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7 Cool Moves: Hottest Details From 2019 Pro Builder Design Awards

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Pro Builder Design Awards

7 Cool Moves: Hottest Details From 2019 Pro Builder Design Awards

Whether it’s a striking curved staircase or subtle LED lighting in the ceiling beams of a master bedroom, eye-catching design details like these can elevate a home from average to exciting

By Michele Lerner October 29, 2019
sculptural staircase design detail in a Sarasota custom home by Michael K. Walker & Associates
Michael K. Walker & Associates designed this dynamic, sculptural stair for a custom home in Sarasota, Fla. (Photo: Design Spur)
This article first appeared in the November 2019 issue of Pro Builder.

Chosen from Professional Builder’s 2019 Design Award winners, including custom and production homes, these seven cool design moves deserve a closer look, and can serve as inspiration for builders and designers who wish to create wow factors for their own projects. 


1. Form, Function, and Fun

Project: Pescador, Newport Beach, Calif. 

Architect: Brandon Architects, Costa Mesa, Calif.

Photos: Manolo Langis, Lango Works


2019 professional builder design awards details entry courtyard
In the design of this custom home, Christopher Brandon, president of Brandon Architects, considered it critical that the view behind the home be experienced upon entry. Layering landscape and building mass at the entry courtyard, he says, heightened the arrival sequence while addressing concerns for privacy in intimate areas of the home.


“The design of this courtyard epitomizes ‘form follows function.’” 

—Christopher Brandon, president, Brandon Architects



2019 professional builder design awards details stairway with Climbers sculpture
Inside the front door, visitors are met with a glass-sided, open-riser staircase barely visible from the courtyard but brought to life with “Climbers,” a whimsical wall treatment by artist Claudia Rodriguez. The floating, cast-in-place concrete wall was a major engineering feat, Brandon says, because it will need to withstand 100-year seismic and wind loads without buckling the single-pane glass that surrounds it.



2.  In-Home Glamping

Project: Greystone Point, Boerne, Texas

Architect: Craig McMahon Architects, San Antonio

Photos: Dror Baldinger FAIA | Architectural Photography


2019 professional builder design awards light construction exterior view
Using steel and wood, San Antonio architect Craig McMahon was able to design a very light construction system that minimizes the corner columns and allows for as much glass as possible. The bedroom cantilevers about 6 feet over the sloping grade, which quickly drops down another 20 feet, affording a panoramic view from the hilltop setting.


“All of our projects are site-driven.”

—Craig McMahon, president, Craig McMahon Architects 



2019 professional design awards details light construction interior bedroom
“The concept for the all-glass master bedroom focused on the idea of camping, about feeling like you are fully immersed in the view and seeing all of the property,” McMahon says.



3. Shadow Maker

Project: Prado at Cadence Park, Irvine, Calif.

Architect: Dahlin Group Architecture | Planning, Irvine

Designer: BrightView Design Group, Irvine

Photo: Applied Photography


“This Prado design has been the inspiration for other projects.” 

—Ryan White, senior associate/designer, Dahlin Group Architecture | Planning


2019 professional builder design awards details outdoor living fireplace
This clever, decorative cantilevered awning over an outdoor TV casts elegant shadows that shift throughout the day, helping to break up an otherwise blank wall, says designer Glen Sharrar, managing principal of landscape firm BrightView Design Group. The awning’s design also hides its support structure, which would have taken up valuable patio space, by concealing a supporting post, secured by a footing, in the backdrop wall. That detail was expensive, Sharrar says, but the concept can be replicated in other outdoor spaces.



4. Focal Point

Project: Shorecliff Residence, Mequon, Wis.

Architect: Racinowski Design Studio, Fox Point, Wis.

Photo: Justin Racinowski


“The mirrored glass panel is a dramatic focal point that reflects and changes with the color of the sky and adjacent lake, depending on the season and time of day.” 

—Justin Racinowski, principal, Racinowski Design Studio


2019 professional builder design awards details fireplace
This living room fireplace—intended as one of the home’s major design features—is constructed of board-formed concrete instead of more traditional brick or stone. The cantilevered concrete hearth and steel mantel provide horizontal elements that counteract the design’s verticality, says Justin Racinowski, principal of Racinowski Design Studio. The fireplace also incorporates an oversize wood-burning firebox, firewood storage, a TV, and an art feature: a 10-foot-tall mirrored glass panel with a metallic patina. 


5. Light and Texture

Project: The Magnolia at Westside Landing, Austin, Texas

Architect: DTJ Design, Boulder, Colo. 

Interior designer: Legacy DCS, Austin

Photo: Allison Cartwright, Twist Tours


“This home does a fantastic job of marrying the interior and exterior design with aged wood and stone accents inside and out.” 

—Seth Hart, senior designer, DTJ Design


2019 professional design awards detail bedroom lighting
The master bedroom ceiling drew the attention of several judges as a standout feature for this single-level home built for empty nesters. Interior designer Carrie Brewer, principal of Legacy DCS, created rustic texture by adding aged wood to the sloped, coffered ceiling, while a lighted cove illuminates the headboard wall. The ceiling slope was inspired by the vaults common in local farmhouse architecture, she says.



6. Up and Around

Project: Private residence, Casey Key, Fla.

Architect: Michael K. Walker & Associates, Sarasota, Fla.

Photo: Design Spur


2019 professional builder design awards detail sculptural staircase in Florida custom home
This sculptural staircase in a custom home designed by Sarasota builder Michael K. Walker, on one of Florida’s barrier islands, is strategically located near several entry points of the building’s 145-foot-long floor plan and connects primary living and circulation areas.


“Each wood tread and riser had to be field-templated, since each of the three flights is slightly different.” 

—Michael K. Walker, president, Michael K. Walker & Associates


2019 professional builder design awards details custom sculptural stair
The stair is constructed of formed, cast-in-place concrete done in one monolithic pour per flight from floor to floor. Its metal framing was then covered on each side with multiple layers of flexible drywall, finished with quick-setting drywall compound for the base coats and multiple layers of regular drywall compound to create a smooth surface for the sweeping curves.



7. Through Porch

Project: Coastal Farmhouse in Berry Farms, Franklin, Tenn.

Architect: Astikon Architecture + Construction, Franklin

Photo: Eric Henderson Photography


2019 professional builder design awards outdoor living porch
A narrow corner lot didn’t allow much space for outdoor living, so Astikon Architecture + Construction incorporated a covered “through” porch into the home’s floor plan, which fully opens to an uncovered outdoor kitchen (below) within a tight side yard.


“The narrow lot made it challenging to create as much outdoor living space as possible.” 

—Michael Katsaitis, former partner, Astikon Architecture + Construction


2019 professional builder design awards detail outdoor living
A 12-foot-wide sliding glass door links the porch to the dining room, while a retractable screen awning protects the open end of the porch from pests. A courtyard connects the outdoor kitchen to the front porch for a seamless flow when entertaining. 


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