Some years ago, soothsayers predicted that by the end of this century the American home would be as sleek as a spaceship. Robots would do the housework and computers would fix the morning coffee.
While such technology is possible, nobody asked consumers what they wanted. Recently, three women - an editor, an architect and an interior designer - did. The result is House Beautiful magazine's "House of the '90s."Editor in Chief JoAnn Barwick consulted professional architects, designers and the magazine's readers, and their wishes came through "clear and strong," according to Barwick.
They did not long for a high-tech "machine for living" with computerized gadgets. The qualities they did want include "comfort and tradition, combined with the best of relaxed modern conveniences in a family home that expresses personal style."
Built in association with the American Wood Council, the "House of the '90s" will be on display during the National Association of Home Builders convention in Atlanta Friday through Jan. 21 (Jan. 18-21). The house was built by John Wieland Homes on a riverside site. It is featured as House Beautiful's cover story in the February issue.
The finished project reflects a collaboration among Barwick, architect Melanie Taylor of New Haven, Conn., and Atlanta interior designer Nancy Braithwaite. Taylor was chosen because she could design a traditional wood house with touches of 19th Century romantic architecture, and Braithwaite because of her ability to create a setting with personality rather than a generic showcase house.
Barwick, who was involved with the architect and designer in every aspect of the project, says: "It's no surprise that women know what women want."
Here's a tour of this wish-list house:
- The big family kitchen is divided into two distinct areas - one for cooking, the other for food preparation and family snacks. Cooking is made easy by the latest conveniences, such as an oven combining microwave, convection and radiant broiling.
Family and friends can perch on stools around the central island counter for informal meals. Traditional glass-dooredwooden cabinets display prized tableware collections while gleaming copper pots inspire the cook.
- Indoor-outdoor living spaces expand the house, exploiting every moment of gentle weather by day or night. The architect provided old-fashioned touches such as porches and columns, a shady pergola and a sun-filled conservatory opening off the dining room. In the loggia, wood rockers and iron chairs recall leisurely days of the past.
- The romantic bedroom, not just for sleeping, is a retreat for sitting, reading or simply enjoying the view. "It's like a tree house," Taylor said.
A comfortable sofa, armchairs and a tea table furnish a sitting area that overlooks the river, seen across a narrow balcony. One of the most-wanted furnishings in today's dream house is a canopy bed. In the master bedroom the designer used an airy iron bedstead from Baker, manufacturer of all the reproduction furniture in the house. Hand-painted stripes in tones of yellow decorate the walls, while linen accents complete the room's peaceful pared-down palette.
- The master bath includes a large raised whirlpool tub and a built-in steam shower within surroundings that invoke cool relaxation. Comforts planned for two people turn the private retreat into a mini-spa, while collections of apothecary jars and humidity-loving plants add a personal touch.
House Beautiful readers emphasized that a luxurious bath remains an essential part of today's busy life style.
- Relaxed living and dining rooms rank high on the wish list. As designer Braithwaite put it, "There's no room in our lives for rooms that are not used."