the adjacent leisure room, the deep covered loggia, outdoor dining area with its own full kitchen, and finally, the solana, a comfortable outdoor sitting area. Only a set of full-panel, full-height sliding glass doors separates the ­indoors and outdoors.

Upstairs, Sater’s plan continues the shared space theme. The club room exemplifies that objective by combining a home theater space, wet bar, game area, and fireplace. Similarly, a full bath across the hall does double-duty for the club room and an adjacent bedroom. Meanwhile, all second-level rooms feature generous ­balconies. The one off the club room extends to a wide, open-air sun deck with an enviable view of the water.

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