The BUILDER - Wm. S. Marvin Hall of Fame for Design Excellence is produced by BUILDER magazine and sponsored by Marvin Windows and Doors.
The BUILDER - Wm. S. Marvin Hall of Fame for Design Excellence is produced by BUILDER magazine and sponsored by Marvin Windows and Doors.

Just because you have a truckload of bells and whistles at your disposal doesn't mean you should use all of them. Of the many design virtues extolled by the judges in this, the 25th year of the Builder's Choice Awards, the one that received heartiest praise was restraint.

This theme manifested itself in many forms, from a Craftsman bungalow that tripled in size while miraculously retaining a low profile to an array of infill projects artfully stitched into historic neighborhoods. Even a 13,000-square-foot, postmodern palace in one of Los Angeles' toniest zip codes kept things subdued with its consistent use of building materials inside and out.

bd051001128h1.jpgClick for larger image.
bd051001128h1.jpgClick for larger image.

bd051001128h1.jpgClick for larger image.
bd051001128h1.jpgClick for larger image.

As America grows more crowded by the day—and showy McMansions become increasingly non grata in established neighborhoods—the burden is on builders, developers, and architects to think hard about context and clutter before the digging starts. Good design means inspired material choices, four-sided architecture, and sound craftsmanship, certainly. But it is also increasingly about mitigating less-than-attractive features such as utility boxes, curb cuts, and even cars. Indeed, several of this year's winners demonstrated downright genius in their parking solutions.

If there's one area where home builders aren't holding back, however, it's color. Earth tones are giving way to bolder, more expressive palettes in more than a few locales, proving that diversity is the spice of life.

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