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Sierra Splendor

A Bay Area family comes full circle in introducing their kids to the Lake Tahoe lifestyle



Photography by Mathew Millman

Having skied at Lake Tahoe throughout her childhood, it was only natural the homeowner and her husband, once settled into careers in the Bay Area, would want to introduce their children to the thrill of snowy slopes. What they actually discovered, through visiting friends at Martis Camp, on Tahoe’s north shore, was the splendor of summer in the Sierras. With its golf course, children’s activities, hiking trails, bike paths, private beach and direct access to the glories of the crystal-clear high-altitude, mountain-rimmed Lake Tahoe, the array of activities was unparalleled—as was the potential for quality family time year-round.


A custom alder pivot door opens to the entry, where Roe Ethridge’s “Double Ramen” hangs over a Bernhardt bench covered with Cowtan & Tout fabric.

Bold artwork defines the home. Artsource Consulting’s Jody Knowlton worked with the owner to commission Nike Schroëder’s “Lighthouse.”

It seemed inevitable that they would purchase a property, the homeowner relates. “We found ourselves heading to Tahoe more and more,” she recalls. “And Martis Camp is so beautiful, so private and has a host of amenities: golf, lake access, a barn with bowling, arts and crafts. It made it so much fun for the whole family.”


A window seat offers a quiet nook to appreciate nature.

Contractor Jim Morrison was well suited to building on their sloping lot at the edge of a fairway; he has years of experience dealing with the region’s unique conditions and epic snows. Brendan Riley of Ryan Group Architects, meanwhile, understands how to design to a sophisticated aesthetic within a contemporary mountain style. The homeowners, Riley says, “came to the project with a good sense of what they wanted. The design drivers were the great views west to the Sierra Nevada mountains and the 180-degree view of one of the fairways.” While the slope runs north to south, the views are to the east and west. The architect designed the home to make best use of both, resulting in a tiered shed-roofed form with generous fenestration; cedar, stone and drywall interiors with fir ceilings; and a pronounced indoor-outdoor aesthetic.


A silver-leafed cast-resin console table by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams is paired with a vintage mirror in tessellated stone.
“Our task was to create a floor plan that would embrace the hillside rather than fight it.” — Architect Brendan Riley  

Joe Reihsen’s “Dear Genius Bar Boy” hangs over the fireplace. 

The arrival sequence begins at the uphill end of the home and steps down to the entry, where knee bracing and lanterns guide guests to an oversized pivot door. There, cedar siding runs from outside in, while bold art and sculptural lighting announce the home’s style. The floor plan slopes up toward the garage, mudroom, guest suite, bunkroom and a staircase to the top level, and down to the public areas and master suite. “Our task,” explains Riley, “was to create a floor plan that would embrace the hillside rather than fight it and use the cascade of floor levels to create different zones within the home.” 


The focal point upon entering is an untitled acrylic painting by Yunhee Min. Vintage horse-head sculpture from Jay Jeffers—The Store.

The heart of the home is its open living area, designed to be cozy en famille while still accommodating a houseful of guests. With wood beams carrying the eye from inside to out and lift-and-slide doors removing barriers to the patio, the sense of space and nature is unfettered. The statement move, however, is the home’s “watch tower,” a media and family room that commands the best views in the house. “It’s the architectural pinnacle of the massing,” explains Riley, “the highest space under the singular form of the shed roof.” With a steel fireplace bracketed by glass and a panoramic outlook through treetops to the mountain views, the room is an aerie-like retreat.


Jay Jeffers—The Studio combined a Lillian August four-poster bed, Leong Interiors custom drapes with Carleton V fabric, and a wool Holland & Sherry rug. 

Miriam Böhm’s pigment print “Unit II” hangs in a bedroom; vintage lamp with Crate & Barrel dresser.

To create a feeling of coziness, luxuriousness and warmth and to counteract the large glassy expanses, designer Jay Jeffers used rich textures in mostly custom pieces, added vintage pieces and employed a subdued palette with pops of color. “It’s a modern house with beautiful views,” says Jeffers. “The clients wanted it comfortable and easy but still chic and exciting, with a great play of artwork.“


Noir Furniture’s steel-and-granite bedside table; white glass lamp with Arteriors shade.

The watch tower’s built-in desk with Noir Furniture chairs in Pindler fabric. 

The result is a timeless family retreat. “It’s beautiful and so livable,” says the owner. “It’s become a wonderful family home.” 


Stacking glass panels and continuous beams and wood ceilings create an indoor-outdoor aesthetic. Inside, a steel fireplace, vintage French leather chairs from Jay Jeffers—The Store, and a pair of concrete tabletops on wood bases from Four Hands.

BRINGING VISION TO THE TABLE
It can be a huge boon to the design team—and to the efficiency of the process—if the homeowners bring vision and thoughtfully considered aesthetic preferences to the project from the start, says Jim Morrison Construction project manager Bryan Bertch. “In this case, the clients were a strong part of the team, and it was really helpful.”
COME PREPARED The couple arrived at the first design meeting with strong ideas and an ambitious timeline. IDENTIFY AND DISCUSS the key design drivers of thesite. Consider the view, slope and natural features, such as live water or a boulder garden. Research other homes and KNOW YOUR STYLE. Tour homes by both the architect and contractor, and consider not just relative size and number of bedrooms but forms, roof styles and materials. CREATE AN INSPIRATION SOURCE A scrapbook, a series of images on your phone or a Pinterest board can be helpful in communicating ideas.

DESIGN DETAILS
ARCHITECTURE Ryan Group Architects INTERIOR DESIGN Jay Jeffers INTERIOR FINISHES Sarah Jones Interior Design CONSTRUCTION Jim Morrison Construction

As seen in the July 2019 issue

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