A Hard-Working Home Office

Home office with dual workspace

Home offices have become a common occurrence in recent years, with 71 percent of homebuyers saying that a home office is a desirable or essential/must have area in the home, according to a NAHB Consumer Preferences survey.

With escalating gas prices, home offices became even more important for some in 2008, as many employers offered telecommuting arrangements to help ease employees’ financial burdens, as well as to aid in energy conservation.

A study from IDC, a premier research firm, indicated in 2005 that more than 33 million U.S. households had home offices; IDC predicts that number will grow to close to 40 million by the end of 2009. By some calculations, it is estimated that 4.2 million Americans work full-time exclusively from home (a nearly 100 percent increase from 1990), while some 20 million do it part-time.

Whether the office space in The New American Home 2009 is used in traditional nine to five fashion, or for home-based endeavors, it’s all about the details…and about making it easy for those at work to attend to the tasks at hand. It’s also a space designed to inspire creativity, through internal aesthetics, as well as a fabulous park view.

While housed all in one room, the office is designed for two, with two distinctly separate workstations that complement one another. Both stations offer exceptional storage and organizational elements through built-in cabinetry. A shorter row of wall cabinets creates a strong horizontal line, and allows ample space above for artwork. The cabinet height contributes to ease of use because shelves are easier to reach than taller options. Open spaces at the ends of the cabinet run allow for open storage or serve as a place to display vertical artwork. To maintain a sophisticated continuity, the cabinetry in the office matches the cabinetry throughout the home.

The office features wood floors, which make use of reclaimed lumber. And there is also a private bath and walk-in closet in the office, enabling the room to double as a fifth bedroom if needed.

This article originally appeared in Volume 9, Issue 1 (January 2009) of Portfolio Magazine.
Portfolio Magazine is an award-winning showcase of exciting design ideas and industry insights.

Turning Your Lifestyle Inside Out

The climate is right for outdoor living. The consumer climate, that is. The trend toward “the outdoor living room” continues across the country, not just in the contemporary desert living styles of the sun-drenched Las Vegas desert. Research by the National Association of Home Builders confirms that today’s homebuyers still put a high priority on outdoor features. A patio, porch or deck is preferred by nearly 80% of respondents. That puts outdoor features on par with kitchen islands and walk-in pantries, whirlpool tubs in the bath, and even dining rooms.

Tyler Jones, principal with Blue Heron, concurs. Among Blue Heron’s homebuyers, the most requested custom features are roof terraces, outdoor living rooms and casitas.

So let’s step outside and take a look at some trend-forward ideas to turn your design thinking inside out.

 Start with the Big Picture

The New American Home 2009 – Subterranean courtyard

Art Danielian of Danielian Associates, architects for the project, had a clear vision of the possibilities for wide open living. “The plus of this site is that we have a half acre, that’s a lot of land,” Danielian points out. “The footprint of the home occupies about 50% of the site, and half the site is open space. We wanted to take advantage of every square inch of it.”

There are outdoor vistas to enjoy on every level, from the basement courtyard to the pool area on the first floor to a rooftop sky deck facing the glittering Las Vegas Strip. And even when you’re inside, you’re outside. Observes Danielian, “We took a lot off effort… thinking about how each room is going to experience an immediate outdoor room.” For example, the great room features an 18- foot glass door that opens onto the swimming pool. The basement entertainment room has a disappearing wall that opens into a courtyard.

Water, Water Everywhere

Water features are always popular outdoor living focal points for their calming effect as well as entertainment opportunities. In the contemporary desert style of The New American Home, the water becomes an even more important design feature. Says architect Danielian, it’s because “in a desert environment you don’t really get enough of it.”

The New American Home 2009 – Swim up bar at night

The pool is at the center of the ground floor footprint, featuring a swim up bar and barbecue area. Entertainment value is just the beginning. The pool weaves through the floorplan. In fact, the “negative edge” design creates the illusion of water lapping at the edge of the rejuvenation room. This space, with two walls that open to the outdoors, is ideal for relaxing.

Tyler Jones favors the lavish spa just outside the master bedroom. It’s one link in a whole ecosystem of liquid tranquility. A peaceful waterfall drops into the spa, then follows on through a babbling brook of an open water channel to feed a striking weeping wall waterfall and fire feature in the sunken courtyard.

On Deck: Fabulous Views

The New American Home 2009 – Sky deck with climate-controlled louvered ceiling

Certain homes can frame a picture-perfect view with a deck, and The New American Home is proof. Decks facing east and west survey the timeless beauty of the desert floor. To the north, the Las Vegas Strip appears, an entertaining view any time that turns absolutely spectacular at night.

Decks grace every level, and the crowning glory is the sky deck high atop the home. Lee Lundquist, interior designer for the project calls it “Club Marquis.” With its night club styling, swivel chairs, fireplace and TV, it’s quite reminiscent of Las Vegas night club patios. It’s designed as a party spot with all the kitchen necessities for sharing a glass of wine and hors d’oeuvres while taking in the entrancing glitter of The Strip.

Climate control technology makes the sky deck virtually a 24/7/365 living space. A louvered roof lets revelers control the amount of sunshine by day and starlight by night, and being moisture sensitive can block out bad weather altogether.

Create a Protected Sanctuary

In today’s busy world, homeowners are looking for an everyday escape. The master bedroom in this home is designed as a luxurious natural hideaway. In addition to the spa mentioned above, the bedroom opens onto a zen garden that features a curtain-enclosed casita that hides a lush bed. It’s the perfect spot to nap in the cool breezes or sleep under starlit skies.

The Green Outdoors

Anyone who loves the outdoors is asking a question right now: are you taking steps in this house design to preserve the environment you’re enjoying? Absolutely.

Blue Heron has long been considered a leader in green building. The New American Home is no exception. The home is oriented to the north, to protect it from the extreme heat that comes from the south and west. The water in the water features is recirculated for conservation and all landscaping plants were selected for their drought-resistance. The pool is heated with on-side (and cleverly hidden) solar panels, and designers traded pool chlorination for a more natural salt purification system.

Outdoor Design is Wide open. Are you?

Homebuyers have spoken. Outdoor living is always in season — for parties or a private retreat, for long lazy afternoons and all-natural nightlife, for endless summers and momentary getaways. There are so many innovative ways to give any home a breath of fresh air with outdoor living design. Isn’t it time for you to come out and play?

This article originally appeared in Volume 9, Issue 1 (January 2009) of Portfolio Magazine.
Portfolio Magazine is an award-winning showcase of exciting design ideas and industry insights.

Desert Design Redefined

No doubt when the 1960’s entertainment icons Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and Dean Martin – headliners of the so-called Rat Pack – ruled the Las Vegas strip, the glitz meter was in overdrive. The growing city routinely attracted megastars to the desert locale.

In a sense, the Vegas dynamic hasn’t changed. The glamour remains, perhaps a little less celebrity driven and more focused on gaming and the outdoor pursuits of hiking and canyon-gazing. But the magnetism of the desert city as a primary residence is strong, and the new wave of contemporary home design is one reason.

The Desert Difference

The outdoor living spaces of The New American Home 2009 blends indoor and outdoor living

When all the preconceptions that come with the term “contemporary desert lifestyle” are pared away, the essence of the design emerges: simplicity, in a setting that fuses with the surrounding natural landscape.

For homebuilders and designers, contemporary living in the Las Vegas desert means merging the indoor with the outdoor, employing clean, strong horizontal lines and open spaces to impart a sense of tranquility throughout a home, and, of course, capturing spectacular desert and city views from every possible vantage point.

All of these themes are evident in the 2009 New American Home. It’s the centerpiece of builder Blue Heron’s eight-acre, 14-home Marquis Las Vegas development in the exclusive neighborhood of Tomiyasu Lane. The community is labeled “historic,” somewhat of a rarity in the relatively young Las Vegas, with a blend of architecturally interesting homes.

“To me, the contemporary desert style is reminiscent of the roots of the adobe house, using natural, organic materials with cleaner, simpler lines and adding the contemporary twist of modern conveniences,” explains Timberlake Cabinetry’s Connie Edwards, the firm’s director of design and a showhome veteran. This year’s New American Home is Edwards’ –

and Timberlake’s – tenth such project with the National Council of the Housing Industry, a subset of the National Association of Home Builders.

The New American Home 2009 outdoor living spaces and water features blend with the desert landscape around the home

“The interior and exterior of a contemporary home in the desert are very textural, using mixed media like stone and wood,” Edwards continues. “There’s certainly a rustic element in the style. In fact, when done well, the design makes the home look as if it grew up out of the ground in a natural way.”

Blue Heron’s Tyler Jones, the builder point man behind the luxury home, adds that, for him, “The indoor-outdoor relationship is key. The climate is beautiful in Las Vegas for most of the year, and we take advantage of that in the New American Home by having the indoor space open up to the outdoor space. The home has a very warm design, even down to the furniture. And that warmth has a lot to do with the landscaping and the materials palette, using different textures throughout.” Unlike a strictly modern design, which Jones believes often has a cold, austere feel, “this is different,” he promises.

The outdoor component is crucial in the desert. In one description of a “utopian” desert home profiled in Dwell, the magazine for ultra-contemporary design disciples, a 4,500-square-foot home divides interior space and covered exterior space almost evenly.

Because the desert home design is so influenced by its setting, site selection plays an enormous role. In 2007, Blue Heron already had hand-picked the site for the 2009 New American Home. Senior Associate and Lead Designer Joe Digrado, of the Irvine, California-based architectural firm of Danielian Associates, worked with the builder team to shape an upscale home unique to the desert and reflecting its indigenous beauty.

For instance, according to Digrado, the building and design teams took into account the home’s north-south orientation, situating such heavily used rooms as the great room, the kitchen, and the master bedroom in the northern-facing parts of the house to minimize the effect of the extreme daytime desert heat from the south. “These rooms get flooded with beautiful northern light in the day,” he explains, “while we control light in the southern-facing areas,like the two-story entryway and stair tower, with fixed window louvers.” The design also incorporates such elements as flat roofs and sun-shading window “eyebrows,” or flat eave projections, to comfortably sync with the environment.

The sweeping great room flooded with Northern light prevents extreme daytime desert heat

“The great room and all the other major rooms in the house as well as the decks not only are oriented to the north, but they happen to face the Las Vegas Strip. It’s a nice focal point, especially at night when the city is all lit up,” explains Art Danielian, CEO of Daneilian Associates, in an interview with HGTV. “To the west is natural open space, and a deck wraps around the area to take advantage of the views of the desert. This site is really ideal for these homes.” With all its chic, the contemporary desert style can be intoxicating, even for die-hard traditionalists. In The New American Home, the subterranean courtyard is the ultimate oasis, with an expanse of entertaining and family space, an oversized pool, a soothing waterfall, and adjoining lounging areas, as well as well-defined niches carved out for more private gatherings. An outdoor bedroom makes the most of gentle nighttime desert breezes, once again incorporating the indoor and the outdoor. And the poolside kitchen with its underwater barstools is perfect for impromptu parties featuring the finest in desert cuisine.

This article originally appeared in Volume 9, Issue 1 (January 2009) of Portfolio Magazine.
Portfolio Magazine is an award-winning showcase of exciting design ideas and industry insights.