You see its interior before you even enter the house. In a clever contemporary twist on a distinctly Southern vernacular, visitors walk the length of a deep, covered lanai to the front door, passing full views of the family room, kitchen, and dining room through floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors akin to the display windows of a downtown department store.
Except that these full-height windows slide wide open on most Central Florida days, blurring the lines of indoors and outdoors and providing alternative routes into the house so that the actual front door—a checkerboard of warm, rich wood that deliberately contrasts with the predominant gray stone and glass of the house—serves as an art element as much as a point of entry.
Welcome to The New American Home 2012, celebrating a 29-year collaboration between Builder and the Leading Suppliers Council of the NAHB in conjunction with the annual International Builders’ Show (IBS).
The home’s public face to the street is no less impressive and certainly more exposed than a traditional porch approach. Derived from the classic White Box model of modern design in the mid-20th century by architect-builder Phil Kean, the front of the approximately 4,200-square-foot house features several expansive windows, one framing an open-riser stone staircase with a clear glass balustrade that almost disappears during the day but is dramatically displayed at night.
“I tend to lean toward modern design, but it’s more challenging than traditional styles,” says Kean. “If you miss, it really looks bad. There’s nowhere to hide your mistakes.”
The floor plan and interior finishes follow the modern moves of the exterior and are equally exposed and flawless. Straight, clean lines and hard, geometric surfaces create the perfect canvas for colorful art elements, area rugs, and soft furnishings. A stone floor that appears at first glance to be bleached wood planks extends into every space of the main level, including the covered courtyard entry.
And yet the house is far from cold or impersonal. Flush, dark-wood cabinets add a measure of warmth and provide welcome contrast. But the abundance of windows reflecting daylight off the white surfaces from multiple angles, throwing it deep into each room, makes the home comfortable and livable.
For times when solar heat gain is a concern or, more likely, privacy is a priority, sheer fabric screens and darker solar shades roll down behind and in front of the windows, respectively, to compensate. “It’s a very open plan, but it lives very privately,” says Kean, noting the clever entry courtyard that is a main hub of activity and yet completely shielded from public view. “It was an ideal solution for this lot and location.”
But will it sell? Modern single-family isn’t exactly mainstream, and a buyer who can afford the $3.5 million price tag of this house represents a relatively small pool to the majority of builders.
Yet the home’s walkable proximity to downtown Winter Park (a historic community just north of the IBS 2012 host city of Orlando, Fla.), its perfect proportions and similar scale among its neighbors, and its high level of finish, as well as its higher level of energy and resource efficiencies, enhance its sales potential.
In his market, in fact, Kean and his team have carved a successful if not high-volume niche with mostly modern homes. They expect that an empty-nester or other childless couple, perhaps from overseas or seeking a seasonal retreat, will find their way to this one.
“The design reflects a segment of the market that appreciates what this house offers and has the lifestyle for it,” says project manager Alex Hannigan. “I don’t think there will be a lack of buyers for this house.”
Product Spotlight Flooring
Originally intended for terrazzo tiles, the floor of the main level—extending from the “false” entry of the front elevation through the lanai and into every interior space—is made up of 4-inch-wide, vein-cut natural limestone “planks” that perfectly suit the clean, straight lines of the home’s modern design. The stone sections are installed to duplicate the look of wood, with slight variations along the surface and seams, while their natural veining and marbling deliver subtle color variations and piece-to-piece and linear movement across the floor expanse. Specs: Manufacturer: Daltile; Model: Chenille White Vein-Cut Natural Limestone; Dimensions: 4” x 36” x ?”.
Product Spotlight Stone
Even behind $300,000 worth of donated artwork, the stone veneer of the gallery walls stands out. Recalling mid-century Prairie-home design, the custom-fabricated cut and color of the stone was developed specifically for this house. While most prominent on the walls of the gallery, it’s also featured on the exterior façade to effectively break up the white-and-glass mass and identify the entry to the lanai. The summer kitchen, privacy walls, and a few interior walls also benefit from its dimensional feel among the otherwise smooth-finish surfaces of the house. Specs: Manufacturer/Installer: Environmental Stoneworks; Model: Osceola Prairie Stone.
Product Spotlight Solar Array
An innovative thin-film system to generate solar electricity adheres directly to the EverGuard TPO roof from GAF (circle no. 14), which eliminated bulky metal frames and fastener penetrations through the roof deck. But renewable energy, including flat-panel solar thermal collectors from HTP (circle no. 15) on the home’s top-most roof, is just the icing on a superior building envelope. The main level is built using insulated concrete forms from Logix (circle no. 16), while engineered structural framing by Nordic Engineered Wood (circle no. 17) frames the upper level. Metal connectors from Simpson Strong-Tie (circle no. 18) create a continuous load path through the frame, while Icynene’s (circle no. 19) open-cell spray-foam insulation delivers air-sealing and thermal resistance. Solar array specs: Manufacturer: United Solar; Model: PVL-68; Dimensions: 2849mm long x 394mm wide x 3.3mm thick; Rating: 68 watts per section, 80% power output.
Product Spotlight Glass Doors
Almost everywhere you look along the lanai, you’ll see these doors. Standing floor-to-ceiling and fitted into flush-mounted floor tracks, they almost disappear. And even more so when they’re open, as the 4-foot-wide panels telescope into each other to create openings of almost 20 feet across. The perpendicular panels of the corner unit enclosing the dining room (left) securely lock into each other, and their metal frames and impact-resistant insulated glass can withstand the elements. Specs: Manufacturer: WinDoor Inc.; Model: Series 8100, 90-degree pocket bypass sliding glass door; Dimensions: 4’x10’.
Product Spotlight Split-System HVAC
Drawing duct work to the studio from a conventional central forced-air system proved problematic, so Kean’s team turned to a self-contained, mini-split system to condition and ventilate the indoor air. Usually specified to allow tenants of high-rise buildings to manage their own indoor climates (and costs), the sleek, ceiling-mounted unit relies on a small, quiet outdoor compressor concealed behind a wall on the far side of the studio. It delivers a high level of pollutant filtration, dehumidification, and both fast-acting and energy-efficient cooling. Specs: Manufacturer: LG; Model: VRF Air Conditioner; Dimensions: 1200mm square; Capacity: 5500 BTU/hr cooling, 6100 BTU/hr heating.
Product Spotlight Mechanicals
Thanks in large part to an airtight and insulated building envelope, including a rainscreen barrier from Pactiv behind the stucco to shed incidental moisture and ventilate vapor (circle no. 27), the home’s mechanical systems are able to optimize their intended efficiencies. The centralized system, contained in a conditioned space, features a pair of Lennox high-performance forced-air furnaces supplemented by the company’s energy recovery ventilator and PureAir air filters (circle no. 28). The space also contains a high-voltage load center and structured wiring control hub from Eaton (circle no. 29) and an impressive tower of components for the myriad electronics that help run the house, among other gear.
Product Spotlight Solar Screens
There are times of the year (or day) when the north-facing lanai needs a break from the heat and humidity. Motorized rolldown solar screens, fitted into each bay of the lanai and in front of the gallery windows, block up to 41 percent of the daylight and UV light and fully enclose the insulated lanai to maintain its comfort level as a usable living space. What’s really cool is that, from the inside, the screens enable nearly 60 percent visibility through the mesh to maintain the view of the pool. Specs: Manufacturer: Phantom Screens; Models: Executive series Twitchell SuperScreen 17/17 and E-Screen 7510 Mesh. Circle no. 32.
The New American Home 2012 Sponsors and Contributors
Leading Suppliers CouncilProducts supplied by members of the Leading Suppliers Council of NAHB are selected by the project team to reflect the latest in technology and style.
American Gas Association (natural gas services/support)
BSH Home Appliances (built-in coffee maker)
Closet Factory (custom closets)
DuPont Building Innovations (solid surfaces)
Eaton Corp. (load centers and circuit breakers, high-voltage and structured wiring, A/C disconnects, standby generator, spa panel, surge protection, energy management system, electric vehicle charging station)
Environmental Stoneworks (stone veneer and installation)
GAF Corp. (TPO roofing)
R.H. Peterson Co. (outdoor kitchen)
Icynene (spray-foam insulation)
InSinkErator (waste disposers, hot water dispensers, water chiller)
JELD-WEN (interior doors)
Kohler (plumbing fixtures)
Lennox (solar-powered and conventional HVAC equipment)
Lubrizol Corp. (CPVC plumbing system, fire sprinkler piping)
Lutron Electronics (lighting controls)
Mohawk Industries (flooring)
Daltile (natural stone and porcelain tile)
Overhead Door Corp. (garage doors and openers)
Pactiv (rainscreen/air barrier, window and door flashing, synthetic roofing felt)
Phantom Screens (pest/solar screens)
PrintComm (printed material)
Progress Lighting (interior and exterior lighting)
Rinnai (tankless water heater)
Schneider Electric/Renewable Energies Business (solar PV inverter)
Sherwin-Williams Co. (interior and exterior paint)
Simpson Strong-Tie (metal framing connectors)
Timberlake Cabinetry (cabinets, built-ins)
Tyco Fire Suppression & Building Products (fire suppression system)
Gladiator GarageWorks (garage storage system)
Jenn-Air (kitchen appliances)
Maytag (laundry equipment)
The New American Home would not be possible without the support and hard work of local suppliers, installers, and consultants.
Florida Home Carpet
Girem Tile Work
Regency Fireplace Products
Southern Window Design
Universal Limited Art Editions
Ziegler Air Conditioning Sales & Service