Success is in the Details on Lakefront Home

The best thing about the 7,300 square foot house on Incline Village’s Lakeshore Boulevard isn’t its wine cellar, made of reclaimed old-growth redwood and stocked with boutique bottles. It isn’t the spacious luxury spa or gym. It isn’t the cool kids’ playroom and loft.

“The best part about this house is right there,” interior designer Julie Johnson-Holland gestures out the large windows to panoramic views of Lake Tahoe spanning all the way to the South Shore. “We knew this view would be the focus of the house, so we created a modern-yet-rustic look that would just blend in with these amazing views.”

The homeowners (who prefer to remain anonymous), a married couple living fulltime in Orlando, were looking to build a dream home-away-from-home, a private family retreat. Owning houses previously in Northstar and Incline, when a little piece of lakefront property became available, they knew it was the perfect opportunity to start from scratch. This was the first time the couple built from the ground up. Gathering recommendations from friends, the pair started piecing together a build team: architect Dale Cox, contractor NSM Construction and the design team at Interior Design by Julie Johnson-Holland.

“We interviewed them several times and saw some of their previous projects,” says the wife. “We liked the styles we saw, the people we met, the quality in their work and the attention to detail showed.”

The owner wanted to build a functional, practical home to evolve along with their young family, accommodate multiple groups of friends and family and maximize its location while accounting for all seasons.

“They wanted it clean and refined, but with little Old World touches,” says Johnson-Holland. “They liked the nice gabled forms of traditional mountain construction, and the chalet style from traveling through Europe.”

The entry opens into the great room, where large windows immediately draw attention to the stunning views. Custom wood trusses adorned at the joints with decorative metal strapping complement the lightly distressed hickory floors adding warmth to the room. Throughout the home, thick, reclaimed baseboards accentuate a simplistic European design.

The great room’s fireplace, one of six in the home, features decorative metalwork by Truckee’s Mountain Forge. The open floor plan includes a dining area and wet bar, and beyond that, the kitchen and breakfast nook, its centerpiece a live-edge walnut table. The homeowners’ passion for cooking naturally led the design and build team to devote special attention to this part of the home. The kitchen island includes extra seating and is made of a leathered finish bronzo quartzite, which is a “granite-like material,” says Zach Bierwolf, NSM director of construction. “It has lots of soft veins; it’s very tactile.”

The busy kitchen boasts most every imaginable gourmet appliance, including a warming oven, dual dishwashers, steamer and a cleverly placed built-in beverage center in the island.

“To some, it might seem extravagant, but the lady of the house uses every last gadget in this kitchen. We designed this kitchen to meet her every need,” says Johnson-Holland.

Pecan cabinetry with a beaded detail matches the hues of the copper tile backsplash in the wet bar and the kitchen and complements the hand-forged iron hood above the stove. Floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Lake Tahoe finish the main floor.

“We kept the design simple and let the view speak for itself,” says Bierwolf.

Upstairs, the children’s wing is a bright, colorful space. A chalkboard wall offers a large canvas for art projects and cabinetry is upholstered to prevent bumps and bruises. A loft accessed from the playroom conceals two peepholes overlooking the two children’s rooms.  In the son’s room, a whimsical underwater theme includes a bed custom-crafted in the shape of a boat and walls covered in decals of dolphins, crabs and other nautical critters. Slate flooring and drawer pulls made of pebbles in the bathroom add to the outdoorsy theme.

The master suite was built complete with a sound system, a fully-upholstered and modern headboard wall, custom lighting and, of course, views of Lake Tahoe. The master bath is a mix of rustic elegance—custom lighting from Kings Beach’s The Lighting Showroom keeps the ambience cozy while a seven-foot round Jacuzzi tub is perfect for relaxing tired muscles.

“We do our best to utilize local resources when building a house. Home accessories available here in the Tahoe/Truckee area are on par with design centers in San Francisco and New York City,” says Johnson-Holland. Past the master suite, the home winds on to what Johnson-Holland and Bierwolf call the studio wing. Located above the garage, the area includes a kitchenette, dining space and a bedroom and a bunk room that sleeps three.

“The house is set up to be a vacation spot for multiple families,” says Bierwolf.

Curving stairs, “meant to feel like you are walking in a European castle,” quips Johnson-Holland, lead down to a highlight of the home. The family room opens onto the property’s small beach and the exterior travertine tiles flow from outside the bifold doors to inside the family room. While the wayward swimmer heading in to grab a snack can’t harm the travertine, the nearby carpeted area with a large sofa offers the perfect place to hunker down by a fire and watch a movie after a day of sand and sun.

The home took about a year and a half to complete and the homeowners moved in late spring of 2014. “The house is very personal,” says Bierwolf. “The owners plan to use this house often, and that is why they spent so much time with the design team. We wanted to make sure this was their home-away-from-home.”

The owners are thrilled with the final product. “We are very proud and excited about our dream house,” says the wife. “We can’t wait to spend more time together as a family in our favorite place—Lake Tahoe.”

Kerry Kilcoyne-Henry contributed to this piece.

Alison Bender is a Reno-based writer and editor. Kerry Kilcoyne-Henry is a manager at The Lighting Showroom in Kings Beach. 

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