Tag Archive: top home builders

  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. The Origins of a Modern Architect: Getting to Know Phil Kean (Podcast)

    Comments Off on The Origins of a Modern Architect: Getting to Know Phil Kean (Podcast)

    Phil Kean is a nationally-awarded modern architect with an office in Winter Park, Florida, and breathtaking modern residential projects across the globe.

    The Phil Kean Design Group (PKDG) team has been recognized with prestigious awards in the world of architecture and construction including:

    …and so much more!

    We’re happy to dig into how our lead architect and owner got his start, and a bit of insight into the exclusive, signature PKDG process:


    Today we’re interviewing Phil Kean. Phil Kean Design Group is a nationally-awarded design/build architecture firm voted “Best of Orlando” #1 Home Builder by Orlando magazine readers, voted Best Home Builder “Best of Winter Park” three years in a row by the 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 to Phil to get his insight into the exclusive signature Phil Kean Design Group process.

    I wanted to start with basically, how you got started in the business, and how did you begin the business in Winter Park?  Amy tells me that you started it literally on your kitchen table in Winter Park. So if we could start from the beginning, that would be amazing.


    My dad was a builder, so I grew up around it, so it was always like a passion. When I started the business, it was really one house at a time and I would design it and then I would build it. And it was just me and I worked at my kitchen table. It was really pre-CAD…I wasn’t even doing CAD in the beginning stages. I started CAD…I mean I bought a book and downloaded the computer-aided drafting for dummies…I bought a book over at one of the bookstores and taught myself CAD. And then, my first year I did essentially one spec house and then the next year I did two spec houses. And then the next year I did three houses and I hired my first person. Then each year I hired another person, and I outgrew my kitchen with the second person. We moved into a small office in Winter Park. It was really very small, and then we outgrew that space and grew to a bigger space. And, all these years later here we are <laugh>. Wow.

    Yeah it’s really interesting, when we did our first modern home…, I designed it almost 20 years ago and it’s on Via Tuscany, and it got a lot of  recognition. A lot of people really loved that house. I designed it for myself. At the time everybody was doing the Spanish Mediterraneans, and I remember a realtor friend of mine who told me I was crazy to do a modern house, that they never sell…they’re hard to sell, I’ll lose my shirt. It really did change my career. So you kind of have to trust your gut, I guess. The universe kind of took care of me and I made some good decisions and people really liked my modern aesthetic. It was warm…it used a lot of natural materials. It was more of a mid-century kind of modern than it was like the Miami Vice modern. And it’s just grown from there. It got picked up by one of the big design magazines. It was featured in Florida Architecture, which was to me at the time a giant magazine. It came out twice a year and it was really…, they’re no longer around, but it was really an honor to be picked up in that magazine. And then Florida Design also featured it.  And even today, people still pull up that house and say, “I really like this house. I want a version of this for my lot, or for me.” And so,  almost 20 years later people are still appreciating that first house I did. Which is kind of cool, here in Winter Park <laugh>.


    It’s amazing. I think one of the things that we were talking about before is the design, sort of risks that you took. And I think that you still continue to take in terms of the boundaries and the design aesthetic that you are chasing, and that’s so beautiful. Really I wonder, is it something that when you were designing that first sort of modern look, I mean, did you feel sort of ostracized at all by the, I don’t know, by the architecture review board potentially, or different people who were in the neighborhood watching as it was going up? Were people sort of skeptical until they saw it come to life? Or I guess what was that process like going through that?


    Well, most people didn’t like it until it was finished. And then when it was finished, I opened it up for a Parade of Homes to the neighborhood and people came through and walked it and discovered how unusual the house was. I was inspired by different mid-century architects, so I sort of took some liberties, and kind of like thought about if they were alive, what, how would they approach this lot? And so I kind of approached it that way. There was a big fish tank in the middle and the house sort of pin wheeled around the fish tank. And, then there were these little, little moments where the house pin wheeled. So, then I brought that little pinwheel idea out to the pool. So the pool sort of pin wheeled around the spa and sort of played with the positive and negative spaces and how they reacted to each other. I think it really turned out well. So from that, people started to…, a couple architects lived in the neighborhood and they really appreciated it, they liked that it was outside of the box, and probably that it wasn’t Spanish Mediterranean. People that were in the industry, like I don’t know, I mean, I did get some criticism…like there were people that ran like the HOA’s, and they really didn’t understand me.

    I tried to get on the historic board of Winter Park, and I kind of got voted out. Later down the road I got voted in, but there was a whole debate on whether somebody that was doing modern could understand history and it was sort of like, “don’t you understand that you have to understand history to appreciate modern?”. So, it was really interesting because it’s all about proportions and scale, and modern is a lot less forgiving than a traditional home. I mean, that’s why I think Spanish was so popular because you could throw an arch and red tile roof on it and it became Spanish, there wasn’t a lot of thought about it.  So even today, if you do a brick home with a shingle roof, it’s traditional, well what does that mean…traditional?  But when you’re doing modern and you get the scale wrong, it’s really an ugly building <laugh>. And there are a lot of ugly moderns out there right now because people just don’t understand. It’s not a flat roof that makes a house modern. We do a lot of modern houses that have pitched roofs, you know?


    I’ve seen them. I mean, that’s one of the things in your portfolio that strikes me as sort of unique from, I guess the crowd that wants to sort of aspire to the design that you do. You’re a hundred percent spot on, that you get these sort of flat roofs, just a lot of glass everywhere, a lot of concrete, but there’s not this cohesiveness. I think you’ve built this amazing sort of aesthetic where you’ve got this, exactly like you said, you’ve got this very warm and modern. When I look at your homes, the thing that comes to my mind is “that looks warm, it looks inviting”.  I think that to me personally, and look, by no means am I a connoisseur of high level design, but I guess for me as a layman, when I look from the outside in to a lot of “modern design homes” today, they are about one step away from a sort of a factory <laugh>, it’s a factory with a sofa in it kind of, it’s so industrial that they they’ve lost that human touch, they’ve lost the the warmth aspect of it…and I think you’ve done an amazing job at that. And I think the roofs, and the way that you’ve designed that as well where you do have the pitch and you’ve got the angles letting in the light, it’s absolutely amazing.


    Thank you. Thank you. Well, we/I do believe in a lot of that indoor/outdoor kind of connection with glass, and I like to use materials that can go inside and outside and be cohesive with that. That’s just something I’ve always appreciated. I think it’s important. Light creates a good balance and well-being for people and I try to capture as much light as I can. But indoor/outdoor is really a key design feature for me.

    Amy wanted me to mention somewhere along the way that we were the best designer/architect in Winter Park for the last three years. I don’t know if that’s important or not, but I would say that’s nice in the sense that my neighbors appreciate what we do. And whether they  hire us to build, they appreciate what we do and or design. A lot of times I’ll have people say, “One day I’ll have a Phil Kean house,” which is such a compliment, such a nice thing for people to say.

    You know I look at every house as “What’s the best that this house can be?”, and I call it my award-winning concept. I want every house that ever comes out of here, out of our studio, to be award-winning, whether it’s an expensive home or a tiny little home, there needs to be something that makes this worth winning an award. We won an award several years back, it was the Best in American Living Award put on by the National Association of Home Builders, and there were these big, big homes in the competition, and ours was like a 4,800 square foot home, and we won the Grand Award. One of the judges came up to me and told me that it was about the quality of the spaces and what I did with it that made us win over these obviously much more expensive homes and much bigger homes that were in the competition. And the comment was, “It was just so livable,” all the people could just see being there. So I thought that was one of my highlights. Another thing that was really something that I’m proud of too, is that the AIA, the American Institute of Architects, awarded us the “Builder of the Year”. Now that almost always goes to commercial. You know it’s commercial based…, it’s the big ivory towers and the engineering marvels that win those. The people that build those structures and design those structures are the ones that always win these awards. So, it’s very interesting that we won as a residential architect. I feel like that was a big honor, something I’m very proud of.


    As well you should be, I mean, that’s phenomenal. You’re a hundred percent right. I mean, those awards always tend to go to these very interestingly shaped, or abstract, or very difficult to solve construction type problems <laugh>, you know commercial spaces. And, I think that says so much, I mean, I believe there’s over, what is it, 20,000 architects coast to coast right now plus, at least the last time I checked AIA that’s what it was. It was a huge number, there’s so much talent in that pool. And so first of all, just apart from the interview, I wanna congratulate you for that. I mean, that is absolutely inspiring to hear that.


    Well, this was for Florida and the Caribbean AIA, this was for where we are, it wasn’t a national award. Although the winners of the locals get put in with the national awards. But, it’s still an honor.


    Oh, absolutely. It’s huge.


    All the work going on in Florida, and Bahamas, and the Southeast, it’s pretty exciting. That was a big honor for me.


    I wanna ask you, along those topics, if you don’t mind me asking, I think what we’ve been so impressed with, as I’m sure many others have been as well, is the proportion that you have in your design. It flows and it’s so easy to just stare at and look at. You kind of can get lost in it. Is there a sort of a process you can share, or sort of the approach that you take to the amazing proportion that you use in your design?


    Well, they call it the golden rectangle. I think it was Vitruvius that did it, where he sort of took that proportion. I probably have his book floating around here. He wrote a book on proportion and that was one of the books I had to study in college. There is a ratio between height to width that’s comfortable, that feels good. And the key is that’s probably where you wanna sort of be hanging out. Now, if you wanna play with those, that’s where the drama starts to happen. So you might push the envelope a little bit from that golden rectangle proportion. But, I’d say a lot of people want these really tall ceilings, and they’re fine, and I like tall ceilings, but I don’t like them everywhere. I like to think about what that room’s purpose is, and what’s the right height for that room. Somebody that has a huge art collection is going to need a different kind of height than where you watch TV. Those are just different scaled spaces, and you don’t want to feel uncomfortable. I remember watching one of those HGTV programs, and there was this bathroom that was so tall. I was thinking, I would not feel comfortable in that bathroom! <laugh>, felt like you were in a silo! I think there’s a scale to every space and it really does revolve around the human being and what their purpose of that room is.


    Yeah, I think that’s amazing that you bring that up, because that’s sort of where I was kind of headed. That you’ve got some of these rooms, and I think even if we look towards the way that your indoor/outdoor connects, it’s so flawless versus having a very low ceiling, just sort of, Boom…you pop in and your outside, the way you have that indoor/outdoor flow towards your proportion. But honestly, again, even taking a look at several of your homes to prepare for the interview today, and I was very impressed with exactly what you said, that it’s very easy to see yourself living in that space. It doesn’t feel, you know sometimes if you’re out traveling, you go to these hotels and some of these hotels, the way that they’re designed, they try to sort of overdo everything and you feel like you’re getting lost in the, like you said, you go in the bathroom and you feel like it’s a silo, or you go into the bedroom and it’s way too low. And, so there is that, as you said, that golden ratio.

    What has been one of the larger challenges that you’ve had to overcome in a construction project from a design standpoint, or the implementation phase of building?


    The challenges of construction…, I think the biggest challenge is education. I’ve designed a lot of homes over the years for builders, for their personal homes, and I generally will tell them that my designs will be one of the hardest designs to build. So I spend a lot of time educating the team on how things are supposed to look and how things are supposed to go together. After all these years, my electrician puts up a string and makes sure all the lights are straight. And that the air conditioning vent is falling where it’s supposed to. It’s those sight lines. You should never notice anything in a house that stands out unless it’s intentional. You don’t want, “Why is that light switch too low? Or why is that…”, you don’t want it to stand out, you know? So there’s a comfort zone that people have. And, when you respect that comfort zone, it disappears. So those are important things.

    But probably the biggest challenge is educating people, especially on the first time they build one of our houses, or we get a new project manager, educating them on how all of it goes together. Fortunately, I have such a great team of people that have been with me for so long. You know you’re always gonna keep learning your whole life, but I have this great collection of people that help each other. It’s a team effort, and we don’t have a lot of problems anymore. We try to be better every time we build a house. We work hard to do that.

    But, I would say in Florida, you have different issues than if you’re building in, say Maine. You have to know what the weather’s gonna be like and what the climate’s like. Designing is certainly site specific.

    A lot of designers and architects are “facade”. They draw a pretty exterior and then force a house behind it. I do a good floor plan and then put the face on the floor plan because how you live in that space and how rooms flow to each other and what the views out the windows are, are really important to me. So, I think that’s been one of the successes of our architecture, that people just love their homes. Over the years I’ve been the second or third architect for homeowners that worked with somebody before me. I even had one guy, I was the seventh architect he had hired.




    So, not that we’re so great, but we/I think the key is listening. Listen, listen, listen, <laugh>. People tell you what they want. I tell this to all my team members. I say, if you’re listening, a client will tell you exactly what they need in the first 15 minutes. If you could just sit there and soak in what they’re telling you, those are all gonna be the most important things in the design. So listen, listen closely because they’ll tell you everything you need to know, which is interesting.


    The exterior is almost a product of the interior in a way, versus I think if we look at the average sort of spec home that’s out there. The best materials are placed on the front facing, the side and the back nobody really takes too much care into that. There’s not a lot of love given into that, but I think the beauty of your projects and your portfolio is that you can literally look at them from a 360 angle, from the outdoor perspective, from the exterior and you get great angles. It’s very photogenic, no matter where you’re looking at it from. What does your general thought process look like when you’re looking at a home floor plan and you’re looking at the flow of that? How do you prepare to make something that actually flows and that’s comfortable for the owner?


    Fortunately I’ve been lucky enough to have beautiful views or some really amazing opportunities and often times those are at the rear of the lot. So part of the challenge is always what’s that journey like to get you to the back of the house? What do you, what’s your experience? So, sometimes it’s the outside space. It’s like, how do you create this sort of progression through a house to get you to where the Wow moment is? Or like, if you’re on an ocean and you have like a skinny lot, but the view is at the back of the lot, or something like that. So how do you progress through a house? And it becomes a little bit more like an onion unpeeling, and you start to get this house.

    And so every site is different and every project is different. Maybe that’s why I just love this so much, because it’s like a puzzle. Every project is like a new puzzle, like a new game. And how do I do it better than the last one I ever did? You know? So that’s sort of a cool approach, but gosh, I usually my gut, my first gut instinct is where I kind of get to. And I think that’s where the site will tell you what you need. The client’s checklist will tell you what you need. They’ll tell you. You have everything you need to win the game in the beginning. So it’s just you gotta, you just have to listen.

    That’s the biggest thing <laugh>. You have to have an open mind, you have to open your eyes. I’ve designed homes with outside spaces next to multi-story buildings, and it was all about privacy. How do you be outside in your yard and not have a five story, six story building looking down into your backyard. So, all of those things start to play into the design. So it’s not strictly a series of rooms connected to rooms. You might have a room connected. You might have a room in a particular location because it’s blocking a five story building from looking into your garden, into your private sanctuary. So all of those things become really interesting issue.  I did a house in 2012, it was for the New American Home for the International Builders Show. It had an apartment building next to it and it had an alley behind it. And it obviously had a street in front. So the challenge was, how do I get some privacy? So I created this house that had a “C” shape. It was sort of like the courtyard was in the middle of the house. I used the back of the house to block the five story building from looking into the pool area of the house, and I did some large overhangs and things to really create privacy. And you could be in that house and you would feel like you were anywhere in the world, and you had no clue that there was an apartment building next to you. I mean, it was a nice apartment building, but it was right there, less than 50 feet from the rear of the property. I always felt like that’s what’s important, thinking about all of the pluses and minuses and how do you do all of that? So, it’s been fun.


    The thing that makes what you do uncopyable is what you’re talking about right now. It’s that passion, that the puzzle solving understanding of all of these intricate nuances that make everything come together for that beautiful outcome. And I guess, when you look back over the last few years and you look at these amazing projects that you have in your portfolio, which ones would you say stand out to you as maybe the ones that you’re the most proud of? The one that, for you, is really the legacy project for you so far?


    Well, I think my first modern, which we call “NeMo” for New Modern, sort of changed my career. I think that was in 2006. That was a big game changer. I would say my first New American Home for the International Builders Show from the National Association of Home Builders in 2012 was another game changer. Those two are probably the biggest game changers as far as my career is concerned. Although I have some projects in the works right now that are some of the best we’ve ever done. We’ve got some amazing things on the boards. We’re doing a house in Pennsylvania that we call the Bridge House and it’s in New Hope, Pennsylvania on the river there. I forgot the name of the river, it’s a famous river. Anyway, we call it the Bridge House and all the living is upstairs and it’s just an amazing house. It’s all glass and modern and has a swimming pool, and it’s really cool. It’s on the boards, I mean, we’re still working on it. And then I’m doing a big project over in Tampa that’s pretty amazing. It’s not finished yet, but that’ll be unbelievable for the portfolio. It’s just a beautiful, beautiful home. I’m just proud that I got to do what I got to do. I mean, literally, I changed careers after 9/11 and, I mean, I’d gone to school to be an architect. My dad was a builder, so it wasn’t like outside of my comfort zone, but I had been in the creative industry and I had retail stores and 9/11 kind of said, if I’m ever gonna do this, change and do my passion, I need to do it now.

    So I think I was 39 at the time. And I just sort of said, “I gotta do it.” And I don’t have any regrets. It’s just been a wonderful journey. I appreciate every project I get to do. I appreciate every client that trusts me. I mean, it’s just, it’s really been a remarkable journey and I feel very fortunate that I have this amazing team of people that could work anywhere and they wanna work here with the rest of us. So, I mean, I think it’s really pretty amazing. I don’t know where, why I started that topic. I don’t think that’s what you asked me. I do go on tangents <laugh>.


    Well, I love it though, Phil. I love it. I love it, Phil. This is good. It’s good stuff.

    Ready to start your journey and build your dream home? Contact us today to work with the Phil Kean Design Group team!

  3. Building Custom Homes Under Current Supply Chain Challenges

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    Let’s face it: building custom homes in 2021 has presented all building teams, large and small, with unique obstacles.  The industry’s supply chain has been congested as a result of this year’s global challenges, and builders everywhere are experiencing building material shortages and backlogs.

    Phil Kean Design Group’s own Construction Coordinator, Katie Kovac , recently spoke on behalf of PKDG’s design-build firm with Layne Deakins of ProBuilder Magazine to discuss the impact of the global supply chain crisis on our business in building custom homes.

    construction coordinator Katie KovacKatie Kovac, PKDG Construction Coordinator


    L: What are some of the biggest challenges your company has faced amid ongoing supply chain disruptions and industry shortages? Have any projects been impacted by these new obstacles?

    K: Many of our projects have been impacted by the supply chain disruptions, especially when it comes to lumber, trusses, windows, fixtures, and labor. Items that would normally take 4-6 weeks are now taking 14-16 months, which has had a huge impact on how quickly we can build and complete our homes.

    It’s really challenging, especially when it affects almost every item along the way.

    However, labor has probably been the largest impact on our projects, which has greatly impacted the completion date for our homes. All trades are so busy that they can only allot so many of their workers to our job sites, instead of an entire crew like they have in the past.

    Other challenges that come with these shortages have to do with price increases. Almost every other week something new has a price increase!

    While we are finally starting to see lumber come down that is not the case for plumbing fixtures, garage doors, cabinetry, etc. All of these items are continually going up in price that it’s hard to keep up.

    L: What do you expect the situation to look like in the months ahead? What advice would you give other builders facing the same challenges?

    K: I feel that in the months ahead we’re still going to see a similar situation to what we see now. Every day I find that there is something new that is on backorder or the lead time is being extended. Unfortunately, I don’t foresee it going away anytime soon. I think this is something we are going to be facing well into the first quarter of next year.

    The only advice than I can provide to other builders is plan ahead. In construction we’re always planning ahead, but now it’s planning even further ahead. It’s making sure that you study and learn the lead times of every product needed during construction and making a plan to order ahead.

    We’ve started ordering things so far ahead and storing them either on-site or at another location to ensure the items needed are on-site when we need them to install in order to not slow a project down.

    Another piece of advise would be to change your outlook and stop making excuses. So many people that I have spoken to in the industry look at the negative aspects of the shortages, instead of looking at solutions. So many people in the industry use the pandemic as an excuse to why something is on backorder or why their job is taking so long.

    These challenges that we’re currently facing are reasons to make a change and improve the industry or to improve your business.

    L: Is there an industry-wide solution to address shortages that might be affecting your business? If not, what smaller steps can be taken to get the building industry back on track?

    K: That’s a tricky question. I don’t feel that there is a simple solution.

    The construction industry, from my viewpoint, has exponentially grown through this pandemic, which has only added to the shortages.

    However, as I said before changing your outlook on construction and what it should be would be the first step to finding the solutions to the shortages.

    Taking smaller steps, like planning ahead would be one way to help alleviate the industry shortages. If everyone planned ahead it would help regulate the immediate need and allow the industry some breathing room. The “rush rush” mentality only feeds into the shortages.

    L: Had the pandemic never happened, where do you think your company would be today? How would your projects or business model be different?

    K: I feel that our company would be in the same place that it is today. In our niche of the construction industry we’re always striving to improve our system and increase our efficiency. That’s what comes with growth.

    Our business models constantly evolve from year to year because the industry is ever changing and evolving as well. The only difference might be construction cost for our projects, as it they would most likely not be as high as they currently are due to the pandemic.

    Building custom homes is a team-wide effort. The flexibility and dedication shown by our Home Construction team during a difficult home building environment inspires us to deliver everyday. With our exceptional employees and company-wide positive, proactive approach, PKDG looks forward to an incredible 2022!

    Ready to begin your dream home journey? Contact our team today to learn more and get started.

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

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    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

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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!

  6. 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.

  7. Every Luxury Home Needs These 6 Amazing Rooms

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    Modern luxury home Birmingham AL

    Building your luxury home design is exhilarating – the possibilities are simply endless! If you are looking for specialty rooms that elevate your home to the upper echelons of design, you’ve come to the right place. Here are six amazing rooms you should consider adding to your luxury home design:

    1. Game Room

    A well-appointed game room can be the perfect place to unwind, embrace your competitive side, and even host guests. Consider the possibilities–a billiards match, energizing light emanating from your state-of-the-art video game setup, and a cozy, modern sofa to watch your favorite movies.

    No longer are game rooms limited to the old image of concrete basements and mini-fridges. Things have changed. In many luxury estates, you can find a much different room – well-appointed with luxurious materials, custom furniture and creative modern takes on what play and relaxation can look like.

    2. Home Library

    Rich wood floorings, the classic look of antique books, the comfortable embrace of leather–the home library can be your quiet nook for the next rainy day. Your impressive collection of books and art allow you to escape into your own world within the pages of your next read.

    3. Home Office

    Having a comfortable home office space to work, research or handle business activities is important, especially if you want to take that early morning conference call without heading into work. A dedicated space allows you to focus and be more productive in your very own environment.

    Switch on your favorite music and don’t forget, if you need a coffee or snack, your kitchen is only steps away. A home office grants you the versatility to conduct business, host and enjoy a produce space without leaving the house.

    4. Theater

    The biggest game of the season is inching closer; you and your loved one just enjoyed an indulgent home-cooked meal for date night. You have had friends and family over to stream the latest blockbuster…what do all of these scenarios have in common? They’re enhanced by a home theater, of course!

    Plush chairs and ambient lighting with awe-inspiring audiovisual systems. Your home theater can give you and your guests the perfect place to reconnect and recharge.

    5. Wine Room

    Like most things, wine should be properly stored. If you have an extensive collection, rather than relying on a few underperforming wine racks, many luxury homes are incorporating their very own wine rooms.

    For the connoisseur, you can take precise control over the temperature, humidity, and other environmental factors in which your wine will be stored, ensuring optimal conditions for long-term aging. We can even incorporate a tasting area and impressive display to enjoy with company.

    6. Home Bar

    Each amenity mentioned thus far would arguably be more enjoyable with a drink in hand, so why not include a home bar in your new luxury home design? Whether you prefer the minimalist décor of modernism or the richness of traditional design, your home bar can add that special touch that can bring an extra sparkle into your evening.

    If you are interested in discussing your new luxury home design with Phil Kean Design Group, please fill in the form below and we’ll reach out to you!

  8. 7 Things You Need to Know About the Interior Design of Your New Home

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    Building a new luxury home can be exciting – and overwhelming! The possibilities are endless and the ability to customize is limited only by your imagination. So, what do you need to know about interior design as you embark on one of life’s most exhilarating journeys? Here are our top seven tips to get you started!

    1. Entertainment

    Your desire to entertain will hold sway over the interior design of your home. Rather than having smaller, separate rooms and limited seating, for example, you will want to have a more open-concept layout that is conducive to gatherings. Allowing and encouraging people to mingle in various open spaces–whether it be around the kitchen or outdoors–is key to hosting memorable social events.

    2.  Iconic Pieces

    interior design tv room

    Décor is all-important to the interior design of your home. From tying rooms together conceptually to standing out as eye-catching conversation starters, the right iconic pieces are excellent for adding that “pop” to any space. Best of all, they can either conform to or diverge from the rest of your styling, giving you the flexibility to choose something that speaks to you.

    3.  Natural Light

    Lighting can make or break a space, so it is vital to consider it when designing your home. Even the direction that windows face can drastically change the feeling of openness a particular room may have. Remember, natural light is softer than artificial lighting and makes your space feel larger and more inviting.

    4.  Lighting Plan

    A well thought-out lighting plan can be a magical factor that transforms your home into a true luxury dwelling. From setting a particular mood or highlighting a featured piece in your home, the advantages of strategic lighting are worth looking at with a professorial eye when considering the interior design of your new space.

    5.  Furniture Pieces

    While there is a multitude of retailers with collections of furniture, a truly luxurious home will have custom furniture pieces that not only fit the needs of its owner but also blend seamlessly into the design of the structure and the concept of the design. These custom touches can be the difference between an extraordinary, award-winning interior design and one that feels nondescript.

    6.  Concepts

    interior design at baypoint

    Whether you want each room to flow naturally into the next, or you want distinct styles for each, determining and deciding on which concepts to use is integral to making your dream come to life. A beach house, for example, may have a single, cohesive house-wide theme, while a home for a family with young children may want a distinct theme for each of the children’s bedrooms.

    7.  Comfort

    Homes serve many purposes–from hosting friends and family to entertaining–but at the end of the day, they are just that: a home. It’s where you live, where you spend the majority of your time, and where your most treasured memories are made. So, no matter how breathtaking you want your designs or how elaborate your décor may be, be sure to fuse the beauty of your design with comfort that facilitates deep rest and relaxation. Don’t let this key aspect of your home get lost in the excitement of building something incredible!

    Our final thoughts…

    Creating a piece of art is exciting, and that excitement is only compounded when your artistic creation is your own home! No matter what direction you decide to take when deciding on the interior design of  your dream home, be sure to partner with designers and builders that will dream with you and help guide you toward making your imagination come to life. Look for accolades and a portfolio that represents the vision you have in mind.

    If you are interested in speaking to the design team at Phil Kean Designs Group, please fill in the form below and our staff will reach out to you. Thank you for reading!

  9. “Top Custom Home Builder of 2019” Awarded by Orlando Business Journal

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    Phil Kean Design Group Awarded “Top Custom Home Builder in Florida”

    Many impressive homes rise from the lush green landscape of Central Florida. Gracing lakesides, enhancing the scenic vistas of oceanfront, standing in distinct accord against the impossibly blue skies of the Sunshine State, modern architecture is a common sight in the surrounding area of Orlando. While you can find example after example of such beautiful structures, those from one particular custom homebuilder stand out from the rest.

    Phil Kean Design Group could be considered the epitome of modern architecture design but in reality, it is so much more. Its creations are more than blueprints for buildings. Instead, it embraces the challenge of finding unity between landscapes, the needs and desires of clients, and the individual artistry with which each home is imbued. Time after time, Phil Kean Design Group achieves the coveted balance needed to elevate an incomparable modern structure to the status of a one-of-a-kind, completely custom, luxurious dwelling. It is no wonder, then, that once again the prestigious accolade of Top Custom Home Builder has been received in 2019.

    Clean, alluring lines speak to the irresistible artistic quality that is poured into each design, while the surrounding landscape is accounted for, allowing designs to dance with and complement the scenery rather than stand starkly against it.

    The generous incorporation of glass emphasizes the harmonious bond between home and nature–a harmony that can be found in every aspect of each home, from the building materials to the calming inclusion of water features.

    Each home, while strikingly modern and tech-forward, manages to find the impossible balance and integration between architecture and nature, giving them an organic feeling that many others attempt to replicate. This openness and organic fluidity flows into each masterpiece by Phil Kean Design Group. This is another way in which the Group sets itself apart. Rather than exercise in the sharp angles and cold minimalism that has become synonymous with contemporary architecture, the designs and dwellings one sees and enters are welcoming and created to be lived din, to entertain, and to savor.

    Each client’s specific needs and desires are taken into consideration and woven seamlessly into the tapestry of the final product, giving a unique personal fingerprint to each home the group completes. From warm outdoor spaces for hosting summer dinner parties to bespoke interiors that make each room a piece of a cohesive whole, Phil Kean Design Group’s homes are as functional as they are inspiring.

    Each design is ambitious without being superfluous, intimate yet artistic, and uncompromisingly stands on it own. With such work that simultaneously pushes boundaries and retains effortless beauty, Phil Kean Design Group is not just the epitome of modern architecture–it is the relentless evolution thereof.

    We invite you to peruse the full portfolio and see with your own eyes the work, the designs – the wonder of modern architecture – that the judges at OBJ have named “The Top Custom Home Builder Of 2019”.

    If you are interested in having Phil Kean Design Group design your own slice of heaven, please fill out the form below and you will be contacted within 48 hours.

  10. Downtown Living Gets the Phil Kean Treatment with New Luxury Townhomes

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    For years, high-rises have dominated the downtown Orlando skyline as the premier residential options in the urban city center. Phil Kean Design Group has set out to change that with the design of ten new brownstone-style townhome residences in the heart of downtown.

    Unique Features and Open, Spacious Floor Plans

    Drawing inspiration from the iconic New York City Brownstones so often pictured as the epitome of luxury living, the townhomes of élan on Marks feature no shortage of breathtaking touches. Ten-foot ceilings and large glass windows and doors add light and create a feeling of space, while a floating staircase with thick, wood treads and a clear, glass railing delivers the modern, dramatic style Phil Kean is renowned for.

    When it comes to creating a modern floor plan fit for young, urban professionals living in downtown Orlando, open living spaces are the perfect choice. The Marks St. townhomes will feature two to three bedrooms and three-and-a-half baths, ideal for singles or those looking to start a family. From the private, two-car garage, residents will be able to reach the fourth-floor rooftop terrace via elevator, enjoying panoramic views of downtown from this versatile outdoor space.

    Downtown Location in Orlando’s North Quarter

    Orlando’s North Quarter is a fast-growing urban district in the heart of downtown and quickly making a name for itself throughout the city. With stylish high-rises, upscale eateries and, soon, the élan on Marks townhomes, the North Quarter has truly earned its reputation as the next great neighborhood in Orlando for those looking for a slice of luxury downtown living. Residents of the new townhomes will be just a short walk away from both fine dining and casual options, as well as shopping, nightlife, parks and everything else the city’s center has to offer.

    With two other luxury townhome developments underway in Winter Park, Phil Kean Design Group’s élan on Marks residences will deliver high-end design and world-class architecture to the streets of Orlando’s North Quarter.