When kitchen and bath designers want to impress with their design prowess, surely making people “green with envy” – or better yet, “green with luxury” – is a great place to start. This was precisely the idea for the New American Home 2007, the green-certified model home shown here as part of the 2007 International Builders’ Show official Showcase Homes.
Designed by Ron Nowfel, IDS, design consultant Jessica Iaconis and Ed Binkley, AIA, the home not only features the latest in residential automation and home control for all low-voltage systems, but has a contemporary, 372-sq.-ft. main kitchen, complete with cutting-edge products from Canac, Kohler, Sub-Zero/Wolf and others.
Designer Nowfel explains: “I would credit the energy efficiency of our appliances and fluorescent lighting choices as helping most in this regard. The whole sales point behind the New American Home is that it’s so green friendly. That is what the New American Home is all about, in my opinion.”
Meeting Design Challenges
Working in conjunction with builder Carmen Dominguez, owner/manager of Orlando, FL-based Homes by Carmen Dominguez, the design team created a main kitchen based on a specific vision.
“One of the visions of our architect was to create a kitchen where you could have cooking classes. It was an interesting idea of his that we integrated into the design,” says Iaconis, design consultant for Altamonte Springs, FL-based Robb & Stucky Interiors.
The kitchen’s location, the third floor of the upside down, urban loft home, caused some design challenges from the start.
“For instance, stairs are typically one of the last things put into a house, so we were climbing ladders [to gain access]. It wasn’t very easy to get into the kitchen for quite a while,” Iaconis describes.
In addition, the original plan called for a small refrigerator, but the designers wanted to use a 48" Wolf refrigerator. “We were able to take away the drywall that was there [to accommodate it],” she reports.
The home’s concrete walls meant specifications were literally set in stone. “The challenge with any house made with concrete is making sure you don’t make any errors on electrical outlets in the walls,” stresses Nowfel. “Once concrete walls are poured, there is no digging back into them, so we had to know exactly where our electrical outlets were to be installed.”
The desired look for the kitchen was influenced by its location in the home. “When you are in the kitchen, you get to enjoy the rest of the living space on the third floor,” Nowfel explains. “Not only do you see a beautiful living room and dining room, but you are also looking outside at a patio and 30 feet of oak trees. There are doors that go outside to a roof deck, making it an indoor/outdoor living space. It is the total surroundings that make this kitchen. There is such an openness to it.”
The kitchen itself fits seamlessly into the overall layout of the 973-sq.-ft. third floor, while it maintains a very distinctive presence, according to Binkley, national design director for Oviedo, FL-based BSB Design.
“The kitchen is the focal point of the open living area, and it accommodates daily use as well as gourmet cooking,” he says.
To that end, it also enables guest chefs to conduct cooking classes, and can accommodate wine tasting and wine pairing seminars.
“Our vision for the kitchen was to make it user friendly for the lifestyle that we perceived the person who buys the house will enjoy,” Nowfel describes.
In keeping with this idea, the designers added an office area to the room, though there is a primary office located on the first floor. “This way, when you are on the third floor, there is a space for a laptop,” she states.
Nowfel adds: “It’s convenient, because you can keep your recipes there or go online for them. It acts as part of the kitchen workspace.”
With regard to the appliances, Binkley notes that the selected items “are of a high design, often becoming a point of conversation with guests.”
The appliance line-up includes a 48" refrigerator, cooktop, oven, microwave, warming drawer and wine cooler, all from Sub-Zero/Wolf, plus a KitchenAid trash compactor, dishwasher and coffeemaker.
Other items in the kitchen include a stainless steel sink and faucets from Kohler and track lighting from Progress Lighting. Oversized hardware in stainless steel adds to the contemporary feel of the room.
However, it is the hood, according to Nowfel, that takes center stage.
“The NuTone hood is absolutely the focal point of the space,” he boasts. “Even if you aren’t cooking in the kitchen, you have that hood lit at night. It is an architectural element to that third-floor space.“
Iaconis interjects: “It’s stained glass, which keeps your sightline open to look outside or at guests.”
Nowfel adds: “The hood provides a friendliness and also the high-tech look we were after.”
Complementing the hood are two low-voltage halogens that shine down from the glass onto the hood. Dal-tile metal tiles in the backsplash were chosen as a complement to the metal in the hood.
The key design for the cabinetry, Nowfel points out, was to maintain a streamlined look and ensure a practical use of storage space.
An espresso finish on the cabinets is teamed with glass-front doors framed in stainless steel. A white solid surface finish on the countertops provides dramatic contrast.
Iaconis adds: “We wanted a white, very clean look for the countertops, contrasting with the espresso finish on the doors. Our vision in there was to be industrial – very high-tech and very contemporary – but also be very user-friendly.”
“We also tried to utilize the cabinet space as best we could because we didn’t have a butler’s pantry. To that end, we had upper doors above the sink on the exterior of the house wall that lifted from the bottom up for easy access and additional storage,” Nowfel explains.
The island also plays a key role within the overall kitchen space, he points out.
“The 5'x12' island serves as a piece of furniture. It’s a serving piece and an entertaining piece. It is the primary space that you can revolve around when entertaining,” Nowfel says. A wine refrigerator is located in the island for added convenience when entertaining.
To complement the overall look of the kitchen, the design team chose Kahrs black oak wood floors in a Herringbone pattern.
Light Up a Life
According to Nowfel, both natural and decorative lighting add unique aesthetic and functional elements to the kitchen.
He explains: “Certainly on the third floor we have a lot of natural light. Over the sink we have little square windows providing natural light. All along the side of the house, we have windows, and on the other end of the kitchen there are doors that stack over in one corner that are very light and airy.”
He continues: “Since the roof, the walls and the sub-floor are all concrete, we could not use chandeliers. So, we did a track system around the whole area, including the kitchen.”
Iaconis interjects: “There is in-cabinet lighting [halogens] as well as undercabinet lighting.”
She reports that the halogens were incorporated for the bridge, while task lighting was incorporated over the bridge above the sink for a more convenient work environment.
Nowfel adds: “It is all part of the look at night, so when you are entertaining, the kitchen is the focal point of the living space. The unusual thing about designing a kitchen for the third floor is that we had no real walls to hang any art, so the art is really the kitchen itself. It is a living sculpture.”
As Nowfel notes, the goal for the master bath in the New American Home was very straightforward: Create the ultimate in a luxury spa environment.
He explains: “The 310-sq.-ft. master bath, teamed with the master bedroom, takes up the entire second floor. It is truly a master retreat.”
The goal here was to have it feel very spa-like – “almost as if you are going to a Ritz Carlton and spending a weekend at the spa,” he continues.
Offering the best of contemporary conveniences while creating a true retreat, the master bath features a range of products from Kohler, including a jetted tub, WaterTiles (indoor and outdoor) shower system, hatbox toilet, bidet, vessel sinks with spa blue interior, wall-mount faucets and ceiling-mount tub filler. Also featured in the bath are cabinets from Canac in Ginger; Formica Corp. Spa Artifacts solid surface countertops; Dal-tile slate-colored porcelain tile, spa-blue glass tiles and black river rock, and a Dell plasma television.
“We also have black glass tiles on the tub deck and the BluWorld water feature wall,” Iaconis adds.
“The finishing we did around the tub was done with black river rock to bring the Zen look into the picture,” Nowfel describes.
Maintaining the Zen feel of the bath, the space also features an integration of outdoor elements. To that end, the design team complemented the space with a 6'x4' outdoor shower.
“The outdoor shower is an example of bringing the outdoors in. It offers multiple functions, whether it is set up for the homeowner, watering plants or pet bathing,” Binkley explains.
“The outdoor shower is not very common, [especially] that it is on the second floor. It is a very contemporary space, yet very soothing,” Iaconis adds.
Nowfel concludes: “Basically, anytime you go into that bath space, you feel like you are at the spa. You can go indoors or outdoors, you have a television in there that you can see from the tub, from the shower and the outdoor shower, as well. “
Color also played a key role in achieving the spa-like effect of this master bath.
Binkley reports: “The spa experience was brought home through color, texture and materials.” This was imperative for the project, he adds, “because many buyers in this market are world travelers and want to bring the enjoyable resort experience home.”
To that end, the design team incorporated a spa-blue color throughout the entire space, used primarily as a soothing complement to some of the gold hues also found in the space.
“Another unique feature of this bathroom is that there is a two-way door separating the master bedroom from the bathroom. When that door is shut, it separates the two rooms. It can also swing the other way and close off the water closet from the bathroom,” Nowfel describes.
Binkley continues: “The double action 4' pivoting wall [door] also provided maximum flexibility between the lavatory, toilet and bedroom areas.”
For the finishing touches, the design team chose halogen track lighting, fluorescent lighting that was placed over the two sinks for energy efficiency purposes, as well as wall sconces on either side of the sink.