CLASSIC ARCHITECTURAL STYLES have one thing in common: Most of them travel well. At first glance, this 2,195-square-foot jewel, designed by South Coast Architects and built by R.A. Wasseman Construction, looks like the kind of Spanish-colonial revival homes that were all the rage in 1920s Santa Barbara, Calif. It's got many of the architectural touches that were so popular with that vernacular: stucco walls, roof tiles, wrought-iron details, arched doorways, and stepped-up, irregularly shaped parapet walls.

In reality, this thoroughly modern home is located in California's arid Coachella Desert, more than 200 miles from coastal Santa Barbara. And it's been designed for 21st-century buyers who want such features as a combination great room, nook, and kitchen—with a volume ceiling, of course—and a covered outdoor area that extends from both the great room and the dining room for optimal indoor/outdoor living.

The house unfolds in layers. A welcoming entry court with an adjacent casita leads to a deeply recessed front door that's accentuated with an arched opening and splayed jambs. A well-defined foyer connects to a formal dining room and ultimately to the covered outdoor area, creating strong visual symmetry. Even the back elevation, with its vigorous rooflines, ample terraces, and angular pool, has plenty of personality. By all accounts, it's a successful transplant.


Award: Grand for best single-family detached home—under 2,200 square feet (conventional lot); Builder: R.A. Wasseman Construction, La Quinta, Calif.; Developer: Vista La Quinta Partner, Santa Barbara, Calif.; Architect: South Coast Architects, Newport Beach, Calif.; Land planner: Forrest K. Haag, Laguna Beach, Calif.

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