Outdoor Living, High-tech Features on Display at The New American Home

2018 Show Home Showcases Transitional Style Too

Classically Tuscan, the exterior of The New American Home has some Italian pizzazz with clean lines and a neutral palette.

Classically Tuscan, the exterior of The New American Home has some Italian pizzazz with clean lines and a neutral palette. Below, the home’s master bathroom is spacious and features a freestanding tub and his-and-hers vanities and water closets. Photos by Jeffrey A. Davis.

Outdoor living, transitional style and high-tech features are on display at The New American Home 2018, the 35th example of cutting-edge homes sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders and built in conjunction with the International Builders Show.

Located in Bella Collina, a private gated golf and lakefront community in Montverde, Fla., a few miles west of downtown Orlando, the home features a modern Tuscan style with clean lines, a neutral palette and some Italian pizzazz.

“The community wanted us to keep some Tuscan elements, so we designed the home with warm stone, stucco and wood, but added transitional modern elements with the large windows and a dramatic interior floating staircase,” says John Kolb, executive vice president of Legacy Custom Built Homes, which designed and built the home.

Kolb says the team picked the location for its large lot, which slopes towards a lake and accommodated their vision of a cascading rear patio.

“Outdoor living is extremely important to buyers today, so we wanted a lot and a house that would showcase indoor-outdoor living,” says Kolb.

The New American Home includes a variety of new products donated by suppliers to demonstrate innovation and new design features.

“We had two big challenges with this house,” says Mike Rowen, president of Legacy Custom Built Homes in Winter Park, Fla. “First, we had Hurricane Irma put a kink in our schedule, particularly with getting supplies here. Second, finding the skilled labor needed to build a custom house is difficult, but we knew we needed them because it makes for a better product.”

Soothing Earth Tones and a Wow Factor

The mix of modern and Tuscan style lends itself to serene earth tones in the furniture and finishes throughout the home, says Kate Clarke, an interior designer with Legacy Design.

Clarke’s design depends in part on which products are donated. Among her favorite items are the 10-foot-high walnut doors for the entrance.

The home’s master bathroom is spacious and features a freestanding tub and his-and-hers vanities and water closets.While the large house has numerous details, Clarke says among the most innovative include the use of LED lighting. In one room, she surrounded a painting with glass over LED lights to create a new way of framing art. LED lights were placed underneath the edges of the bed in the master bedroom so that it appears to float. The master bedroom has a rustic-looking backdrop to the bed, a stone fireplace and a completely retractable wall of glass that opens onto a side porch.

The master bathroom nods to famously decadent Roman baths, with a dramatic free-standing bathtub that rests on a mosaic floor. A massive glass-enclosed shower behind the tub features his-and-hers automated control settings. The bathroom has his-and-hers water closets, with a urinal as well as toilet in his water closet. In addition, the space has separate vanities and his-and-hers walk-in closets.

Flexible Floor Plan Maximizes Outdoor Space

Despite the home’s more than 6,700-square-foot floor plan, the house can feel intimate. Pocket doors and retractable glass doors throughout the home allow spaces to be wide open for a larger gathering or closed for privacy and quiet. Multiple contemporary-style fireplaces throughout the home and outside adjacent to the swimming pool add warmth and coziness to the rooms.

The H-shaped floor plan, designed by architect Greg Hyatt of Hyatt Design in Orlando, embraces the outdoors and views of the turquoise swimming pool and spa and the lake from nearly every room. Balconies with glass railings line the upper level, while the lower level has multiple courtyards and both covered and open patios for enjoying the outdoors. Automated and easily operable screens and walls of glass protect the indoors from the elements and insects, yet provide the feeling of living entirely outdoors.

The main level includes a central great room with a covered porch that expands the room further on nice days and opens onto the swimming pool patio. Adjacent to the great room is the kitchen, which has a large breakfast bar or buffet for entertaining, an oversized center island and upgraded appliances that include a dishwasher with a 20-minute hot wash cycle and both steam and convection ovens.

A game room and two covered porches, one with an outdoor kitchen, are nearby, along with a guest suite with its own courtyard. On the opposite side of the house are a home office and the master suite.

Upstairs are a loft with a wet bar and coffee bar, a powder room and a laundry room and three bedrooms, each with a private full bathroom. Two of the bedrooms have access to a balcony overlooking the swimming pool. This level also has a loft media room with double barn doors on one side and a glass wall to the balcony on the other. Overhead is a dramatic ceiling with uplighting from multiple fixtures.

The house includes two two-car garages, including one with garage doors on each side so that drivers never have to back out.

Innovative Technology

Among the coolest features in the house for Kolb is the lighting system. A control room near a garage handles all the automation for the house, which has only two light switches in the entire residence.

Creston Electronics provided automated shades, lighting, entertainment, temperature and security systems for the house. Automated shades are particularly important in houses like this one, with its numerous walls of glass in sunny Florida.

The technology in the house can be synced with Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home Assistant for simple voice control.

“The best part about the technology in this house is that we can cater the system to be as easy or as complicated as the homeowners want,” says Casey Collins, director of business development for Crestron Electronics.

Energy Efficiency

When you build a house with walls of retractable glass and more than 6,700 finished square feet, maintaining a high-level of energy efficiency can be a challenge. Yet the house is extremely energy-efficient despite no solar panels, says Drew Smith, an energy and green building consultant with Two Trails in Sarasota, Fla.

“The AeroBarrier sealing system, which is an aerosol-type product, fills in all the insulation gaps, plus the windows and doors that were installed limit solar heat gain,” says Smith. “The water conservation measures include low-flow plumbing and the landscaping is all Florida-friendly plants for low maintenance.”

Eventually, this showcase home will be sold, but for now, The New American Home demonstrates how transitional design and transformative products can be used to create a sophisticated yet comfortable home.

Take a virtual tour of The New American Home: https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=VwLdboi5o4C.
Michele Lerner is an award-winning freelance writer, editor and author who has been writing about real estate, personal finance and business topics for more than two decades. You can find her on Google+.

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