NOTE: This article was updated on Tuesday, July 31, and Friday, Aug. 17, 2012.
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A partnership of casual West Coast design, sophisticated style and indoor-outdoor expansiveness, the "Idea House" will be open for
Kitty Morgan, Sunset's editor-in-chief, said the home epitomizes Sunset's design aesthetic.
"It's modern, it's all green construction with minimal waste, it's family-friendly, it's got the indoor-outdoor feel," said Morgan, speaking Thursday at a press screening at the 'Idea House.' "All of that is in the DNA of Sunset."
starting at 10 a.m. The home, which is still under construction, was Vallejo factory to a northern Healdsburg hillside.
The 3,000-square-foot home, with a 480-square-foot guest house, reflects "the Sunset lifestyle," Morgan said. Set on a sloped, three-quarters-acre lot, it will be featured in the magazine's October issue.
"It's not a 'stark-atect' that's just a status-symbol house," Morgan said. "It's a highly liveable home -- very polished, very sophisticated, yet casual -- an attainable style for our readers."
Other pluses the magazine sees with prefabs, Morgan said, are more affordable costs and quicker construction turnaround.
Also, she said the quality of construction in prefabs has increased dramatically from earlier versions seven or eight years ago.
"We had a prefab built at our magazine site in Menlo Park for our 'Idea House' in 2005," Morgan said. "But this now is not even 'Prefab 2.0' -- it's more like going from '2.0 to 4.0.'"
Healdsburg developer Rosemary Wardell partnered with Sunset and Blu Homes to build the "Idea House" using the "Breezehouse" prefab model. She said she has not yet put it on the market, but has already fielded two interested buyers.
"It's appraised for $2.65 million," said Wardell, adding that special concrete work was added in the foundation of the "Idea House." "It's all habitat land."
Wardell is also building another Blu Homes prefab next door -- that one having already been sold, she said. Interest has been keen and enthusiastic for the homes, she added.
"A man drove up in a Mercedes the other day, and I was on my bike, and we were talking, and he said to me, 'That is the most beautiful home I've ever seen,'" Wardell said of the "Idea House."
"And he hadn't yet even been inside," she added with a smile.
Wardell and her husband, both avid bicyclists, moved to Healdsburg in March because they were seeking a more relaxed lifestyle where they could do a lot of cycling, she said.
"We moved here to retire, but we aren't really retiring," she said.
Healdsburg already has two Blu Homes prefabs in place -- a and another private home. Breezehouse is the top of the line model of the Blu Homes prefabs and costs about $550,000, not including the land or the site work and utilities connections.
Including the guest house, the "Idea House" has five bedrooms -- some of which could be converted to offices -- and five baths. There is radiant heat throughout -- standard in the Blu Homes prefabs -- and high ceilings and huge windows for good ventilation and air circulation.
"We make good use of passive cooling and natural light," said Dana Smith, a Blu Homes spokeswoman. Sharon Portnoy, a Mill Valley interior designer, did the staging for the Healdsburg "Idea House" as well as designing many of the custom built-ins, such as a wine rack, fireplace and storage units.
Many of the accent items inside the home and on the decks were selected and supplied by HabitatDesign.com, which also worked on the landscaping plans.
Blu Homes bought the designs from the original Bay Area prefab designer and architect Michelle Kaufmann, who now works for Google. Sunset's original 2005 prefab, which was designed by Kaufmann, now is located in Walnut Creek, Smith said.