Tag Archive: Modern Home

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

    Comments Off on A Huge Architecture Win! Remembering The New American Home 2012 (Podcast)

    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. Our Private Luxury Residences at Golden Oak in Lake Buena Vista, FL

    Comments Off on Our Private Luxury Residences at Golden Oak in Lake Buena Vista, FL

    Luxury Home Design That Puts the “Home” Into Vacation Home

    Phil Kean Private Residences at Walt Disney World® Resort’s Golden Oak Community

    When you live in Golden Oak, it can feel like it’s a vacation all the time. That’s because this private residential community is located within Walt Disney World® Resort grounds in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

    Golden Oak Custom Home by Phil Kean Design Group - The Pearl

    But just because Golden Oak makes you feel like you are on vacation, doesn’t mean your home should feel at all temporary, or as if it’s designed for just anyone.

    When Phil Kean Design Group became an approved builder at Golden Oak’s Four Seasons Private Residences neighborhood, we did not set out to create vacation homes, but private getaways that were custom-designed for our homeowners. Our goal was to put the “home” in “vacation home” (along with a little bit of that Disney magic.)

    What Is Golden Oak?

    If you haven’t heard, Walt Disney World Resort® in Florida has its very own community of private residences located on the resort’s grounds called Golden Oak. The community is made up of nearly 300 homes and seven neighborhoods, including Four Seasons Private Residences Orlando where Phil Kean Design Group is an approved builder.

    Each neighborhood in Golden Oak offers its own unique style ranging from quaint cottages to contemporary estates. Each neighborhood also offers wonderful views including waterfront views, views of nature preserves, and the nightly Magic Kingdom fireworks show.

    Residents of Golden Oak are also members of the Golden Oak Club, a premier club that offers special benefits, services, events, and experiences for the families who live in the community.

    Phil Kean in Golden Oak

    As mentioned, Phil Kean Design Group is an approved builder in the Four Seasons Private Residences neighborhood in Golden Oak. The Four Seasons Private Residences neighborhood is the newest addition to the community and offers a limited number of lots for new homeowners.

    Phil Kean has already designed two homes in the neighborhood, each with completely different (but equally gorgeous) design styles. The first home is called Nyumbani. Inspired by The Lion King, Nyumbani is the Swahili word for “home.” The second home is known as The Pearl and its castle-like, island design is magical indeed.

    The Nyumbani Residence at Golden Oak

    The clean lines and open spaces of Nyumbani seamlessly blend the home’s indoor and outdoor living areas. Natural lighting and glass paired with architectural accents in walnut create a space that feels warmly connected to nature, much like the movie it is inspired by.


    The space not only looks magnificent, it is also highly functional. The kitchen includes three islands, all serving different purposes from preparation to entertainment. The home also features a large outdoor kitchen, dining and living areas, taking the fusion of indoor and outdoor one step further.

    The Pearl Residence at Golden Oak

    The architecture of The Pearl home is unmistakable. Inspired by Spanish, Bermuda, and Alys Beach architecture, the white, castle-like facade is in beautiful contrast with its surrounding homes.

    golden oak modern residence by phil kean design group

    This home includes a private courtyard that contains a uniquely shaped pool which can be seen from almost any room in the house.

    The Pearl, like Nyumani, is also highly functional. It, too, features extensive outdoor living spaces, including a summer kitchen. The home also features a large wine room within the main living area and several other special areas dedicated to entertainment.

    To view more images of these homes, click here.  If you would like to learn more about the Golden Oak Community and how to join, visit their website.

    If you are interested in designing and building your luxury home with Phil Kean Design Group, whether it’s in Florida or anywhere else in the country, contact us. Create your home with PKDG and ensure the best combination of luxury, function, and magic.

  3. Phil Kean Design Group’s St. Petersburg Custom Home Featured in Florida Design Magazine

    Comments Off on Phil Kean Design Group’s St. Petersburg Custom Home Featured in Florida Design Magazine

    Our newest St. Petersburg custom home project was recently covered in Florida Design magazine’s Summer 2021 issue, Volume 31 No 2. While we cater to a global audience, Phil Kean Design Group team loves to celebrate local recognition!

    After being selected for the architecture and interior detailing responsibilities for the St. Petersburg custom home, our team immediately started working with the homeowners on the the exciting schematic design process to get the project under way. Since the lot featured beautiful waterfront views, we designed the home with statement floor-to-ceiling windows (17-feet high!) and an expansive indoor-outdoor design complete with wet bar, outdoor kitchen, and waterfront dining, living and entertaining spaces!

    See the full feature below, and be sure to check out their other impressive articles featuring luxury homes across Florida!

    Florida Design Magazine with Phil Kean Design Group June 2021

    Phil Kean St Petersburg Florida Modern Home_Page_1Story by Judy Martel

    AFTER TWO YEARS OF HOUSE HUNTING, a wrong turn ultimately led George and Jamie Lutich to their dream home in St. Petersburg’s Snell Ilse.

    The couple moved from the Tampa area to a townhome in downtown St. Petersburg after marrying five years ago. They often spent their free time driving down random streets in surrounding neighborhoods to get a feel for the “vibe”, explains Jamie. “One day, we took a wrong turn a block away from where we always drove and halfway down the street we saw a For Sale sign,” she recalls.  One look was all it took to convince them of the potential.

    Phil Kean St Petersburg Florida Modern Home_Page_2

    “The lot was beautiful and we always knew that whatever we found, the home was going to be a tear-down, because we had our own vision,” Jamie says. So after removing the existing home, the couple commissioned a 4,000-square-foot modified mid-century modern design, satisfying their desire for clean, open spaces that exude warmth and seamless indoor-outdoor living. Given Snell Isle’s location in Tampa Bay, it was also important that nearly every room have a view of the water.

    Phil Kean St Petersburg Florida Modern Home_Page_3

    An internet search led them to architect Phil Kean, president of Phil Kean Design Group in Winter Park. After meeting in person, the relationship was quickly cemented. “Within 20 minutes, we were ready to write him a check,” Jamie says.

    Kean was responsible for the architecture as well as the interior detailing. The result is an uninterrupted design that flows from exterior to interior. Updated local code required that the new home be elevated five feet, but in place of steep steps to the entrance, visitors are greeted by a gradual series of risers leading to a peaceful courtyard with a calming water feature – before they even get to the front door. “This is a house you experience as you enter,” he explains.

    The practical aspects of the home are cleverly placed. For auto enthusiast George (who recently retired from the company he founded, Paragon Water Systems), Kean designed a pair of two-car garages at the end of the one-story home. Positioned with side entrances and hidden from the street, the garages feature lifts that accommodate two additional cars, for a total of eight.

    Jamie’s favorite space is her 480-sqaure-foot closet, with a 10-foot ceiling that includes a lounge area with a sofa and wet bar. “Sometimes my girlfriends come over and we sit and visit in the closet,” she laughs.

    When it came to furnishing the rooms, Jamie turned to the firm that designed her townhome, Michelle Miller Design in Madeira Beach. Armed with a clean slate for a new design, Miller sourced all new furniture in predominantly cream and brown colors

    Phil Kean St Petersburg Florida Modern Home_Page_4

    Upholstered in plush, spill-proof fabrics. She describes the new design as “soft contemporary-glam,” and says that although the Lutiches are empty-nesters, they often entertain friends and family (all three of their grown children live within a mile) and want people to feel welcome and comfortable.

    “There are no hard corners and nothing is stark white; it’s all soft, creamy colors with lots of texture and warm wood,” Miller says. Jamie specified furniture that could be lived on, so Miller installed durable performance fabric. “You could spill red wine and it won’t stain,” she says. Adds Jamie: “I’m not one to have works of art as furniture. I want everything to feel comfortable.”

    With an eye for what’s new and different, Jamie doesn’t believe in a forever home. But for now, this is as close as it comes. “St. Petersburg is like a hidden gem,” she says, adding that although this home ticks all the boxes for entertaining, it also fits their intimate lifestyle as a couple. “Ultimately, we built this home for ourselves,” she says.

    Phil Kean St Petersburg Florida Modern Home_Page_5

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

    Comments Off on Modern Home Design & Construction of The 2021 New American Home – Phase 3

    Phase 3 of our modern home construction project for The New American Home 2021 is the Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) phase!

    This post will focus on our rough-ins, including gas line rough-ins, electrical, roof drains, and our plumbing rough-ins going in. We’ve also started our exterior work with our stucco, and exterior paint will follow that.

    We pride ourselves in having great relationships with essential vendor teams who partner with us on this critical stage. Without their expert work, our inspiring architectural designs could not be brought to fruition. We will highlight some of those residential contractor relationships in our New American Home 2021 – Phase 3 video walkthrough below:


    Behind the walls, we worked with innovative products such as Sharkbite’s EvoPEX push-to-connect plumbing system and their new StreamLabs Control smart water shut-off valve. Enovative Group’s AutoHot hot water recirculation system works with the Rinnai tankless water heaters to provide on demand hot water throughout the home.

    OmegaFlex’s TracPipe CounterStrike flexible gas piping was also a “must-have” with its AutoSnap fitting and resistance to lightning strikes. Eaton fixtures are a staple in The New American Home 2021 as they are featured throughout from the outlet receptacles to the circuit panels. Their new Wi-Fi smart devices will be the envy of the neighbors, allowing one to schedule lights to go ON and OFF or DIM at the touch of a button through Amazon’s Alexa App.

    In addition to Eaton’s smart devices, Control 4 took the smart house to a whole new level by integrating the whole home with their control system. Not only can one control the lighting of the home through their app-based system, but it also controls the shades, security and HVAC system. Control 4’s system also works directly with Phantom Screens’ retractable motorized screens used on the terrace, as well as their solar shades on the windows. This is all with thanks to the Somfy home motor system that Phantom Screens uses that Control 4 has the ability to connect with.

    Ready to start your next residential modern home project? Contact us here or give us a call at 407-599-3922.

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

    Comments Off on Modern Home Design & Construction of The 2021 New American Home – Phase 2

    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!

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

    Comments Off on “Unlock” Your Luxury Residence With These 4 Design Tips

    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.

  7. The Love Shack: A Custom Modern Home in the Mountains

    Comments Off on The Love Shack: A Custom Modern Home in the Mountains

    Nestled in the treetops, the “Love Shack” — which is anything but shack-like in appearance—brings modern residential architecture lines to the wild beauty of nature in North Carolina. A unique example of sustainable architecture and contemporary design, this custom modern home blends Phil Kean Design Group’s award-winning aesthetic with the homeowner’s vision for a peaceful, natural retreat.

    Minimizing Environmental Impact by Going Vertical

    Located on a high-ridge site surrounded by sycamore, basswood, oak and yellow poplar trees, one of the biggest challenges presented during the modern home’s construction was minimizing environmental impact while making the most of the sloping site. Consulting renowned arborists in order to protect and preserve the surrounding woodland, the home was built on a limited footprint of just 600 square feet, adding livable space in the form of three stories plus a loft. This vertical approach reduces the structure’s impact on the surrounding forest, while still providing the homeowners with the luxury house and open living space they had envisioned for their mountaintop retreat.

    Connecting with Nature both Indoors and Out

    Breathtaking landscape views encapsulate the home from every angle, with 30 miles of the Blue Ridge, Smokey Mountains, Lake Fontana and lush, green forestry visible through floor-to-ceiling windows and glass doors. Stepping into the home is a complete sensory experience, with striking surroundings at every turn, a large balcony porch to enjoy the fresh mountain air on, and recycled wood used throughout the cabin to further blend the outdoors and the indoors into one naturally beautiful creation.

    Energy Efficiency Meets Style with Zola Windows and Doors

    In keeping with the home’s ultra energy efficient vision, Zola Thermo Clad windows and doors were used throughout the Love Shack. These energy-conserving additions helped the home meet strict green design codes while remaining a striking and functional part of its overall modern design. Sliding glass doors and tilt-turn windows, also by Zola European Windows, were incorporated into the home, making up integral parts of the Love Shack’s unmatched eco-chic aesthetic.

    Learn more about the Love Shack and read an interview with the homeowner, Ken LaRoe, and architect, Phil Kean, on the Zola European Windows website.