The Shingled Cottage
Architect: Bill Kreager, Mithun, Seattle WHEN GIVEN THE THREE buyer demographics for the New Urban Challenge, Bill Kreager immediately asked to design the house for an active adult, empty-nester buyer. With the master bedroom on the main level, he considered it a greater challenge because it reduced the options for usable outdoor space. The solution was a house wrapped around an inviting courtyard dining area.

But beyond the creative challenge was a personal attachment. Kreager and his wife, Kathie, have been married for 37 years and love to entertain. Plus they have four grown daughters, one of whom is a graduate student living at home because she can't afford a place of her own while she's in school. He literally envisioned his family in every room.

“I love the idea of a formal dining room,” he says. “First, (we) entertain casually, around the kitchen, then Kathie lights the candles and says, ‘Let's go into dinner.' It's a very conversation-focused environment. You sit there for an hour and a half after dinner and then say, ‘Let's go back and sit by the fire.' It's meant to be a comfortable place where everyone feels welcome. There is no formal stair or grand entry. It's very warm and unpretentious.”

Inspiration for the house came as Kreager spent time walking through the older neighborhoods near Baldwin Park.

“We were looking to recapture the heritage and character of Old Orlando—high ceilings, lots of windows, things you don't see in a typical spec-built home,” he says.

With the dining room that fronts the mews, a relaxing family room flooded with light, a morning room with built-in seating and cabinets, and the courtyard, the house has ample space for quality time with family and friends. The kitchen, with a curved island, serves as a core of the house. From that spot, it's easy to socialize with guests in the morning room, the living area, and the courtyard. Plus, the house is packed with window seats for snuggling with a grandchild or sitting with a book.

Flexible space is a hallmark of the design. The front room is identified on the floor plan as a dining room, but it just as easily could be used as a study, office, or hobby room. The command center off the kitchen could be converted to a butler's pantry.

David Weekley Homes' Rohde says he was thrilled to have one of the houses with the master bedroom on the main level, even though it effectively eliminated the possibility of a backyard.

“It's more cozy,” he says. “It's more oriented to the side yard than a backyard, which speaks better to the empty-nester. I do think when you walk in the home it will have a completely different feel than the other homes. This is a little more quaint.”

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