It's our annual coverage of the Best in American Living Awards, featuring some of the nation's finest custom and spec-built beauties.

March 01, 2008


See a Slideshow of the 2007 BALA Award Winners

Everybody loves a winner, and in this issue we're offering 18. It's our annual coverage of the Best in American Living Awards, featuring some of the nation's finest custom and spec-built beauties. If you're looking for inspiration, you've come to the right place.

I'm sure this is not an original thought, but I'll express it anyway: the Best in American Living Awards are the Oscars of the housing industry. So many adjectives come to mind when describing the winners: dazzling, spectacular, breathtaking, dramatic, elegant, imaginative. Sometimes I want to say, "This house is just plain wild and crazy — in a good way, of course." Whimsy definitely has its place in custom-home design.

Perhaps I can tempt you to read the entire article by giving you a preview:

  • A Seattle residence of two aviators appears to be "landing" on its lakefront site.
  • A contemporary home in northern California's wine country has a bold design that hangs entirely off a central, arching spine.
  • A Montana "lodge" offers its own greenhouse and working barn.
  • An interpretation of French Normandy architecture — in Texas, no less — is such that even the French might envy.
  • A Georgian-style home in the South Carolina lowcountry was built with rich, natural materials.

And the list goes on. We showcase the best of the best from all four corners of the United States and points in between. The planning, teamwork and obsession over details that goes into creating such homes is truly impressive, and credit is duly given to all the major players.

Regretfully, though, there isn't enough space in the article to recognize the talented trade contractors who contributed to each project, so I'm taking the opportunity to congratulate these unsung heroes. Good tradespeople are hard to find, and once you find them, you want to do everything possible to keep them. Bill Lurz tackles this subject in "Keep your Trades," and our business columnist, Tom Stephani, offers his own words of wisdom.

Getting back to BALA: as hard as we've tried to do justice to the winners, you may get to the end of the story and wonder, "Is that all there is?" If that's the case, drop me a line. I'd be happy to put you in touch with the builder, architect or interior designer.

Susan Bady, 630/288-8194,

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