Farmhouse-style home was designed for year-round vacation living
Set on a large plot dotted with pine, fir and aspen trees, Martis Camp Lot 448 was designed to make the most of its mountain surroundings.
“The vacation home has an alpine sensibility that speaks to its Northern California setting,” says principal architect Clare Walton of Tahoe City–based Walton Architecture & Engineering, who worked on the home alongside contractor Jim Morrison Construction. “It was designed as both a summer vacation retreat and a winter ski getaway.”
Nestled into the 2,177-acre private residential community, the two-story treasure was designed for a San Francisco couple with two young daughters. Three distinct gable forms and steel-framed windows and doors in the main living areas give the home a modern farmhouse aesthetic.
“One of the biggest challenges was maintaining simplicity in the forms while meeting project objectives,” says Walton. “It was important to keep the forms distinct, which involved strategic planning in the layout. [We focused on] staying true to the minimal farmhouse aesthetic and concept.”
Western red cedar, a metal roof and natural colored stone were used to give the exterior a sleek modern motif, while walls of glass and copious amounts of oak add light and warmth inside. Spread across 4,528 square feet, the main home is outfitted with four bedrooms and four and a half baths. Offering sweeping views of the mountains and forested open spaces, the alpine abode reflects its laid-back California pedigree thanks to free-flowing interiors and an eclectic mix of retail, vintage and custom furnishings.
“We decided pretty early on that natural earthy materials and layered textural items felt really good in this space,” says interior designer Brittany Haines of ABD Studio, who previously worked with the couple on their full-time residence in San Francisco. “We used a balanced mix of white oak, walnut and ebonized woods as well as unlacquered brass, which will patina over time. There are many found textiles and ceramic pieces collected by the client during their travels.”
A large Richard Misrach photograph of two people floating in a sea of deep blue-green water served as the foundation for the home’s color palette, which is reflected in earthy tones and navy blue hues throughout. The client’s personal art collection—made up of unique works by artists like Kiki Smith, Ed Ruscha, Mary Shaffer, David Nash and Louise Bourgeois, as well as custom commissioned pieces by Margo Wolowiec and James Surls—further position the nature-inspired retreat as a mecca for modern living.
Since the main open-concept living space holds the entryway, living room, dining room and kitchen, the design team made sure to create distinction between each area.
“We wanted to make sure they did not all blend into one and that the spaces still felt intimate and warm,” says Haines. “We included details like varied ceiling materials and finishes in each space and large oversized lighting in the dining room to create visual division between the spaces and find the appropriate balance.”
Appointed with floor-to-ceiling glass windows and French doors that open to the alfresco patio, the double-height living room is a light and airy masterpiece. An open-framed staircase in the living room connects the first floor to a balcony and upstairs guest suite overlooking the light-drenched interiors below.
The open-concept living space and dining area flows freely into a kitchen outfitted with honed Calacatta marble countertops. Because the client didn’t want many closed cabinets, Haines opted for open ebonized walnut stained finish shelves and a floor-to-ceiling glass pantry with steel and glass sliding doors. Select pieces of cookware are on display inside.
Additional built-in bookshelves throughout the house were designed to provide extra storage. “The built-ins are part of the desire to be efficient by maximizing the use of space without making the overall footprint too large,” says Walton. Tucked into a corner of the kitchen, a six-person breakfast banquette made from walnut and with leather cushions provides a cozy place to enjoy a meal with friends. The table was designed by ABD Studio’s custom workroom and is made of cold-rolled steel.
The nearby dining room table was custom-made by Nickey Kehoe out of reclaimed vintage pine. Pendant lights from Ferzoli Lozz are suspended above, and the aforementioned Richard Misrach serves as a soothing backdrop.
“The home has touches of a typical farmhouse, which are balanced by modern touches,” says Haines. “The dining room is a prime example with the expansive farm table mixed with a thick jute textural rug, black leather sling chairs and oversized industrial-style pendant lights. The space looks out through modern oversized steel metal doors to the Tahoe National Forest with lots of wildlife to be seen.”
The master bedroom also offers a front-row seat to the surrounding nature and wildlife. “We wanted [the master bedroom] to be a true respite that felt effortlessly connected with nature,” Haines says. “The bed looks out on expansive windows framing the [forest].”
The airy master suite also has a fireplace and a sumptuous bathroom with a deep soaking tub and indoor glass shower. A custom sculptural light made of paper and wood by Stephen White hangs overhead. Glass doors lead to a deck that connects to a private 284-square-foot art studio in the backyard.
Thoughtful design was further prioritized in a bunkroom with four full-sized bunk beds that can be used by the girls and their friends or out-of-town guests coming to visit for the weekend. Each bunk has a separate reading sconce, a privacy curtain and a nook for charging phones or placing a glass of water. Featuring floor-to-ceiling oak paneling and a built-in oak banquette, the media room is another cozy, accessible space that can be frequented by family members and guests alike.
Encircled by towering trees and looking out to preserved land, the alfresco terrace was crafted from poured concrete slabs set in decorative pebbles. A fire pit surrounded by comfortable couches and chairs provides the perfect gathering spot for friends on a crisp evening.
After a day spent hiking, painting or playing rounds of golf, the couple can gather on the patio to play music or entertain friends. The slopes of Northstar are just minutes away, as are amenities such as a bowling alley, movie theater and Tom Fazio–designed golf course. From summer to winter, the regal retreat serves as an idyllic home base for family vacations.
Rebekah Bell is a Los Angeles–based writer.