A Roomy Vacation Home Built for Family Gatherings

A London-based couple creates a retreat in Martis Camp that blends California wine country style with a Tahoe mountain aesthetic
Martis Open

Comfortable seating invites lingering near the double-sided fireplace, which provides warmth for the great room and the lounge beyond. Oversized 135 windows open up to mountain and valley views. | Photography by Kat Alves

When the American-born (now London-based) homeowners began looking for a vacation home, they had fond memories of large and boisterous family gatherings. “My husband’s family had a time-share in Tahoe,” says the wife, recalling the crowded but congenial space “with grandma on the pull-out and kids in sleeping bags all over the floor.”

The children have grown, but the active family still enjoys getting together—skiing, hiking, backpacking, white-water rafting and just hanging out.

Martis Bench

The chic entry sets an eclectic modern tone.

When looking for a vacation home of their own, husband and wife had slightly different visions. “He wanted a ‘view house’ and I wanted something a little more private, maybe in the trees,” she says.

They found the perfect homesite in Martis Camp, a 2,200-acre private, family-friendly community near Truckee, California, that offers both world-class skiing and championship golf. Their lot is tucked up against Northstar ski resort, with gentle views over the Martis Valley and distant mountain views to the north.

Martis Kit

Cabinets are made from reclaimed wine vats. The homeowners opted for a hardware-free look. Pulls are incorporated into the lip of each drawer; the cabinets open by pushing.

The couple chose Truckee, California-based Sandbox Studio to design the 7,200-square-foot, three-level home. “They were very clear about their desire to blend California wine country style with a Tahoe mountain aesthetic,” says Sandbox principal Scott Gillespie. This involved using native Sierra granite, basalt and reclaimed wood, including for the timbers, beams and barnwood siding. The cabinetry in the kitchen is upcycled from “retired” white oak wine vats.

On the walls, the country look is kicked up a notch with a modern material: micro-topping, a versatile concrete coating that mimics the look of Old World Venetian plaster.

Because it is marine grade—that is, waterproof—it can be used in kitchens and bathrooms (showers, floors, countertops and even the tub).

Martis Stripe Rug

In the downstairs media room, décor with an international flair is inspired by a family heirloom—a coffee table featuring a map of the world made with natural stone. A sectional sofa faces the built-in media wall.

The homeowners envisioned coming to Tahoe for extended stays in winter and summer. “We love a full house, and at Christmas we have as many as 18 people staying with us and 30 for dinner,” say the homeowners.

In addition, they wanted to be comfortably surrounded by “tons of family” but with no one relegated to sleeping on the floor.

Martis Day Bed

A spacious window seat in the master bedroom features pull-out drawers for additional storage.

To that end, the home has six bedrooms—a master, two guest masters, a queen guest room—and two uniquely designed bunk rooms. In order that no one (except the kids) has to share, there are six baths and a powder room.

Martis Blue Couch

A cozy nook for reading.

Interior designer Katie Geresy of Truckee-based KTG Design was involved in the design of the home from the very beginning of the two-plus-year project. “It is tucked in among tall Douglas firs and has a definite enchanted forest vibe,” she says. The floor-to-ceiling windows look out on “lots of greenery,” so she used hints of blues and greens (“subtle but just enough”) in the décor. A soft gray micro-topping (the color of raw concrete) covers most of the walls in the house. “It is put on with a trowel over dry wall,” she explains.

Martis Bath

Designer Katie Geresey chose vessel sinks for a guest bath.

Anchored by an oversized work island, the kitchen has plenty of cabinet and drawer storage space and an eat-at counter that faces out. In warm weather, the windows are opened for a wide and unobstructed view. “We love lingering here at lunch,” say the homeowners.

Martis Tub

Both tub and vanity in the master bath are cast concrete. Hand-painted terra-cotta floor tiles carry over into the shower.

Although there are many windows, the home maintains its privacy with a clever use of a hallway at the front—designed so all the family rooms are tucked in back and out of view. The wife says one of her favorite hangout spots is the capacious window seat in the master suite. “I love family but like quiet too,” she says. “And catching the sunrise from here is absolutely heavenly.”

Martis Bed

A guest master sports a monumental bed with upholstered headboard and a dramatic chandelier illuminated by multiple bulbs.


Interior designer Katie Geresy of Truckee, California-based KTG Design offers these tips for incorporating beloved family heirlooms into the décor of a modern home:

TALK WITH YOUR DESIGNER EARLY IN THE PROCESS If there are specific pieces that are close to your heart—grandma’s writing desk, granddad’s pipe collection—identify these at the beginning. There is a fine line, and the balance between old and new has to be accurate. SOMETIMES A SINGLE PIECE CAN INSPIRE AN ENTIRE ROOM In this case, the homeowners had a large world map made out of natural stone that was acquired by the homeowner’s father on his extensive travels. “They told me it was important to them and asked me to incorporate it into their new home. I went through the plan—room by room—to discover the best place for it to be seen and enjoyed. It became a coffee table in the family room,” Geresy explains. Based on this decision, the design in the room has a more international aesthetic. SOMETIMES A STATEMENT PIECE IS MEANT TO STAND ALONE Juxtaposing old and new can be fun. If it is a very ornate piece, find a great spot to showcase it. Then select contemporary pieces that harmonize. This can be done with finishes that closely match the antique original. Don’t overdo it with too much accessorizing.


Categories: Contemporary Homes