The prevailing architectural style in Rosemary Beach is “Dutch West Indies,” but the family that commissioned this 5,500-square-foot residence wanted a home blending Italian and Moroccan influences. Fortunately, the irregularly shaped lot was the biggest and farthest from the beach in the TND, which gave them some latitude to break the rules.

“We skewed more Tuscan on the outside but got away with it by keeping things simple,” says Darrell Russell, principal with Looney Ricks Kiss Architects. From the front, the house dresses appropriately for the neighborhood, with its dark stucco siding, wooden shake roof, vertical windows, and muscular shutters. In back, however, it stretches out and gets comfortable. The stucco lightens up and the roof makes a quick change to galvanized aluminum, giving the appearance of a casual villa that has been added on to over time with an eclectic blend of materials.

The site's most notable constraint—a deeply sloping lot with a 12-foot grade change—became an asset in the quest for private outdoor living space. In back, the home wraps around a terraced courtyard, pool, and gardens, with expansive windows, balconies, and loggias oriented toward the view. Moroccan flavors get their due in this secluded backyard retreat, as well as in interior spaces.

And yet secret gardens and Moorish accents aren't the only hidden surprises in this house; Old World as it may appear, it is almost entirely constructed of RASTRA, an insulated concrete form system made of 85 percent recycled post-consumer polystyrene waste. Strong enough to meet hurricane codes, the green material offers high thermal insulation, sound attenuation, and fire resistance at the same price as conventional filled concrete block.

See all 2007 Builder's Choice Award Winners

Category: Custom one-of-a-kind, 3,500 to 10,000 square feet;

Entrant/Architect: Looney Ricks Kiss Architects, Memphis, Tenn.;

Builder: Watercress, Lynn Haven, Fla.;

Land planner: DPZ & Co., Miami;

Interior designer: Dungan & Nequette, Rosemary Beach, Fla.;

Landscape architect: JDP Design Associates, Easley, S.C.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Greenville, SC.