WHEN WESSMAN Gonzalez decided on a European flavor for this luxury community of $3 million homes, no expense was spared to get it right. The builder/developer and architect Mark Scheurer spent a week in a rented Tuscan villa in Italy, touring hill towns to scrutinize scale, materials, and detail. The effort shows. The 4,980-square-foot homes back in California are rich not only in authentic materials such as rough stone, hand-textured stucco, and wood beams, but also in their varied connections with the desert outside their doorstep.

The homes are on intimate terms with the larger environment, too. In contrast to the golf course communities that surround it, where homes must line up around a central amenity, the 11-acre former orange grove offered the opportunity to create site-specific floor plans that orient to the sun and mountain views. Rather than plotting randomly, “we picked the floor plan and elevation that fits on a specific lot,” Scheurer says. “We designed a north-facing house and a south-facing house with three or four variations each.”

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Category: Production/Semi-custom, more than 3,000 square feet; Entrant/Architect/Land planner: Scheurer Architects, Newport Beach, Calif.; Builder/Developer: Wessman Gonzales, Palm Springs, Calif.; Landscape architect: Land Concern, Santa Ana, Calif.; Interior designer: Design Tec, Newport Beach

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.