By Nigel F. Maynard Sometimes having to work within tight constraints yields wonderful results. An example of this is the 2,170-square-foot, Craftsman-style bungalow that JBZ Architecture + Planning designed for Brookfield Homes. The house is diminutive in stature but large on living space.

The program called for a house with four bedrooms, two bathrooms, and spaces that didn't feel cramped. A tight 50-by-70-foot lot, however, left hardly enough room to turn around in, much less space for a family to live comfortably. "The lot didn't give us much to work with, so we had to make it as visually expansive as possible," says JBZ principal Don Jacobs.

The architect maximized living space by putting the stairs in the middle of the house near the dining room and the great room. "This is a non-standard stair placement, but it was more efficient," says Jacobs, adding that the configuration creates more usable space near the front door. The fireplace and a bathroom area help define the foyer and give it some sense of privacy. Moreover, from the entry visitors get an expansive view of the patio and dining area toward the back.

Photo: Jeffrey Aron Photography

Because of the small lot, a front-loaded garage was necessary, but the firm designed a cantilevered covered deck that diminishes the impact of the garage door on the street. Street-side details such as board and battens, wooden pot shelves, corbels, posts, and columns also help to draw the eye away from the door. Aimed at move-up buyers with families, the sales price of the homes ranges from $419,900 to $448,900.

Category: Production house, 2,000 to 3,000 square feet; Entrant/Architect: JBZ Architecture + Planning, Newport Beach, Calif.; Builder/Developer: Brookfield Homes, Costa Mesa, Calif.; Land Planner: RBF Consulting, Irvine, Calif.; Landscape Architect: Summers, Murphy & Partners, Dana Point, Calif.; Interior Designer: Saddleback Interiors, Corona del Mar, Calif.

Photo: Jeffrey Aron Photography

Landed Entry

"It doesn't take much to create visual interest in the entry," says architect Don Jacobs. At Farralon Ridge, JBZ designed a small entry porch that is tiny but packs quite a visual wallop, welcoming visitors and offering protection from the elements. "It draws the eye away from the garage, but it also makes the front attractive," Jacobs says. In addition, simple details, like the entry columns, add a nice touch and make a big difference on a façade.

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