TNAR 2022: Modernizing a Classic

Preservation has been The New American Remodel 2022's North Star, as well as what makes it radically different from recent years.

December 13, 2021
The New American Remodel

Rendering: Phil Kean Design Group

When architect Phil Kean paid a visit to remodeler Eric Gray at his mid-century modern Orlando home last year, Gray expressed the desire for more space. But what Kean saw was a perfect candidate for the annual New American Remodel. Gray would agree under one vital condition: that most of the existing home be preserved.

Rendering: Phil Kean Design Group

The Need To Preserve

That conversation set the tone for the whole-home project. Preservation has been its North Star, as well as what makes it radically different from recent years.

The last three projects underwent dramatic changes, removing most of the structure, and in one case leaving just a single wall. Results were basically new homes that bore little resemblance to the originals. That wouldn’t do here.

Gray’s 1963-built home is historical, with a design that recalls Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian homes. “I’ve done some research and believe the architect was one of Wright’s students,” he says.

Unique geometric features span the home, most notably on the roof. The main roof expands in width and rises in elevation from the front to the rear of the house, reminiscent of a bisected half-cone laid on its side, and encloses a central great room.

Glass atrium windows fill the gables below the ends of the roof, offering views across the street to the lake. When a visitor looks through either of the gables, they can see right through to the other. “It feels a bit like a fishbowl,” says Gray, who wanted to preserve that exact feeling in the remodel.

New Additions

Rendering: Phil Kean Design Group

New additions include rooms flanking both sides of the central great room and a backyard guest house. Together, they expand the interior floor area from 3,200 to 5,500 square feet. One addition will house a primary suite, gym, and an office overlooking the lake, while the other will enclose a guest bedroom and main kitchen, with access to an outdoor summer kitchen. The guest house will have a bedroom, bathroom, living room, and its own kitchen. 

Visually blending these additions with the existing structure remained key. “When we’re done, you shouldn’t be able to tell where old ends and new begins,” says Gray.

Siding plays an important role here. Coquina stone, a limestone consisting of fossilized seashells, clad the existing home, and the additions will maintain a similar look by combining coquina and new stone veneer.


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The coquina will also be brought inside the home as a veneer for the fireplace.

Gray and Kean heavily discussed what exterior elements to keep and what to change. For instance, the home has several single-lite doors with a transom and sidelights. “Phil wanted to replace them with sliders, but that’s not period to the home,” says Gray. “After some back-and-forth, we decided to keep the existing doors.”

Preservation extended into the interiors as well: Some walls were sheathed with solid mahogany, which the team carefully removed, re-finished, and will return to the same walls.

While the classic look will be preserved, the home will also showcase the latest products and technologies. They include high-end appliances and fixtures, sophisticated HVAC equipment, super-efficient windows, and discreet solar panels placed atop the additions.

It will also meet Net Zero Energy standards, meaning the home will generate at least as much electricity each year as the home uses. To achieve Net Zero in Florida, homes need an extremely low cooling load, and the New American Remodel’s ample glass made that a challenge—details on the solution to that challenge to come.

The finished home will offer lessons for remodelers on how to be architecturally respectful and environmentally sensitive while giving 21st-century homeowners all the bells and whistles they desire. Tour the completed home during all three days of the International Builders’ Show in February.  

About the Author


About the Author


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

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