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Trendspotting at The 2018 New American Home:

I recently toured The 2018 New American Home, the official show home of the NAHB International Builders’ Show known as IBS held in Orlando, Florida. I was joined by interior designer Kate Clarke, President of Homes Reimagined, who decorated the home and specified many of its architectural features. 

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The New American Home in Bella Collina, Monteverde, Florida photo credit: Jeff Davis Photography

Located in Bella Collina in town of Monteverde, about 20 minutes from downtown Orlando, the 6,662 square-foot home sits on a ridge overlooking Lake Apopka with sweeping vistas of rolling terrain that melt into the horizon. The 3.975-million-dollar show home was built by Legacy Custom Built Homes and introduces an updated, streamlined interpretation of Tuscan architecture to this country club community. Here are the top trend takeaways for a look at what’s new and next in home decor and spatial design.

Garages that Double As Saferooms:

photo credit: Jeff Davis Photography

The garage has always been a multitasking space in the home often serving as a dumping ground for household excess, a game room, hobby shop, or man cave. Now the place we park our cars provides a safe haven in the home. Luxury garages outfitted with air conditioned storage space are designed to double as a safe room with reinforced walls. High-end garages also pay attention to design details such as hidden and drywalled motorized tracks for garage doors.

Stackable Washer & Dryers:

photo credit: Jeff Davis Photography

Large capacity washers and dryers now come in stackable models offering a space saving option to those side by side models. This is new innovation in laundry room design takes cues from urban spaces such as small apartments where space is limited. Until now, stackable washers and dryers only came in small capacity units but this latest design trend gives you the power of large capacity with more space efficiency.

Modern Barn Door Hardware:

photo credit: Jeff Davis Photography

Barn doors remain popular design elements in the home from master closets to laundry room and office doors, popular for their space saving slide, side-to-side hardware rather than doors that require a wide berth to swing out.  


As style trends more towards modern and contemporary looks, the rustic barn doors are falling out favor for sleeker barn doors with modern hardware.


A great example is this clean barn door track without the typical wheels by Hafele that updates the look of the sliding door.

Space within a Space:

photo credit: Jeff Davis Photography

There was a lot of buzz at the 2018 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show about this concept of a space within a space in kitchen design. The layout is gaining traction as an alternative to the ubiquitous open plan kitchens dominating today’s floorplans. Envision a cut-out wall that overlooks the dining and family room and that is your “space within a space.”  It’s open yet separate. Interior Designer Kate Clarke designed this kitchen and calls it a “pass-through,” where the cook can hand over the dishes through to the dining room.

Pendant Clusters:

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photo credit: Jeff Davis Photography

This is a huge design trend in lighting that groups together pendants or light fixtures at various heights and often in various sizes and shapes. The pendant cluster is an updated alternative to the single light fixture such as the chandelier. Progress Lighting provided all of the light fixtures in The New American Home with several installations as pendant clusters such as the foyer and stairway. In the foyer, Clarke notes that the pendants are sold individually and purchased nine and attached them to an anchoring plate to create the cluster lights. Also worth noting is the popularity of hanging pendants everywhere from the bathroom to the bedside.

photo credit: Jeff Davis Photography


Bathroom Divider Walls:

photo credit: Jeff Davis Photography

As Clarke notes, “No one likes to see a toilet when they enter a space.” As a design solution, in each bathroom of The New American Home, Clarke designed divider walls to hide the toilet, keeps it separate from the sink, and provide storage and shelving.

BathroomDividerWall 1
photo credit: Jeff Davis Photography

In this powder room, the separation wall provides storage for towels on one side and toiletries on the other side. Expect to see a lot more of these feature walls in the powder bath as it gains priority in the overall aesthetics of the home.

Free Hanging Closets:


Closet design is evolving to become more flexible acknowledge that people’s storage needs change over a lifetime. Free hanging closets with adjustable shelving are a great design solution allowing you to switch up the configuration to suit your changing wardrobe needs.

Wine Room Under Stairs:

photo credit: Jeff Davis Photography

In The New American Home, a wine bar resides just off the entry, tucked under the floating, glass panel staircase. The wine tasting space is outfitted with a tasting table, Thermador wine refrigerators and refrigerator and freezer drawers. This creative use of space takes the wine room out of hiding in the basement or bar area puts it in the main living area of the home as a design element.

Read the full article that I wrote about my tour of The 2018 New American Home published in the magazine Interior Appeal by clicking here

For more on what’s new and next in design, subscribe to The Design Tourist Channel and sign up for the blog email.


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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a freelance writer living in Orlando, Florida with many published bylines in magazines, newspapers, and multimedia sites. As a professional lifestyle writer, Karen specializes in art, architecture, design, home interiors and personality profiles. Karen is the writer, producer and host of the streaming series, The Design Tourist ( that brings viewers a global dose of design inspiration with episodes featuring the latest looks and trends from the world’s premiere design events and shows. She also publishes a quarterly magazine on design travel that you can read by clicking the link: Her journalism background includes seven years on-air experience as a TV news reporter and anchor covering a range of issues from education to politics. Her educational credentials include a Master of Arts in Mass Communications from Northeast Louisiana University and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Louisiana State University. Throughout her career, Karen has written and produced dozens of documentaries and videos for educational, commercial, corporate, and governmental clients and appeared in many TV and video productions as a professional host.

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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a travel host and writer with a popular travel show, The Design Tourist, and a companion lifestyle blog. As a widely published travel journalist and content creator, Karen is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association. She also serves as the Design and Travel editor of the national lifestyle magazine, LaPalme. Karen believes that every destination has a story to tell through its local art, architecture, culture, and craft. This immersive creative exploration begins with authentic accommodations where the narrative of place unfolds through art, accessories, accouterments, furnishings, fixtures, and food. 

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