Los Angeles

"Finding a house in L.A. is a nightmare," says Adam Berger, CEO of WeddingChannel.com, a $30 million company that operates the largest bridal registry on the Internet. When he and his wife, Susan, moved west from Philadelphia in 1999 for Berger to join the company, they spent four months house hunting in an impossibly tight real estate market. "On the way to my nephew's bris, we noticed an escrow sign had been taken off a house that was for sale," says Berger. They left the bris early and bought the house, mainly for its tree-lined property. Then they hired architect Trevor Abramson, whose name they found by knocking on doors of homes they liked, and worked on plans with him for more than a year before bulldozing the house. With a $997,000 budget, Berger's overall design request for the new five-bedroom contemporary house was "to bring the outside in"--hence the oversize custom windows and a 15- by 10-foot central skylight that bathes the house in natural light.

The Shape
"It's built like a prism, so it catches the light from every angle. In the day, the house is flooded with natural light. At night, it glows from the inside out."

The Entertainment Center
"The built-in storage was designed around a big-screen TV and speaker system. The idea was that I don't want to ever see anything. I want every DVD and remote put away in its place."

The Kitchen
"The countertops were a battle. The cost of poured concrete was ungodly. My wife found Caesarstone, which looks like granite but has a finer finish and is easy to clean."

The Materials
"The exterior of the house is stucco that's been troweled smooth to look like cement. I wanted a monochromatic look. The stucco helps the house look more natural and earthy."

The Windows
"We spent at least $40,000 on the windows alone. The front of the house is designed to make the roof appear to float."

The Furniture
"In Philadelphia, we had all of this contemporary furniture in a French Colonial house. Now we have a house that actually goes with our furniture."

The Storage
"I'm a clutter-free guy. I throw everything away. People who live in glass houses have to. But I live with pack rats, so we built 20 cabinets upstairs. Everything can go in there."

The Bedrooms
"The bedrooms are upstairs. All of them were designed to have the feel of being in a tree house with treetop views."