Inside The New American Home

Humble no more: the kitchen is a command center, the bathroom a spa. How homes are changing to fit our lives

I really love the idea of a beautiful foyer that opens all the way through to the back of the house," says James Atkins as he rhapsodizes about the 8,000-sq.-ft. home he is building in Folsum, La., an hour north of New Orleans. The foyer features a fountain at the center of an intricate spiral staircase. The house will have a media room, a wall-size aquarium, five bedrooms, plus all kinds of ideas that he has collected in 10 years of exploring the real estate landscape.

Atkins sounds like a decorator, but he resembles a doorway. He's 6 ft. 7...

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