By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Good-bye boxes, hello style & character
Atherton Homes Summit Collection breaking mold
Kathy Hammons with some of the built-in features as well as the optional fireplace on the patio. - photo by DENNIS WYATT

Big for the sake of being big isn’t better.

At the dawn of the 21st century, the Manteca builder who took “big” to its grandiose big box conclusion was Seeno Homes with their Heritage Ranch neighborhood near Joshua Cowell School in East Manteca.

They literally built mammoth 4,500-square-foot rectangle boxes with little exterior architectural relief. The interior in many parts wasn’t much better especially for those who decided to have the super-sized master bedroom suites on the second floor where the bedroom had all the feel of a bowling alley thanks to having 900 square feet of space. In Japan, they could house two families in the master suite alone.

Even so, the sameness of the style and how they were all built flush to the front setback — especially along the north side of Nehemiah Avenue — seemed more reminiscent of tilt-up commercial buildings such as the Manteca Home Depot.

To the credit of a number of buyers, they have gone out of their way to add human-scale to the gargantuan homes with classy driveway improvements, landscaping, stone work on the façade and even two-tone paint jobs.

The interior space, though, leaves you with a cold hollow feeling once you remove the furniture.

The argument, of course, is that’s what people wanted.

Let’s be honest. It is what the builders could churn out making the most money on. Buyers weren’t really given many options, as new home builders in Manteca — with the exception of Florsheim Homes — have tended to have a pack mentality when it comes to basic design concepts. The only difference was the gingerbread.  The more basic and boxy you could make a big two story house, the larger the profit margin.

The game when it comes to the bigger homes found in Manteca’s new housing market is changing at least at The Summit Collection at Union Ranch.

Atherton Homes — which has built their share of huge living spaces complete with architectural shelves that are great at collecting dust — is breaking the mold.

They have shown not only can you build big two-story homes from 2,800 to 4,343 square feet with character and style but it also translates well on big one-story homes that range from 2,128 square feet to 3,011 square feet.

Atherton changes design styles

Atherton Homes is preparing to roll out four models — there are seven models available in the neighborhood just east of Del Webb at Woodbridge — that are a different take on bigger tract homes.

It starts with the four distinctive exterior architectural styles — Spanish, Italianate, California Cottage, and French Eclectic. Some models have turrets with front doors at an angle to the street. Another has a recessed private front courtyard complete with a Casitas option — separate living area complete with fireplace, bedroom, and bathroom with separate access off courtyard. Another has a deep setback on the front door with a protected front patio area with a design that puts secondary bedrooms on one side of the home and the master suite on the other.

Then there is one with a traditional flush entry along the front façade line.

Mix the model plans up and you have a neighborhood that looks more custom than production.

The interiors are designed to give a sense of roominess while still being cozy. It is done by creating a sense of warmth with recessed ceilings, recessed wall boxes perfect for paintings and other touches, deep window sill, and a number of built-in options such as bookshelves on landings that help to break up walls. The two-tone interior paint as standard goes a long way.

The 8-foot high doors enhance the sense of space throughout and not just here and there. The common areas don’t just have a fireplace and an adjoining built-in entertainment center. Instead they may have a raised hearth that sweep across two walls or one that adorns an entire wall.

You can get an outdoor built-in fireplace that is incorporated into the roofline of some models that have huge covered patios.

No longer can you film “Gone With the Wind” on staircases. Instead of dominating the first floor living area, it is tucked to one side to create a sense of scale and subtle elegance.

The options are also planned much better. There is a wine room that can actually be used as a wine room and isn’t simply a converted pantry. On one plan, if you want a tandem garage converted into a room it isn’t simply slapping on more square feet on to the family room or putting in place another wall. It is designed in such a manner that it flows into the floor plan. and can be used as a bonus room, a den or a bedroom

The garages are different. They have intentionally been designed with additional room in front of the vehicles or to the side. One model even has an area large enough for a workshop that an option package will even put in place.

They also have tossed in rear landscaping and solar energy options plus standards that few others do such as having 1-inch metal window blinds throughout. That eliminates having to come up with the money for window coverings.

The three single story plans start at $344,990 while the two stories starting at $374,990 with the largest among the base prices starting at $449,990 for a 4,157-square-foot model that can expand to 4,343 square feet. Incentives bring the price of the $344,990 base model down closer to $300,000.

The models are almost complete. The sales office is open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 2517 Edgebrook Lane. To reach the office, take Union Road north of Lathrop Road to the first traffic signal. Turn right at   signal — across from the entrance to Del Webb Woodbridge — and travel to the first left turn. (The models in front are Woodside Homes, not Atherton Homes.) Turn left and follow the signs.

The office number is 824-2081.

 Find us online at