Meet the New Prefab
The modern prefab is a hot commodity—again. But in this latest twist on the concept, popular assumptions about shelter are turned inside out. Walls fold away, corners dissolve, and rooms flow onto decks. The walk-in shower even has its own private pocket garden. Flexible spaces for work, rest, and play are illuminated by skylights and deftly placed windows. And on a beautiful day, there’s a gentle breeze nearly everywhere in the house.
The Sunset Breezehouse—a collaboration between Sunset magazine and architect Michelle Kaufmann of Oakland, California—is a warm, earth-friendly modular home that celebrates the West’s love of the outdoors. Part of the appeal lies in its factory construction, which significantly streamlines the building process. Select your design, choose your finish options (roof, siding, countertops, and flooring), and lay your foundation. The house arrives painted, with wiring, plumbing, cabinets, flooring, walls, and heating coils built in. Hook up your utilities and paint an accent wall or two. Four months after the factory takes your order, you can be sipping Prosecco in an herb garden off your kitchen.
Think of it as a Gen-X version of the 1960s Eichler home. Developed in response to the demand for more affordable architect-designed dwellings and currently available in 12 Western states and British Columbia, the Sunset Breezehouse makes good design accessible: The two-bedroom, two-bath, 1,800-square-foot version shown here costs approximately $155 per square foot, or about $279,000, not including land, foundation, site work, or shipping. It’s especially timely given that the median sales price of a single-family home in places like the San Francisco Bay Area is nearly $600,000.
With every major room opening to a deck or garden, the focus is on a modern, casual, outdoor-oriented lifestyle. The home’s simple, dramatic lines are contemporary—yet as natural as the Western landscape itself. “The idea was to offer an alternative to the inwardly focused McMansions that ignore the environment in so many ways,” says Michelle Kaufmann. “The Sunset Breezehouse really embraces the environment—both in how it’s designed and how it’s built.”