The New American Home
Innovative . . . inspiring . . . odd . . . not sure what to make of it were some of the reactions of journalists touring The New American Home at the International Builders Show last week. This marked the 30th New American Home constructed in conjunction with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) annual trade show. Most are over the top, brimming with amenities, finishes and features, but over the years few have evoked such mixed responses and few have turned any preconceived notions of house and home on end as much as this residence. There is little alignment with conventional concepts regarding bedrooms (there are three) and baths (nine in total) or their location in the home. However, as novel and unconventional as this design may seem, it is also a logical evolution of many trends in upscale homes today.
Immediately, one is struck by how experiential this home is, beginning with the entry, which leads to an open air courtyard. According to Tyler Jones, co-founder of Blue Heron, the design build firm that handled every aspect of the property from concept to finishes, the home is meant to be interactive with the user, who can adapt many spaces and features to their own preferences.
Another goal was to demonstrate the integration of architecture, design, technology and energy efficiency. Layer upon layer of textures, materials and views ensures every space offers a distinct experience, but that each is also integrated into the overall impression of the home. For example, in the master suite, a private patio with a zero-edged spa leads to an open air sleeping porch and courtyard and then to the bedroom itself. Jones says the patio is a great spot to watch the sun rise. On the other side of the room, glass doors open to an open air shower that in turn opens to an indoor shower and master bath.
Everywhere in this house, outdoor and indoor spaces blur together. In fact, when the telescoping doors to the numerous terraces, courtyards and decks are open, it is hard to tell whether you are outside or inside. The great room kitchen is bordered by a mosaic tiled pool, adjacent to a sunken outdoor living space, which has a large outdoor pool on the other side. Here, an outdoor pergola seems to float on the water and adds to the snatches of magic or wonder one finds here and there. Along one side of the pool, stepping stones (also seemingly floating on the water) lead to the master suite and back to the main portion of the home.
Nevada might be one of the driest states in the country, but you are never far from water or the sound of water in this house. Overall the home has seven large water features that add much needed humidity. In the summer, misters also lower the ambient temperature.
Every room opens to multiple vignettes, whether it’s a water wall tiled with mosaics adjacent to a Koi pond on the lower level, the Zen garden or one of the dramatic views affording by the home’s location above the valley a few miles south of Las Vegas in Henderson, Nev. On almost every level, including a sky deck on the roof, the architect incorporates outside views and outdoor spaces geared to take advantage of the best aspects of the site. Sunrise, sunset, day and night, there is a space here to capture the event. On the second level, there is an indoor/outdoor bar, one of several bars in the house. The lower level is devoted to entertaining.
Clearly this isn’t a property for everyone, and it might not mix with small children or large dogs who love water. Although the builders have said they already have had an offer on the home, the main goal of the property, as with all of NAHBB’s new American Homes, was to demonstrate the latest in building technology. Obviously this home does more than that.
Love or hate, no matter what the reaction, anyone who views this home is sure to come away with preconceived notions of house and home altered in some way.
BY CAMILLA McLAUGHLIN
Photos courtesy Blue Heron Inc.