By Carolyn Weber "Wow, what a cool bachelor pad!" exclaimed one of the Builder's Choice judges when he saw the über hip carriage house by the sea at Sailhouse. The 1,367-square-foot plan is the smallest component of the 7.4-acre, 90-unit infill community that includes duplexes and single-family detached homes. "The design was driven by the density requirement, which we couldn't achieve with just single-family," says designing architect Steven Senikoff.

The carriage house creates a triplex by straddling the rear garages of a duplex. From the back, the complex has the same massing and scale that it does in the front and looks like two separate units. "We divided the mass so that the living area is over one townhome garage and the bedrooms over the other garages," Senikoff says. Bridging the gap is a floating deck over an open courtyard. The carriage house has a ground-level entry with direct access to a single-car garage. The city required at least one covered parking space; homeowners get a second space across the street.

Inside, the home's hipped roof creates memorable ceilings in the great room where the sturdy structural wood trusses become part of the interior design. The great room is contemporary and dramatic with high ceilings, fine finishes, and a cool lighting scheme. "Some have said it almost feels like a church space," notes Senikoff. A cantilevered corner pop out with windows all around creates a memorable sitting bay.

Photo: Eric Figge Photography

The beachy exterior, with heavy stucco, board and batten, and deep overhangs with brackets, was inspired by Senikoff's trip to Rosemary Beach, a neo-traditional community in the Florida panhandle that was itself inspired by the architecture of St. Augustine and the West Indies. An earthy color palette designed by color consultant Miriam Tate reinforces the beach theme. Although the carriage house unit was designed primarily to meet the community's density requirement, the units, which started at $500,000, also broadened the product mix and market appeal of Sailhouse. Aimed at singles without kids who want a convenient, low-maintenance lifestyle, the units were the first to sell out in the community.

Photo: Eric Figge Photography

Category: Townhouses, less than 2,000 square feet; Entrant/Architect/Land Planner: Scheurer Architects, Newport Beach, Calif.; Builder/Developer: John Laing Homes, Newport Beach; Landscape Architect: The Collaborative West, San Clemente, Calif.; Interior Designer: Creative Design Consultants, Costa Mesa, Calif.

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