By Carolyn Weber. In townhouse design it's tricky to decide whether to introduce varied facades. Sometimes too many different styles can look cluttered, so the goal is variety within unity. Situated next to a river and a marina, these townhouses, designed in a maritime style, do just that. The right mix of porticos, double-decker porches, bay window designs, and alley-loaded garages create a pleasant, pedestrian-friendly streetscape.

The 2,400-square-foot, courtyard plan is unusual for this Mid-Atlantic market. Long and narrow, the townhouse has a central open area that provides private outdoor space and daylight to the middle zone of the house. "Also, the fact that it's a controlled outdoor space has attracted some families with small children," notes architect Maurice Walters.

Photo: Courtesy Tori Gallas and Partners

Upstairs, a library and the courtyard form a neutral zone that separates the master bedroom suite from the secondary bedrooms. Walters says that he took special care to scale back the eave line of the library to allow the maximum amount of light into the courtyard. Category: Townhouses, over 2,000 square feet; Entrant/Architect/Land Planner: Torti Gallas and Partners, Silver Spring, Md.; Builder/Developer: Miller and Smith, Mclean, Va.