Inside The Multi-generational Home

Words By Katherine Salant, The Washington Post

ORLANDO, Fla. – To the casual observer, the first indication that there’s something different about the “reNEWable Living Home” on exhibition here are the colours on the outside.

The house is designed in the traditional “Florida Mediterranean” style that’s found throughout the state, but the tile roof is charcoal, not orange, and the facade incorporates stonework that is a medley of light and darker shades of grey.

Inside this 5,188-square-foot house, designed by BSB Design in Des Moines, Iowa, and built by Meritage Homes, an Arizona-based national firm that is active in the Florida market, traditional styling gives way to a spare modernism. And here, too, the colours are unusual, and the overall ambience is one of calming, quiet grace.

The large, L-shaped living/dining/kitchen area is finished in muted tones of light, warm greys and white. The large furniture pieces in the sitting area are upholstered in light-coloured cotton and linen, which reflect even more light into these spaces and further enhances their calming, healthy feel, said Aundrea Brown of Intermark Design in Orlando, who designed the interiors.


The unusually light coloured palette in the main living area creates a calming ambience, a welcome balm after a hard day at the office. Image: John Unrue


The real pièce de résistance in this great space for calming down after a bad hair day at the office, however, is nearly invisible from inside, hidden behind a large, ungainly outdoor fireplace: The Five geyser-type fountains that sit atop a 7-metre-long, five-step spillway on the far side of the swimming pool.

When turned on, this feature creates a mini-waterfall that can be mesmerising. At night, the fountains, which reach a height of almost 1-metre, can be programmed for five light shows with nine colours.


The swimming pool is seen from the second floor. Image: Kip Dawkins


Turning back into the house, our visitor might find the same calming colour scheme extending to the spacious 80-square-metre first-floor owners’ suite. They might also find that calming is a good description for the rounded shape of the white, free-standing Kohler Ceric Series tub in the master bathroom.


The master bathroom is finished in the same light coloured palette as the main living areas. Image: John Unrue


The first floor has a second bedroom suite, tucked in behind the kitchen, and in the far corner, a back stair leading up to a separate one-bedroom apartment. To differentiate this space from the rest of the house, the palette is darker and more masculine. The scale of its spaces also differentiates the apartment. Compared with the first-floor great room, the sitting area here is smaller and more intimate.


The one bedroom Fonzi Flat in the rear of the second floor is intended for an older child who is a medical resident at a local hospital. Image: John Unrue


The apartment connects to the rest of the second floor, which has three more bedrooms that open onto a large game room with its own bar and food-serving area and a huge laundry room.

At this point, our visitor is likely to wonder whom the builders imagined would want to live here, and that is exactly the point. The organisers for the show home, wanted to spotlight changing home-buyer demographics, and the multi-generation household.


Featured Image: John Unrue