Tyrolean Tradition

An antique-filled family lodge brings a bit of alpine style to California's Sugar Bowl ski resort

Personal taste, practicality and a memorable European vacation led a San Francisco-area family of five to dream of building a retreat in the classic style of the Tyrol—the alpine region at the meeting point of Austria, Switzerland and Italy—in northern California’s Sugar Bowl Ski Resort. Shortly before the project began, they had vacationed in southern Austria and promptly fell in love with the area’s traditional architecture. That regional style is a perfect fit for Sugar Bowl, which was developed in the late 1930s and early ’40s under the guidance of Austrian ski champion Hannes Schroll, who modeled the place after his homeland.

The architectural style suits the climate of the High Sierra as perfectly as it does the Alps. Walls of local stone withstand the deep snowfalls that can bury a house’s ground floor during the winter. Steeply pitched roofs prevent the buildup of heavy snow loads, and broad eaves shelter porches and balconies.

To bring their vision to life, the family hired architect Greg Klein, a principal with J. Malick and Associates in Emeryville, California. Working with project architects Melanie Arps and H.K. Pae, Klein adapted Old World styles to New World materials, cladding the home’s lowest level in local salt-and-pepper granite and finishing the uppermost walls in Western red cedar. In one major departure from the past, he replaced tiny traditional window styles with large, tall windows on the two upper levels. “Traditional homes in the Tyrol were almost dark inside,” he says. “Our clients enjoy a lot more light—and wonderful views."

Interior designer Kathy Geissler Best, principal of Kathy Best Design in San Francisco, collaborated with the architects to create interiors that feel “very Tyrolean, but not stuffy or dated,” she says. To that end, she sourced a wide range of harmonious Italian, French, Belgian, Dutch and English antique furnishings dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, blending them seamlessly with traditionally styled custom-built cabinetry and an assortment of modern-day pieces (see sidebar).

A wealth of modern amenities helps the home function as a ski-in, ski-out retreat for the family of five or a gathering place for more than 80 party guests. The main entry features heated floors, boot warmers and lockers for snow and ski gear. In each of the kids’ rooms, which feature custom-designed queen-size beds, a twin bunk bed provides a cozy sleeping spot for a friend. A home theater is furnished with plush leather recliners and acoustic wall and ceiling panels, and in the kitchen, a professional-quality range, two sinks and double dishwashers make cooking for a crowd a breeze.

Helping to tie it all together is the ornamentation that distinguishes Tyrolean style. Best and her clients debated about creating a family crest but decided on a more lighthearted approach, a cinquefoil motif. The cinquefoil, as its French name suggests, is a five-petalled alpine flower often employed in heraldry. With the homeowners’ enthusiastic assent, the designer and architects worked it into custom designs throughout the house, from shutter cutouts and the stair railing to drapery trims, rugs and decorative wall paintings.

The result, Klein says, is a contemporary home that “evokes a very specific tradition.” Adds Best, “It’s historically correct but definitely not stuck in the past. We’ve achieved something interesting, comfortable and current.” 

Past and Present
Interior designer Kathy Geissler Best shares her tips on how to seamlessly incorporate antiques into your home.

Decide on a theme Think about the styles you like and that might best suit your location, the existing style of your home, and your lifestyle and needs. Making this decision in advance, says Best, “will help you achieve a feeling of continuity throughout the house.”

Shop around Don’t confine your search to one shop or town. Have fun shopping in lots of different stores and places. “We found some amazing European antiques in the San Francisco Bay area,” the designer says.

Be practical Don’t let looks or charm alone convince you to buy an antique. “It needs to be functional and strongly built,” Best says. 

Introduce present-day touches “Layer in newer, more contemporary pieces to keep your home feeling alive and vibrant.” 

INTERIOR DESIGN Kathy Geissler Best, KGB Interior Design, San Francisco, CA, 415-646-8700, kgbinteriordesign.com ARCHITECTURE, INTERIOR CABINETRY AND FINISHES John Malick and Associates / Greg Klein, Principal, Melanie Arps, H.K.Pae, project architects, Emeryville, CA, 510-595-8042, jmalick.com GENERAL CONTRACTOR Barth Construction / Bruce Barth, Owner, Truckee, CA, 530-412-0356, barthmountainhomes.com CABINETS Dave Linde, Truckee, CA, 530-587-0459 TILES Walker Zanger, San Francisco, CA, 415-487-2130, walkerzanger.com SPECIALTY PAINTING George Zaffle, Truckee, CA, 530-412-1776 FLOORS Mountain Lumber, Ruckersville, VA STAIRWAY CARPET RUNNER Missoni Impala, Stark Carpet, starkcarpet.com SCONCE "Avignon," Ebanista, ebanista.com DINING ROOM PORTUGUESE ARMCHAIRS AND SIDE CHAIRS Michael Taylor Designs, michaeltaylordesigns.com UPHOLSTERY FABRIC "Belisario" pattern, Bergamo Fabrics, bergamofabrics.com CHANDELIER Naos Forge Wrought Iron, naosforge.com ENTRY HALL BENCH UPHOLSTERY FABRIC Chocolate mohair velvet, Rogers & Goffigon GREAT ROOM ARM CHAIRS AND OTTOMAN "Brionne," Hendrix Allardyce, Kneedler-Fouchere, kneedlerfauchere.com MASTER BEDROOM BED "Flandes," Ebanista, ebanista.com KITCHEN CHANDELIER/POTRACK "Island," Naos Forge Wrought Iron, naosforge.com, RANGE Wolf, subzero-wolf.com 

Categories: Rustic Homes