Wide Open Spaces
"You could almost picture everyone going barefoot in here," says Susan Drews, senior vice president of Color Design Art, the interior design firm responsible for all the merchandising in the UFH. "We wanted the whole house to be upscale, but also comfortable and casual, to have an Old World feel." Spanish terra-cotta tile from Walker Zanger is used throughout the house, with particular areas, such as the entry, getting more intricate tile treatment. The muted, texture-rich furnishings in the open living and dining room, all from Thomasville, reinforce that upscale-but-friendly feel. On the walls are matte finishes from Sherwin-Williams; all the wood details are stained. "Because so many different woods were used here and throughout the house, it was a challenge to get all the stains right," says Drews. "We wanted unity when it came to color, especially with the rough-sawn beams."
New Lyptus certified lumber shows its green side.
At first glance, the trim work in the Ultimate Family Home could have been made from run-of-the-mill lumber from any yard. All moldings and baseboards, however, are made from environmentally responsible Lyptus hardwood from Weyerhaeuser.
Lyptus is a high-grade lumber made from two eucalyptus hybrids grown on certified plantations in the warm tropical forests of Brazil. It is an attractive choice for builders who care about the environment because it reaches maturity in as little as 15 years. And plantations are able to produce more wood in a shorter time while using less natural resources.
With 6 percent to 8 percent moisture content, Lyptus is harder than hard rock maple and northern and southern red oak. Cherry-toned in color, the wood has a dense, fine grade that allows it to accept virtually any stain and is ideal for custom applications such as the mill work in the house.
It is available in plywood sheets, veneers, or solid lumber in two grades: standard with no defects or striped with a combination of sapwoods. The lumber, which is available in various thicknesses, can be used to make crown molding or baseboard. The house features applications of stained crown moldings and baseboards and a white-painted version in the girl's bedroom. www.weyerhaeuser.com/lyptus.
The full-fledged guest suite--with French doors to the interior courtyard, entry access through a side door, full bath with Kohler tub and enclosed shower, and its own security controls--was designed for ultimate flexibility. In the bathroom, a separate space with a toilet and sink does double-duty, acting as an auxiliary powder room for the home's formal, main-floor spaces. But what's now a guest suite could easily morph into a private master suite with just a little tinkering. "We put the master up, but we wanted our buyers to be able to age in place, to move downstairs at some future time," says Pardee's Clauser. Future residents could close off the study from the living room, which would turn the whole space into a downstairs master suite.
Grand Central Station
Again and again, the families involved in Marketscape's focus groups talked about life at home being "frantic," "chaotic," and "wild." They wished for more storage, a way to keep computers and media centralized, and a place to spread out and do homework or big projects. With those concerns in mind, Pardee and Bassenian/Lagoni set out to make the kitchen/nook/management center/family room wing as functional as possible. Here, Timberlake's Rushmore Maple Mocha cabinets do more than just keep pots and pans organized; they're key to the working guts of the whole space, especially when it comes to housing the various media components. "Any time you're doing an entertainment center, boy, oh boy, do you have to worry about components and specs," says Connie Edwards, director of design for Timberlake. "If you ever have to change the wiring or service, you need to have access to it." In the family room, the media components on either side of the big-screen TV pull out for easy access.
Best Buy's Networked Home Solutions has the tech bases covered.
Any new house worth its high price tag needs to provide state-of-the-art amenities for living in the 21st century. Said house would need the best security, an integrated home theater/music system, and perhaps a whole-house connection for the gamers therein. The Ultimate Family Home has all of these and more, thanks to structured wiring by Best Buy's Networked Home Solutions and a wealth of the latest technology.
As the company explains it, the networked home solutions package, simply put, is a plan for having the house wired for any conceivable technology that homeowners desire before the walls go up. This puts messy wires behind the walls and home buyers won't need a degree from MIT to set up their system. The structured wiring serves as the foundation for the whole-house network system and includes a long list of components that include gaming, music, movies, and security.
At the front door, a Web-enabled touchscreen keypad controls lights, garage doors, and security.
The screen allows each member of a household to have a separate profile and pin number.
In the family room, pull-out components flanking the flat-screen television feature two sets of systems: one dedicated to the family room, the other for whole-house control. The secondary kitchen features a new countertop iCEBOX all-in-one entertainment center with TV, Internet, DVD/CD, radio, and home monitoring capabilities. A flipscreen iCEBOX is installed in the main kitchen. And lastly, the house has 16 new Sonance volume controls with built-in amplifiers, which remove the need for space-eating source equipment.
You can never future-proof a house, but Best Buy says its wiring package will handle all of today's technologies and have capacity for many of tomorrow's. www.networkedhomesolutions.com.
"The master isn't a bedroom that you can land a plane in," says Bassenian/Lagoni architect Lake. "We wanted it to be a cozy, intimate space with views to the courtyard as a focal point." Make that one of two focal points; the other is surely the plasma TV over the mantel. "Everyone watches TV from bed," adds Lake. "Why not put it over the fireplace? That way, neither competes with the other." Like the guest suite downstairs, the master suite is also meant to be flexible. The adjoining study, located between the bedroom and the serene master bath, could easily be a nursery during the baby years. Down the hall, the boy's and girl's bedrooms, each one with its own bath, are the kinds of cozy spaces that the kids in the focus group said they wanted. But it's the girl in the family who gets the ultimate wish-list item: a secret hideaway, accessed by a touch-latch door that looks like a stationary, full-length mirror.
The third-floor bonus room is yet another space that's meant to be flexible. By day it's the ultimate game room, outfitted with Best Buy equipment that includes a 42-inch plasma TV with connections for TiVo, Xbox, and DVD. The Xbox connection is wireless, which means it's perfect for network gaming. Clear out some gear, put down some sleeping bags, and by night it's the ultimate sleepover room.
A Place for Everything
"This house has such a high level of fit and finish, it doesn't make sense to have any room in the house that's not fully developed," says Marc Shuman, president of GarageTek, which outfitted the oversized three-car garage with the latest and greatest in storage solutions. "We see the garage as a functional room in the house, not just a space to pile junk in." The families who participated in Marketscape's focus groups also saw the garage as more than just a repository. A number of respondents spoke of wanting to spend quality time in the garage, where families could work on projects together, prepare for sports or outdoor activities, or simply hang out. Here, one of the bays comes complete with air conditioning, a plasma TV, and GarageTek's new Signature line of professional-quality cabinetry and workbenches.
Work and Play
The south-facing side of this show home may be the hardest working part of the whole house, with many components doing double-duty. The trellis not only provides some much needed shade to this side of the house, it's actually part of the "power plant" of photovoltaic (PV) cells that help make the house so energy-efficient. The home's tankless water heaters are located in the side courtyard, as are the air-conditioning systems. But it's not all work and no play back here. The courtyard doubles as a turnaround space for cars and a play space that features 4-square, basketball, and tetherball. A storage area nearby means that kids don't have to go into the garage to get sports equipment and other toys. And the side gates lock so that parents can rest assured that little ones will stay close by.
Something for Everyone
"The real effort in landscaping is to create your own world to the exclusion of things you don't want to see," says Don Brinkerhoff, CEO and founder of Lifescapes International, the landscaping firm that helped Pardee create the home's recreational wonderland. "This house was specifically designed for families, so the landscape incorporates ingredients that appeal to all ages. In a sense, it's like a casino where you can get lost safely." Little kids will be fascinated by the pop-jet fountain in the courtyard; bigger kids can roam over the faux rock formations, explore the treehouse, and slide into the pool. The loggia, with its three TV screens, is meant for more adult pursuits.