Subdivision Style Trend: Transitional Modern!

By Boyce Thompson

A row of new houses at Laureate Park near Orlando showcases what could be called a Transitional Modern approach.

Laureate Park Takes Visitors on a Refreshing Ride

Many architects make the pilgrimage to their annual AIA conference to tour inspiring, sometime iconic buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. High-end architecture dominates. But at this year’s show in Orlando a new community of inexpensive production homes, with prices starting in the mid-200,000s, snuck onto the touring agenda. Laureate Park, located within the Lake Nona masterplan southeast of the city, is one of handful of new communities that emphasize so-called transitional architecture. The style combines traditional building forms with modern materials and floor plans. It produces a refreshing, sometimes whimsical take on familiar forms. Some people find that less jarring than the stark geometric forms that are integral to modern home design.

Transitional design has quickly become an established part of one-off custom and house plan designs. But it’s stunning, and educational, to see an entire community of homes done in this style. Unusual architecture gives Laureate Park a unique and quirky personality that sets it well apart from other Orlando neighborhoods. It may not be for everyone. But touring it presents at least six lessons that could make nearly any home more interesting, and ultimately more satisfying.

Make Wise Use of Color
The first thing visitors notice is the use of complementary and contrasting colors on many homes. Color is used creatively to accentuate building forms — porches, bump outs, even entire stories. Color bands make off-the-shelf windows in standard sizes seem more special. Colorful front doors add punch to many elevations. Color schemes individualize homes even when similar houses are built side by side. Color is an inexpensive way to individualize a home. But using it effectively often requires the assistance of a color design expert.

Pull from a Fresh Bag of Material
The homes at Laureate Park use a host of modern materials — especially steel, engineered wood, and synthetic siding — to give traditional cottages, bungalows, and townhomes a fresh appearance. An

unexpected steel I-beam greets visitors at the front porch of one Ashton Wood model. A curved steel balcony railing defines the exterior of another house. Engineered wood studs and steel mesh combine to create a front porch lattice network. The added benefit of many of these unusual materials is that they require less maintenance than the wood they replace.

Oversize Details to Make an Impact
Many home designs exaggerate details to emphasize their character. Oversized porch columns and

overhangs are one example. It’s clear that the many porch columns, while creative, aren’t decorative – they hold up the roof. Many homes feature simple, deep eaves accentuated with large brackets. Large vertical windows reinforce the vertical orientation of one home. Horizontal awnings above windows and doors emphasize the horizontal aspect of another. By the same token, simplifying details focuses attention on them. That’s true of the many undivided lites on windows and doors. Transitional elements add whimsy, animation, sometimes even humor to the home designs.

Connect Exterior and Interior Spaces
Nearly all the homes feature interior spaces that flow easily into back porches, courtyards, and balconies.
French doors in one David Weekley model connect the family room to an outdoor living room area replete with a fire pit, barbecue grill, and splash pool. In one Craft Home’s model, garage doors in the great room

open to an interior courtyard. Second-floor balconies on either side look down into this ultimate party space.

A family room on the second floor leads to a large porch, not unlike one you might get on an urban townhome, with expansive views of most of the community.

Bring Exterior Details Inside
Many of the homes repeat key exterior details inside the home. Corrugated metal adorns both the roof and interior walls. Metal grid railings used on a porch balcony reappear in the interior stair railing. Synthetic surfaces or concrete block serve as exterior cladding and interior walls. Industrial specs inside the home such as gooseneck lighting, metal rod brackets, or exposed steel beams pick up on a theme established by the exterior. 

Living walls, indoor herb gardens, and light-infusing glass garage doors literally bring the outside in.

Design for Modern Living
If the homes here feature familiar forms, they incorporate the latest technology. The community features very high-speed (1 gigabyte) fiber-optic Internet access. The homes consume 20 percent less energy and water than building codes require, though some do much better than that. Craft Homes offers unusual health and wellness features that include hypoallergenic carpets and air and water purifiers. The community itself features pocket parks, miles of trails, and access to a resort-style Aquatic Center.

Examples of Transitional style on Houseplans are shown here,  clockwise from top left: Plan 497-21; Plan 132-225; Plan 23-2308; and Plan 909-3.

Browse a collection of Transitional style plans here.

Boyce is the author of The New New Home, from Taunton.      

Tue May 02 00:00:00 PDT 2017