Don’t let its whitewashed traditional facade fool you, The New Southern Home breaks with tradition in layout and design for new and unexpected solutions to smarter living. Orlando Custom Builder Nathan Cross of NWC Construction built it as the 2013 official show home for the Southeast Building Conference (SEBC) held recently in Orlando. The board and batten exterior and metal roof are rooted in Florida Vernacular style but with the latest green building practices and universal design principles. There is no waste here in terms of space and water and energy consumption, even the view of the Conway Chain of Lakes is maximized on this infield lot in Belle Isle.
Cross designed and built the 4,000 square foot, four-bedroom, three and a half-bath pool home home in less than four months. The design inspiration came from a seaside chapel that caught the eye of David Pillsbury , Principal Designer at Keesee and Associates, part of the team that created The New Southern Show Home.
After the throngs of visitors from SEBC had departed, I took the grand tour with Cross as he narrated every green detail and design element that gives the New Southern Home its signature look and earned it a long list of Green Building designations. An all-white kitchen as pristine and stylish as those in reality cooking show competitions greets me upon arrival.
Cross is quick to quash any misconceptions that an all-white kitchen comes cheap. “White is not cheaper in the kitchen because it’s labor intensive. You have to sand cabinets down and smooth with surface fillers to get that perfect surface for painting. It’s similar to auto body work,” explains Cross.
The 15-foot kitchen island has a drop down bar for casual seating and more traditional dining at a table just five feet away. One of the interesting surprises in the layout is that the kitchen is closed to the family room. Instead, it opens to a dining area with a custom-crafted live edge table made by Winter Park, Florida furniture maker, Hog Eat Hog.
The table along with more rustic touches such as the farmhouse sink and textured white subway tile by Dunn cue the kitchen’s transitional style, a theme carried throughout the home. Modern touches that balance the duality of the look include glass panel cabinetry with sleek geometric hardware, shaker style cabinets with a thin rail, sleek countertops made of EcoStone, a recycled material that looks like quartz, and stainless steel Electrolux appliances.
LED can lighting in the ceiling and LED lights under and above the cabinets cut down on energy consumption. No VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) UltraCraft cabinets and no VOC paint from Sherwin Williams ‘ Emerald Line preserve indoor air quality.
An arts and crafts style staircase, an elevator and a guest half bath form the home’s center mass bridging the kitchen and living room.
In the half bath housed in the staircase, decorative porcelain tile by Dunn mimics the look of textured wallpaper.
The showstopper in the living room is the huge stone wall. “We put a stone wall with a soffit for 2-inch LED lights to wash that wall so the light layout is different because we have a lot of windows in that area. The soffit also allows for the crown moulding and base to run continuous across the stone wall. We also furred out the wall to make the interior shutters flush with the stone wall. The wood floors resemble recycled barn floors but are actually engineered wood by Bella Cera,” says Cross.
The living room opens to a flex space with two glass doors. “The flex space could be a library, a pool room, even a formal dining room because it’s big enough to accomodate a 12-person table and hutch,” says Cross.
Unobstructed alfresco views to the pool from the flex space are possible with a Fold and Slide glass wall and door system that opens to seamlessly link the kitchen and outdoor living area.
The home has two master bedrooms to accomodate multigenerational living or to allow for “aging in place” giving homeowners the choice to live upstairs when the kids are younger and downstairs when the kids are grown and out of the house.
The downstairs master bedroom is the showpiece of the New Southern Home. With its cathedral beamed ceiling, Thomas Edison lights and sliding barn door, it emulates that seaside chapel Cross and the design team so loves. A Velux skylight infuses natural light powered by solar panels that can open and close the shades and window. “This is where we spent the money in the house as opposed to the kitchen.” Cross is referring to features such as the master closet barn doors hand-made of cypress.
The doors took four days to craft and each weighs 150 pounds.
One of the more puzzling design decisions to me was the drawerless and closet-free bathrooms, until I discovered it made perfect sense. Cross designed the home’s bathrooms to purposely omit pull out drawers and linen closets. In the Tommy Bahama style master bath, wall-to-wall louver panel cabinets in light maple have rollouts, an appliance garage and his and her hampers for storage. “I’m not a fan of linen closets so I built linen storage into cabinets. Traditional linen closets are space wasters. They take up at least 10 inches of wall space. I wanted to keep the square footage down and preserve the seamless look of the louver panels,” explains Cross.
“The sinks are half in and half out, they don’t sit up like a bowl sink or down like an undermount sink, explains Cross. One of the most talked about features in the master bath is the toilet behind a clear glass wall that connects with the shower. “I did this for aesthetic purposes. I wanted glass to showcase the stone walls in the shower and toilet area.” A wireless speaker system in the master bath and throughout the home, lets users play music in three distinct zones from their smart device or computer. “All fixtures and toilets in the home carry the green water wise seal for low flow and water conservation,” explains Cross.
A second master bedroom upstairs emulates the amenities and ease of a Las Vegas upscale hotel room. It orients streetside with a balcony that opens to views of Lake Conway. The room’s dual direction blinds by Norman open at half blind from the top or bottom to let natural light in. Hotel-room style amenities in the second master bathroom include a coffee station and a charging station.
The second master bath houses the shower and greek-style soaking tub by Kohler in a shared space known as a “wet area.” “We have a water stream fixture flowing into it. When you are space confined, it’s a good way to multitask so you don’t need separate areas for the shower and tub. We have the handheld shower next to the tub so you can be in the shower and use the handheld,” explains Cross.
Upstairs, a multipurpose room brings the family together with a wet bar that can function as a family-friendly beverage center.
The third bedroom opens to a view of the pool for less morning sunlight while the fourth bedroom sits at the front for a large dose of sunshine.
The third bathroom’s bubble tile and Moxie showerhead give it a youthful vibe that matches the teen or tween bedrooms.
Outside, a raised pool also departs from the norm. “You don’t see a lot of raised pools but I like them for entertaining because they provide pool seating all the way around the pool and the raised perimeter keeps the leaves out of the pool without a lanai,” says Cross.
The pavers by Encore are made of recycled granite countertop pieces and are an eco-cool feature and great conversation starter. “ We laid the pavers polished side down to reveal the chalky stone side. If you want an added shine, you can seal them. It’s a new product that is double the cost of traditional stone pavers,” explains Cross.
The pavers join a long list of green features in the home including pre-manufactured and pre-painted trim, a dehumidifier system ensures indoor air quality, tankless water heater, engineered recycled wood framing and Florida friendly landscaping.
You wouldn’t expect a home priced at $649,000 to come with its own elevator but that is one of the perks of purchasing an SEBC show home. Many product suppliers and manufacturers donated or supplied at cost materials, fixtures, appliances and features as “building partners” in the SEBC show home. “If we built this same home for a customer, it would be priced $750,000 but we did get contributions because it was a show home,” says Cross.
Tags: Bella Cera, Belle Isle, Bonnett Design Group, ECO by Consentino, Electrolux, Encore Stone, Encore Stone products, Featured, green building, Hog Eat Hog, home elevator, Karen LeBlanc Blogger, Keesee and Associates Inc, multigenerational design, Nathan Cross, New Southern Home, New Southern Home 2013, NWC Construction, Residential elevators, SEBC, SEBC 2013 show home, Sherwin-Williams, Southeast Building Conference, sustainable buildiing, The Folding Sliding Door Company, Uneek Images, Uneek Luxury Real Estate Tours, Universal Design