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With a goal of providing architecturally designed houses with custom amenities to a wider clientele, company takes factory-made homes to a whole new level

  • The living room and dining room in Jo and Steve Cooper's house, manufactured by Blu Homes, in Healdsburg, California on Monday, August 27, 2012. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

Whether you look at them from the street or from inside, you'd never guess they came out of a factory.

And yet the spacious, architecturally designed Blu Homes being made in a historic shipbuilding warehouse at Mare Island are elevating the look of prefab to a whole new level of sophistication.

For the past two years, Blu has been trucking its sleekly contemporary, steel-framed homes all over the country, including to Wine Country. (The name "Blu," by the way, is meant to encompass the natural colors associated with air and water, crucial elements to consider when designing sustainable, healthy homes, company spokeswoman Dana Smith said.)

In August, their Breezehouse, a variation of the celebrated Michelle Kaufmann design by the same name that rocked the architectural world a few years back, drew loads of people to the back of a Healdsburg housing development to see it set up as Sunset Magazine's 2012 "Idea House."

The four-bedroom, four-bath house with a front deck and expansive patios etched into a hillside served as a case study in what the future of factory-made could look like. And when the visitors were gone, it was put on the market by Palo Alto-based developers Jack and Rosemary Wardell for $2.6 million.

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