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Casitas come in all sizes

“Casita” means different things to different people.

For some, the word evokes the image of an extra bedroom, a bonus room, a home office or a personal gym with its own entrance separate from the main home. Others may picture a fully outfitted hotel suitelike space perfect for a family member, roommate or holiday visitors.

Yet others think of its translation: “small home.” The term “small” is subjective, determined by the eye of the beholder and relative to the size of the nearby main house.

Often the bigger the home, the bigger the casita. And the bigger the casita, the more potential uses.

“Casitas are definitely popular among today’s homeowners, and each has their own reasons for why they want to have one,” Rob Jensen, broker/president of the Rob Jensen Co., said.

“Sometimes people use their casita for a parent, an in-law or a nanny who lives with them,” Jensen said. “Some people use it as a separate mini pool house or a gym. And some use it as an office so that when people come by they don’t have to come into the main house. Sometimes people like having casitas as a place for their guests to stay so they can come and go as they please.”

One of the most unique casita uses he’s seen was one used to house a client’s bulldogs.

“Casitas can be used however you want and they can be made state-of-the-art,” Jensen said. “You can make a casita into whatever you choose to make it.”

Let Me Entertain You

Finding a home with a casita is not as easy as clicking the word “casita” on realtor.com because that search button does not yet exist. It may require the know-how and time to decipher property listings. Among those who specifically sought out a casita during her home search was Diane Wilfong.

“The casita and the outdoor living area is what sold us on this house,” Wilfong said of the 4,248-square-foot residence on American River Lane that she bought in the guard-gated Willow Creek in Summerlin in 2009 and plans to list for sale in January for nearly $1.3 million.

Wilfong’s 423-square-foot casita features a Murphy bed, fireplace, a little refrigerator, ¾ bath with steam shower and radiant heated floors. Its sliding glass pocket doors, television with surround sound and poolside proximity make it ideal for entertaining as a “pool house.”

“We just love the indoor and outdoor entertainment options that the casita provides, and it really opens the backyard while entertaining,” she said. “If we have big party, it basically becomes an indoor and outdoor entertainment area by opening up the pocket doors to the pool deck. And with its large TV and surround sound, it becomes an all-around entertainment room.”

Opening their “small house” to grand-scale entertaining are Dr. Eric Moskow and Regina Lynch, who welcomed more than 200 guests to their secondary home’s backyard entertaining space as hosts of Habitat for Humanity’s “Home for the Holidays” fundraiser Nov. 20.

Their guest house (which according to the Clark County assessor’s website measures 4,598 square feet) has its own address on Skybird Court in The Ridges as steps lead up to their main residence on Hawk Ridge Drive, which encompasses almost 8,990 square feet. Moskow and Lynch bought their home in August from Howard Lederer, a professional poker player who is connected to the defunct Full Tilt Poker website.

Among the many features of the guest home is a “poker room” complete with a poker table, big-screen TV and bar area. During the fundraiser, Moskow said he hosts poker games in the room, adding that hours of poker lessons with the former owner were included in the sales contract.

During the fundraiser, the large glass doors to this “poker room” were opened to the pool deck, giving guests indoor space to socialize over cocktails. Guests also mingled and sampled hors d’oeuvres in a great room that housed a pool table and smaller kitchen, and they enjoyed poolside entertainment, a silent auction and live auction. The event raised more than $175,000 for the nonprofit organization, which has served 98 valley families since 1991.

Casitas Meet Multigenerational Families’ Needs

The design of casitas often make them viable additional bedroom suites with extra privacy because of their separate entrance. This appeals to multigenerational families.

Family was on the mind of Stephen and Pamela Groat when they built their 8,293-square-foot residence on Ayden Drive within Anthem Country Club in 2005.

“We built our home from scratch, and actually we originally built the casita for my mother,” Pamela Groat said of their 1,170-square-foot, two-story casita. “The lower level has a living space with a convenience center, a bedroom with a walk-in closet, an on-suite bathroom, and its own entry.

“We redid the decorating part and now we use the first floor of the casita as a guest room, a pool house and an area to relax,” she added. “The upstairs is an office, which can be used as a bedroom as well. A terrace connects it to the main house, and it has an outside stairway as well.”

Using her design experience as the owner of PJ Designs, Pamela Groat incorporated many of the finishes found in the main residence, which is listed for sale for nearly $3.4 million; these include extensive built-ins, shutters and travertine flooring.

“Our casita really does work well as a mother-in-law suite or as another bedroom for a teenager, adult child or a nanny,” Pamela Groat said. “There were a lot of different things that we had in mind when we designed it. Having said that, we made it a universal bedroom in that it has a walk-in level tub and shower enclosure, and I put brass rails in the bedroom making it more versatile.”

Buying a home with a casita was also important to Kristen Routh-Silberman as she wanted her uncle, Kent Routh, to be able to live near her family.

“I remodeled the casita specifically for my uncle, who is my most favorite person in the world,” she said. “He is so funny and so well-read and he is the perfect person to have at a dinner party. I have a really small family and both of my parents died, so I really wanted my children to be around him.”

Her 500-square-foot casita is part of a 2½-acre ranch that she bought earlier this year in Calico Basin. Its remodeling included a 300-square-foot wraparound deck, use of reclaimed wood and a corrugated iron roof. Roth’s casita home also includes a living area, bathroom, vaulted ceilings with wood beams and a wood floor. Original aspects — a wood-burning stove and a TV antenna — provide exterior design touches.

In the Shadows of Luxury High-Rise Living at one QueensRidge

Casitas are not limited to single-family homes on large lots. A few can be found in the shadows of One Queensridge Place.

This Summerlin high-rise development has casitas on the property’s grounds. Six are privately owned and included with select residences; three additional villas can be reserved by residents for their guests.

The opportunity to buy a casita with a luxury high-rise residence appeals to some buyers, said Randy Char, vice president of operations at One Queensridge Place and president of Char Luxury Real Estate.

“We recently sold a unit for $2.5 million that featured almost 3,000 square feet inside their home, a 4,000-square-foot patio terrace, and a 1,000-square-foot detached casita,” Char said. “The casita features a full bedroom, a living area and a kitchen, and it is truly another little house.”

“The reason why the owners loved this residence (is that they had lived) in a very large home in Texas and wanted the exclusivity of living in a tower, but they liked also having a guest house and the large outdoor living area. This is the right residence for them.”

Also, all residents of the high-rise have exclusive access to three onsite villas that feature a living room, bedroom and kitchen.

“Let’s say that as an owner you have an overflow of guests for the holidays,” Char said, “You do not need send them to a hotel because as a resident you can lease the casita out for them so that they can still stay on property. They are exclusively for residents and it is one of the many privileges for our owners.”

There is no one blueprint for casita design or usage, and they can even be found in the shadows of a high-rise. Casitas can indeed meet the functions of a “small house” with its use limited only by one’s imagination.

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