Living the Dream

New ideas for the home reflect a trend toward easy maintenance and flexible design

Focus on Houses

January 31, 1999|By Karol V. Menzie | Karol V. Menzie,Sun Staff

DALLAS -- If there's a new house in your near future, chances are it will look something like the New American Home '99, a 3,858-square-foot dream dwelling in the suburbs that was one of the stars of the recent International Builder's Show in Dallas.

Among other things, the state-of-the-art house has:

* An exterior finish of native fieldstone and light gray brick.

* A 2-story turret that houses the entry and a curving staircase.

* A linear floor plan that opens the living and dining area to the kitchen and breakfast area.

* A home office with a computer alcove that can be concealed by a sliding barn door.

* A first-floor master suite with a super-luxurious bath.

* A common area on the second floor for the three bedrooms.

* A coffee bar with undercounter fridge in the gallery outside the home office.

The house, priced at $489,750, is sponsored by the National Council of the Housing Industry and Ladies' Home Journal and Builder magazines.

The annual show and convention, produced by the National Association of Home Builders, an industry group in Washington, gives building professionals a chance to see the latest ideas and newest products in the market. It attracts some 70,000 visitors to view everything from hand tools to house parts, from water pipes to showers and saunas, from nail guns to new lifestyles.

And, of course, new houses.

One of the exhibits was a complete house: the LifeStages Home, designed for buyers over 45 who are looking for easy maintenance and flexible spaces that can accommodate changing lifestyles over time.

The one-story, 3,175-square-foot home is designed so two auxiliary bedrooms can accommodate children, then later be used as a guest room and den, and still later be converted to a suite for a live-in caregiver. There are two separate single-car garages; the idea is that one can be converted later into hobby space.

The house also has a single- story, open plan, and incorporates some features for accessible living, such as wide doorways, low appliances, ramp entry, low light switches, and levers, pulls and outlets that are easy to use. There are also his-and-hers master bath areas that share a roll-in shower.

The house was developed by a coalition of Masco Corp. (which makes building products), Devereaux & Associates (a McLean, Va., architectural firm), Fleetwood Homes (a California home building firm), and Builder magazine.

Bill Devereaux, of Devereaux & Associates, said the house "works as well for a couple in their 40s with teen-age children as it does for a single person in his or her 80s with the need for in-home nursing care."

The show also underscored the emergence of windows as a major design element. They now come in an array of shapes and sizes. There are high-tech, remote-controlled skylights and awning windows, and windows that are square, rectangular, round, oval, pointed, arched, and bent into 90-degree angles. Finishes and mullions can make them appear ultra-modern or old-fashioned.

Marvin was among manufacturers with a variety of window and French door styles. One window, in what Marvin calls a "furniture" style, has carved Art-Nouveau-style wood "vines" twining around the top on the inside and a rustic, tree-stump finish on the outside.

Among kitchen appliance and design firms, natural wood cabinets and granite or marble counters were popular, as were stone "country" sinks and stainless steel appliance finishes.

The commercial look continues to be popular in appliances. Viking offered ranges, cooktops, ovens, refrigerators and freezers, dishwashers and gas grills in 10 colors (including plum, graphite and linen), some with a choice of brass trim.

Bath fixture manufacturers, such as Kohler and Kallista, were showing a lot of furniture-style consoles, pedestal sinks and leg tubs. These were joined by elaborate showers with multiple-choice jets and waterfalls.

Trends in new homes:

* Soaring open spaces, such as two-story entries and family rooms.

* Detailed ceilings, such as coffered or tray ceilings.

* Winding rather than straight staircases.

* Two-story stone fireplaces.

* Complex roof lines with multiple gables.

* More specialty rooms, such as media rooms and well-equipped home offices.

* Extensive use of natural materials, both for exterior finishes (brick, stone and slate) and for interiors, where wood shows up not just on floors (no more wall-to-wall-to-wall carpeting) but also on walls, as paneling.

* Natural wood cabinetry, often in more than one wood, or in a combination of wood and painted wood.

* More color, both exterior (multiple-color schemes) and interior (goodbye to off-white walls). Earth tones predominate.

* Lots of texture, both from natural stone and wood and from faux finishes and wallpaper that mimic fabrics such as flannel and damask. In furniture, leather is in.

Pub Date: 01/31/99

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