IT'S NOT UNUSUAL FOR BUILDERS TO PUT UP HOUSES THAT carry out a theme, but it can be a tricky design challenge. Get all the details just right, and you've got a winner. Miss the mark, and you could end up with an exaggerated design that looks out of place in its surroundings.

Each of the three custom homes on these pages got it right—and all came away as award winners. Eureka!, a mining-inspired custom beauty in Erie, Colo., swept the awards given out at Denver's recent Parade of Homes. And, along the Connecticut River, a home executed with the Gothic-Revival movement in mind garnered the Alice Washburn Award, given out each year by AIA Connecticut and Connecticut Magazine. Down in the Florida panhandle, a quirky beach cottage that relied on humble building materials for its charm snapped up an Aurora Award for interior detailing.

GRAND ENTRANCE: Gutsy stonework, heavy-duty wood details, and touches of iron are clues to Eureka!'s mining-inspired theme.
GRAND ENTRANCE: Gutsy stonework, heavy-duty wood details, and touches of iron are clues to Eureka!'s mining-inspired theme.

Mining for Gold No Worries Going Gothic