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Design Winners: Best of BALA 2019

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Award-Winning Projects

Design Winners: Best of BALA 2019

These 11 projects from the Best in American Living Awards are a road map to design details that resonate with today’s homebuyers

By Camilla McLaughlin January 9, 2020
Half Inch of Water Studios' BALA winning project: Surf Betty
In Surf Betty (shown), big open rooms balance comfortable nooks, including a rooftop deck serving the second floor. An elevated foundation is a must for new homes located on this barrier island fronting Corpus Christi, Texas.
This article first appeared in the January 2020 issue of Pro Builder.


ADDITIONAL CONTENT: This online version of the article that appeared in the January issue of Pro Builder includes additional winning projects.


Surf Betty

(Shown, above.) This unique modern design, oriented to capture prevailing breezes and ocean views, turns traditional beach design on end. The entry doubles as a shaded dining porch with operable Caribbean-style screens that can provide protection during hurricane season. Both ends of the home open to admit balmy breezes and to also engage an adjacent master patio complete with a swimming area.   


Port Aransas, Texas

Builder and architect: Half Inch of Water Studios, Fredericksburg, Texas

Photographer: Craig McMahon




The Magnolia House 

The master bathroom of this farmhouse on a former orchard in Phoenix showcases the sophisticated interplay of authentic materials and refined elements. In the bathroom, the arrangement of sinks, and mirrors installed to wrap the corner, hint at other innovative design solutions found elsewhere in the house. 



Builder: Rafterhouse, Phoenix

Architect: Drewett Works, Scottsdale, Ariz. 

Interior designer: Rafterhouse 

Photographer: ProVisuals Media


Magnolia House BALA winner
The bathroom continues a design approach adopted throughout the rest of the home: using the contrast of stark white—on walls and other surfaces—to transform wood beams, limestone, and mill-scale steel into artful architectural elements.



Glamping Along the Lampasas 

Wood, native limestone, steel, and corrugated metal may not be the most exotic materials, but their application and detailing, such as exposing the underside of the metal roof on overhangs, help express the architect’s design intent, which was to create the feel of a camping retreat for the owners and guests on this 5-acre lot along the Lampasas River. 


Belton, Texas 

Builder: MF Construction, Belton

Architects: Craig McMahon Architects, San Antonio

Photographer: Dror Baldinger, FAIA


Glamping Along the Lampasas BALA winner
The home sits grounded upon approach, with Hill Country limestone and siding details recalling historic Texas ranches. Wide porches on both sides connect the main living areas to the surrounding landscape.





Kiawah River Butterfly Cottage 

The home’s elevation draws directly from the region’s beloved vernacular, delivering a streamlined interpretation of the Lowcountry aesthetic. Beginning with a deep, wraparound front porch, a sense of ease and graciousness pervades this home inside and out.


St. John’s Island, S.C. 

Builder: Saussy Burbank, Raleigh, N.C. 

Architect: Julia Star Sanford, Jacksonville Beach, Fla.

Interior designer: McLaurin Parker, Charleston, S.C. 

Photographer: Julia Lynn Photography


Kiawah River Butterfly Cottage BALA winner
This cottage achieves luxury at a purposeful scale by optimizing square footage and layering high-end details, refined finishes, and commercial-grade appliances to create an authentic upscale ambience without being overdone or stodgy.




The Verge House 

Designed to deconstruct boundaries between inside and outside, this daring ultra-custom home also upends traditional distinctions between rooms and floors. Retractable glass walls open living room, dining room, and kitchen to an interior courtyard and acrylic pool. Other levels integrate outdoor spaces in unconventional ways, including a cantilevered second-floor lap pool. An oculus in the roof (shown) bathes the home’s upper level in natural light. 


Coronado, Calif.  

Builder: Hill Construction, San Diego

Architect: Crossman Architecture, Coronado, Calif. 

Interior designer: Estudio Frisch, San Diego

Photographer: Brady Architectural Photography


The Verge House BALA winner
A second-floor master suite wraps around a stand of bamboo that extends through the roof’s oval oculus. This shared outdoor deck leads directly to roof gardens and a covered lounge area and spa.



41 Mariposa Parkway E 

The home’s spacious main living areas are oriented to take full advantage of far-reaching Hill Country panoramas and are offset by right-sized spaces such as the pantry (above), office, and wine room.


Boerne, Texas 

Builder: Garner Custom Homes, Boerne

Architect: J Terrian Designs, Boerne 

Interior designer: Class, Covers & Color, San Antonio 

Photographer: Blue Bruin Photography


41 Mariposa Parkway E BALA winner
Out of sight but easily accessible, a large pantry tucked behind the home’s kitchen provides space- and cost-efficient storage, such as open shelves served by a rolling ladder, and keeps small appliances from cluttering the kitchen counter.



Trend at Novel Park 

Creative design orients these two- and three-level paired homes for a range of buyers including move-up families. Homes are attached at garage walls, eliminating shared interior walls and allowing for extensive windows on each level. Ground-level patios and covered decks on the upper floor enhance livability and create an overall experience very much like a single-family detached home.


Irvine, Calif.

Builder: William Lyon Homes, Newport Beach, Calif. 

Architect: Dahlin Group Architecture Planning, Pleasanton, Calif. 

Interior designer: Chameleon Design, Costa Mesa, Calif. 

Photographer: Tsutsumida Pictures


Trend at Novel Park BALA winner
Vibrant colors and varied materials help break up the exterior’s massing and provide individual residences with a unique identity. The basic off-white sections of the building set off the colors and create continuity. Covered outdoor rooms on the third floor are a dynamic addition, enhancing livability and admitting natural light.




Challenging the status quo, the Ranger collection at Avance brings a new contemporary style to the Phoenix market. Sited to showcase stellar sunsets and views of the Phoenix skyline, the homes deliver big impact in a relatively small backyard footprint, featuring several outdoor spaces, both open-air and covered, for lounging, dining, or stargazing.



Builder: Maracay Homes, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Architect: Hans Anderle, Bassenian Lagoni Architects, Newport Beach, Calif.

Interior designer: Bobby Berk, Los Angeles 

Photographer: Mark Boisclair Photography


Avance BALA winner
The Ranger neighborhood features four of the 12 modern floor plans designed for the community adjacent to South Mountain Park and Preserve, one of the nation’s largest municipal parks.




A small footprint and the requirement to accommodate 10-plus overnight guests demanded a compact yet versatile plan. An extra-wide hallway at the top of the home’s stair tower was roomy enough for two pairs of bunk beds (above and glimpsed at left), now an in-demand hideaway.  


Douglas, Mich. 

Builder: David Olsen Builder, Holland, Mich. 

Architect: Visbeen Architects, East Grand Rapids, Mich.

Photographer: M-Buck Studio


Amory BALA winner
The floor plan conjured several transitional spaces, such as a dining room positioned on a raised stair landing, and flexible-use rooms, with a den that easily converts to a guest room.



81 Crain Square 

Past is present in this modern interpretation of traditional southern architecture. Inspired by America’s traditional squares, Crain Square occupies an infill site with a significant portion devoted to open space. Ample square footage distributed among four levels and outdoor living, including rooftop terraces, ensure broad appeal to downsizers as well as young families. 



Builder: CSBC Partners Andy Suman and Chad Muir, Houston  

Architect: Anderson Canyon Design + Planning, Houston  

Interior designer: Allie Wood Design Studio, New York/Houston 

Photographer: Rob Muir Photography 


Crain Square BALA winner
Upscale amenities such as a shared party bar between the living and dining rooms enhance function. Tall windows and doors open to the green space and reflect ties to historical styles.



The Enclave at Seven Canyons 

A striking transitional elevation leads to equally stunning interiors in these exclusive townhomes offering breathtaking red rock views, exceptional privacy, and a prime location adjacent to some of the most scenic holes on the Seven Canyons course. Homes are designed to be a personal sanctuary, with indulgent master baths for upscale pampering, floor-to-ceiling views, and open-concept plans.


Sedona, Ariz.

Builder: Dorn Homes, Prescott, Ariz.

Architect: PHX Architecture, Phoenix

Photographer: INCKX Photography


Enclave at 7 Canyons BALA winner
Basic geometric forms and stone cladding bring elegance to this simple transitional expression. Homes are connected with only a shared wall at the front of the garages. The street-front entry offers a tantalizing preview of dynamic views offered by the home.



See which projects are previous BALA winners


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