A New Take on Tahoe

A modern shoreline residence captures the spirit of a classic Lake Tahoe lodge

Traditional Lake Tahoe lodges hew more toward grandeur than subtlety. Typically, they respond to the setting’s expansive blue waters and High Sierra snowcaps with soaring ceilings framed in rough-hewn timbers and supported by massive stone walls.

By comparison, a recently completed 6,500-square-foot house on the lake’s north shore, in Incline Village, Nevada, may at first glance seem uncharacteristically subtle. From the street it presents a low profile, tucked behind a rainscreen wall of horizontal red-cedar planks punctuated by a glassed-in entry and mahogany door.

Designed by the San Francisco office of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, led by architect Gregory Mottola, principal-in-charge, and project manager Chris Moore, the home is anything but conventional for the area. A mountain getaway for a couple and their children, the retreat fits in seamlessly, both with the physical setting and the spirit of the place. “Our goal,” explains Mottola, “was to make the house feel sleek, open and connected to the landscape while expressing a lot of the craft for which these lakeside estates are typically known.”

Only hinted at by the impeccably tailored facade, the house immediately expresses that craftsmanship from the foyer, where a striking, open steel-and-stone staircase descends to the bedrooms on the house’s shore level; beyond it, a two-story window wall frames a breathtaking south-facing view of the lake. Flanking the stairs, two basalt-stone fireplaces possess all the monumentality of their local lodge predecessors but are executed with an eloquent minimalism. Visible from all sides, they serve as room dividers for the main-floor living areas. Above, along the ceiling’s 22-foot-high ridgeline, the chimneys pass through a long rectangular skylight that brightens the space from dawn to dusk.

“Early on, our clients expressed a desire for the house to evoke the feeling of being on a yacht,” says Moore. With expanses of glass facing south, east and west, and spacious decks, the structure feels not only waterborne but also airborne. And there’s a shipshape quality to the home’s construction, right down to an abundance of energy-conscious features. “From the design of the stonework to the way the mahogany-framed windows meet the plaster walls, everything is precisely, crisply detailed,” Mottola says. “That’s a powerful reminder of how we make things and how they relate to the natural world.”

That relationship to nature is ultimately what connects this resolutely modern house to dwellings of Lake Tahoe’s past. The interior spaces feel as grand and soaring as those of traditional lodges. The impeccable construction celebrates the wood and stone of surrounding forests and mountains. And the High Sierra scenery is on glorious display. Sums up Mottola, “We’ve designed a house that provides privacy and intimacy, all while giving our clients their own personal world on Lake Tahoe.”


Architects Greg Mottola and Chris Moore highlight the eco-conscious details of their design:

ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY SITING The architects followed the general footprint of the site’s original
suburban-style house, which not only cut construction costs but also safeguarded several mature pine trees. The structure was also positioned to maximize southern exposure for winter solar gain while minimizing northern exposure in summer.
SMART GLASS High-performance window systems feature low-E, double-paned insulated glass. The skylight glass is tinted to reduce solar heat gain without blocking natural light.
CROSS-VENTILATION Strategically placed operable windows cut cooling costs. “You can open them on either side of the house and draw in breezes from the lake,” Moore says.
WIDE OVERHANGS Along the home’s south-facing porch, broad eaves cut off high-angle summer sun but admit warming low-angle winter rays. “We fine-tuned that shading pretty carefully,” Mottola says.
RADIANT HEATING A highly energy-efficient radiant in-floor heating system is embedded in the concrete slab, below engineered cherry wood flooring.
INSULATED ROOF A double layer of framing, with insulation placed below an airspace, keeps the roof surface cold, preventing the snow that accumulates on the roof from melting, and eliminating the formation of icicles that could damage the roof or cause injury.


ARCHITECTURE (architecture, architectural interiors, select custom furniture design) Gregory Mottola, AIA, principal in charge, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, San Francisco, CA, 415-989-2100, bcj.com INTERIOR DESIGN (furniture, furnishings in living and bedrooms) William Cooper, William Cooper Design, San Francisco, CA, 415-863-5665, williamcooperdesign.com CONSTRUCTION Joan Jones, John Corda Construction, Tahoe City, CA, 530-583-5150, cordaconstruction.com LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE John P. Pruyn, ASLA, principal in charge, L&P DesignWorks, Truckee, CA, 530-587-9139, lpdesignworks.com MAHOGANY DOORS & WINDOWS Jada Beyer, Sierra Woods, Nevada City, CA, 530-265-5354, sierrawoods.com CUSTOM MAPLE CABINETRY & MAPLE/MAHOGANY FURNITURE Fred Quinterno, Quinterno’s Furniture, Nevada City, CA, 530-265-2698, quinternosfurniture.com STONE FIREPLACE CLADDING & STONE PAVING ASN Natural Stone, San Francisco, CA, 415-626-2616, asnstone.com PLUMBING FIXTURES Dornbracht, Kohler and Toto, available through Ferguson, Reno, NV, 800-777-1741, ferguson.com BATHROOM TILE Ann Sacks Tile & Stone, San Francisco, CA, 415-252-5889, annsacks.com APPLIANCES Wolf, Sub-Zero and Frigidaire, Czyz’s Appliance, Truckee, CA, 530-582-4400, czyzsappliance.brandsource.com

Categories: Contemporary Homes