And the building and design team behind this year’s New American Home certainly took note. Part of the National Association of Home Builders International Builders’ Show, the show home featuring all of the latest appliances, design styles, and materials was unveiled this week.
The 4,646-square-foot home in Laureate Park at Lake Nona in Orlando, FL, is intentionally the smallest home featured in the past decade. Why? It’s designed to show off the latest space-saving techniques.
“The last couple years, they just kept [getting] larger and more expensive,” says Serena Hahn, CEO of Envy Homes, the company that built the home. “This New American Home is about bringing it back to reality and making it attainable.”
The three-story modern-coastal house is built around a central courtyard and pool. The unique layout combines multiple flex spaces both inside and out, including a rooftop terrace, game room, home gym, and multiple office areas. And, of course, it has eco-friendly features such as solar panels, the latest insulation technology, and Energy Star appliances.
So which features of the New American Home do we covet the most? And which left us scratching our heads? Let’s discuss.
We love: The bold tile
The dark geometric tile on this bathroom floor (above), paired with an ebony tile covering the shower walls, is a departure from the light and neutral tones on display throughout the rest of the house. But the contrast works, adding dimension to the home.
The primary bath has a similar design scheme, with Carrara marble laid out in a herringbone pattern on the floor and used as an accent on the expansive shower wall. The room jibes more with the rest of the house, though it’s not nearly as dramatic as the other bathroom.
And that geometric floor tile trend continues in the other bathrooms and the second-floor wet bar, which adds an element of visual interest that ties together the home’s design.
We love: Double outdoor kitchens
An outdoor kitchen on the rooftop might seem like overkill—and not the most practical placement. But this is a show home, after all—and who doesn’t want to hang out on the roof, under the stars, while firing up the grill?
For those who’d prefer not to trek up the stairs, there’s a second outdoor kitchen in the courtyard. Both cook spaces boast a sink, built-in grill and fridge, and natural stone countertops.
“There is not a shortage of bathrooms or kitchens in this house,” says Hahn.
We love: The wall treatments
The wallpaper in the office nooks, hallways, and even the ceiling (in one of the bedrooms) catch your eye without overpowering the senses. Then there’s this natural wood paneling (above) in the primary suite; the pattern of the boards is particularly lovely with the accent lighting that’s recessed behind the wall.
We love: Statement light fixtures in flex spaces
Many of the bedrooms boast modern takes on the classic sputnik chandelier, which we found positively lovely. But where we really swooned was in the second-floor living area. Here, a contemporary light installation evokes feelings of lounging in a posh cafe.
The area, which the floor plan refers to as the “game room,” is one of at least three flex spaces in the home (not including office nooks). There’s even a “technology space” and a gym-flex-lounge space.
We love: Smart pergolas
Itching to feel the warm Orlando sun on your skin? An app, in-wall control, or remote will help you control the louvers on these smart pergolas. So when those famous afternoon thunderstorms roll through, you can close things up just as quickly as you opened them. This new technology takes away all of the drawbacks to old-school trellises, and we can’t wait until this pricey design becomes the norm.
What we didn’t love: The bland closets
Sure, the primary suite’s closet boasts the high-end finishes one would expect in a luxury home. But the other closets look a little—dare we say—DIY? This was a missed opportunity to take these functional spaces from basic to beautiful. If this represents the home of the future, we’re not sure we want to be part of that timeline.
What we didn’t love: The pool fountain
We appreciate the effort: A water feature can add ambiance and Zen to your outdoor space. But this particular pool fountain features colored uplighting, which evokes memories of wedding catering halls—or the famously tacky nuptials in “Brides Maids.”
What we didn’t love: The exterior
We can see that the designers were trying a new and modernized riff on the coastal cabana. But it kind of looks like a giant, bland box towering over the more modest (and can we say cuter?) house next door.
Yes, the New American Home is a show home. And we’ll concede that it’s far more reserved than previous iterations. However, it may be a bit much for the rest of the neighborhood.