Sunday, October 16, 2011

Southern Living Showcase Home features European, green innovations

The house at 913 Dorset Drive in Nashville looks like a traditional French country home from the outside. On the inside, it blends European innovation, green technology and Southern charm to create Middle Tennessee’s newest Southern Living Showcase Home.

“People are going to enjoy seeing things they haven’t seen before,” says Alan Looney, president of Castle Homes, the custom builder selected by Southern Living magazine to build the 4,460-square-foot, $1.2 million house.

The home, off Granny White Pike near Old Hickory Boulevard, will be open for tours on select days Friday through Nov. 6.

In addition to the work of 11 of Middle Tennessee’s best-known designers, the interior has a feature that originated in Europe and is popular in the Southwestern United States but which Looney says is new in Nashville. Called a NanaWall, the entire glass wall between the main living area and the screened porch folds back, like an accordion, opening the entire downstairs to the outdoors and encouraging the homeowner to turn off the air conditioner.

“On a nice fall day, open it up and your outdoor and indoor spaces become one,” Looney says.

The porch features another innovation: a Skimstone concrete floor that is as thin as a dollar bill. The floor is finished with a Modello design that is created with stencils instead of toxic sealants and acids, says Pablo Johnson, who completed the installation for the Seattle-based Rudd Co.

“With regular (concrete treatments), you’re bringing toxins to the homeowner’s property,” he says.

'Light and airy'

When it’s time to close the NanaWall and turn on the heat, a hidden feature will save money and energy. The home features a Dual Fuel heating system. An electric heat pump provides warmth until the outside temperature drops to 40 degrees. Then the natural gas furnace switches on. Each heating system operates at temperatures where it is most efficient, Looney says.

The house also is Energy Star certified by the U.S. Department of Energy. Its green elements include LP Building Products’ TechShield radiant barrier in the roof, thorough insulation, low-flow plumbing fixtures and low-VOC paint and carpeting.

At less than 4,500 square feet, the house also gets green points for having less space to heat and cool than homes in its price range that were built just a few years ago.

“People who call today about a custom home want to downsize. Less to maintain, fewer rooms you don’t use,” Looney says.

They also want an open floor plan such as the one featured in the Southern Living Showcase Home that brings together the kitchen, dining room and main living area.

“You’re in the area you live in every day,” Looney says.