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Home of the Year










Home of the Year - Villa dei Gemelli, Entered by Charles Clayton Construction

Florida is known for close votes, but Bush vs. Gore in 2000 has nothing on Orlando Life’s Home of the Year in 2013. When the results from the judging for this annual honor were tallied, the top three candidates were separated by just a handful of points. In fact, there was tie for runner-up, and no debatable butterfly ballots or hanging chads to break the stalemate.

But that’s not too surprising, considering the quality of the entries. Our distinguished out-of-market judges were uniformly impressed, although they held contradictory opinions about which home ought to get the ultimate nod.

Judges assigned point values between 1 and 25 in the categories of creativity, efficiency, aesthetics and livability. So the highest possible score from an individual judge was 100. The scores from each judge were then totaled, making the highest possible combined score 300.

The winning home got stratospheric marks from two judges and a so-so score from a third. An overall runner-up was actually the highest-rated home on one judge’s score sheet. That alone says volumes about how high the bar has been raised in this competition.

The same was true for an array of sub-categories, including individual rooms and outdoor living areas.

A specific category for green building was dropped. However, that doesn’t mean eco-friendliness is no longer important. It simply means that sustainability and energy efficiency have become so pervasive in new construction and remodeling that they no longer warrant special mention for uniqueness.

With that background in mind, we’ll take a grand tour of the winning homes in each category.

Villa dei Gemelli
Entered by Charles Clayton Construction

Team members: Builder, Charles Clayton Construction; architect, Phil Kean Design Group; interior designer, Rob Turner, Phil Kean Design Group; pool designer, Redmon Design Company; pool contractor, Orlando Pool Designs; landscape designer, Redmon Design Company; kitchen cabinets, Cabinetry Creations.

The aptly named “House of Twins” is a contemporary Italian showplace built for a young family raising twins, a boy and a girl. The home is open and inviting, and packed with energy-efficient technology. It also emphasizes indoor-outdoor living, with a 40-foot wall of glass opening onto several large lanais overlooking the pool and beautifully landscaped gathering spots. An inner courtyard features a hand-carved fountain depicting the resident twins. A two-story, curved-glass staircase is a particularly eye-popping interior feature. Dropped ribbed panels anchor the impressive backlit barrel-vault ceiling in the family room, while the entertainment area boasts a wall of stacked stone encompassing a large TV, a linear fireplace and two large saltwater aquariums. Beautiful glass rotundas accentuate the master suite, master shower and breakfast nook. A casita, wine room and study complete the home.

Wonderful floorplan that blends indoor and outdoor spaces ... appropriate combination of traditional imagery and more up-to-date interior spaces ... spaces flow from one to the other effectively and efficiently, especially the living room and adjacent kitchen and outdoor living areas ... the restrained color palette is light and refreshing ... great style, form and detailing ... expansive, bright and airy.


Palazzo Lago
Entered by Silliman Homes

Team: Builder; Silliman Homes; architect, Tony Weremeichik, Canin Associates; interior designer, Masterpiece Interiors; landscape designer, Randy Scruggs; pool designer, Canin Associates; pool contractor, Orlando Pool Designs

One judge was adamant that Palazzo Lago should have been the undisputed Home of the Year. And why not? From the stunning entry to the poolside cabana, the home features clean lines reminiscent of South Florida architecture from the ‘20s and ‘30s. Downstairs, every room boasts large windows overlooking the lake or other lush outdoor spaces. The large, chef-inspired kitchen features a separate sink and prep station as well as a notably long granite countertop. The grand first-floor master suite is highlighted by a dramatic vestibule entry, a private retreat separate from the bedroom and an oversized closet. The first-floor “Old Florida” room is flanked by double French doors and anchored by a beautiful stone fireplace. The second-floor centerpiece is a recreation room that opens onto a viewing deck. The surrounding three bedrooms and bonus room each have private bathrooms. Outdoors is a cabana with a fully equipped summer kitchen and a nearby fire pit.

The blend of historic Florida design with cutting-edge interiors make this a winner … attention to detail inside and out makes it ideal for elegant yet comfortable entertaining … rich woods and warm colors preserve the historic style … looks native to the area rather than a snowbird’s summer house.


The New Southern Home
Entered by NWC Construction and Keesee Associates

Team: Builder, NWC Construction; building designer, David Pillsbury, Keesee & Associates; interior designer; Design Studio 15; landscape designer, Bonnett Design Group; pool designer, David Pillsbury, Keesee & Associates; pool contractor, Sea Maiden Pools; kitchen cabinets, UltraCraft

The New Southern Home, built in conjunction with the 2013 Southeast Building Conference, was inspired by the much-photographed Interfaith Chapel in Seaside, a neotraditonal community in Florida’s Panhandle. This year’s NSH is a whitewashed board-and-batten Florida vernacular beauty with distinct, well-defined living spaces and a pitched tin roof. Yet, although the picture-postcard design is reminiscent of another era, the physical structure is very much a product of the 21st century. The technology is cutting-edge green. A gourmet kitchen opens seamlessly onto an outdoor kitchen and pool area with a fire pit. The downstairs master suite, with its cathedral-beamed ceiling, solar-powered skylight and sliding barn doors, is a particular highlight. In the first-floor master bath, wall-to-wall louver panel cabinets replace drawers and closets, while the second-floor master suite boasts a coffee area, Greek bath and lake-view balcony. Also upstairs, a multipurpose room features a wet bar and sitting area.

Attention to detail was apparent in every aspect ... although simple in concept, the design has a great flow and yet creates wonderfully detailed entertainment and private zones ... efficient and livable floorplan ... great aesthetics.


Villa dei Gemelli
Entered by Charles Clayton Construction

Team members: Builder, Charles Clayton Construction; architect, Phil Kean Design Group; interior designer, Rob Turner, Phil Kean Design Group; pool designer, Redmon Design Company; pool contractor, Orlando Pool Designs; landscape designer, Redmon Design Company; kitchen cabinets, Cabinetry Creations.

The Home of the Year just happens to encompass the Living Room of the Year. It’s an oversized space with an abundance of natural light and a large, barrel-vault ceiling highlighted by oversized dropped-rib panels. The center “feature wall” contains a large TV, a linear fireplace and two saltwater aquariums, while the glass wall opens onto a large covered lanai overlooking a waterfall pool.

Beautiful articulation of space through  use of shape, texture and color ... the open-ness to the outdoors is a fantastic amenity ... I like the textured wall ... unique ceiling treatments and expansive openings.


Villa DiLusso
Entered by Cornerstone Construction

Team: Builder, architect and interior designer, Jorge Ulibarri, Cornerstone Custom Construction

The living room in this spectacular “Modern Mediterranean” home isn’t really a living room at all. It’s a “grand room” with a jaw-dropping, 22-foot-high fireplace and dark wood columns illuminated by LED lighting. The designer ceiling boasts beams in a crisscross pattern and a trio of modern, sculptural hanging light fixtures. A stunningly executed niche of glass mosaics and stainless-steel plates is the centerpiece of the space, which is accessed through a tower entry anchored by a glittering chandelier.

Great interpretation of Spanish Mediterranean style with modern touches ... a spectacular space ... the finishes are so beautiful that you don’t need to do much in the way of decoration.


Bay Point
Entered by Phil Kean Design Group

Team: Builder and architect, Phil Kean, Phil Kean Design Group; interior designer, Rob Turner, Phil Kean Design Group

This spa-like master bathroom, which offers expansive lake views, highlights a second-story addition. Neutral colors and natural materials, including limestone, walnut and stacked quartz, combine to create a relaxing, organic ambiance. Floating cabinetry provides clean, minimalist lines, while sleek fixtures and back-lighted floating ceilings softly illuminate the space. The soaker tub features a lustrous chrome wall, while the shower is enhanced by an assortment of niches and a floor fashioned from six-inch-square limestone tiles laid in a quarter-turn pattern. A wall of charcoal-colored, stacked quartz creates additional architectural interest. An expansive balcony provides a relaxing indoor/outdoor space. Built-in blackout shades provide privacy.

Well-conceived contemporary design ... great relationship of indoor and outdoor spaces ... I love the layout ... storage abounds without taking anything away from the sleek design ... the shower and toilet tucked behind the graceful waterfall tub doesn’t allow any distractions from the views reflected in the mirror, adding depth and dimension to the space.


Historic Estate
Entered by Farina & Sons

Team: Builder, Farina & Sons; architect, David E. Runnels Architects; interior designer, Grant Gribble, Gribble Interior Group

One judge picked this modestly sized but stylishly eclectic bathroom as the first-place winner. The goal was to create a space that evoked vintage Hollywood glamour, which is appropriate for a home originally built in the 1920s. Both a freestanding, cast-iron tub and a glass-encased individual shower were incorporated. The two-tone tub, however, is the focal point of the room. It’s placed on a diagonal to create a corner display shelf for a treasured antique lamp. The custom cabinetry incorporates an antique mirror within the door panels, while granite countertops are used throughout. A detailed marble floor pattern, Asian-style wall coverings and a sunburst light fixture complete the transformation from modest to marvelous.  

The ability to create luxury within a modest space is a testament to the designer’s vision ... attention to detail transforms a modest, efficient bath into an oasis.


Coastal Volusia
Entered by Charles Clayton Construction

Team: Builder, Charles Clayton Construction; architect, Johnson Estate Designs; kitchen cabinets, Busby Cabinets

The kitchen of this gorgeous custom home takes full advantage of its beachfront location by emphasizing expansive ocean views. The home’s open floorplan has the kitchen placed conveniently next to the family room and dining room, while the contiguous wine area offers counter space from which to decant your favorite vino. The expansive island comfortably seats four, and provides an ideal gathering place for friends and family. The white marble of the countertop, combined with use of cool blues and light woods, gives the hub of the home a clean but elegant ambiance. The pantry and butler’s pantry provide plenty of storage without requiring an overabundance of cabinetry.

Great relationship to adjacent dining and outdoor spaces ... bright, welcoming and sophisticated ... combines high style with functionality ... I love the “waterfall” stone details ... everything about this contemporary kitchen speaks to me ... it has the spaciousness of the oversized island while keeping the work triangle to a minimum of steps.


The Rosalind House
Entered by MJS Custom Home Designs

Team: Builder: GAM Construction; building designer, Interiors by Craig Deneer; kitchen cabinets, S&W Kitchens

The gourmet kitchen is the heart of this charming home, located in the heart of a downtown Orlando historic district. An open and inviting space, it’s perfect for entertaining, especially around the showpiece center island, which boasts both seating and a convenient food-preparation area. The room is illuminated by abundant natural light, and soft neutral colors predominate. The traditional theme suits the home, which pays homage to the homes from the ‘30s and ‘40s that surround it.

The style and color of the cabinets makes it seem like part of the furniture selected for the house ... it’s a modest space that feels expansive ... a dream kitchen for any cook.


Historic Estate
Entered by Farina & Sons

Team: Builder, Farina & Sons; architect, Davie E. Runnels Architects; landscape designer, Frank Joseph Brooks Landscape; pool designer, Frank Joseph Brooks and Grant Gribble Interior Group; pool contractor, Artistic Pool Design

When this historic 1920s home underwent a restoration and transformation, the outdoors received as much attention as the indoors. The goal was to create a private outdoor environment that preserved the home’s original privacy wall and fountain while maximizing space for entertaining. The fan-shaped pool incorporates glass pebbles in the interior finish and colorful Mexican-style tiles along the water line. It features a salt-water system and solar heating so it can be used year round. Decorative lighting within the pool adds visual excitement. Of particular interest are period light fixtures, and fencing and railing that showcases custom ironwork. The Travertine patio provides space for gardening, cooking and dining. The scope of the project also included a revamp of the home’s front, which now boasts a stately entrance with a front porch and a garden seating area.

The transformation of this “backyard” into a secret oasis is a testament to the contractor’s team ... beautiful transformation ... imaginative solution and well-integrated architecture and landscape design with wonderful color palette ... I love the arched elements that echo the architecture of the house ... great idea to install grass around the pool.


Because of the quantity and the quality of entries, Orlando Life will present the Remodel of the Year winners and several related categories in its November issue, as part of its quarterly Remodel Orlando special section. The section is published in conjunction with the Remodel/Design Council of the Home Builders Association of Metro Orlando.


Patrick W. McClane, Smith and McClane Architects, Richmond, Va. A native Floridian, McClane received his Bachelor of Design from the University of Florida and later studied at the Vicenza Institute of Architecture. He also received a Master of Architecture from the University of Virginia. His work, including new homes and home additions, has received numerous awards, and he is an expert on the work of renowned Winter Park architect James Gamble Rogers II.

Gregory F. Shue, Shue Design Associates, Holden Beach, N.C. Shue, who began his architectural career after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 1997, has experience with an array of building types. His residential work, including primary residences, seasonal and vacation residences, apartments and townhouses, has been featured in magazines and books. In addition to designing homes for private clients, he’s a design consultant to local, regional and national builders and developers.

Jannis Vann, House Plan Resource, Woodstock, Ga. Vann, who has been designing homes since 1982, has won local, regional and national awards from the National Association of Home Builders and the American Institute of Building Design. She has also judged competitions for those organizations. Vann, who completed courses from the Institute of Classical Architecture in 2002, markets through national web sites and designs custom homes and remodeling projects in metro Atlanta.

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