A Modern Mountain Home With a Bit of Glam
Concrete, steel, stone and glass are offset by elegance in this Tahoe abode
Graham and Hilary Cooper were college sweethearts and married a few years later. Now that their own children are in college, they wanted a second home that’s cozy for empty nesters but also welcoming for their kids, who were given a free hand in decorating their own rooms and the bunk room. “I secretly wanted to ‘brainwash’ them into always wanting to come back home,” Hilary admits.
The Coopers chose a corner lot in Martis Camp, a 2,177-acre private community with direct-access skiing (and all the après- ski amenities) at California Northstar in the winter, and golf, hiking and water sports on the shores of crystalline Lake Tahoe in summer. The next step was gathering a team—architect, builder and interior designer. From the beginning, it was apparent that Graham loves the austerity of concrete and steel while Hilary is more of a glam-and-sparkle person. “After some back-and-forth, Hilary and I came up with ‘fancy prison’ to describe our vision,” Graham says with a grin.
“Yes … that’s exactly how they described it to me,” says project architect Ryan Marsden, at Kelly & Stone during the design of the home and now principal at Marsden Architects, both based in Truckee, California. Natural materials like stone (gray quartzite ledgestone), wood (clear western red cedar, CVG hemlock and alder), exposed structural steel, concrete and great expanses of glass were used for both exteriors and interiors, “which makes the overall design cohesive and holistic,” Marsden says.
The 5,044-square-foot, 4-bedroom, 51/2-bathroom house nestles into a hillside. From the road, everything—except the sloping shed roof—is hidden, making the home feel very private. In addition, raised planters provide foreground screening.
Epic snowfalls delayed construction, but there was a silver lining: “When the massive snowdrifts started to melt, it became apparent that drainage was going to be a problem,” says Bryan Bertsch of Jim Morrison Construction, based in Tahoe City, California. A large grid of subterranean pipes was installed to divert the water.
The home’s warm and soft interiors were a collaboration between Hilary and San Francisco-based interior designer Elizabeth Barnes. “It is contemporary but with a definite glam aspect—especially in the lighting fixtures and fabrics,” Barnes says. The color palette reflects the outdoors—grass, trees, sky and, especially, the iconic blue of nearby Lake Tahoe.
The dining room, separated from the kitchen by huge barn doors, is the home’s most dramatic space. Because it faces due north, the architect created an oculus to direct natural light onto the planters just outside the windows. “I pictured the family sitting in the dining room for a cozy dinner in the depths of winter—and the snow falling through the oculus … like being inside a snow globe,” says Marsden.
Asked about their home’s unique features, the Coopers rave about the glassed-in walkway from the great room to the master bedroom. “It feels like you’re walking outside in nature,” Graham says. He adds that the heated floors in the garage are a real plus. “It was a bit of a splurge,” he says, “but the cars are warm on cold mornings … I had no idea how cool that would be.” With its ping- pong table and built-in speakers, the garage has also become a favorite hangout for the kids when they come back home—just as their parents had hoped.
“The whole idea of a mountain home or a lake house is to be close to nature,” says interior designer Elizabeth Barnes of San Francisco-based Elizabeth Barnes Design. She offers these tips for creating warmth in a contemporary vacation home: INCORPORATE THE NATURAL COLOR PALETTE OF THE LANDSCAPE throughout the house. Think spring greens, sky blues, warm creams and earthy browns. USE WOOD AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. Rustic or refined, wood creates warmth and contributes to an inviting ambience. Dark woods add drama while light woods can brighten a small space. CHOOSE FURNISHINGS THAT ARE SOFT AND COMFORTABLE. Because there’s so much steel, concrete and glass in a contemporary home, make sure your furniture is warm and welcoming. ADD TEXTURES TO CREATE COZINESS. Creamy boucle upholstery, hair-on hide rugs, velvet-covered chairs, sturdy but ethereal linen, thick and cushy rugs, fuzzy shearling— all add to the comfort and character of a home.
As seen in the July 2020 issue
SERVICES CONCRETE Interior Concrete Veneer by Clastic Designs DECORATIVE METAL WORK including the floating stairs by Hunter Metal Forge and Iron Works CABINETRY by Westgate Hardwoods SPA Custom by Westland Bath EXTERIOR WINDOWS by Sierra Pacific Windows EXTERIOR LIFT SLIDE DOORS by Weiland EXTERIOR SIDING clear western red cedar by Pacific Wood and Milling EXTERIOR SOFFIT hemlock by PAC Wood EXTERIOR METAL SIDING by AL13 EXTERIOR PAVERS by Abbostford Texada HydraPressed Slabs ARTWORK Dining Room – “Flower of Life” by Christy Lee Rogers from Slate Gallery Media Room “Endless Aloha” by Camomile Hixon from SB Fine Arts KITCHEN Marble Counters from Walker Zanger PENDANTS by Hammerton Studio from Hadleigh Homes COUNTER STOOLS from Lawson Fenning COUNTER STOOL LEATHER by Theo from Shears and Window FAUCETS by Blanco from Jack London Kitchen and Bath GREAT ROOM RUG from Restoration Hardware PILLOWS by Romo from Desousa Hughes SOFA TABLE by Robert James SOFA FABRIC by Theo from Shears and Windows DINING ROOM TABLE from Urban Hardwoods CHAIRS by Artistic Frame from Gaul Searson DRAPERY FABRIC by Romo, Black Edition from DeSousa Hughes CONSOLE TABLES by Kokkla from Hadleigh Home CHANDELIER by Fine Art Lamps from Hadleigh Home DRAPES by Blue Sage MASTER BEDROOM RUG by JD Staron BENCH by Bernhardt from Bernhardt Showroom BENCH FABRIC by Osborne & Little BEDSIDE TABLES by Cidori from Nido Living BEDSIDE LAMPS by Visual Comfort from Hadleigh Home CHAIR by Helene Aumont from Hewn Showroom LEATHER CHAIR by Garrett Leather from Hewn SF MASTER BATHROOM FLOOR from Country Floors of America SHOWER WALLS from Country Floors of America SHOWER FITTINGS & FAUCETS by Watermark from Jack London Kitchen and Bath TUB by MTI from Jack London Kitchen and Bath