The New American Home 2013

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    Almost every room in the 2013 New American Home has a view to outdoor spaces, from desert- and Asian-inspired courtyards to water features, landscaping, and both private and public entertainment areas. That mix reinforces the indoor-outdoor intent of the house—an effect enabled by telescoping patio doors that pocket out of sight for seamless transitions.

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    The master suite exemplifies the layering of living spaces and features found throughout the house. From a private patio, a deep, zero-edge spa graces an open-air sleeping porch and a quiet courtyard bordered by a retaining wall of regional rocks that add texture and subtle color.

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    Beyond the master suite's private patio, a glass door gives way to a trellised outdoor shower that, in turn, opens to an indoor shower and the rest of the master bath and generous custom walk-in closet. A rice-husk, salt, and mineral-oil material from Resysta serves as the floor for the elevated outdoor and indoor showers as well as siding for both interior and exterior walls. Kohler provided the plumbing fixtures throughout the house.
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    A novel entertainment space, complete with a TV and gas-powered firepit, casual seating, and a dining area, sits between two zero-edge pools that cascade into perimeter troughs. The area peeks into the great room and kitchen, while a spiral stair behind the TV niche leads to an open-air balcony above. The ability to engage with and enjoy the outdoor areas is directly attributable to the 90-degree corner patio doors from Sierra Pacific, which telescope into each other and then pocket away to create a full reveal. Natural limestone flooring from Daltile is the home’s prevailing floor finish, but look up in this area, the kitchen-great room, the foyer, and a few other spaces around the house to see an engineered wood plank from Mohawk Industries used as a warm and welcoming ceiling finish.

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    The kitchen combines comfort, convenience, and coolness with a high-contrast cabinet-countertop combo set off by a stainless steel appliance and fixture package. There’s more than enough storage and surface area, especially considering a perimeter run that stretches into a butler’s pantry.
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    An aerial view of the home's kitchen.
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    Elegantly mirrored in the zero-edge pool, a stand-alone covered patio offers a relaxing respite for yoga, an artist’s studio, or an afternoon nap.

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    The home’s two-story foyer opens completely on both sides to invite cooling breezes off the pool and basement areas below. A small library bookends the north end and heads a hallway to the master suite.
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    From the library, a sequence of living spaces is framed by wide passageways and contrasting yet complementary materials, emphasizing the home’s design and giving it a human scale.
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    From the second-story balcony, accessed by the spiral stair, as well as an interior staircase that leads to a billiard lounge and bar overlooking the kitchen, all of the elements of the house come together and reveal its three main levels (the fourth level is a sky deck above the lounge).
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    Thick stone pavers seem to float on the surface of the pool, leading to the spiral stair and a staircase down to the basement level (also accessed by the main staircase inside). Meanwhile, LED lamps from Progress Lighting highlight the rock wall and travertine step risers, just two examples of the interior and exterior lighting that serves the house and helped it achieve both NAHB Green-Emerald and LEED for Homes Platinum certifications.
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    Compared with what lies beyond it, the home’s front elevation is understated yet welcoming, featuring the lines and massing of distinct yet complementary materials that continue inside. The elevated entry not only reflects the long, narrow lot on which the home is built, but also helps enable the full-height, below-grade spaces that further distinguish the project.

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    The team at Blue Heron, led by Las Vegas native and second-generation builder Tyler Jones (seated, lower center), has refined a design/build business model for the high-end of the local housing market, a streamlined process that enables a focus on creative solutions instead of clashing egos. Architect Michael Gardner (seated, farthest right) and interior designer Lyndsay Janssen (seated next to Gardner) head up the design side. Kris Osterling (seated, front row, white shirt), served as construction project manager, while Shelly Stewart (directly behind Jones) is director of sales and marketing.

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    From co-producer NAHB, Tucker Bernard (standing, left) directs the association’s Leading Suppliers Council and New American Home program and Christopher McLarty (seated, left) manages council membership and retention. Builder John Ted Mahoney III (seated, right) chairs the program’s 2013 task force with vice chairman and builder Alex Hannigan (standing, right).

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    There are many outdoor areas that are easily accessible from different parts of the house.

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    An exterior shot of the house.

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    his area offers views into the great room and kitchen, while a spiral stair behind the TV niche leads to an open-air balcony above.

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    An aerial view of the great room.

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    Thick stone pavers create pathways between areas of the home.

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    Breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape are visible from one of the home's bedrooms.

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    An interior design detail.

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    A view of the home's great room.

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    The great room opens to both the kitchen and outdoor space.

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    The house offers many views from its multiple levels.

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    Another view of the multilevel home.

Visit Builder Online for more on the 2013 New American Home.

From the middle of the second-story balcony of the New American Home 2013, overlooking the center courtyard, you can glimpse a portion of the open-air basement two levels below. Shift a little to your right, and the telescoping patio doors of the basement’s enclosed home theater also come into view, as does the kitchen above it and a bit of the bedroom suite above that. Move all the way across the balcony to your left, and the view changes again, this time revealing the entrance to the home’s library at one end of the foyer and, through its second-level band of windows, the ridge of rugged hills beyond.

It’s no surprise that such discoveries are available from nearly every point of view within the 6,721-square-foot, four-level home in Henderson, Nev., a few miles south of Las Vegas. Seeking and seeing a variety of perspectives is the trademark of its builder, Blue Heron. Since 2009, in what was arguably ground zero of the housing industry’s recession, Blue Heron has taken a decidedly different view of the Las Vegas luxury home market and how to serve it. And it has met with remarkable and nearly exclusive success in otherwise desolate economic conditions.

The company’s innovative and integrated design/build approach to business is evident in the creative and distinctive homes it produces. But none exemplifies that approach more clearly than the latest version of the New American Home.

“We intentionally pushed the envelope with this house, and not just because it’s the New American Home,” says Tyler Jones, a local who cut his teeth hauling plywood and concrete for his father and uncle on their custom home jobsites while gaining an acute appreciation for high-level housing design. “That’s just our personality. It’s what makes the job fun.”

It’s also smart. Blue Heron’s homes are not only a distinct departure from the bargain-priced, neo-Mediterranean McMansions left in the wake of the recession, they’re also not easily replicable by the few local competitors still operating in that realm.

“It may look easy on the floor plan, but it’s hard to re-create in reality,” says in-house architect Michael Gardner. “It makes sense, it’s comfortable, but it’s not easy to understand how we got there and how to apply it.”

Once you cross the threshold from the front steps into the entry courtyard and down a path flanked by a narrow canal of water that runs to the back of the house, you really don’t care how Blue Heron did it. You just can’t wait to get behind the thick wood-and-glass entry door into a foyer that opens completely to the outside and looks across a koi pond below, fed by a gentle cascade of water from the first of two zero-edge pools separated by a sunken outdoor living area. Beyond that is a pergola that appears to float on the second pool that limns the back of the property at the edge of a narrow canyon.

That layering of multiple spaces and textures across a single sightline, says Gardner, is what keeps such a large home to human scale. “It doesn’t look or feel huge,” he says. “There’s a series of vignettes from almost any point of view that keep you interested and engaged, but never intimidated or small.”

Blue Heron’s deliberate departure from conventional floor planning also liberating. “We don’t have to worry about achieving a particular bedroom and bathroom count (for the record, the home has three and nine, respectively) and other things you have to nail to satisfy a given demographic,” Jones . “Our goal is to make it look amazing, hit a nerve with buyers, and deliver a more sophisticated design than everything else they’re seeing.”

With the New American Home 2013, there are endless elements that can attract a buyer, from its ubiquitous and soothing water features to the clean yet comfortable interior design with Asian-inspired lines, striking landscaping, and nearly seamless indoor-outdoor transitions. “We wanted to keep the interiors peaceful and slightly eclectic,” says in-house interior designer Lyndsay Janssen. “No matter where you are, there are so many elements to appreciate.”

The fact that Blue Heron stretched itself to move the needle a few more ticks ahead of its competition with this house speaks to the builder’s understanding of, respect for, and response to the custom home market in Las Vegas. And to staying in business for the long haul. “If we’re given a creative challenge, even if we don’t have a clue how to pull it off, the answer is always ‘Yes,’” says Jones. The house will serve as the model home at Seven Hills, a 31-lot gated community, ideally inspiring buyers to request their own version. “We now have a playbook of really interesting ideas that we can reformulate into new applications and apply in fresh ways.”

Even so, it’s hard to imagine what’s next for the builder after witnessing its work at Seven Hills, but history says it is only the latest example of what promises to be a legacy of remaking the mold.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Las Vegas, NV.