Home & Garden

This California community is built around horses and those who love them

This two-story 4,408-square-foot home includes five bedrooms, five and a half baths, a deck off the master suite and a three-car tandem garage.
This two-story 4,408-square-foot home includes five bedrooms, five and a half baths, a deck off the master suite and a three-car tandem garage. Eric Figge Photography

If you’re a horse lover, it’s hard to envision a more tempting place to live than in a house where horses meander by while you sip your morning coffee.

When developers buy former equestrian centers with plans to build houses, the result is often the demolition of most of the barns, stables and riding areasto accommodate more houses.

At the Oaks Farms in San Juan Capistrano in Southern California, Bill Davidson, president of Davidson Communities, took the opposite approach: He preserved the equestrian center on the southern portion of the property and built 32 houses close to the center.

The houses include modern farmhouse and adobe ranch architecture. Nearly half of the houses adjoin and overlook the equestrian center, so residents can watch the daily activities of horses and riders.

The Oaks Farms equestrian training and boarding center formerly belonged to Joan Irvine Smith, who is well known in global equestrian circles and is the great-granddaughter of California pioneer James Irvine.

Davidson Communities developed a loop road in the gated residential community to preserve the coastal liveoak trees. Instead of standard street lighting, 75 oversized custom-designed lanterns hang from the trees. Retaining walls were designed to protect the roots of 12 heritage oaks, some of which are more than 100 years old.

Rock from the 20-acre property was adapted for use in stone walls, pathways and curbs, and original old barn wood and fencing were repurposed in the new houses.

The houses at Oaks Farms, which are priced starting at $1,599,900, are designed for indoor-outdoor living, with open floor plans, courtyards and covered loggias. Many of the houses have walls of glass that can be opened completely to allow for seamless transitions between the outdoors and the interior.

The houses are built of slate, adobe, brick and polished concrete, often with repurposed wood and rustic elements that nod to the equestrian past of the community.

One- and two-story houses range from 3,415 to 4,408 square feet and have as many as five bedrooms, six bathrooms and a three-car garage. The lots average approximately 10,600 square feet.

Design Line Interiors of Del Mar, Calif., created interior designs for the houses and Land Concern of Santa Ana, Calif., and SIA Landscape Architects of San Juan Capistrano were land planners and landscape architects.

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