The LA Breezehouse, a Premium Prefab Home by Blu Homes
The LA Breezehouse, a prefab home built by Blu Homes was awarded the first 2014 Dream Home of the Year by Real Simple and This Old House. The LA Breezehouse, located in Agoura Hills and set against the scenic Santa Monica mountains, is the first Blu Homes display home built in Los Angeles, providing the local LA consumer the opportunity to experience a Blu Homes premium prefab home in person. The 2300 square foot LA Breezehouse utilizes a 2013 model and epitomizes southern California living with it’s open floor plan and signature “breezespace” that runs through the center of the home. Nana doors are utilized along the front and back walls of the house and fold completely, allowing for seamless indoor/outdoor living.
Blu Homes founders Bill Haney and Maura McCarthy enlisted San Francisco interior designer Courtney Lake of Monogram Decor to design and stage the interior of the LA Breezehouse to reflect the eco-friendly, “design smart” lifestyle that makes up an increasingly growing portion of the southern California demographics. The prefab shell provided Lake with a blank canvas which he filled with furniture and art from local vendors such as HD Buttercup, Pure Photo and Agoura Antique Mart. Collectively, the space and interior design within has a unique character that reflects a personality filled with a passion for contemporary design and vintage antiques.
When I first walked into the LA Breezehouse, I had no idea what I was in for. In my mind the concept of “prefab home” carried the stigma of poor quality and no style. This was not the case with the LA Breezehouse. I sat with Bill Haney and Maura McCarthy as they explained the concept behind Blu Homes, which was started as a joint research project with RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) For those of you who are not familiar with these schools, they are among the best in their fields, and the product that was created as a result of their joint research reflects that. The Breezehouse utilizes integrated “smart” features such as the latest in home automation, iPhone-controlled lighting, a Sonos® sound system, and an electric car charger in the garage – all shipped installed in each prefab home. The homes are built to be green, and with 4 layers of insulation not only is it energy efficient – cool in the summer and warm in colder climates, but the multiple layers of insulation also keeps the indoors very quiet, with barely a sound of the outdoors to be heard unless the windows are open.
Constructed with steel beams, the Blu Homes prefab homes can handle an active climate such as heavy snow loads, and are resistant to the movement associated with seismic activity, making them a perfect choice for southern California. Each home is prefabricated in the Blu Homes 250,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility in northern California, and all plumbing fixtures, electrical wiring, home automation, lighting, sprinklers, radiant floors, glass windows and tile are installed on-site in the factory. When completed, the walls are collapsed by folding each side on top of one another, then the “mods” are loaded onto a truck to be shipped to their final destination where they are unwrapped, unfolded and assembled in about a day. In fact, from start to finish, these prefab homes go up about half as fast as a typical custom home. It is absolutely fascinating to watch the process – here’s a quick 2 minute video where you can watch the LA Breezehouse “unfold” before your eyes:
Blu Homes has grown exponentially since its launch in 2008. The demand and size of the home has gotten a little bit larger (the 2015 model is 2900 ft2 while the 2013 model is 2300 ft2), yet the prices have come down, as the manufacturing process has become more efficient. In 2013, a 2300 ft2 home cost $635,000 to build but the 2900 ft2 2015 model now costs $495,000.
The LA Breezehouse Interior
For the interior of the LA Breezehouse, designer Courtney Lake creates a hip and stylish space that is warm and inviting by incorporating warm woods, various textures, art and photography (an art medium that has gained quite a bit of momentum lately)
To make the 2300 ft2 space seem larger, Blu Homes founder Bill Haney explains that their designers think in cubic space rather than square footage. Blu Homes designs their prefab homes to maintain a relatively small footprint. How do they make their homes seem larger than they really are? Instead of building out and increasing the square footage, they increase the cubic space by building up and maximizing the volume. The space appears larger and more voluminous with the high ceilings, added glass and natural light, yet the actual footprint is smaller than it seems.
The kids bedroom has a ceiling that is lower than other rooms in the house, yet it is situated in a corner of the house that is flooded with sunlight. This enabled Lake to be fearless with his color choices and he opted to paint the ceiling a deep teal. A white pendant with gold lining hangs from the center of the room and provides the perfect pop from above. Down below, a play on stripes is going on with stripes of varying colors, sizes and direction are playing in harmony rather than fighting against each other.
The office/guest bedroom has a dash of color and whimsy set amidst the sophistication of a pair of cowhide covered chairs and a cowhide rug.
The best thing about the LA Breezehouse is that the light, windows and volume allow one to live both indoors and out simultaneously, extending the living space.
The Nana doors on each end of the “breezespace” can be opened completely, connecting the indoors to the outdoors, and the front yard to the back yard, creating the perfect setting for entertaining. Given the temperate climate in Southern California, entertaining both indoors and out can be year round.
It is hard to believe that the LA Breezehouse is only 2300 ft2, as it seemed so much larger. This goes to show that incorporating volume and the outdoors into the overall design of a home will in fact make a small space seem much larger than it actually is.
Also on the property is a 460 ft2 “casita” which can be used for a studio, office or guest room. On the LA Breezehouse property the casita is used as the Blu Homes concept space, where one can select the finishes of their home and also “walk through” different Blu Homes floor plans using 3D software and an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.
Pictured above is the interior designer of the LA Breezehouse, Courtney Lake of Monogram Decor, who happens to be an accomplished individual with many talents. Not only is he a Stanford graduate with three degrees to his name, but he also a genius in the kitchen, thanks to a stint at culinary school prior to making the switch to interior design. To top off his impressive resumé, he is also the nicest, most humble guy around so yes, he is a renaissance man.
The LA Breezehouse is open for one more weekend, September 27-28, and admission is free so don’t miss your opportunity to experience the home in person and see the result of this fascinating manufacturing process and the magic that Courtney Lake created within. To make a reservation and reserve a shuttle to the site, check out the dedicated LA Breezehouse information site.