THERE'S A LITTLE BIT OF THE West Indies and a touch of St. Augustine, Fla., in the design of the four homes that make up the Bougainvillea Courtyard project. But they look right at home in their well-established, Vero Beach, Fla., neighborhood, a feat that's not always easy when it comes to infill. “When you can do a series of homes rather than just a single house it really does create a sense of place, especially in an older neighborhood,” says Looney Ricks Kiss architect Mark Jones.

Exposed rafter tails, siding over stucco, side courtyards, and porches on the first and second floors help reinforce that laid back tropical feel, as does the single-width design. “Cross-ventilation and light from sometimes three different orientations is always a great benefit,” says Jones. At the same time, cool, crisp colors used on the exterior help give the homes a sophisticated edge not always found in Florida's second-home market.

Some of that sophistication comes from a restrained use of exterior details, tailored garden walls, and an abundance of mature trees. “We worked within the existing zoning in regards to setbacks, so we were able to create this planting gallery out front where the houses are set back,” notes Jones. “Normally, it's all about getting the house close to the street, but here, because the houses were pushed back to meet the existing zoning, it created this great little outdoor area in front that saved some existing trees and gave the homes a remarkable streetscape.”

But there's one feature inside that really wowed buyers—and allowed the designers to put the master bedroom on the second floor. That was an elevator, which won praise from empty-nesters and retirees. “Being able to put the master up helps creates a small footprint, which gives you more outdoor space,” says Jones. “These houses were able to adapt to a market that you would not normally see purchasing a master-up house.”

Proof that a good design—and room for an elevator—can help overcome market issues.

CATEGORY: Production/ Semi-custom, 2,000 to 3,000 square feet; ENTRANT/ARCHITECT/LAND PLANNER: Looney Ricks Kiss, Memphis, Tenn.; BUILDER/DEVELOPER/ INTERIOR DESIGNER: Mark McIntosh Construction, Vero Beach, Fla.; LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: Dix Lathrop & Associates, Longwood, Fla.

Builder Tip Ease Up Faced with the fact that Vero Beach, Fla., doesn't allow zero–lot- line construction, Looney Ricks Kiss architects were able to obtain “use easements” so that each of the four homes could have a larger, usable side courtyard. “Normally, each house has a 5- to 10-foot, side-yard setback, which ends up being a kind of a no man's land on one side,” says project architect Mark Jones. “With these easements, you give up your yard on one side, but you gain on the usable courtyard side. “Once you do that,” Jones continues, “you need to control window placements to provide a level of privacy, but, in the end, it creates a much better outdoor space.”

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Memphis, TN, Orlando, FL.