WITH THE SIZE AND luxury quotient of the American home reaching ever-higher peaks, builders and their architects are constantly searching for that “wow” factor to bring in buyers. The magnificent courtyard in this Mediterranean-style home in The Cortile Collection at the Bridges does the job.

The courtyard serves as the focal point of a truly impressive residence. It expands on a current trend in home design to take the indoors outside with features such as a full-scale fireplace that turns this space into another living room. A loggia that wraps around three sides provides covered access from a number of rooms.

“We wanted the residence to feel like a 30-year-old Tuscan manor house that grew over time, with a courtyard of a scale and magnitude that would blow you away,” says architect David M. Kosco. Residence 3 is one of 44 estate homes at the Southern California golf community, where homes can top the $3 million mark.

On a lot nearly a half-acre, Kosco's design is a comfortable fit for the three-bedroom, 4,926-square-foot house. But one aspect of traditional Tuscan style did present one design dilemma.

“The classic manor house is two stories,” says Kosco. “We needed to maintain the authenticity of that two-story style while meeting the demands of a market that required a single-level lifestyle. There was a clash.”

The architect solved the problem by implying height: in the front with a double-height entry and guest casita; and in the rear with two-story ceiling heights in the kitchen and great room.

CATEGORY: Production/ Semi-custom, more than 3,000 square feet; ENTRANT/ARCHITECT: Bassenian/Lagoni Architects, Newport Beach, Calif.; BUILDER: Greystone Homes, A Lennar Co., Carlsbad, Calif.; DEVELOPER: HCC Investors/Lennar Communities, Carlsbad; LAND PLANNER: San Dieguito Engineering, Encinitas, Calif.; LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT: Pinnacle Design Co., Palm Desert, Calif.; INTERIOR DESIGNER: Pacific Dimensions, El Segundo, Calif.

Builder Tip Carved in Stone

One hallmark of historic Tuscan architectural style is the liberal use of stone. The architect turned to El Dorado Stone to fabricate the different types of stone required for both exteriors and interiors. Varieties ranged from the rough-hewn, bricklike stone on the façade to the smooth, refined look of stone used to trim doorways. “We took pictures of true [quarried] stone, and El Dorado made exactly what we needed, ”says architect David M. Kosco.

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