Tag Archive: Modern Custom Homes

  1. A Huge Architecture Win! Remembering The New American Home 2012 (Podcast)

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    In this conversation with Phil Kean, we learn how early admiration and recognition of the architecture of The 2012 New American Home led to local and national acclaim for Phil and his firm in the modern architecture space. A continued commitment to green practices, beautiful sight lines, and a sense of daring to take bold approaches to home design are a few themes you’ll hear covered in this podcast.

    Let’s face it, getting a start in the world of modern architecture is no small feat. As is the case for many decorated home designers, builders, architects, and visionaries, this was also true for the award-winning Phil Kean Design Group.

    You can listen to the recorded interview via this YouTube link or read the transcript below.


    Today we’re interviewing Phil Kean. Phil Kean Design Group is a nationally awarded design and build architecture firm named “Best of Orlando” #1 Home Builder by Orlando Magazine, voted Best Home Builder – “Best of Winter Park” three years in a row by Winter Park, Florida Chamber of Commerce, “Best of Houzz”- Design Award by Houzz.com, and winning the Platinum and Gold awards from the National Association of Home Builders’ Best in American Living Awards. Today we’re going to be talking with Phil to get a behind the scenes talk through of the award-winning New American Home 2012.

    Phil Kean with Phil Kean Designs is with us today, and he’s going to be sharing a bit about a project that I think is absolutely remarkable and you’ll be able to get a link here to see the project this interview is on. I would say, peruse it…I mean these are just amazing images of a beautiful project. But before we get into that, Phil, thank you so much for being with us this morning.


    Thanks for including me this morning.


    We’re excited, this particular project titled The New American Home in 2012, it is really beautiful. From an aesthetic standpoint, from a look and feel standpoint, from a design…the aesthetic is just gorgeous. It has also won the “Best of Show” award in 2012, which I believe is the Golden Aurora Award, congratulations on that. That is definitely bit of high praise. At this point, Phil, you tend to get awards for so many of your designs, I don’t know if it surprises you anymore! Anyway, that’s a gorgeous design. Before we get started in terms of the actual project itself, I’d love to hear a bit of the backstory on this project and maybe a bit about the layout in terms of the neighborhood potentially, and maybe even design challenges that may have been presented to the site itself. I mean, were there any details there that are worth going over?


    Sure. There are always these little odd lots, and this was a lot that had sort of been overlooked because there was a five-story condominium next door that really shared an alley with the lot, so all of the windows that faced the lot could see right into the house. So the challenge really was how do I create some privacy from the five-story building? And that was challenge number one. Another challenge was Winter Park, which is where the house is built, has a lot of very interesting code restrictions. You have to be certain distance from side setbacks. You’d have to step your house in if it gets over a certain height. And so there was a lot of design pieces to this house that made it more and more challenging. And then another challenge was there was pervious issues where you couldn’t cover the lot with more than a certain percentage of the lot. So those are just what we started with. It was second house from a corner. It was a nice size lot, and so I purchased it,  <laugh>…with all of that, I fell in love with it! <laugh>


    Well, you love a challenge, I can tell!  <laugh>


    Well, one of the nice things about the lot that I didn’t include was that it was really walking distance to shops and restaurants, and yet it was on a cul-de-sac so it had no through traffic. At the end of the cul-de-sac was the lake…it had a little park at the end. So, it was a really lovely street. That was the pluses of the lot. So you kind of took the good with the bad and how do we hide the bad and, you know, celebrate the good. So that was the lot, that’s why I bought it.


    It’s a gorgeous place. And I think what really stands out to me is that the feel of the home really does bring that hallmark, that signature design that you have with that very open design with the flow of the floor plan. One of the images that catches my eye is where your pool is effectively inches away from your living area, your living room area, right? So you really have that indoor/outdoor connection.

    Jeffrey A. Davis Photography


    One of the design elements that we decided to utilize was you walked into the Lanai, so you didn’t walk into the front door, you walk into an open Lanai that could be screened in or not screened in. You had the motorized screens. So your outside space really sort of was part of the entry sequence, which was a nice detail. There weren’t any views to look out to, so the courtyard which was where the pool was became sort of the focal point of the garden. Most of the rooms either looked out onto the street or into the courtyard. I think it really allowed a lot of light. Also a lot of the windows all opened, they were sliders, so they all opened out to that outside space. So the house essentially could go from small-size entertaining area to the entire garden entertaining area, which it did, I mean on many occasions, there might have been a hundred or 200 people in that house at a time.


    Wow, and that does seem to be one of the things that I think more and more we are starting to see that people want. There’s that traditional sort of home that you’ve got your four walls and limited natural light, you know, limited air flow. It is seeming more and more that people are wanting that connection with nature. Especially now post pandemic, where we have a lot of us working remotely now, and it’s sort of that home office where we’re working from the home. It makes such a difference to have that connection to nature. And as you said, even if you’re in a city environment, so you’re in the Winter Park area, but you’re not boxed in by that city feel. Like you said, it’s a balancing act, you’ve got a five-story building here, how do we design this to where you still have that nature, that natural environment around to really create that holistic feel? That’s something I think you do very, very well across your entire portfolio is blending that. What is your process like in terms of that balance? I can imagine that there’s gonna be a lot of thought that goes into how open do we actually make this, making sure that we are balancing for weather, etc., and all the different variables that can play into that.


    So I sort of took dimensions and I sort of looked at where the building behind me was, you know, that shared the alley with this house. And I took a normal height that would be for eyesight and then I puffed up the actual house just tall enough that it would hide the five-story building from anywhere in the garden. And I did that in sort of 3d modeling and sketching. And with overhangs, that element, you never really see that five-story building while you’re outside in your own garden. So that was really sort of nice. You could be sitting in the pool and you wouldn’t have people looking at you or any of that stuff.  I’m a little bit more modest in that it feels weird if someone’s watching you swim or something, I don’t know. But anyway, I intentionally used the architecture and the structure of the house to shield that view into the garden from the building next door.


    Phil Kean, Architect and Builder


    Yeah, that’s the challenge it seems, is that you’re really having to get the best of both worlds. You know, that’s something I’ve admired about your work that you’re so well at integrating that in. One of the details, while we’re talking about the outside space, that I really love is the deck and the cooking area… the outdoor kitchen that you have. It’s the placement of that, and the layout of that, I think again speaking to the balance from a visual perspective, where your outdoor kitchen is actually far enough back but still in close enough reach to help with entertainment, whether you’re firing up the barbecue or whatnot, you’ve got that proximity. From a visibility standpoint you’ve also been able to make that blend and almost camouflage it into the whole design.


    Jeffrey A. Davis Photography


    Yeah, it felt like you were entertaining while you were grilling or something the way it was positioned there. Many events that was used as a bar kind of, there was a bartender behind it and they were serving drinks or wine or whatever behind that. It was spacious enough so there could be several people and hidden way enough that they could have coolers and all kinds of things there. That was really versatile and served multiple purposes. If it was just me grilling or somebody just grilling, that was one thing, but if you were having a party you could use it for putting snacks, drinks, and things like that on it.

    Photo by James F. Wilson courtesy BUILDER magazine


    Exactly, and there’s that blending again, just as if it’s hand-in-glove, nothing feels out of place. I think that’s a huge point around your designs that I’ve always admired is that everything feels like it’s part of the larger whole, there’s that continuity across the design. I think there’s a lot of fragmentation that we see a lot of times, and I’m sure that you come across this a lot, when you’re looking at architecture where you see a sort of a fragmentation, either it’s between the indoor or outdoor or maybe some elements or accents that are in sort of a huge clash in terms of the look and feel and the fit.


    You have to think about how you’re gonna go for an indoor/outdoor feel or have it really feel like the outside is coming in or the inside coming out, I think it’s a combination of materials and scale. In this particular house we used the same material inside as we did on the covered lanai, and I think that was successful. We also finished and painted the inside ceiling tones the same colors and same finish. Another thing we did is we took our sliding glass windows and doors from the floor to the ceiling, so when they were open or slid away, that sort of blurred inside and outside. I think that by bringing the same materials out to the grill area, it all blended really well together. Almost like an extension, you know…an extension of the inside maybe out or the outside maybe coming in. It was one of my favorite details.

    Photo by James F. Wilson courtesy BUILDER magazine


    Well, I can see why. As I’m looking at this right now, I can really imagine what it would be like to be in a large group there…you have the space. That’s another piece here, you have the space and the ability to be intimate and also have room to breathe. Just so many delicate balances…. As I was looking at this in preparation for today, it’s really just one of those points that over and over again you’re watching that line there being attended to very, very well.


    I was gonna say, also the water table off the pool was really sort of a nice detail. I would find that during parties, four people would be sitting at that table having a drink or having some wine. What it did is it also allowed a little bit of background noise, I always liked to use that as a buffer. I was one house in from the corner street, so it kind of muffled any kind of noises you might hear as well. So it served two purposes: it was sort of a cool aesthetic detail, a lot of people thought kind of a “Wow” factor, and it was entertaining at the same time, moving water is always something cool to look at.

    Jeffrey A. Davis Photography


    It’s such a great feature. I think because like you said, that white noise really makes people feel comfortable, especially if you’re someone who’s new to the environment or it’s your first time being there. It creates that freedom to sort of take a little bit of pressure off. But it’s also a beautiful thing even if you’re out there on an evening alone to just sit there, to relax, and to think, and to have that sort of meditative space as well. I think that that’s what is really exciting to me when looking at how this all came together. These are ideas that don’t populate without actually thinking through what the inhabitants are gonna be using the space for, and what could it actually do in its fullest potential?


    Yeah. It was interesting because it was a progression of how to use that space. It wasn’t like “Oh!” – the first thing I thought of. It was sort of something that as the pieces and elements came together, this morphed into this lovely little garden of tables, and water table, and the grilling area. The outside space was certainly really thought through, but still became almost like a little journey like, “Oh, well we have this space, what would be fun here”? And that’s sort of how that happened.


    Can I ask you about the balconies? Because I am fascinated with the balcony structure that you have because the views are impeccable. As you said, you’re balancing privacy, but also maximizing visibility from within the residence. What does the process look like when you sit down and really identify where and how to implement the balconies ?


    In this particular house, I had these geometries that came off: there were three rooms on the second floor – one was a bedroom, one was an exercise room, or could have been another bedroom, and another was a TV lounge kind of space up there. So I had the ability to have doors and balconies off those three rooms, and each of them had sort of a different feel. There was the one that faced essentially the street in the corner that felt like more of a social balcony. It was off the TV lounge. And then the other one was off the bedroom, which overlooked the pool, and it was much more protected and much more private. The views off of that and into that were much more protected. And then the other balcony faced toward the lake, and it was off the gym, and we called it the yoga balcony. So you could go out there and take in fresh air and maybe stretch or whatever. It was a little more protected from the major road. It was certainly more visible than the bedroom balcony. They had sort of a sense of order and priority.

    Jeffrey A. Davis Photography


    And I think it also maximizes your experience in the home because you have the variety. Like you said, you’ve got an exercise room, and you’ve got your place to go outside to stretch, and yoga, and have some alone time if needed. So you’ve got that spectrum of opportunity to go where you want to go to do what you want to do. While we’re talking about the navigation within the home, it strikes me how open the home is while also having such a clean, beautiful structure as well. What is the inspiration for you when you look at flow within a home?


    Well, I usually start with a floor plan and then I go to the elevations. The idea with this flow was that first room you would go into would be your most formal room, but you would pass and look into some private rooms as you’re passing through the lanai. So the first room you came to was the gallery, and there were no windows on the one side because it faced the alley and the other side faced the courtyard. So that was the first one. In that room there was a bar, so it was really set up for entertaining. There was a powder room there, and the bar, and a very minimal hallway to take you to the powder room.



    Jeffrey A. Davis Photography

    Then as you go the other direction, the lower ceiling height is what created the dining room. The dining room was kind of an L-shape flow, so you went from the gallery and in this particular case you took a left into the dining space. And the dining space, by use of cabinetry and countertops, then took another L-shape off the dining room into the kitchen. The cabinetry became the buffet in the dining room, and then as it turned the corner it became the counter of the kitchen.

    Jeffrey A. Davis Photography

    It was really tailored so that cabinetry went down a hallway where it was paneled on both sides of the hallway. I called it the appliance corridor, so I put all of the big appliances, the ovens, the microwave, the coffee maker, things like that down one side of the corridor. The other side of the corridor had the refrigerator, pantry, and access to the garage and a small laundry room. And then I used that cabinetry again to wrap around and it brought you into sort of a, I call it the “coffee lounge”. You could watch TV there, it had four chairs and opened up to the garden. Off that room there were stairs to the second floor, and  there was an office and a bedroom off a small hallway, and a powder room on that side as well.

    Jeffrey A. Davis Photography

    You’re sort of going from more formal to less formal, and then you’re going up to the second floor which has the three rooms. So it was really layered for “how exposed are you gonna be during a party?”. So the master in this particular case, or the primary as the more politically correct term, the primary bedroom was on the second floor away from entertaining and noise, but the house had an elevator so that if somebody were, if it were necessary, they could use the elevator to access the primary bedroom and bath. So it had a layer, and it was ordered as formal to less formal.


    Yeah, and the thing that strikes me about that is there IS a seamless flow. When I take a look at every different angle, you never feel like “it fits”; even though, as you said, you’ve got formal and informal, and sort of private and public sort of facing rooms…you’re still feeling that integration.


    Yeah. The spaces visually blend into the next room, but by using compression and materials and things, it created a sense of place. It wasn’t like one big room, but it flowed like one big room, if you understand that concept. There was definitely a gallery that had taller ceilings, I had designed that gallery to be the room that blocked the view from the five story apartment building. During the process of building it, I felt like the scale was a little tall so I brought the ceiling down. It was a great space, one of my favorite spaces. I actually designed a space recently using that same proportion of that room. It was such a great room.


    I can see why.

    The point that I want to move into next is something that I have a personal passion for and a lot of interest in which is the materials that are used across the residence in the flooring. It is so different in many ways in different parts of the house. I think it really draws in the depth of the room in some areas, and in some areas it really creates that clean, crisp feel, for example in the bathrooms where you have that beautiful marble. Can you tell me a little bit about the process that you went through in terms of materials and maybe even in terms of sourcing if that’s relevant as well.


    That house was a show house for the National Association of Home Builders. So it was sponsors, you know, there were people that wanted to showcase their product. I had the final say over all of that, but some I had to use was  Daltile as Daltile was one of the material suppliers. It was a combination of “what can I get in time”. I built this house in eight months, that was a real tight timeframe, so my first choice oftentimes was not available. Actually the flooring that I put on there was a second choice, but it was pretty awesome that I laid that flooring. It was a linear cut limestone. I laid it in a way like you would lay a random pattern for wood flooring, so a lot of people think it’s wood because it kind of looks a little like wood, but it was warm. It had a real warm tone to it. Because it was limestone, I could take it outside. So I used it both inside and outside on the first floor. That was really important for me to have that connection to the two. Then on the second floor, we used product from another vendor, so we did a Walnut on that level. In selecting products, because of the not knowing, I went with a light and dark. So I would pick either one of the lightest products available or one of the darkest products available from the vendors that I needed to work with. I could always say “no”, but part of that was to showcase the best of some of the best vendors in the country. So that was kind of exciting, because like the stone on the walls, they didn’t have the product I wanted, so this manufacturer…I designed it and they developed a new product that they are still selling today out of that house. So that was a cool experience in that regard to have a vendor, and you get to design it. I got to design light fixtures and I got to design…, so all of that was really a one of a kind type of experience, but it was really very fun. Very, very fun.


    Well, now that you mentioned lighting, I have to ask about that because the lighting is remarkable… the fixtures and the different elements that you’ve brought in. I think you were able to highlight, in some cases, the height of the ceilings and other cases it really brings in the warmth of the room. So with the lighting, is that something that you took inspiration from maybe a different project or from maybe something that you wanted to try or experiment with on this? What was there a backstory on the lighting? Because it is fascinatingly beautiful.


    When I was in college I took some courses in lighting and lighting design. I knew that lighting was going to be really important, so we used lighting both as a direct light source and as a sort of a design ambience type light source. That was really fun. This was designed over 10 years ago and LEDs were not quite as accessible, so a lot of the products just weren’t available in LED. So the manufacturers and we worked together to create products that used a more energy efficient light source. That was really fun. We did some modifications in the field to get the right values. Part of the design process was “how does the light work in this house?”. I think it’s successful.


    Absolutely. I would say one of the areas that I love the most is in the kitchen area… it’s beautiful the way the light creates that warmth, it’s very inviting. When I look at these shots of these images, the thing that pulls me in is how easy this would be to just see yourself there. It’s one of those things where you see it, and it looks inviting, it pulls you in, it really does pull you in. And I believe that your choice of lighting and how you did that, especially ahead of the curve, in that sense, sort of ahead of the time so to speak in terms of LED usage, on that I take my hat off to you. I want to ask you as well about the sustainability on this. I think that sustainable design is something that you’ve been able to not only become proficient at, but there’s a degree of industry level respect that you have in this space when it comes to understanding and implementing sustainable design in these types of homes. Could you share a bit of maybe either the macro or maybe even down to the micro in terms of how your sustainable design impacted the end product on this residence?


    One of the cool things about this house in particular is that it was the greenest house built in 2012 in the country. It had the highest energy-efficiency and was recognized for its green factor. Some of the things that we put into the house that made it green was that we used all low-flow fixtures, toilet and showers, all low-flow. So water usage was really carefully managed in this house. We used LED on all of our lighting. We used all Energy Star appliances. We had solar on our roof. We also did insulated concrete forms. They’re called ICF and they are forms that are like an insulated block and it’s almost like a Lego kind of assembly. They are filled with steel and concrete and then you put your material on top of that to finish it off. So on the inside you would have your drywall and on the outside, in this particular case, we had stone and stucco. Those were some of the green elements. In addition to that, we did a Florida-friendly lawn design where all the plants in the entire yard are all Florida native. So the advantage to that was that it helps to feed the animals native to Florida and uses much less water because they don’t get sprinkled in nature, so they get just enough water. We used some artificial turf to get that sort of lawn look, but overall it was a very cool project. We used a product for the deck around the pool that was made from recycled salt and rice husk, you know, like the residue of when they make rice. That was kind of cool. So that was some of the things that made it energy-efficient and the greenest house in the state of Florida and the country in that year, which is an honor.


    That’s a very remarkable honor. I’ll tell you that is! If you think about the amount of homes and residences that are built, especially in the last 10 years, I mean, this is something that is actively being pursued by architects. And to be able to reach that, you know, that’s…


    Well what was interesting is the following year I went out to the west coast which has been known to be so much more green-forward. And I went out just to look at homes on the west coast during almost like a green build blitz, kind of, it was sort interesting because there were things I thought they could have done so much better. And, I was just a novice at it at the time. So I was really fortunate to have an amazing green certifier and consultant help me on this project. In the process I learned a lot too on the things that really work well and things that don’t work well. Another thing I did on this house was I put screens on the outside of all my windows so that the sun never hit the glass, so it kept the house much cooler. Then my roof was white, so in Florida that’s pretty cool because that’s what you need here is to reflect that light. As we’re talking more and more things come back, how it just ended up being this amazingly green house, <laugh> or energy-efficient house.


    Very much so. Thank you for going into that detail because I think one of the parts that I enjoy the most out of these conversations is the new lens with which we can see this project. I also believe if someone’s listening to this and they say, you know, I have this as a goal, I want a sustainable residence and I want the design to be beautiful. And to achieve all these goals as well, you know, to tick off all the right boxes. I think it’s exciting for them as well, to be able to listen in on this and say, look, it is possible to have your cake and eat it too. I think that’s where this type of conversation is very, very intriguing. I think both you and I, but also for the person listening in on this, who has the interest to move forward and spark a conversation with the firm. Just one last question for you, Phil, unless you had anything else to add onto that?


    No, I could talk about green all day long. Maybe that’s another topic. <laugh>


    Definitely, I would love to cover that on a subsequent conversation for sure. I’ve got a load of questions around that I think would be worth diving into an understanding. I think I’ll just touch on one quick point before I move onto the last question: you would expect with a home that is the greenest home to not have as much technology built into it as what you have here. It’s extraordinarily well lit, the amount of appliances, and screens that are visible everywhere. And I can see sound, audio, you know, installed as well. I mean, there’s so many pieces to this puzzle that it is a bit of a shocker to a lay person like myself to imagine this as the number one green home, because of the fact that I think as lay people, when we see, or when we think of green, we think, okay, great, but that comes at a cost. And I think what you’ve demonstrated so well here is that you’re able to achieve that without the sacrifice.


    Right, there’s no sacrifice to be sustainable. Today there’s virtually no cost difference. You don’t have to think twice about having low VOC or no VOC products in your home. I mean, 10 years ago, you had to sort of carefully look for everything, but today you don’t, it’s the standard. That’s really important for people to know that being green does not mean just energy-efficient. It means being healthy. The things you put in your house is also part of what makes a house really green. In this house I collected rainwater to use in the garden and for extra watering I would need. So all of those little things, you don’t really think about that, and those don’t really cost anything. Here in Florida, every once in a while, we’ll have a drought where we can’t water our lawns. So that made it really great to be thoughtful about water usage and collecting water and people do it. But it’s really easy. People can have bladders and collect as much water as they want, especially for secondary uses. It’s really great.


    I think that’s the point, right? It is. Not only is it an advantage to the ecology and to the environment, as you said very well. I think this is something that as we become more and more health conscious as a nation, I think that is one of the pieces of the puzzle that we begin to sort of understand. I think one of the obvious major issues obviously was the whole asbestos, you know, back then wasn’t being implemented in construction wasn’t really ever addressed until it was too late. And I think that is where we’re understanding our world today is that the sustainability and greenness, so to speak of your residence, we may not even know the full scope of benefits until 20 years, 30, more years down the line.


    Yeah. I do think it very easy today to thoughtfully place things in your home and use materials that are better for the environment and better for you in the long run. I think that’s what this house in 2012 really explored. And I think it was one of my favorite homes I’ve ever worked on.


    Phil, as always thank you so much for the time today, what an amazing conversation. I want to thank you for giving us this sort of a virtual behind the scenes on the process and the beauty that we have here. I mean, this is great, great, conversation. So thank you very much.


    Well, thank you. I hope it inspired somebody to do something a little different,  <laugh>.


    Absolutely. Thank you, Phil.

    We hope you’ve enjoyed this interview. To learn more about how you can work with Phil Kean Design Group, visit PhilKeanDesigns.com.

  2. Blurring the Lines Between Indoor & Outdoor Living

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    Blurring the Lines Between Indoor & Outdoor Living (Home Design Trends of 2022)

    We are excited to feature the home design trends article authored by our very own Katie Kovac! The below piece was written for an industry magazine and can be found in its entirety below. Enjoy!

    modern home design trends 2022

    We’ve all looked through a window at the beautiful views surrounding our homes, but somehow still find the two disconnected. When designing and building a custom home, we find that clients are always looking for the perfect integration between the two spaces.

    Magnifying the View

    One of the best ways to connect indoor and outdoor living is to enlarge the viewing space between the two. The best way to achieve this is by using floor to ceiling sliding glass doors or folding glass doors. This allows both living spaces to feel larger and more connected to one another, especially when the doors are open.

    home design trends 2022

    As a custom home designer and builder, we take it a step further by designing pockets in the exterior walls to conceal the sliding glass doors when opened, which ultimately creates an illusion that both spaces are now one large space. However, not everyone can create a hidden pocket for their sliding glass doors, especially if their home design will not allow for enough space on either side of the sliders to accommodate a pocket.

    When this is the case, folding glass doors are a great option. With folding glass doors, the panels fold onto one another allowing them to stack to one or both sides of the opening, creating that beautiful oversized indoor/outdoor connection.

    Blending the Stage

    Another important design feature to further blur the lines between the indoor and outdoor spaces is the floor selection. Choosing the same material for the indoor and outdoor flooring allows the two spaces to flow into one another and appear as one space. Many natural stone and porcelain tile selections in the current market have options for both an indoor and outdoor finish without changing the look of the tile.

    custom home trends 2022

    But the flooring isn’t the only design element we see when looking out. When installing floor to ceiling windows or doors, matching the indoor and outdoor ceiling colors will add to the illusion. Using the same paint color or a color in the same color family allows the visual connection to continue from one space to another.  Lighter colors make the ceilings appear higher and the spaces feel larger, and warmer colors will make the spaces feel cozy.

    Finally, it’s important to use the same lighting elements outside that are used on the inside. Matching the recessed can size and trim is important when seaming the two spaces together. And it doesn’t just have to be the recessed cans, light fixtures and ceiling fans can match inside and out too. Many brands have created light fixtures and ceiling fans that can live up to the elements outside, allowing their fixtures to be used inside and outside as well.

    indoor outdoor design trends 2022

    By Katie Kovac, Phil Kean Design Group

    Photos by Uneek Image

  3. Modern Home Design & Construction of The 2021 New American Home – Phase 2

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    Our modern home design process of the 2021 New American Home requires us to be nimble and flexible, and to nurture great relationships with a variety of vendor teams and builders. After constructing our masonry block walls, exterior wood framing, and underground plumbing/electric wiring, we moved onto our interior framing phase!

    Below, Katie Kovac, Phil Kean Design’s Construction Coordinator, walks through the next phase of this new home’s construction.

    As part of the International Builders’ Show, this home showcased the latest products and technologies from the Leading Suppliers Council (LSC), part of the National Association of Home Builders. The most exciting new product featured in this home is the Panasonic Cosmos Healthy Home System.

    The Cosmos system is a smart fresh air system that helps maintain a healthy indoor air environment. Through carefully placed sensors the Cosmos system constantly monitors the indoor air quality within the home and automatically activates the system to bring fresh air in and pull harmful air out when levels go below normal. The harmful sources that the system regularly monitors are volatile organic compounds (VOCs), fine particulate matter, carbon dioxide, and humidity.

    The Cosmos system will work in tandem with the Mitsubishi Ducted Mini-Split HVAC system. Unlike most homes, The New American Home 2021 has no HVAC air handler closets, thus freeing up more available living space which is a huge bonus in an urban development. These ducted mini-split systems are located in the ceilings with drywall access panels to allow for easy accessibility. In addition to added living space, the ducted mini-split system is more energy efficient than a standard HVAC system.

    To add even more energy efficiency to the home, we used Fi-Foil’s latest products during the insulation process.  On the exterior walls, we used Fi-Foil’s new FlexFoam on the masonry block behind the drywall furring strips, then added a layer Fi-Foil’s M-Shield for added insulation. On the frame walls we used Demilec spray foam insulation topped with Fi-Foil’s HY-Fi hybrid insulation system to create a higher R-value. Demilec spray foam insulation was also used in between the floor systems and attic space ensuring a very insulated shell prior to drywall.

    The last step in achieving ultimate energy efficiency and reducing air leakage in the home is Aerobarrier. With their innovative air sealing technology, they can seal all holes within the home’s air ducts and vents ensuring that the home’s air goes where needs.

    Check back next month for our rundown of the 2021 New American Home’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) stage!

  4. Modern Home Design & Construction of The 2021 New American Home – Phase 1

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    The New American Home 2021 modern home design process offers a different perspective than Phil Kean Design Group’s previous New American Homes designed and built in 2012 and 2017. In the below video, Phil Kean shares his ideas for the modern architectural design of the home, and walks through the features and amenities of each floor.

    While still modern, this home has a treehouse feel with the main living areas on the third floor looking down over the treetops. As part of an urban luxury development of seven high-end custom homes and townhomes ranging from 3,000 sq. ft. to over 8,000 sq. ft., this home offers luxury living with all the finest finishes, and a walk-to-location in the heart of Winter Park, Florida.

    As we move into the future, we’ve found that walkability and location is ideal. However, in urban locations, walkable properties are hard to come by.

    As with all Phil Kean homes, our mission is to provide award-winning design and construction with our architecturally distinctive spaces while integrating the finest quality of products and services.

    Our Modern Home 2021 Entry: Floor-by-floor Design

    With three levels, The New American Home offers a unique living experience on each floor.

    With an art gallery entrance, the ground floor includes a three-car garage, guest bedroom with en suite bath and office. A dog room dedicated to man’s best friend is also featured on the ground level, along with added doggie doors located on every floor.

    The second floor is dedicated to the owner’s suite with a large master bedroom and spa-like master bath that connects to a boutique walk-in closet. It also includes a TV lounge with walk-out balcony, laundry room, and an exercise room with sauna and en suite bath.

    The third floor offers awe-inspiring 14’ ceilings throughout making it the perfect place to entertain, 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.

    Check back here next week as Katie Kovac, our incredible Construction Coordinator, walks through this modern home’s design materials and partner vendors we chose for this stunning project in Winter Park, FL.

  5. “Unlock” Your Luxury Residence With These 4 Design Tips

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    Brilliant luxury residences have mastered the ability to influence, enhance, and adapt the style and function of a space. Luxury residences focus on the elegant, personalized, and convenient touches that embody the highest pedigree of design – a home where character counts. Here are the four golden keys to “unlock” your luxury residence.


    Energy and Flow


    Implementing practical elements within the luxury residence for the homeowner’s lifestyle while creating a natural, convenient flow of the space marks the epitome of modern design success. The elegance of even the most aesthetic luxury residence is lost when it’s not usable.

    Making the most of the exterior and interior views is an important part of the luxury home design experience. Open floor plans and access to natural light with full-scale walls of windows and oversized sliding glass doors allow sunlight to flow freely throughout the home, while providing first-class views. Modern luxury homes can also accommodate the desire for a connection with the outdoors by incorporating outdoor kitchens and plenty of welcoming alcoves. Interior spaces that flow one into another without the interruption of walls or hallways extend this dramatic feeling of spaciousness.

    luxury residence living room

    Photo by Uneek Image

    One way to check the flow of your luxury residence is to imagine the energy in the space as water. If water were to flow into your home would it stop or stagnate? Ideally, the energy flow would be smooth and harmonious in all areas.


    Create Triumph


    Ceilings – they can be detailed, fascinating, luxurious and open the room. An expertly designed ceiling creates a sense of order and triumph of the space – giving an original and innovative look and feel. Various options with lighting and texture will stand out.

    Coffered and wood beam ceilings reflect sustainability and naturalness perfectly, while back-lit drop ceilings create space definition and magic. Create luxury interior ceilings to elevate the design of the rooms in your luxury home.


    Deluxe Flooring

    Combining variations of ceiling design with floor detailing continues the harmony of the space.

    If you are looking for industrial sophistication with the added benefit of convenience – the most prevalent flooring solution for your luxury home is polished concrete. Polished concrete floors offer a wide variety of finishes that create a pristine, cohesive look; ideal for a clean, sleek, industrial complement to your luxury space.

    Create a show-stopper with large format marble tile available in natural stone, porcelain or polished ceramic. The light-reflective sheen of the polished finishes will make the space look and feel larger. Both large format tile and polished concrete flooring are excellent choices for modern and luxury homes.


    Enter High Class


    The front door creates the first impression in a well-designed luxury residence.

    Exquisitely designed and well-made front doors improve functionality and movement into the home while providing the first glimpse of the homeowner’s personality. Inside the home, enrich the entry into every room with style and class by using quality doors. Consider oversized, pivoting, pocketing, barn or hidden doors based on the look you desire and functionality needed for each room.

    exquisite front door

    Photo by Uneek Image

    If you enjoyed our article about how to “unlock” your luxury residence, we encourage you to browse our portfolio of modern architecture, state-of-the-art living spaces, timeless design, and other unique design details. Additionally, peruse our archive of architecture blog articles that focus on our luxury design as well as the processes we use to create these luxury homes.

  6. Phil Kean Design Group–Your First-Class Partner for Modern, Luxury Home Design

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    As a client seeking out the perfect architecture firm to create a modern, luxury home, we’re sure that you are looking for a world class experience along with your beautiful home design.

    While a portfolio laced with stunning, luxury homes and breathtaking design is a crucial requirement for a luxury firm (and one we are proud to provide), we know our clients come to us with unique needs and desires and they deserve our signature touch in their residence design, a highly-experienced team, and a premium experience.

    At the Phil Kean Design Group, we believe that luxury should encompass the entirety of our clients’ experience, from ideation to the day when they walk through the doors of their new home. That’s why we continue to provide our white glove delivery all the way through the process. Our team at Phil Kean Design Group—a highly-awarded architecture company throughout the United States—integrates a multi-faceted approach to bringing you lavish residence and a remarkable experience.

    So, what exactly is it like to work with Phil Kean Design Group? Continue reading to learn more about our award-winning firm.

    modern luxury home

    Photo ©Stephen Allen, All Rights Reserved


    Leading Technology for Modern, Luxury Residences

    Our talented team of architects and builders are the driving force behind our success in the luxury, modern home space. Their talents and skills, however, are further enhanced by our focus on implementing leading visualization technology in all stages, giving us the ability to bring our multi-million-dollar projects to life.

    Through the use of leading software, we’re able to provide clients with our renowned 3D architectural rendering services intertwined throughout our entire design and build process. From the first concept meeting, the Phil Kean Design Group team will gather intricate details to carefully develop your custom design—from there, we begin our multi-step design culminating in a state-of-the-art 3D model walkthrough of your final design. This feature is one we proudly integrate into our clients’ full-service contracts and is a customized facet of our signature touch.

    Award-Winning, World-Renowned Experts

    Phil Kean Design Group takes pride in each and every project—from the creation of a single luxury home to the design and construction of premium villas, every project receives the same attention to detail, access to cutting-edge technology, and personal touch from an industry-leading team.

    luxury modern room

    VIP Design Build

    Our architects, designers and builders are leaders in their industries, and what truly sets Phil Kean Design Group apart from other modern, luxury home designers is our team’s carefully curated skill to meet clients’ wants and needs while constructing unique works of art.  We have the capabilities and the in-house resources to be the single point of accountability from the design of the architecture, to the construction of your home.

    At Phil Kean Design Group, we specialize in crafting VIP client services to ensure each and every one of our clients is heard, their needs are met, and their input is thoughtfully implemented into our team’s award-winning design strategy.

    Award-Winning Residences

    Our architectural team focuses on creating stunning residences that flawlessly merge luxury design, modern aesthetic, leading trends, and clients’ voiced input. Together, these facets coalesce, enabling us to elevate your home to the upper echelons of design.

    We encourage you to browse our portfolio of projects showcasing our modern architecture, state-of-the-art living spaces, timeless designs, and other unique features. Further, we suggest exploring our archive of blog articles focusing on luxury design, modern luxury residences, and unique living spaces.

  7. 3D Renderings in Architecture: How We Craft Luxury Home Visualizations

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    3D Renderings in Architecture: How We Craft Luxury Home Visualizations

    Creating 3D renderings in architectural projects, like the one below, allow our clients to take a realistic step into the luxury home of their dreams.

    It is an essential part of the Phil Kean Design Group’s architectural design process.

    In our previous blog, we provided our readers with insight into how these renderings offer our clients a stunning, tailor-made 3D view of their luxury home design before breaking ground.

    Now we are taking a closer look at this behind-the-scenes process, explaining how we take the home design we created for our client, and use cutting-edge technology and our in-house rendering expertise to create a detailed 3D rendering of both the outside and inside of the home.

    The First 3D Rendering Steps

    Once our architect and client are happy with the schematic design they’ve developed consisting of elevations and floor plans, the architect provides the project’s CAD file to our in-house rendering expert. With this information, our renderer creates an initial 3D model of the exterior of the home with our high-tech software.

    The architect can use this model to further discuss the details of the home.  They can open this model, rotate it and show the client their design from every angle, every perspective to ensure they’re not just satisfied with the concept, but feel exhilarated to see their residence come to fruition.

    Crafting the 3D Rendering

    Once the client signs off on the conceptual design, our design team gives our renderer everything they need to begin accurately developing the home 3D rendering—site photos, Google Earth data, exterior materials, etc.  They add intricate details to the concept model, such as textures, colors, exterior lighting, hardscape, and even topographic landscape.

    Finally, our interior design team develops the interiors of the 3D rendered model, creating luxury spaces with flooring materials, paint colors, ceiling details, plumbing fixtures, cabinetry, countertops and more. They lay out furniture placement and other décor throughout the home’s interiors and outdoor living areas.  Every detail is modeled to represent the house exactly as it will be built.

    When the design has been fully detailed, our render imports the model into our cutting-edge rendering program, Lumion, which is software that specializes in adding realism to the images and allows our architects to give our clients comprehensive views of their luxury home.

    This unique program gives us the freedom to create an authentic experience for our clients—we can adjust sunlight to mimic the position of the sun at any given time of day, add realistic lighting that emits from sconces and pendants, and even create night views that provide our clients an in-depth look at the dramatic landscape lighting that’s possible.

    Our Final Steps for Creating Luxury Home 3D Renderings

    As our design team begins to finalize the details of our client’s home, our rendering expert spends time finely tuning each environment in the 3D rendering by adding realistic effects to make the experience look and feel even more lifelike.

    For example, the renderer adds in reflective surfaces or translucent materials to create a sense of depth and texture. Water movement is added to water features and pools. Lighting and shadows are adjusted to reflect the time of day and weather used in the rendering (the rendering can include snow, fall foliage, sunsets, etc.).

    When all the nuances have been incorporated, the render creates a 3D “fly around”.

    Using this fly around technique, they create a video that will circle the house so our clients can see every angle of the design through a realistic experience that makes them feel like they’re truly standing in front of their home.

    Then it gets even better!

    The renderer can use Lumion to create a “fly thru” of the floor plan as well.  The fly thru video gives our clients the experience of walking through their luxury home, as if they’re stepping into their home for the first time.

    With this process, we’re able to grant our clients a realistic experience that allows them to get an authentic first look at what their luxury dream home will soon be.

    If you enjoyed diving into our 3D rendering process, we encourage you to browse through our portfolio of modern architecture, state-of-the-art living spaces, timeless kitchens, and our other unique design details. Further, explore our archive of blog articles that focus on luxury design and modern luxury residences.


  8. 3D Architectural Renderings for Modern Homes—Sophistication Every Step Of The Way

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    Delivering 3D architectural renderings–architectural visualizations of the client’s dream home–are an oft overlooked aspect of the home design-build process.

    In this post, we are going to describe how these 3D renderings assist in personalizing the home building process for our customers.

    In fact, these renderings have been key to our history of success at bringing multi-million dollar homes to life.

    Let’s dig in!

    A Look At How Phil Kean Design Group’s 3D Architectural Models Offer A Superior Design Experience

    At Phil Kean Design Group, we take the utmost pride in designing and building distinctive, luxury residences that are visually stunning and tailor-made to fit each client’s unique needs and desires.

    Our attention to detail is evident beyond just our finished products–we strive to provide white glove 3D architectural rendering services intertwined throughout out entire design/build process.

    Starting with the very first concept meeting, we gather the information needed to intricately develop your custom home design. After the development of your design, we create a state-of-the-art 3D model walkthrough of the final design, a feature we proudly integrate into our clients’ full-service contracts.

    Our 3D rendering offers more than just a glimpse of what your home might look like.  It brings your project to life and creates the virtual experience of walking through your new home for the first time without ever taking a step inside.

    Modern Architecture by Phil Kean Design Group from Phil Kean Design Group on Vimeo.

    Benefits of a 3D Architectural Renderings Process

    In the luxury residential architecture space, our 3D architectural rendering services provide a thrilling experience for our clients. Once clients see a model of their dream home—a one-of-a-kind 3D experience rather than your typical 2D rendering—they are delivered a breathtaking moment of wonder.  It’s the first moment a client is able to see the intricate details we’ve infused into their home.

    Their home design truly comes to life—before the construction process begins.

    3d architectural rendering of home backyard - phil kean design group

    In addition to this being a memorable experience, we believe there are even more benefits of seeing your custom designed home for the first time.

    The Full 3D Rendering Experience—Getting To Know Your Final Home Design

    Your 3D architecture visualization allows you to see everything from the exteriors to the interiors, flooring details to the ceiling, lighting options and features. Each of these are showcased in detail in your 3D architectural model to help preview the experience and details you will enjoy under the current home design specifications.

    3d architectural visualization of home patio - phil kean design group

    Because we bring a beautiful 3D rendering to life for our clients, they get to see their selections clearly laid out, rather than on a blueprint, 2D render or on a sketch. This is a part of what makes our clients feel confident and reassured about their modern home design–they know that their requirements, priorities and goals will be met by the final phase of construction because they have already seen it.

    In-House Customizations & Changes Are Just A Request Away

    Our 3D modeling process allows you to become comfortable with your unique design before ground is ever broken on your project.

    3d rendering of home interior - phil kean design group

    To help ensure that we are are flexible and responsive to any feedback a client might have during the design/build process, we pride ourselves in having an in-house 3D rendering artist at Phil Kean Design Group that allows us to make tweaks in real-time. We then re-render these design changes for final approval in a timely manner.  Rather than outsourcing to a rendering company, we consider it a necessity to be able to make tweaks in-house without having to wait on long or onerous outsourcing turnaround times.

    Our 3D Architectural Models Belong To You—You Can Share Them As You Please

    Part of the excitement of creating a luxury home is being able to share your love for the design process with your friends and family.

    Because our 3D modeling is part of our client experience, the architectural rendering we create belong to you! You’re welcome to share it with your friends and family, planning boards, homeowner associations, and even on your favorite social media platforms (don’t forget to tag us using @philkeandesigngroup! 🙂 ).

    If you have enjoyed reading about the benefits of the 3D architectural rendering services we offer to our architectural clients, we anticipate that you’ll enjoy our upcoming article describing how exactly we go about our detailed process of creating these models that delight and thrill our clients. Stay tuned for our next installment digging deeper into 3D architectural models within the luxury home space.

    You may also browse through our portfolio of modern architecture, state-of-the-art living spaces, timeless kitchens, and other unique design details, as well as our archive of blog articles focusing on luxury design and modern luxury residences.

  9. How We Accentuate Modern Luxury Residences

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    Modern luxury residences rely on aesthetic and seamless functionality.

    Oftentimes, crafting the perfect luxury residence has less to do with the big picture and grandeur, and actually has more to do with the smaller, more intricate details that piece the modern home together.

    In other words, the smallest touches make the biggest differences.

    While notable additions like integrated outdoor/indoor spaces, fitness centers, and bright, functional kitchens surely have their place in modern luxury residences, the attention to detail distinguishes a well thought-out modern home that works.

    Here are the top four places we accentuate our modern luxury residences:

    1. Foyers & Entranceways

    2. Custom Doors

    3. Glass Walls & Floor-to-Ceiling Windows

    4. Multi-Textured Exteriors

    luxury staircase

    Photo Credit: Uneek Image

    Foyers & Entranceways


    Firstly, a well-designed foyer commands attention–it sets the tone for a home’s design.

    This vital detail of a home acts as the elegant transition from the outside of a home to the inside of it. Foyers that are intentionally designed with modern aesthetic and functionality in mind may feature elements such as high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, sculptural staircases that draw the eye upward, extraordinary finishes, and state-of-the-art lighting that provide an elegant finish that grants grace to the rest of your home.

    Custom Doors


    Next, our modern luxury residences incorporate custom doors. This seemingly small detail can enhance a home’s aesthetic immediately by acting as luxury focal point before you step inside of your home.

    Modern double-front doors with specific uses of glass and unique doors made from uniquely sourced or handcrafted materials can create a clean and efficient statement that offers an impressive, luxury aesthetic. Front doors with custom designs act as more than just entranceways. They also act as a key integral element of the home’s complete design.


    Glass Walls & Floor-to-Ceiling Windows


    Additionally, floor-to-ceiling windows and glass walls offer a modern, clean aesthetic that integrates functionality by providing your luxury home with ample natural lighting. Floor-to-ceiling windows, especially when integrated throughout specific key areas of the home, can virtually eliminate the border between your indoor living space and nature outside. Wall-style windows create a spacious, open living area warmed with sunlight.

    modern residential architecture

    Photo Credit: Uneek Image

    Multi-Textured Exteriors


    Lastly, the exterior textures of modern luxury residences aren’t always considered as the focal points of a luxury home.

    However, understanding small details like the thoughtful layering of modern textures transform a home from the appearance of something standard into a something luxury or modern. From white-washed brick and rich wood to multi-colored stone and neutral paint, a well-designed, intentional home exterior featuring richly-contrasting textures can dramatically improve the luxurious look and feel of a home.

    modern residential designs

    Photo Credit: Uneek Image


    If you’ve enjoyed this article, we anticipate you’ll enjoy reading through our archive of interior design and luxury home articles available here. Additionally, please enjoy exploring our ever-growing residential portfolio here, which is filled with our inspiring interiors and examples of our unique, modern luxury residential design.

  10. Modern Residential Architects’ Top Design Trends 2020

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    Modern Residential Architects’ Top Design Trends of 2020

    phil kean architecture

    Photo Credit: Uneek Image

    A luxury home in 2020 offers more than lavish finishes and large floor plans.

    Modern residential architects emphasize blending form and function by designing products that merge convenience, proper lighting, & unique touches to elevate the home.

    modern indoor outdoor space in home

    Photo Credit: Uneek Image

    In fact, a truly modern, luxury home in 2020 focuses on a timeless layout with features that offer modern technology as well as high-end finishes and amenities by implementing a few, key design details.

    Blending Indoor & Outdoor Space

    One of the top trends in luxury design is blurring the line between indoor and outdoor space. This can be achieved in several unique ways.

    Deploying floor-to-ceiling windows enhances the offering of natural light. Another option is to use walls of glass that pocket to literally open the interior space to the outdoors. In either case, mimicking the look of lavish indoor spaces in outdoor spaces by integrating similar furnishings and flooring help to blur the line between the inside and outside.

    florida modern custom home

    Photo Credit: Uneek Image

    Featuring State-of-the-Art Technology

    Modern residential architects focus on creating a functional home that balances aesthetics and logistics.

    By designing and integrating current technology features, a luxury home can be smoothly transformed into a modern smart home. With elements such as smart thermostats, motion sensor lighting, cloud-based security systems, and network-connected appliances and equipment that integrate with your smart phones and watch, your modern home can be a lavish, aesthetically pleasing home that incorporates convenience and accommodation for your every impulse.


    modern luxury kitchen

    Photo Credit: Uneek Image

    Lavish Kitchens

    Adding unique features to your kitchen design such as floor-to-ceiling cabinetry, beautifully-layered textures, seamlessly integrated appliances can transform your space into a luxury, modern kitchen focusing on convenience as well as warmth and allure will make your residence feel like home.

    Dressing Rooms and Walk-In Wardrobes

    A modern closet is about more than having more space. A modern residential architects in 2020 will feature design elements that transform your closet into a luxury dressing room. With floor-to-ceiling mirrors, balanced lighting, and built-in shelving units that showcase your collection of shoes, purses and clothing, a simple closet morphs into a decadent dressing room.

    If you enjoyed reading about the most relevant trends that modern residential architects are using in 2020, we anticipate that our archive of blog articles focusing on luxury design and modern residences will appeal to you. Please view our portfolio of modern architecture as well to get a glimpse of our custom homes featuring indoor/outdoor living, state-of-the-art kitchen design, and our many unique design details.