Emerald Status with Ease

The first NAHB showcase house to capture the coveted Emerald status – the highest award on the National Green Building Standard’s efficiency ladder – The New American Home 2011 makes it look, well, easy.

Building a “green” home requires a certain mindset. When John Broniek talks about the energy efficiency of The New American Home 2011, he consistently comes back to one word: airtight, conceptually and literally.

The New American Home 2011 Outdoor Spa

As the project manager overseeing the home’s energy- efficiency profile, Broniek was involved in the project from the start. Working with the architect, builder, and NAHB, Broniek’s firm, Pittsburgh based IBACOS, made the case for progressive efficiency technologies and stayed onsite to help incorporate the innovations into the showcase home.

“Our goal is simply to make homes as energy efficient as possible,” says Broniek matter-of-factly. IBACOS is well-qualified. The building-sciences think tank has consulted on The New American Home for 10 years. Its researchers work closely with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building America program.

To earn the National Green Building Standard’s top Emerald badge of efficiency, The New American Home had to accumulate at least 697 points across several categories: energy efficiency; resource efficiency; water efficiency; indoor environmental quality; lot design, preparation, and development; and operation, maintenance, and building owner education. What’s more, a third-party evaluation had to prove the home was, at a minimum, 60 percent more energy-efficient than one built to the 2006 baseline established by the International Energy Conservation Code/Energy Star standards.

A Tall Order? Not this Year.

The New American Home 2011 amassed the required points, thanks in part to a confident Emerald-is-easy attitude among the project team members. Even before the last efficiency features were added to the home, IBACOS’ Broniek had calculated a healthy savings of at least $2165 on the homeowners’ annual energy bill.

The 2nd floor gallery lets in plenty of afternoon sunlight, but the windows remain airtight.

Show and Tell

What features make this home an energy hawk’s dream?

“It’s very airtight,” Broniek explains, “from the spray foam insulation in the walls and roof to the duct work and the energy-efficient windows and doors. It’s the lighting, the water heating, and the space conditioning equipment. It all not only looks great, but it’s one of the most airtight showcase homes we’ve ever worked on.”

Builder Keith Clarke agrees the superior insulation is a key to halting the home’s energy drain. Clarke is the president of Continental Homes, the builder of this year’s New American Home. He says he didn’t flinch when, early in the planning process, NAHB representatives urged him to reach for the lofty Emerald status. A certified Energy Star custom home builder, the Continental team is used to wringing out every watt of energy waste.

“It’s really our standard,” says Clarke. “Energy-efficient homes are one of the driving points of our company. We always try to use energy-efficient products, so that makes the Emerald standard very attainable.”

Admittedly, while several of the efficiency concepts may seem time-consuming and complex to builders – like deconstructing two existing homes on the lot and meticulously salvaging more than four-fifths of the building materials – they represent proven green techniques that, according to energy experts, are accessible to all builders.

“Any builder can incorporate these concepts into their projects,” IBACOS’ Broniek stresses. “The technologies and techniques we used here are in the marketplace today. And that’s really part of what The New American Home is about. It’s showing how energy efficiency can be accomplished – and how it looks when it’s finished.”

This article originally appeared in Volume 11, Issue 1 (January 2011) of Portfolio Magazine.
Portfolio Magazine is an award-winning showcase of exciting design ideas and industry insights.

A Secluded Haven

This is not your garden building standards variety garden.

Towering palms. A splashing fountain. Flowing greenery along a curving colonnade. These are just some of the highlights of the formal garden designed by Scott Redmond, the landscape architect for The New American Home 2011. His creative vision was three-fold. In sun-drenched Orlando, a garden is a year-round pleasure, meant to provide both a relaxing outdoor space and a spectacular window view. In addition, on the smaller lots of an urban infill home, the garden is also a way to create an inviting private haven in a busy neighborhood.

From the beginning, Redmond was captivated by the possibilities of The New American Home. “We got involved because I saw the plans and I was intrigued by possibility,” he confides. “The basic structure for the landscape was cut out by the architect in the house plans. The geometry and rhythm of the architecture suggested strong spaces and very different spaces,” he says.

The classic design of the formal garden breaks a property into a variety of “rooms”, each with its own very different style. The New American Home’s outdoor blueprint includes a palm court, a secret garden, a pool and outdoor entertaining area.

The palm court is the largest garden room. The broad, green lawn is lined with palm trees, concluding in a 12-foot wall and fountain as focal point. The fountain wall provides the luxury of privacy while the open lawn and palms create a feeling of expansiveness. Designed on the center and crossaxis sight-lines of the house, the garden forms striking vistas from the Great Room, Family Room and the Master Sleeping Room.

Visitors make their way into the secret garden by way of a curving path through tall, lush landscaping. Tucked in a corner of the property, the area is a step down in elevation, providing even more solitude. The space embraces the guest with the gently arched wall and colonnade, surrounded by greenery. From above, the space becomes a verdant tableau when viewed from the Family Room.

Connecting the two spaces is a bar and dining area, perfect for entertaining or quiet family time. In addition to the glorious setting, the area includes all the food-preparation must-haves, including a grill, icemaker, refrigerator and pizza oven.

And what’s a home in Florida without a swimming pool? Once again taking on the powerful geometry of the house, the pool area becomes an extension of the Master Bedroom. The effect is yet another breath-taking indoor view and inviting outdoor room.

What’s designer Redmond’s favorite aspect of his green space? “The strong definition and connection between the spaces, very different rooms in such close proximity,” he responds. “It makes the space very striking.”

It’s certain that the homeowners will consider it their own private garden of Eden.

This article originally appeared in Volume 11, Issue 1 (January 2011) of Portfolio Magazine.
Portfolio Magazine is an award-winning showcase of exciting design ideas and industry insights.

Making a Showcase House a Home

When innovation meets lifestyle, beautiful things can happen.

The New American Home 2011 – Family Room

Keith Clarke knew taking on the first New American Home to be built for homeowners, not just as a showcase, would be a challenge. Continental Homes and Interiors would have to balance the owners’ wishes with the leading edge expectations of the NAHB, participating vendors and industry visitors to the house.

“The project is driven by the NAHB. It’s a showcase for vendors, and we get the design from our subcontractors,” says Clarke. “But as a custom home builder, I wanted more.” The same was true for Kate Clarke, leader of Continental’s interior design team and Keith’s wife. “We got approval to have the owners involved,” says Keith. Adds Kate, “I spent a little time talking to the homeowners to understand their lifestyle. Then I made the decisions.”

Isn’t that what home design is always about? Homeowners have ideas, and builders and designers use intuition and experience to make homeowners’ dreams into reality – on a timeline and on budget. “It wasn’t stressful,” says Kate, “because I understand where they wanted to be and where I had to be. So I just followed my gut.”

Kate’s starting place was the architect’s blueprints, which she knew would provide a strong creative guide. “I took the lead from the exterior with its symmetrical lines, strong and bold,” she reasoned. It was perceptive design to carry the geometry inside the house.

The homeowners’ wine collecting hobby also sparked Kate’s creativity in personalizing aspects of the design.  she incorporated plenty of wine racking and glassware storage throughout the serving and entertaining areas. Then she made a splash in the living areas. “The floorplan shows a library, so I included wine storage over the bookcases.”

Wine storage was added in the library to house the homeowners wine collection

When it came to translating the homeowners’ desire for a green home into reality, Keith’s own expertise was all the guidance he needed to earn the hallmark NAHB Emerald standing. “Energy efficient, easy-care homes are our standard,” he comments. “The house itself isn’t any different than any other house we build, with the exception of the solar panels required for Emerald status.” For that, Keith used one of his other well-honed skills – finding a great partner to head up that part of the work.

The result? A showcase home that’s move-in ready – as inspirational as it is livable.


This article originally appeared in Volume 11, Issue 1 (January 2011) of Portfolio Magazine.
Portfolio Magazine is an award-winning showcase of exciting design ideas and industry insights.

Easy Elegance

The New American Home 2011 in Orlando, Florida

Classically inspired architecture and design take The New American Home back to Florida’s golden era of the early 20th century, when living was unapologetically luxurious.

In the 1920s, Florida’s waterfront communities were a magnet for high-society northerners, drawn to the sunny south for equal doses of revelry and relaxation. The Yankee transplants built extravagant estates mimicking Old World architecture. With open courtyards, terraced gardens, and sumptuous spas, the well-to-do took advantage of the inviting Floridian climate at the height of the “Gilded Age.”

It’s this era of laid-back luxury that architect Chris Donnelly set out to capture in The New American Home in Orlando. Donnelly owns Donnelly Architecture, based in Beverly Hills, Florida.

“I kept thinking of the old estates in Palm Beach, Sarasota, Miami,” he recalls. “Then it started to make sense to me, how to balance this classically inspired design with life in 2011.”

While Donnelly admits he’s no student of architectural history, he did a fair amount of research on The New American Home project to ultimately produce a house one would expect to see in today’s Florida. The outcome is a show home constructed around three thematic designs: a historically driven, classical approach that naturally blends contemporary amenities with the contextual setting of Orlando’s Lake Davis, a community of some 100 households originally built in the early 1900s.

The architecture and design details capitalize on – and are respectful of – Florida’s temperamental climate: breezes from the lake and palm court cool the living area. Shaded porches surround the home’s exterior. The roof angle reflects the sun. Insulation battles the southern heat. And landscaping and roofing drainage accommodates the rains.

The original design for The New American Home 2011 was developed by a historian and architectural artist. Donnelly’s challenge was to shape that initial artistic rendering into a showcase home that’s both elegantly welcoming and comfortably cutting-edge.

The result sparkles.

In the Details

The New American Home 2011 Living Room

While the style of this year’s showcase home has been referred to as American Empire, with majestic, columnar Greek Revival elements, Keith and Kate Clarke prefer to describe it as Neoclassic. (“I didn’t know America had an empire,” laughs Kate, who grew up in the U.K.) The Clarkes own Continental Homes. Keith managed the build, and Kate added her interior design expertise.

“The style really blends English, French, and Greek design elements inside and out,” says Kate. For comparison, she points to several of the ornate historic buildings in Washington, D.C.

Architect Donnelly clearly has his architectural and design favorites at The New American Home: “The extensive stonework makes the house work. I love the columns, the tablature, the parapet, the detailing on the windows and doors. The niches, cornices, columns, and openings all were carefully designed to be both historically accurate and to complement the formal arrangement of the rooms. As for the interior, I think most people will find the finishes absolutely incredible. The house almost radiates.”

Donnelly explains that one overriding goal was to allow the indoors to blend with the outdoors. The great room, gallery, and in-law suite offer spectacular views of the lake and downtown Orlando, while the great room, kitchen, family room, and in-law suite also flow into the palm court, the pool area, and the outdoor entertainment area.

In the main kitchen, Kate Clarke’s interior design includes a unique wood ceiling with a circular focal point in the center of the room, two distinct cabinetry finishes, an innovative island with an attached table, and finishes on the wall that take on the soft look of suede.

“The interior takes the lead from the exterior,” she explains. “It’s very strong, very bold, with a clear sense of geometry, using circles and squares. It’s quite a sexy house, really. It has pizzazz, yet it still has warmth – with a little bit of South Beach thrown in there. It’s very comfortable and usable.”

Other hidden gems, as architect Donnelly refers to them, include a sculptural staircase that’s tucked out of sight near an entryway, a tiny powder room off the circular dining area, a luxurious in-ground spa, and, yes, a secret garden – “pockets of privacy and relaxation, oases from the modern world,” he says with a smile.

Good Lessons

The New American Home 2011 Kitchen

Of course, the home’s extraordinary upgrades add to its price tag, an idea that sometimes gets lost when so many generous partners volunteer labor and products. The Clarkes invited a local realtor to walk through the house and tag its market value. The tally? Conservatively, more than $3 million. (Donated materials account for approximately $1.6 million of that, according to Keith Clarke.) But all those bells and whistles don’t necessarily translate to overt extravagance.

“This is a good-sized house, and it could be imposing,” explains Donnelly. “Instead, it has a relaxed luxury about it. It fits this area of Florida. You can come home from a banquet in a tuxedo and feel equally as comfortable as if you came home from jogging in the neighborhood.”

After many months of working through the architectural details, Donnelly says he’s taking away an important revelation from his experience with The New American Home: “On a personal note, I like the fact that the house has a simple layout using basic elements that are extremely well-crafted and carefully placed. You see this in the kitchen in particular, but it carries throughout the house. It’s a straightforward form that’s carefully detailed.

It’s been a good lesson for me – and for architects and builders in general, I think. You don’t have to go over the top with form. You can design something beautiful that’s basic and detailed.”

Then, in a rush of self-consciousness, Donnelly quickly redirects the conversation: “Okay, enough about that. If someone wants to know what the house is all about, I say,‘Let’s go see it!’ I like to let the work speak for itself.”

This article originally appeared in Volume 11, Issue 1 (January 2011) of Portfolio Magazine.
Portfolio Magazine is an award-winning showcase of exciting design ideas and industry insights.

Timberlake Cabinetry showcased in the New American Home 2011

Timberlake Cabinetry, a leading supplier to the new construction market, is the featured cabinetry provider for The New American Home (TNAH), the annual showcase house of National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) presented in conjunction with the International Builders’ Show in Orlando, FL, January 12-15, 2011. TNAH is considered the premier venue for new design trends, products and technology for builders, remodelers, architects and designers.

Timberlake Cabinetry is featured in nine rooms of the 11,200 square-foot home, which is designed in the American Empire style with Greek revival elements. Timberlake Rushmore® Cherry Java is seen in the kitchen, prep kitchen, master bedroom and bath, library. The in-law suite kitchen and living areas features Yellowstone® Maple Coffee Glaze. In the kitchen, the dark-hued Cherry Java is paired with the lighter Rushmore® Maple Hazelnut Glaze.

The two designer-selected cabinetry finishes are among the newest in the Timberlake line. Cherry Java is Timberlake’s darkest cherry finish, imparting a depth of color to the furniture-style cabinetry. Maple Hazelnut Glaze, made by wiping a rich, brown glaze over white-painted hardwood maple, creates a warm, dramatic contrast.

Timberlake will be hosting a customer/media event and guided tour celebrating the completion of the home on January 12, 2011. Customers and members of the media will have the chance to tour the home and meet with Timberlake executives and staff.

Continental Homes and Interiors, the husband-and-wife builder and interior design duo for TNAH, worked closely with Timberlake to achieve their desired results. Said builder Keith Clarke, “I’d never worked with Timberlake before The New American Home, but it was like they belonged there from the start.” Added interior designer Kate Clarke, “We worked closely with them on design. It was just superb.” Clarke even turned to Timberlake’s team to help her turn a design challenge into a designer focal point in the master bedroom. “I wanted to float the bed in the middle of the room,” she explains “but I didn’t want to see the back of a headboard.” The Timberlake team created a single furniture-quality headboard with built-in night tables on each side and bookcases on the back.

In line with the growing interest in energy-conscious homes, TNAH 2011 is being built to attain “Emerald” status of the National Green Building Standard, the highest of four levels. Timberlake is the first cabinet supplier to achieve green-approved status under the National Association of Home Builders National Green Building Standard. All Timberlake products are certified by the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA) Environmental Stewardship Program. To further promote the use of responsible environmental and business practices, 100% of Timberlake wood doors, drawer fronts and cabinet frames are sourced from sustainable forests within the United States.

“Custom-look cabinetry, eco-friendly products, and builder-focused service are the hallmarks of Timberlake,” says Laura-Jo Boynton, Brand Marketing for Timberlake. “The New American Home is a striking example of the difference we can make to homebuilders and buyers.”

The New American Home 2011 is being constructed on an infill building site in an older neighborhood near downtown Orlando. Located on the South side of Lake Davis, the home has panoramic views of the Orlando sky line. Unlike most previous editions, it was built for specific buyers and was designed to integrate their preferences for elegant style and warm livability.

Sponsored by the National Council of the Housing Industry, the Leading Suppliers of NAHB and Builder Magazine, this marks the 28th year The New American Home has been featured alongside the International Builders’ Show.

For more information on Timberlake Cabinetry, including a company fact sheet, official boilerplate and more, please visit the Timberlake Newsroom.