The Greater Than Great Room

New American Home 2013 Great Room

New American Home 2013 Great Room

All together. Different. That’s the very idea of a great room. Redefining space to accommodate all the different moments of a lifestyle, yet create a sense of connectedness for the people who live it.

The New American Home succeeds in a big way. Literally and figuratively. It brings the great room and kitchen together to comprise a 1,150-square-foot area that feels even larger, with an immense sense of space, light and openness.

Look more closely, and you see that the checklist of vital spaces is also complete. The kitchen features a cozy dining space and a high bar for hors d’oeuvres or casual drinks. (We won’t even go in to all the kitchen’s stunning amenities here.) Next, amble over to the great room’s gathering area. Here, you can enjoy a quiet evening by the fireplace, watch the game with friends on the big-screen TV, or throw open the glass wall of pocket doors and you’re poolside.

What’s the secret for shaping so many elements into a cohesive—and impressive—living space? It takes a crystal clear vision for the big picture and a precise attention to detail to achieve it. That’s exactly the approach of the Blue Heron team, from blueprint to interior design.

Go With the Flow

New American Home 2013 Great Room Fireplace

Great Room Fireplace

Tyler Jones, owner of the company, sets the stage. “The kitchen and great room, how they’re connected, that’s an example of how we design homes.”

“Look at space different from the norm,” advises Michael Gardner, Blue Heron’s architect on The New American Home. “Take a little bit of a chance, not every kitchen is L-shaped.”

The footprint is dramatically elongated, which gives the room incredible drama. The dimensions also pick up the sleek horizontals of desert contemporary architecture, further accenting the impact.

Design elements add the next layer of continuity. “Cabinetry is part of the flow,” notes Blue Heron interior designer Lyndsay Janssen. Her reference point is the 47.5-foot run of warm wood Lausanne cabinets linking the kitchen and great room. “We used the cabinets through the kitchen to the great room to the pantry as an architectural element to join the rooms.”

Jones points out another unique way he used standard cabinet elements to create custom-look design. “Cabinetry makes up the fireplace surround and the media center, too. It’s one continuous wall that bleeds and connects.”

Tracey Burrell-Combs, the Timberlake designer for the project, echoes the explanation. “The intention of that wall was to make the entire area feel connected and flow nicely from the great room to the kitchen.”

Designing With Light

Architect Gardner picks up the story. “Cabinetry drove the design of the window and the south wall,” he adds. He refers to a pattern of slender ribbons of glass that pull the eye across the expanse like arrows of light. The largest and longest lengths dominate the south wall and were the most complex to execute. They span the space between upper and lower cabinets, edge to edge, requiring precision to the merest fraction of an inch. Smaller matching windows extend the motif, appearing at ceiling height and finishing in a towering grid of glass, a visual cap on the media wall.

The wash of natural light streaming through the windows is picked up in the color palette as the final unifying element. “The main floor color palette is warm earth tones,” explains Janssen. That applies from floor to ceiling, including travertine floor tiles, furnishings, countertops and fireplace surrounds.

The ultimate effect is unmistakable. As Jones himself says, “It’s absolutely gorgeous.” This great room is one grand space.

This article originally appeared in Volume 13, Issue 1 (January 2013) of Portfolio Magazine.
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