This Martis Camp home sports a Scandinavian vibe for an active family with four boys
Photography by Kat Alves
On a wintry morning in December, Kristin Dark drove from Los Angeles with her mother to see—for the first time—her family’s newly completed home in Lake Tahoe’s Martis Camp. Her husband Steve and their boys would join them later, in time for Christmas.
She recalls that first glimpse. “When I pulled into the driveway, it was dusk … and with the lights all turned on, the roofs and gables made it look like a collection of little jewel boxes.”
Inside, the home was grand but simple—just as Dark had imagined when she assembled the team of experts to design, build and furnish her family’s dream home. Builder Mark Neave (of Truckee-based NSM Construction) was on hand to greet the two women. “We popped a bottle of champagne,” recalls Dark, “and drank to the joys of the season and completion of our amazing home.”
Leather chairs (sewn with reversed seams) surround a locally made half-log dining table. A 14-by-10-foot tree by artist Andrea Davis, from Studio Artique, reinforces the indoor/outdoor theme. In good weather, the window wall can open onto a dining terrace
Cabinets in the kitchen (top) have a gray-blue (gun metal) glazing. Floors are local old-growth elm. Countertops are Brazilian granite. Basket chairs with black cowhide seats add texture
The journey that culminated in these festive and congratulatory Christmas toasts started more than two years earlier. The family was looking for a retreat close enough to Los Angeles to make it possible to escape for long weekends as well as extended vacations. They settled on Martis Camp because it offers easy access to world-class skiing and, in the summer, a beach, clay-court tennis and a Tom Fazio-designed golf course and numerous other amenities.
Trusses in the dining room and great room (left) were built on-site and lowered into place by crane
Dark was very much involved in the design process, but she admits to feeling “nearly speechless and very emotional” on that December evening when she first set foot inside the high-ceilinged, many-windowed home. “Having four children … it was not a simple task for me to get up here,” she explains. “Most of my correspondence with the team was via computer and phone.”
Architect Clare Walton (of Walton Architecture + Engineering in Tahoe City, California) designed the home. “From our very first meeting, the Darks expressed an enthusiastic interest in a clean and crisp farmhouse style,” she says. The five-bedroom, five-and-a-half bathroom home is one and a half stories with the boys’ bunkroom and bath above the garage. “The home stretches horizontally across the site to capture the southern exposure and the mountain views,” says Walton.
Weiland doors can slide out of sight behind the hand-cut native granite fireplace. Glass-and-metal chandelier by PumpHouse Studios. Iron-banded coffee tables from local wood by Epoch West Furniture in Bozeman, Montana
Native granite, cut on-site and stacked in a natural-looking random pattern, gives the home a strong sense of belonging to this place. “The wood—inside and out—is new but has been left out in nature to age, giving it that always-been-here patina,” says builder Mark Neave. The home “draws you in, quite literally, through a large entry door and to another door that leads directly to the outdoor entertaining area,” he notes. In the great room, pocket doors on either side of the granite fireplace open the room to the great outdoors.
“The windows do so much of the talking,” says Dark. “I wanted to make sure the outside-inside harmony was not interrupted by heavy trim and weighty window curtains.”
Marble, wood, iron and tile give the master bath a haute style with a rustic edge. Geometric tiles in the shower convey a sassy vibe
A chandelier with iron “branches” and crystal “droplets” hangs over the tub
“Kristin’s first words to me were ‘let’s not do anything normal,’” says Truckee-based interior designer Julie Johnson-Holland with a smile. They chose stone slabs to go over the stove and on the counters in the kitchen, the half-log dining table custom-made by NSM Construction, the iron-and-crystal chandelier in the master bath, the fake lynx headboard and the basket swing in the master bedroom. The homeowner especially likes the rope-and-iron chandelier in the master bedroom. “Traditional with an industrial twist,” says Johnson-Holland, who notes that most of the furnishings and accessories, while unique, are completely within the spectrum of both comfortable and normal.
Dark describes her house as nature on the outside and coziness on the inside. “When I sit in the great room—windows on three sides and the snow coming down—I feel sheltered and protected.”
Doors on either side of the fireplace swing open to a private terrace off the master bedroom. Playful elements include a rope-and-metal chandelier and hanging-basket chair
Interior designer Julie Johnson-Holland talks with us about creating a grand and sophisticated home that’s also comfortable and open to nature
TEXTURE IS KEY Everything in this home is textural—from the native stone and the barnwood to the half-log dining table and leather chairs to the log-and-iron coffee tables in the living room. We also used iron, rope and basket-weave (on the kitchen chairs). EVERYTHING NATURAL IS A BIT IMPERFECT Celebrate that by letting the rough edges of the wood show, by choosing stone slabs (for the countertops) that are not uniform in color, by emphasizing the grain in the wood floors. Make nature’s “imperfections” part of the story. YOU CHOSE TO LIVE IN THE MOUNTAINS FOR MANY REASONS The views and the clean, cool mountain air are, almost certainly, at the top of that list. Make the great outdoors part of your interior design. Floor-to-ceiling windows that open wide. Large doors (bi-fold or pocket) that disappear completely in good weather. Clean, unfussy furniture that doesn’t detract from the views. ILLUMINATE YOUR INTERIORS Task lighting (in the kitchen) and ambient lighting (in the great room and the dining room)—are very important for those shorter winter days. Try being playful in a few of your lighting choices. We used a rope chandelier in the master bedroom and an iron chandelier with crystal droplets in the master bath.
DINING ROOM TREE ART Custom made through Studio Artique DINING TABLE Custom ½ log table from Highmark Enterprises and Innovative Forge KITCHEN GRANITE COUNTERTOP AND SPLASH Pegasus granite from Brazil from Bedrosians BARSTOOL Vero black hair on hide seat from Palacek METAL HOOD from Innovative Forge CABINETS from S & S Signature Cabinet and Millwork GREAT ROOM CUSTOM CHANDELIER from PumpHouse Studio CUSTOM COFFEE TABLES Firewood Tables from Epoch West SOFA Custom from Brownstone Upholstery (no longer in business) MASTER BEDROOM CHANDELIER ROPE AND METAL Noir Chelsea Large Chandelier SOFA Custom from Brownstone Upholstery (no longer in business) MASTER BATHROOM CHANDELIER AND EXTERIOR SCONCES from Steel Partners Lighting