Greetings from Southern California

Seven standouts Professional Builder toured this spring in the Inland Empire and Orange and L.A. counties

By Patrick L. O'Toole, Senior Editor | May 31, 2003

For more Southern California communities and pictures, visit


Whether they hail from the East, South, Midwest or the Rockies, most builders recognize that Southern California is where design trends start. In addition, sales there are red-hot. In just one section of the region, the Inland Empire, an estimated 27,000 new homes will be sold this year, up from approximately 17,000 in 2002.

The tally of Southern California model homes we visited this spring went like this: eight in Ventura County, nine in Los Angeles County, 31 in the Inland Empire and 18 in Orange County. Picking seven that stand out against the rest was not easy. The criteria? First, curb appeal. Second, a great floor plan. Third, overall originality in some specific aspect, be it interior design, location-based solution or architecture. Fourth was feel. Some models look good in photographs but disappoint in person. Each of the seven just felt right.



The Manors at The Oaks of Calabasas
By New Millennium Homes

Calabasas, Los Angeles County
Square Footage: 4,752 to 5,834
Price: $1,375,000 to $1,650,000
These are very well-appointed luxury production homes with options for up to six bedrooms. They feature opulent master suites, a number of study/den options, three- or four-car garages and a number of impressive outdoor courtyard spaces.
Architect: Lynn Chang Associates, Pasadena
Interior Designer: Creative Design Consultants, Costa Mesa

Comments: The number of elevation options, three per home, and the overall solid execution of these models combined with their stunning setting in the Santa Monica Mountains offer a compelling community package for families. Floor plans flow extremely well, and so does the view from the street.



Westbluff Estates at Promontory Signal Hill
By Comstock Homes

Signal Hill, Los Angeles County
Square Footage: Plan One, 2,217; Plan Two, 2,556; Plan Three, 2,764
Price: $638,000 to $670,000
These three- to five-bedroom homes offer optional master suite retreats, home offices, bonus rooms and loft spaces. Plans Two and Three offer three-car tandem garages. Plan One offers a two-car garage.
Architect: William Hezmalhalch Architects, Newport Beach
Interior Designer: Design Line Interiors Inc., San Diego

Comments: These hilltop homes, built on a former industrial site in the Long Beach area, feature breathtaking views of the Palos Verde Peninsula and San Pedro Bay. The homes have a gemlike quality. Built on narrow infill lots, the floor plans have a nice rhythm, and each home faces the views with large windows. Interiors are eclectic and comfortable at the same time.



Wild Horse Estates
By Curtis Communities

Norco, Riverside County (Inland Empire)
Square Footage: Plan One, 2,200; Plan Two, 2,480; Plan Three, 2,766; Plan Four, 3,083
Price: $394,900 to $444,900
Three of the plans offer four bedrooms. One offers five bedrooms. Large front porches. Half-acre lots accommodate up to five horses according to town zoning law.
Architect: BB & G Architect, Santa Ana Heights
Interior Designer: Model Source, Newport Beach

Comments: Norco is "Horse Town USA." Bridle paths run the length of every street, and hitching posts are everywhere in the town, which otherwise resembles suburbia. Models opened Oct. 13, and all 44 homes released have sold. Of the 14 homes that have closed, many stable horses out back. "Buyers who are from the Inland Empire have been asking for this kind of product for a decade," says Beth Wade-Walker, community sales specialist.



Canyon's Edge at Turtle Ridge
By Standard Pacific Homes

On the Irvine Ranch, Orange County
Square Footage: Plan One, 1,993; Plan Two, 2,000; Plan Two X, 2,624; Plan Three, 2,330
Price: $645,000 to $773,000
Features include an optional guest suite, a home office and an extra bedroom in lieu of formal dining space.
Architect: Bassenian Lagoni Architects, Newport Beach
Interior Designer: Design Tec, Newport Beach

Comments: A wonderful land plan allows L-shaped Plan Two to wrap around Plan One and Plan Three homes. It creates motor courts in the European tradition and frees up green spaces in front of each home.



Tuscan Farmhouse (Model 2BX) Fiore at Turtle Ridge
By Pardee Homes

On the Irvine Ranch, Orange County
Square Footage: 3,074
Price: $890,000 to $1,000,000
This home includes four bedrooms, 31/2 baths, a three-car tandem garage, an optional third-story family retreat, a casita, an entry porch, a playroom and a study.
Architect: William Hezmalhalch Architects, Newport Beach
Interior Designer: Color Design Art, Pacific Palisades

Comments: Curb appeal is the strongest aspect. The massing of the home is original and attractive and proves that Mediterranean forms provide seemingly endless variations that can be reshaped. From the articulation of the casita's solid form to the large front porch that allows outdoor living and a side entry, this design delivers pleasant surprises. Particularly impressive are the deep reveals around the windows and the special attention to large reveals.



Laurel at Quail Hill
By William Lyon Homes

On the Irvine Ranch, Orange County
Square Footages: Residence One, 1,885; Residence Two, 1,974; Residence Three, 2,037
Price: $561,990 to $598,990
Residences One and Two offer three bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths and a two-car garage, with a number of room options. Residence Three offers four bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths and a two-car garage standard, with a third car bay option on Residence Three X. It features a master suite with deck and an optional loft at bedroom two.
Architect: William Hezmalhalch Architects, Newport Beach
Interior Designer: Creative Design Consultants, Costa Mesa

Comments: Homes with rear-loaded garages that front onto a shared greenway are a trend in land-strapped Orange County. It is exemplified particularly well in the model complex of detached condominiums at Laurel. Great landscaping. Nice elevations. Inviting outdoor balconies, porches and living spaces. This is a comfortable place to hang out. By the second week of April, 33 of 43 homes released had sold since sales opened Dec. 14.



By Barratt Communities

Murietta, Riverside County (Inland Empire)
Square Footage: Plan One, 961; Plan Two, 1,016; Plan Three, 1,387
Price: $192,990 to $232,990
These blocks of attached units offer parking for one or two cars depending on the model. Plans One and Two have two bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths. Plan Three has three bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths and a two-car garage.
Architect: Starck Architecture + Planning, San Diego
Interior Designer: Madeline Young & Associates, Costa Mesa

Comments: Even though it opened 18 months ago, Montego, a townhome community from Barratt, was worth a stop because of the buzz it generated as a Gold Nugget Award winner at PCBC last year. Instead of two identically sized floors of living space above parking, Montego offers differently shaped spaces from one level to the next by overlapping and interlocking the units. Combined with interesting interior and exterior details - such as arched entryways and deep window reveals - this makes the homes feel richer and less homogenous.


For more Southern California communities and pictures, visit


Related Categories