Modern life moves at warp speed, and each day is an exercise in controlled chaos. The desire for a simpler existence is ever present in our juggling of personal, family, and business commitments. Home is sought out as a spot for refuge and rejuvenation—the place we go to recharge our batteries and soothe our souls.

Plenty of builders have embraced the idea of “home as sanctuary,” handily serving up fountains, fireplaces, spa tubs, and bedside cappuccino makers as a panacea for what ails us. The problem is, few homeowners actually have time to sit back and enjoy the goods. Somehow the dream of downtime always ends up taking a backseat to all the items on the to-do list.

Could it be that the most significant missing ingredient in today's upscale homes isn't a gadget or a fabulous space, per se, but rather the luxury of time? That was the sentiment echoed again and again in focus groups Builder conducted with MarketScape Research & Consulting in crafting the concept for the InSync Home, our show home for the 2007 International Builders' Show in Orlando, Fla.

Mike, an insurance agent and diehard early adopter of all that is new and cool, bemoaned the fact that life's obligations often kept him from kicking back in his beloved home media center: “I'd like to have more time to enjoy what I've worked for,” he said. Terry, a designer with an entertainment company, expressed the need for a home-technology infrastructure that would enable the whole family to “spend more quality time together.” Nancy, an aerospace engineer, wished for automated household features that would free up “extra time to read or write, or to help others” through volunteer work.

Our research confirmed, without a doubt, that time isthe essence. It also revealed a belief among today's home buyers that smart technology is a key to that holy grail. But that left the question of how to design, integrate, and deliver it. That's when we called in the experts at Goehring & Morgan Construction, Morales-Keesee Design Associates, Saxon-Clark Home Furnishings & Design, and Wilson Technologies—the creative team behind this year's home—and charged them with figuring it out.

And they had to make it all happen in Baldwin Park, one of the nation's foremost TNDs. Not only did their design have to support one heck of a technology infrastructure behind the walls—complete with digital controls for security, temperature zones, lighting, music, and a host of other creature comforts—it also had to pass muster with both the town architect and the Orlando city planner's office. That meant honoring stringent aesthetic standards, including a requirement that relegates the garage entrance to the side or back of the house.

In the end, the InSync Home may not offer the perfect solution to achieving a harmonious life and absolute nirvana. It does, however, attempt to model how sanity might be gleaned, in little bits and pieces, from cutting-edge home technologies, an intuitive floor plan, and thoughtful construction that preempts the need for heavy maintenance and repairs down the road—all in the context of a real-world community.

PROJECT TEAM
  • BUILDER: Goehring & Morgan Construction, Orlando, Fla.
  • RESIDENTIAL DESIGNER: Morales-Keesee Design Associates, Apopka, Fla.
  • INTERIOR DESIGNER: Saxon-Clark Home Furnishings & Interior Design, Orlando
  • TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATOR: Wilson Technologies, Winter Park, Fla.
  • MEDIA: BUILDER magazine and Home magazine
  • LANDSCAPE DESIGNERS: Redmon Design Co., Maitland, Fla. and Sta-Green Landesign, Orlando
  • RESEARCH: MarketScape Research & Consulting, La Jolla, Calif.
  • FLUID DESIGN: A curvaceous pool and spa by landscape designer Scott Redmon make the most  of a tight backyard space. Automated fountains, rain showers, and other water  features can be controlled via digital touchpads from inside the house.

    FLUID DESIGN: A curvaceous pool and spa by landscape designer Scott Redmon make the most of a tight backyard space. Automated fountains, rain showers, and other water features can be controlled via digital touchpads from inside the house.

    More articles on the 2007 InSync Home:

    All product reviews by Nigel F. Maynard

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