Who says compact can't be terrific? With its comforting front porch and shingled dormers, Plan 2 at Acacia looks like something from the set of “Leave It to Beaver.” Cute as it is, though, there's nothing retro about this 2,866-square-foot home, designed by Dahlin Group and part of a collection of four family-friendly architectural styles (Craftsman, traditional, Mission, and cottage) at Mountain House, an ambitious 5,000-acre project that's exploding just 60 miles east of San Francisco. This alley-loaded sentimental favorite, built by Centex Homes and expertly sited on a modest 4,500-square-foot lot, is as modern as they come.

Beyond that irresistible front porch, a generous entry opens on to a library/optional fourth bedroom (with full bath) to the left and a living room and dining room to the right. Straight ahead there's a short run to the guts of the first floor, an open kitchen, volume nook, and family room that all take advantage of the sunlight that pours in from a sizeable outdoor courtyard. Upstairs are two secondary bedrooms with a hall bath, a spacious loft area, and a window-filled master suite. In back, above the two-car garage, comes the icing on the cake: a nifty little granny unit that would be perfect as a bonus space for a large family, private quarters for an older child, or even a granny.

Award: PROJECT Grand for best single-family detached home—2,300 square feet and over (small lot)

Builder/Developer: Centex Homes–San Ramon division, San Ramon, Calif.

Architect: Dahlin Group Architecture Planning, Pleasanton, Calif.

Land planner: Carlson, Barbee & Gibson, San Ramon

Learn more about markets featured in this article: San Francisco, CA.