A Little Cottage Nest Turns Into a Vibrant Bohemian Retreat
Small cottage, big style
In the Sierras north of Lake Tahoe, the east fork of the Carson River winds through a bucolic ranch. At the heart of this land, a cottage stands tall, its pitched roof a dramatic representation of the mountains’ high peaks. When the homeowners settled here, they decided to remodel the cottage, turning it into a bohemian retreat that sings with color.
The couple collaborated with Terry Owens-Alvarez of THID, an interior designer who lives part of the year in Patagonia. “I was so excited about Terry’s connection to Patagonia; I love the style there,” the wife says. Owens- Alvarez embraced the spirit of the homeowners: “They’re a young couple, so we wanted to keep it young and vibrant—with a mountain vibe.”
Owens-Alvarez knew she would need to plan the home’s remodeled spaces meticulously. The first thing she did was remove a spiral staircase that interrupted the living area, creating a new stairwell by the front door. Owens-Alvarez and the homeowners developed a unique palette. “We started with a baseline of natural colors,” the wife notes. “But I also love blues and gray-blues, as well as high-desert colors.” In the living room, Owens-Alvarez painted built-ins a soft blue, then layered in jewel-toned accents. A luscious emerald velvet lounge chair stands out—everyone vies for this spot. Special pieces sprinkle in personality.
“I’m an artist, so I’m always excited about quirky little things and odd objects,” the wife explains. She found the dog bench at a nearby antique store: “It looks like a folk art Labrador—it was a pretty good find.” Owens- Alvarez enjoyed peppering in the homeowners’ things: “Everything is so thoughtfully curated, yet it came together so organically with the things they had.”
For the dining room, the designer chose a space-saving round table, pairing it with custom leather chairs. “It’s easier to walk around, and it’s more gentle on the eye,” she explains. A driftwood-inspired chandelier brings texture into the space, which leads into a cook’s kitchen. The wife opted for oak cabinets and black hardware. “The kitchen is a source of inspiration,” she says. “It’s all about simplicity and earthiness; we make all kinds of things there—fresh pasta and challah bread. It’s alive in a fun way.”
Upstairs, Owens-Alvarez divvied up the space creatively, designing a relaxed hangout where the couple enjoys playing music. “It’s a nice, warm cave space. I don’t do anything useful in that room,” the wife jokes. The primary bedroom and bathroom are also upstairs. The homeowners’ wooden bed was carried over from their previous home, and Owens-Alvarez chose new elements to suit the small space. “Terry made everything fit. The shower is really cool because it has a skylight and a really tall slanted ceiling,” the wife says.
The homeowners love how their retreat turned out. “I really like having a small house,” the wife admits. “When I was growing up, I lived in a bigger house, and it made me feel sad that everyone was separated in their own room.” Owens-Alvarez agrees the project turned out wonderfully—“It’s a perfect little jewelry box of a house!”