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  1. Transitional Home Design Trends in Architecture with Phil Kean (Podcast)

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    We are excited to share this interview with Phil Kean, where we discuss trends in Transitional Home Design.

    This trend represents a shift in modern architecture to blending elements of different styles of architecture. A well-designed transitional home is just as timeless as a traditional design, and in the case of Phil Kean Design Group’s homes, always offers unparalleled uniqueness and memorable design details throughout.

    Phil says, “Transitional home design to me is taking elements of a home and blending it so it’s not necessarily a particular style. It may have a traditional hint, or it may have a modern hint with some traditional elements. It’s a blended style that really doesn’t look like a Georgian, or necessarily a modern, or an Italian. It doesn’t fall into a ‘style’.” In addition, “I think it’s always fun to have a little “Wow” moment, or an “Aha” moment, or “Ooh” moment in architecture and design,” says Phil.

    You may have seen Phil Kean’s latest Transitional Home Design: “Custom Home – Modern Hacienda” that will be open to the public in Orlando during the 2022 Parade of Homes in Orlando, June 18 & 19 and 25 & 26, 10am – 6pm each day.

     

    Listen to Phil’s take on transitional home design and how it is used in his Modern Hacienda project in our latest podcast interview below. 

    Jon:

    I wanted to touch today on transitional home design. I wanted to just get from you, first of all, what does transitional home design mean to you?

    Phil:

    Transitional home design to me is taking elements of a home and blending it so it’s not necessarily a particular style. So it may have a traditional hint, or it may have a modern hint with some traditional elements. It’s sort of a blended style that really doesn’t look like a Georgian, or necessarily a modern, or an Italian. It doesn’t fall into a style. So that’s what that means to me.

    Jon:

    First of all, that is a huge clarifier because I think there’s so many different and sort of even sometimes confusing understandings of what transitional actually means. I think you’ve done a great job of simplifying that understanding for us. One of the things that comes up, I would imagine with this especially is the challenge of understanding where to set the boundaries on the design and how do you approach such a nuanced design that does have elements that might be blurred lines between designs, if that makes sense. So in terms of the process that you use to approach a home design, a residence design, that is in that transitional home design sphere, how do you approach that? What’s your process like?

    Phil:

    It’s usually based on a client’s collection of photographs of images and things that they like. I did a home not too long ago that had steel I beams, but it was a traditional home with the stone siding, but it had I beams instead of lentils over the windows. So there’s these little nuances of things that somebody driving by may not really think about it, but it all looks great together. Or doing an open floor plan, a lot of times inside can be very, very modern. A lot of people are liking the modern kitchen, and the modern detailing, and the modern elements, but on the outside they want it a little bit more traditional, or they live in a neighborhood that has a a design review board that forces them to put a tile roof on.

    So how do you do a house that’s more contemporary with a tile roof? You can do a transitional tile home and have it feel like maybe a Villa  in Spain, or a Villa in Italy, or a Villa in France along the Mediterranean or something like that, and get this sort of modern and yet traditional elements blended together. So that’s some of the things that I do <laugh>.

    Jon:

    I think a good question is around colors and the blending of colors. I think, like you’re saying, if you’re looking at more of a Spanish style design where you’ve got the reds and the oranges, and some of those colors that you wouldn’t typically see in an ultramodern type of design or maybe more of a stone design, how do you look at the color spectrum as you’re designing? And how do you choose inspiration and fuse these incredibly different eras and design styles together?

    Phil:

    I’m working on one right now that’s going to be our Parade Home in June. It’s a transitional home that I would call sort of a Modern Hacienda. It’s transitional because it has much more refined details in the sense that there are no arches in it. But it has peak ceilings and it has a tile roof, but it has flat roofs, so it has all of these little elements that you could say, “Oh, that’s a modern piece of the house. Oh, that’s sort of a traditional piece.”, and that’s so. The house is designed around the courtyards. There’s multiple courtyards in this house and gardens. So you lend from the history, but you reinterpret it to today. You’re not trying to make it look like a Hacienda, or a Villa, or a Santa Barbara style, or any of that stuff, you’re just trying to reinvent something fresh and new. Maybe it has a tile roof, you know? So I would call that a transitional home…that smooth stucco and things like that…all of that becomes elements of the design.

    Jon:

    It seems to me that this type of design is all about that rich balance of design styles and different elements that seem to be brought together by these classic lines you would see on one end of the broadband, one end of that spectrum, all the way to juxtaposing that against the hues and the furnishings that are more modern in spirit.

    Phil:

    Yeah, exactly. You can bring in color with fabrics, and textures, and artwork, and all of that can be very, very colorful, but the house can sort of be a subdued backdrop to all of those other things. Or you can bring into the garden, you could bring in very colorful pots, and yet the garden’s a very subdued backdrop. There’s all kinds of ways to play with color in a transitional home that has maybe a modern flare and yet a traditional element, even in ALL the different aspects. I think that’s sort of the fun nature of transitional architecture today.

    Jon:

    Some of the off kilter assortment that you have in an interior that may be, I don’t wanna say clashing, but may be different from what someone might expect. It seems to me that this actually really presents a very exciting maybe full surprises and talking points as you’re entertaining. It’s “Wow, I didn’t expect that! I wouldn’t have expected to see this here.”, but it really does bring out the full design potential of that space.

    Phil:

    Absolutely. I think it’s always fun to have a little “Wow” moment, or an “Aha” moment, or “Ooh” moment in architecture and design. So designing that into a transitional homes can be a little bit more playful and fun. Let’s say you have a traditional home, but you have a see-through fireplace that’s see-through on all four sides, it becomes an “Ooh” factor. Maybe it’s finished in a very traditional way, but the actual fireplace is super contemporary. You know, just all of those things. A lot of transitional homes have very interesting kitchens. There can be a lot of little hidden doors and spaces. Kitchens are really a big playful part of transitional homes for me.

    And then playing with ceiling heights. If you go with a traditional kind of home, you have a normal ceiling height for that style. Whereas if you’re doing a transitional home, you might be playful with the ceiling height or ceiling details. I mean, you might have beams or floating clouds with lights in them. All of those things can be introduced into a transitional home and all feel appropriate. So lighting’s a big part of a transitional home to me.

    Jon:

    Could you elaborate on when you say lighting is an essential part. I guess getting that right really does make or break the space.

    Phil:

    Think about a garden that’s lit at night versus not lit at night. It’s a different experience. It’s the same thing inside a home. If you have an art niche and you light it, or shelves and you light it, or coves and you light it, or beams and you light it, it’s different than if you don’t light those things. You could take a traditional looking beam and create a cove in it, and all of a sudden it feels more modern or more edgy, and it’s all about the lighting. With today’s technology, you can dim it down to almost nothing so it just kind of hums up there. And, a lot of people are using light as art. I did a house where the light went up a wall and over the ceiling in different kind of patterns down a hallway, which was really kind of cool. We did a house a couple years ago where we wrapped every step of the stair with a ring of light, so each of the treads kind of floated in between these rings of light and it was very cool and dramatic, but they were wood stairs. It was this blend between ultramodern and traditional elements. It turned out “Cool”.

    Jon:

    Wow. As you’re saying that I’m visualizing that staircase and that sounds absolutely beautiful. And, one of the words that you use is  playful. I love that because if I’m hearing you correctly on this, there’s a very playful mix of vintage, you know, antique, and contemporary,  paired against a very classic feel in some cases. And then you mix that into beautiful lighting as well. What an amazing experience.

    Phil:

    I do think that’s an important design element that sometimes gets overlooked. It’s just something that if you’re thoughtful and you’re careful. There are people that specialize, that’s all they do is lighting, that’s just their gift. I have a friend I went to architecture school with that all he does is light design for commercial and major installations. So art becomes light. I mean, light becomes art, you know, so it’s kind of that coolness. But it’s not an afterthought. It’s very intentional <laugh>.

    Jon:

    Yeah, that’s what I’m picking that up. There’s a lot of subtlety to this and it’s not going to happen by accident.

    Phil:

    <Laugh> No, no. And, the thing about transitional is that really good architecture, in a lot of regards, is about scale and balance and harmony. So you don’t want to just jolt people when you do a transitional house. You want to make sure you honor a sense of scale, harmony, rhythm. You know, things that make people feel good. And so whether it’s our traditional looking house with overscaled windows, or a grid system, or something like that, that all becomes very transitional and playful. I do think that you have to respect scale. I see some homes that I would say the scales off and you look at it and you say, “I don’t really like that.”, and you’re not really sure what you don’t like about it, but it’s usually the scale, either the scale of the details or the scale of the massing. I’m sure we’ve all seen those. Those two story garages, you know, that are on one side of a house and they just throw the scale, it’s like the house feels off balance. So you need to really think about how it feels and how the rhythm is. I think that becomes the glue that holds a transitional house to be as timeless as a traditional home.

    Jon:

    That’s a very important point. I think one of the problems of the “clear-cut” design styles is that you kind of get landlocked into a specific era.

    Phil:

    Yeah, you can be. Let’s say you’re in a historic area, so you might need to be respectful of a style, but there’s a way to still have some fun and be playful with that style. If it’s an old house, it can be respectful, it can be a similar scale, maybe some similar materials, but you could have some fun. There are whole periods of time where some of the scale was just exaggerated. I think we call that postmodernism. They did these big, oversized columns and big, overscaled details, but the good ones still had a nice scale overall…a nice mass, a nice balance, a nice rhythm. The good ones were successful and the ones that sort of missed that mark weren’t so successful. I think it’s like a painting. Everybody’s going to paint the same thing different, and some people will have more skill at painting it than others. But everybody can sort of visualize and paint, and whether they think it’s good or not, we can all do that. I mean, hopefully we can all do that, unless you’re physically unable to. When we were kids, we would have a blank piece of paper and draw something on it. We were uninhibited, so that’s sort of the same thing with transitional. If you use good resources, then you can understand what you’re doing, then the playfulness becomes really like second nature…like dancing, or like a piece of artwork, or something like that.

    Jon:

    We talked a few minutes ago about the Parade of Homes that’s being launched here this month in June. I would love to hear some examples that speak to this conversation about transitional home design…to just hear from you a few examples from the Parade Home that might be interesting for someone listening in on this.

    Phil:

    One of the things I did with the Parade of Home is I took some of my favorite elements of a lot of the homes I’ve designed in the past and tried to play with those elements. In 2012, I did a show house that had a gallery space in it, so I brought that gallery space back in. Then in 2017, I did a New American Home where it had a detached casita, so I put that in here. Then when I was a kid in college, one of my professors had this raised pool in the yard. Everyone would sit around on the edge of the pool, like a bench, and the pool was in the middle, so I brought an element of that into it.

    Then there’s the open space that’s divided by an art niche. It’s a two-sided art niche that you can put some of your collectibles in and it’s all lit and everything. You can see from the kitchen through into the dining room without having a wall there. It’s very open, yet it’s defined, and this became a wall of art to separate the kitchen from the dining room. There’s high ceilings with beams. I did that in a house a few years ago to help give it more ceiling volume. So it’s just got a lot of little elements. The house itself was on a very strange lot, so I created an internalized courtyard that opens up to one side.

    Those are just the elements, now with the details I have a red tile roof on it, I have brick patios, I have a warm, modern kitchen and the open floor plan, and a transitional fireplace which is surrounded with stone. It has a bar, it has beautiful distressed wood floors. Instead of the typical tile that you might think of in a Spanish style or Hacienda style home, there’s color in a lot of the tile that’s put in the house. So it’s these elements of traditional, but there are no arches in the entire house. Everything is squared and there are transoms. It’s sort of a cool surprise from the street, it looks fairly modest but it’s a sprawling house that creates some real interest to me.

    The color will be in the artwork, and in the fabrics, and in the rugs. It’s gonna have a lot of details that will be memorable. I think that’s what’s important. People will walk through it, whether you love modern or traditional, and be able to see “I could live here.” That kind of feeling, “I could definitely see myself here.” That’s what I’m trying to accomplish. So it’s a little bit old and a little bit new, yet together you wouldn’t call it any particular style, you’d call it transitional. The best thing I’ve been able to call it is a “Modern Hacienda” <laugh>.

    Jon:

    I think this is an amazing understanding. I think that’s probably a good thing that it’s difficult to pin down because it really does fuse together so many different elements from different common denominators that are working together seamlessly, all the while balancing not being too similar. I think that’s a very exciting design style.

    Phil:

    I think it’ll be fun. I think a lot of people will really enjoy it. It has a classic indoor/outdoor style that we like to do here. It has lemon trees and big terracotta pots which is kind of old world, yet done in a modern way. So it’s just not just the architecture, it’s not just the furniture, it’s not just the kitchen, it’s the gardens and the it’s the whole package that makes the house totally transitional.

    Jon:

    I cannot wait to see this. I just want to thank you again for investing the time on this and sharing with us. What an amazing, not only education, but I would also say inspiration to really open up the design possibilities and to open up the spectrum of opportunity that we all have…looking at this through a brand new lens, which is the Phil Kean take on the transitional home design. I’m sure we can direct everyone who’s listening to this to go to philkeandesigns.com and take a look at this for yourself and get inspired by the amazing work that Phil has done on this. What Phil really does well is create designs that when you look at it, you just fall in love with it. It’s an oasis for the eyes. It’s a real experience. So I want to thank you again, Phil, for spending the time here. Is there anything else that you’d want to add regarding the Parade of Homes before we wrap up?

    Phil:

    It’s two weekends in a row and it’s gonna be in June. So if you want more information, you can either stop by or call our office and they can get you more information. If you want to attend it, it’s open to the public. It’s on Saturday and Sunday, I believe the third and fourth weekends of June. I’ll be around the second weekend to meet anybody that would like to talk about architecture or follow up on anything that they might have listened to that intrigued them.

    Jon:

    Amazing. Thank you so much, Phil. Really appreciate it.

    Phil:

    Thank you. I appreciate it too.

     

    Want to get in contact with Phil Kean Design Group to design + build your next luxury home? Contact us today to get started!