LaRue and Jeffrey LaRussa

LaRue and Jeffrey LaRussa with their granddaughter, Jordin La Russa on a recent visit to the LaRussa's new home in Brentwood.  The couple will be moving in later this month, making them the first residents of the new community. Photo by Dawnmarie Fehr

As children leave the nest and retirement looms near, many adults in their 50s and 60s are looking to downsize their homes.

Smaller floor plans and diminutive yards can be attractions for couples seeking to lighten the home maintenance load, and Brentwood has a new option for active adults 55 and older. Barcelona by Shea Homes is located at the foot of Mt. Diablo and offers 72 ‘duets’ with amenities like a park, clubhouse and spa.

Originally from the Peninsula, LaRue and Jeffrey LaRussa are the first owners of one of Barcelona’s duets. Since their children moved to Brentwood, the couple has been waiting for the right opportunity to move to the area.

“We did not want a big home,” LaRue LaRussa said of the couple’s search for a new house.

She explained that they received an email from Shea advertising their newest active adult development, and were interested right away.

“This smaller home meets our checklist,” LaRue LaRussa said. “And we love Brentwood, love the weather, love the hills, love that it’s not congested. (Shea) has done such a nice job. We like the open (floor plan) and the size was right.”

She added that being in a community of active adults was also important. The LaRussas hope that many of their new neighbors will be in similar situations – moving from other cities and eager to make new friends.

Lana Skuba, a Shea Homes sales assistant, explained that Barcelona’s duets may look like duplexes, but have one important difference. The homes — though occupying the same building — have separate lots.

“We have 36 buildings, which means 72 homes on 72 lots,” Skuba said.

The LaRussas look forward to living in Brentwood, spending time with their grandchildren and participating in community events. Their story is exactly what the company has in mind when designing these types of communities.

“As we have grown the brand, we’ve found there’s a need for more intimate and boutique communities that can help on price point,” said Jason Enos, Northern California area leader for Shea Homes. “The smaller lots make it easier for residents with maintenance.”

The Barcelona by Shea Homes sales office is located at 1511 Spumante Lane in Brentwood. For hours and information, call 925-475-8329 or visit