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The New American Remodel 2018: Traditional, Modern, & High-Tech

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The New American Remodel 2018: Traditional, Modern, & High-Tech

Transforming a 1930s Orlando home into a showcase of contemporary living


By By Charlie Wardell December 1, 2017
This article first appeared in the December 2017 issue of Pro Remodeler.

The New American Remodel 2018 is proof that designers and remodelers can blend historical and contemporary elements to create something cutting edge and one-of-a-kind. 

The challenge for Orlando remodeler Farina & Sons and architect Mark Nasrallah, of Nasrallah Architectural Group, was to find a way to preserve the core structure of this 80-year-old Mediterranean-style Orlando home, including its historically significant low ceilings and decorative interior and exterior ironwork, while replacing some badly done later additions on both sides with new spaces designed and engineered for today’s lifestyles. 

Those new spaces include a luxurious master suite and office on one side, and an open-plan family room/kitchen with three-car garage on the other. A sunroom at the back of the original home links the additions while also opening to an outdoor living area adjacent to the pool at the back.

The new spaces include elements that make them a better example of period architecture than the previous additions. For example, the design incorporates solid masonry gable walls that match those of the home’s core. Though this type of masonry construction was common in the ’30s, it’s rare today because of the high cost. But the team agreed it was essential to preserving the home’s character.

Energy Efficient

While the remodeled home retains some of its original feel, its performance is cutting-edge 21st century. The remodel has transformed it into a technological showcase that qualifies for the highest Emerald rating from the National Green Building Standard. 

Prior to the start of construction, the home was scored using the Residential Energy Service Network’s Home Energy Rating System (HERS), which compares actual energy use to a hypothetical reference home of the same size and shape built to the current energy code. Every HERS point represents a 1 percent increase or decrease in energy use, and the retrofit’s goal has been a two-thirds reduction, from a pre-renovation score of 125 to a post-construction score of 43.

Old vs. New

The interior design also offers practical ideas on how to blend the best of the old and the new. That includes elements common to transitional architecture—a thoughtful combination of traditional and modern that’s neither too formal
nor too stark. 

Interior designer, Grant Gribble, of Gribble Interior Group, in Orlando, lavished attention on details that strike a balance between the two vernaculars. For instance, while the house has extensive interior wood trim, as one would expect in a 1930s-era home, Gribble chose molding profiles with clean lines. “Rather than fancy crown with dentils, we used simple crown,” he says. As for color, Gribble opted for a subdued palette that blends traditional and modern elements with intelligent use of blue-green, off-white, and gray.

Gribble also put a lot of thought into how to use colors, trim, and surface coverings to unify the homes’ various rooms. That includes a floor detail between adjacent spaces that mixes inlaid tile with wood flooring. 

In addition to offering design inspiration, the home will also serve as a showcase for new products and technologies, including the latest in appliances, mechanical equipment, and home automation. This will allow visitors to see how some of the products displayed on the IBS exposition floor work in an actual home.

The application of modern design sensibility to traditional spaces while incorporating state-of-the-art energy efficiency and cutting-edge technology has produced a home with broad appeal. Remodeler Victor Farina stresses that, with the exception of some local architectural details, the techniques and products used in this project are not Florida-specific. Instead, The New American Remodel has something to offer professionals from all parts of the country. “We’re hoping designers, builders, and remodelers will look at this home and see elements they can use in their projects,” Farina says. 

Learn more about the team involved.

Registered 2018 International Builders' Show (IBS) and Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) attendees can tour The New American Remodel and The New American Home daily during show hours via complimentary shuttle buses departing every 30 minutes from the Orange County Convention Center. 


written by

Charlie Wardell

Charlie Wardell is a freelance writer and former remodeler in Tisbury, Mass.


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