New American Home Design Features “Upside-Down” Layout

Each year the National Association of Home Builders highlights a New American Home, the design of which is meant to indicate upcoming trends in living styles. This year’s selectee is a three-story residence located in Orlando, Florida, by Phil Kean Designs, and it’s certainly a conceptual departure from conventional homes.

The layout of the house may take some getting used to, as it’s inverted. The kitchen, dining room and living room are on the third floor. The owner’s suite is below it, on the second floor, along with the laundry room. The ground floor contains the garages, a guest bedroom, a dog room(!) and a home office, the latter being a nod to COVID.

Living room, 3rd floor

Living room, 3rd floor

The explanation for the lofty location of the living spaces, which are typically on the ground floor, is that the best views are high up. The space has been designed to exploit this. “The third floor offers awe-inspiring 14′ ceilings throughout making it the perfect place to entertain,” writes PKD, “whether it be in the great room and music room or the state-of-the-art kitchen that connects to a large outside terrace and summer kitchen overlooking the treetops.”

Dining room, 3rd floor

“As you go up to the top level there’s more light, more tree tops. That’s where the living space is,” Keane said. “Tall ceilings for a loft-like feel, not industrial but more elegant. Two balconies: one faces a park and one a treetop canopy. From this point of view you can see Disney’s fireworks on a clear evening.”

Kitchen, 3rd floor

With the kitchen up top, you may be wondering: Who wants to lug groceries up two flights of steps? Probably no one, which is why the house comes with an elevator by Garaventa Lift, which manufactures them for domestic applications. You’re probably also wondering why there’s a photo of the stairs, but no shots of the elevator; more on that below.

The driveway-facing side of the house is decidedly fortress-like, featuring slit-like clerestory windows.

However, the rest of the exterior features generous expanses of glass.

I’m as disappointed as you that there are no photos nor renderings of said elevator, the dog room, the home office, the bathrooms or any of the bedrooms. While the 2021 New American Home was officially unveiled this week, it was done virtually, at the International Builder’s Show, due to the pandemic; and sadly, the IBS website has crashed, taking with it the “virtual booth” where the full interior of the house was meant to be shown. At press time their statement read:

“It is with deep regret we announce that the technology issues pertaining to the IBSx exhibitor platform could not be resolved. The situation evolved rapidly, and rectifying these challenges proved more complex than anticipated. As a result, the show floor featuring IBSx exhibitor booths will not be moving forward as planned this week, but will be postponed to a later date. We are investigating alternative solutions to allow the exhibit experience and virtual booths to open in the near future.”

You reckon it was hackers? In any case, if they can get the booth back up we’ll add more interior photos.