By Mariana Bockarova

Picture this:
After a long day’s work, the only fixation you ruminate on without haze is how incredibly relaxing it would be if only you could head to the spa. Against your better judgement, you put your car into drive until you inevitably find yourself pulling up to an exterior of new-age appeal, only with shrubs and cacti diffusing the otherwise harshly lined periphery. For parking, you have two options, though neither escapes you from driving over perfectly manicured grass planes; there’s one wood-paneled garage to the left of the main entrance door, another to the right. Making your way inside, a horizontal-glass-paneled single door welcomes you in. Upon entering, a long narrow hallway gives way to a large open lookout. The high-ceilinged hallway isn’t of an ordinary kind, however; to the right, six-foot-tall trees walk along with you, as a foot-wide pond of still water lines the entire left side of the walkway. Opening to ponds complete with water lilies, spectacular water features cover much of the nearly four-thousand-square-foot main floor. As you make a sharp right, you find yourself in a sleek kitchen of glossed white countertops and chestnut cabinets. You realize then, you are not in a spa, but rather a home designed to induce maximize relaxation, ease and comfort of living: Here it is, the 2013 New American Home, showcasing the future of home design.

Premiering at the International Builder’s Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, the New American Home, built and designed by Blue Heron Homes, is a unique spectacle of sleek, inventive design with the ultimate goal of fusing indoor comfort with outdoor appeal. A truly innovative house filled with off-gray palettes in design, this abode features a glimpse into the future of home design: water walls, glowing light panels, opening pocket doors, gavian walls which turn into shelves, and a media room surrounded by pools and reflection ponds. Simply put: the return of luxury for the environmentally-conscious. Materials used in innovative ways, such as wood paneling on the ceiling in the foyer, as well as over the stairs and kitchen, are staples to add sophistication and depth, and to continue a connection with nature, an incredibly prevalent theme throughout. The home persists in a “desert contemporary” design, as clean horizontal stone lining, specially developed to “replicate [the look of] a dry riverbed,” is used both on the outside and inside walls, further fusing the outdoor-indoor divide.

“The concepts and characteristics with this home are in line with sustainable design, green building technology, energy efficient homes,” says Tyler Jones, the main architect behind the project. This underlying ideology seeps through every aspect of the house, beginning with solar panels on the roof, which can be seen from the sky deck, found on the top floor, as well as the street, promoting the idea to passers-by.

Resysta, a non-plastic, newly introduced sleek alternative to wood, is chosen as a favourite, and used throughout the home. As Michael Sloup, President of Resysta North America, notes: “Resysta has a warm feel and look, like hard wood. On the other side, it’s a very green product because it’s made out of rice husk and polymer. You can use it for indoors, but its real strength shows on the outside… it’s very well-prepared for the outside environment.” For the home builder, Resysta offers a versatile appeal; splinter-free and fade-resistant, sanding and staining is done with ease, which only furthers the possibilities for the multiple uses of this material — decking, facades, interior design, even furniture.

Featuring products that have yet to reach the market, only the most innovative technologies are showcased; upon entering the home, security features, background audio, distributed video and entertainment, and lighting and shading can be turned on. With credits to the Las Vegas home theater and automation installation company, Eagle Sentry, the single click of a button allows for covers that pan over televisions to be opened (while your favourite show appears), exterior shades which line the windows to shut, and every fireplace feature in the home to be turned on. Where once thermostats, alarm pads, and light switches lined the walls, a single touch screen replaces them all. The main control panel —a larger touch screen— features virtual floor plans of the entire house, informing where a light might be turned on, and the temperature in each room. Wall clutter is no longer unsightly.

Lastly, the indoor-outdoor blend is perfected seamlessly with Phantom retractable screens, which add to the aesthetic appeal, complementing the home decor. Providing shading as well as increased ventilation of the home (which will act to lower energy costs), retractable screens are used for doors, windows, verandas, curtain walls, and slide door systems.

While the home does have spectacular features and visual appeal, the piece de resistance, however, finds its way in the form of a Resysta spiral staircase. Breaking from the horizontal line appeal, which defines the home in every way, from the silver and cream-toned straight lined planks that lay in the main living spaces to the wood-planked walls, the circular architectural piece connects the upstairs loft deck to the living room below. “It’s an integral part of the architecture; it’s the focal point,” says Jones.

Though the inescapably inspiring features of the New American Home attest that environmental conscientiousness and opulence can be one in the same, the takeaway trends from the 2013 International Builder’s Show similarly prove that as the economy begins recovery, conspicuous luxury in the home is back – saunas, elevators and a plethora of fireplaces. The greatest trend, however, of maximizing and aestheticizing the comfort of living, both in and outdoors, is here to stay.