American Dream

While the designers of the “New American Home 2006” may bill it as “a real-world laboratory,” it appears that they have certainly gotten luxury down to a science.

After all, this 23rd NAH not only features high-end product and technology, but it also incorporates a vast amount of “green” design and Universal Design elements to create the ultimate in flexibility and repose.

These are the sentiments of John Orgren, senior design architect for Sunrise, FL-based WCI Architecture & Land Planning, Inc., which created the home in conjunction with Orlando, FL-based Saxon-Clark Furniture, Maitland, FL-based Redmon Landscape Architecture and Pittsburgh, PA-based Integrated Building and Construction Solutions (IBACOS).

Orgren feels the 10,023-sq.-ft. home is ideally suited for a successful, Baby Boomer-type clientele.

“The home is really built for someone who is approaching retirement, or at the age where they have an elderly parent living with them, or are anticipating being physically limited themselves,” explains Orgren.

Stylistically speaking, the home combines Spanish, British and Dutch colonial detailing and takes advantage of a sprawling, lakefront view, he points out.

“We wanted it to have a lighter flavor. We didn’t want it to be the typical Mediterranean house that you see [in Florida],” adds Donald Saxon, president of Saxon-Clark Furniture.

Introduced in concert with the National Association of Home Builder’s (NAHB) recent International Builder’s Show (IBS) in Orlando, FL, the NAH features concepts, materials, designs and construction techniques that are meant to be replicated – in whole or in part – in housing built in any location or in any price range.

Indeed, among the features of the home are outdoor kitchens, two fireplaces, a HEPA indoor air filtration system and an elevator to make the home 100% wheelchair accessible.

“We felt we needed to put in some exclusive amenities in the home – both in the kitchen and the bath – as well as the summer kitchen areas,” elaborates Alex Hannigan, president of Orlando, FL-based Hannigan Homes, Inc., citing product from GE, Kohler Co. and Canac Cabinets, a Kohler Co.

Companies that also supplied products for the NAH include ClosetMaid, DalTile Corp., Formica Corp., Whirlpool Corp. and Progress Lighting, among a host of others.

Inspired by its surroundings, WCI created a long, shallow design, which is considered by the design team to be one of the home’s most unique traits.

But using the surrounding area posed an interesting design challenge, says Hannigan.

“There was an environmental swail behind the home, and I couldn’t put a screen enclosure on the back, so we had to put a fence around [it] for safety,” explains Hannigan. “We also included gas lights on the tops of the columns [of the fence]. It became an architectural embellishment and looked terrific.”

“We’re proud to have built a home that mixes cutting-edge design with environmental sensibility,” he adds. This year’s NAH, which pulls double duty as a showhouse and a “for sale” property, was sponsored by Washington, D.C.-based The National Council of the Housing Industry – The Supplier 100, and Builder magazine.

Green Scene
One of the key elements to the home – which is dubbed “Lake Burden at the Lakes of Windemere” – is its eco-friendly, or “green,” design, says Orgren.

“Since the home is only one room deep, it offers a lot of cross ventilation and daylight,” he notes.

Hannigan adds: “The home really offers three main benefits: energy and water conservation, environmental sensitivity and a healthy environment. One truly begets the other, and it was seamless.”

According to the NAHB, some of the green measures taken for the NAH include conditioning by four high-efficiency heat pumps, and zone control used to maintain ideal temperatures throughout the home’s six zones. In addition, three tankless, propane-fired water heaters serve the home and help to minimize piping and reduce stand-by loss.

The NAHB points out that these innovations result in a 61% reduction in energy usage for heating and cooling, and a 50% reduction for water heating compared to a comparably sized home in the same climate.

Even the exterior materials used on the house offer green benefits, notes Orgren. He cites as examples the roof, which is made of concrete tile, and the exterior siding, which is a fiber cement product.

Furthermore, the wood flooring, wood windows and doors are all made from lumber which is a certified sustainable resource, adds Orgren.

Last, but not least, the association is proud of the fact that this year’s NAH has the distinction of being the first certified “green” home built through the NAH program since the program’s inception more than 20 years ago.

Kitchen Clinic
According to Orgren, the kitchen layout offers enough flexibility that the homeowner can seamlessly entertain or enjoy a quiet meal.

He explains: “The way the kitchen works with the Great Room is the way people live. It is one large space, but a group can easily communicate with someone who is watching TV, for instance.”

He continues: “It is a gourmet’s kitchen with a gourmet-style range. You can bring in a chef to cook for you because all of your amenities are right there.”

To that end, “We selected all GE appliances with concealed drawers for the kitchen,” Saxon notes.

Hannigan adds that the large, maple island with green opaque stain is another highlight of the kitchen design. “It is huge with a large granite piece and a 6mm edge on it, with a double ogee around it,” he explains. “It really played extremely well [in] the kitchen.”

“It works because it is an entertaining home,” he says, adding that the bar area is set up for four chairs, but since it opens up to the family room, it could accommodate as many as eight.

He adds that the island features two dishwashers, an icemaker, a trough sink and a pot sink. “There are three faucets, and a pot filler on the other side,” he also notes.

Complementing the placement of the island is a combination freezer/refrigerator that sits across from it, and a 48" gas grill that sits in between them.

In regard to the large stone hood found over the range, Saxon adds: “That is the largest exhaust fan I have ever seen. It is a huge, pre-cast, concrete exhaust fan with big, scrolled corbels on the sides.”

Also of note, he adds, is the three-unit combination wall oven, microwave and warmer tray. A nearby wine cooler completes the appliance selection, and adds to the overall function.

The kitchen design also ties in seamlessly with a big, 22', square outdoor living area, which is found adjacent to it.

Orgren points out: “You can directly step out of the French doors into the pool area and the sitting area. You have a great view of the lake from the kitchen through that same set of doors.”

Cabinet Fever
Hannigan points to the kitchen cabinetry, which was supplied by Canac Cabinets, a Kohler Co., as the most eye-catching element of the home.

“The cabinetry is exquisite, and is the heart of the home, in my opinion,” he says, noting that all of the cabinetry around the perimeter features cherry wood complemented by a nutmeg and chocolate glaze.

He continues: “On either side of the range are two columns that can be pulled out for spice racks. [They] would definitely be a conversation piece.”

“We also did some tremendous molding,” he adds, citing the use of floor-chiseled travertine above and below the crown molding.

Saxon adds: “I put the tile inset in the top of the cabinetry and the stone around the top edge of the cabinetry, which created the effect that the cabinetry was set in stone.”

“There was also a different type of travertine we put around the backsplashes, which [you can see, for instance], over the range,” Hannigan says.

Complementing the cabinets, according to Saxon, are tan, brown granite countertops. They are featured all along the perimeter of the kitchen.

He adds: “There are also cabinets that look like cabinetry, but actually house a dumbwaiter. Behind the dumbwaiter cabinet is a nice area with a desk, as well as a menu-planning area with bookcasing above it.

“Along there is an actual pantry area that opens up and offers multiple levels of storage,” he concludes.

Bath Bohemia
According to Orgren, the design of the master suite is such that the occupant could exist easily without ever needing to enter another part of home.

“We made the master suite as hedonistic and pleasure-filled as possible,” he explains.

For instance, he notes that the user can program a cappucino or espresso machine for a morning wake-up, or utilize the refrigerator and freezer for cold drinks.

He continues: “The suite also has its own laundry area, as well as its own view of the lake [and] a nearby porch. It is close to the family living area, but is separated enough that it could be a space for an elderly family member to stay, or a health-care worker to stay and care for the primary resident of the home.”

To help capture some of the outdoor aesthetics, Saxon notes that the design team used faux finishing that depicts vines on the walls.

“There was a lot of artistic work done to bring the inside out and the outside in,” says Orgren.

He continues: “We wanted an Old World look, but we also wanted to bring the British colonial light flavor in there.”

To accomplish this, he used a combination of light and dark brown, natural stone elements, such as on the stone flooring, and raised marble bowl on the vanity.

Citing the continued popularity of natural materials in the master bath, Saxon “mixed them up so we would have [the look of] old and new combined.”

Additionally, he points to the garden tub with a disappearing edge as another notable element in the master suite area.

“We also put in vanities with beautiful vessels on top of them, and, in between them, we kicked out the tub area to get some dimension on the outside of the home as well as the inside of the bath,” says Hannigan.

He adds that the chromatherapy tub from Kohler added an ornate feel since it was housed in a furniture-style element featuring cabinet faces on the front of it. The recessed ceiling between the tub and 6'x6' shower also enabled the design team to include body wash tiles from Kohler.

Hannigan continues: “There is also a make-up area with a granite top on both sides with a valance over the top of it, with lights on either side, sconce lighting and a mirror.”

Canac cabinetry was carried through all of the rooms of the master suite, leading into the master closet.

“This master suite is a real retreat. You can completely get away from what is going on in the home, but there is still easy access to the rest of the home [if needed],” Orgren concludes.

Universal Appeal
Despite its rich amenities, the design team worked hard to ensure that the ENERGY STAR-rated home was not only aesthetically pleasing, but cost-effective and easy to navigate, as well.

“The home is ADA-friendly, and the island, for instance, can be wheelchair accessible. That was part of the philosophy here, that the client would have the ability to make corrections at very little cost,” says Hannigan.

“They really can get around anywhere in the home, except, perhaps, the library upstairs,” he adds, noting that the home also features five stairwells and an elevator between the first and second floors.

“We ramped up a lot of the areas where we had the decking come in flush with the door, although we did not ramp down into the showers because we felt that the showers were good sizes and could accommodate those needs well,” concludes Hannigan.