Ultimate Sierra retreat

The Sunset Lake Tahoe Idea House takes its design cues from the breathtaking scenery that surrounds it


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Rugged yet sophisticated

Bringing nature into our homes is one of the best things about living in the West. The Sunset Lake Tahoe Idea House―located in a scenic, meadow-oriented setting in Truckee, California―is full of earthy materials and textures, colors inspired by the ever-changing landscape, natural light from every possible angle, and walls and windows that blend with the outdoors.

An open floor plan in the central part of the house is perfect for entertaining large groups of friends or relaxing with family. Private retreats for parents, kids, and guests provide serene places to recharge.


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The heart of the house

A generous, artfully organized open space contains the kitchen, dining, and living areas. The lack of continuous walls creates a feeling of expansiveness. Changes in details designate functions for each space.

A crushed-marble and stainless steel chandelier adds a subtle touch of glamour, while adjustable downlights provide an overall glow.

Overhead, woven strips of reclaimed redwood define the dining area and visually connect to the kitchen. Folding glass panels give diners a view of the landscape and open to the screened porch and rear sun terrace.


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Kitchen nook

A built-in banquette opposite the central cooking station is a cozy family gathering spot for games and casual meals.

Take a photo tour of this ultimate Lake Tahoe-area retreat


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Kitchen details

A mix of redwood, stainless steel Electrolux appliances, and slate floors makes for a contemporary cabin feel in this expansive home. A band of picture windows by Pella creates a vivid transparent backsplash.


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Wood for warmth

Vaulted ceilings of reclaimed fir decking and beams add spaciousness while still feeling intimate; the board-formed concrete walls are surrounded by warm wood on the floor, ceiling, and window trim.

Textural hearth
A chunky mantel of reclaimed, hand-hewn Southern yellow pine echoes the concrete’s pressed-wood texture. The asymmetrical placement of the mantelpiece and pendant lights balances the equally offset wall.


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The master suite

A peaceful refuge for grown-ups is a must in any family retreat. Lush bedding, a rug, and artwork in subdued natural hues echo the surroundings, such as pale green meadow grass and a lavender-blue High Sierra sunset.

Suede finish
Clay plaster on two walls adds a delicate contrast to concrete and redwood elements. The neutral wall color lets artwork and bedding take center stage.


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A comfy lounge chair beckons

Soft textures and a few simple geometric shapes encourage restfulness. In a light-filled corner; deep windowsills double as display space.


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Serene tub

Creamy glass tile creates a calm focal point beside the tub, which has a side-mounted faucet and handles for bathing while facing either direction.


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Handsome vanity

Mosaic tiles frame mirrors and pull together the room’s colors; slate floors are cool underfoot during summer and can be warmed with area rugs during winter.


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Open-air shower

Bathing outdoors is the height of mountain living, especially when done in a rugged style. With its rough natural textures in concrete and stone, this two-person outdoor shower, tucked under the overhang off the master bedroom, provides a thoroughly invigorating alpine experience.

Rustic materials
Board-formed concrete and a stone floor accentuate the rugged outdoor theme.

Privacy and convenience
The reclaimed-redwood screen lets in light and air yet supplies ample coverage while showering under Moen fixtures. The low retaining wall adds further privacy and a place for accessories.

tahoe-idea-house-color palette

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All-seasons palette

The breathtaking beauty of Tahoe, which changes with each season, was our inspiration for this home’s paint palette―from the blues of the lake and the greens of the trees to the reds, oranges, and yellows of fall leaves and the warm earth tones of the arid natural landscape. All paint is from Benjamin Moore’s low-VOC (volatile organic compound) Aura line.


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Children’s spaces

These kids’ rooms are child-friendly without seeming childish. That means fun elements and colors, private nooks, and areas for kids to express themselves. Flexibility is important in decor as well as function, ensuring that a room isn’t outgrown too quickly.

Bunks and more
Young kids share a room with a pair of bunk beds for easy sleepovers. Drawers under bottom bunks provide extra storage for toys, games, and clothes.


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Kid's clubhouse

Adhesive cork squares allow for changeable wall displays, while the round table and chairs are easy to move for games or other activities.


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Teens’ room

Trundle beds work well for older kids and help maximize a small space.


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“Rough and tumble” bath

Shelves shaped like skateboards (from Pottery Barn Kids) add fun to a wall of concrete wall tiles mimicking masonry. Bright towels pick up their color for another accent.


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The guest rooms

A few steps away from the main house along a covered exterior walkway, the guest retreat is reminiscent of a boutique hotel room, with luxurious linens and bath products, soothing colors, and soft light. Another guest room is equally pampering, with its own meadow view.

Nature as art
Pillows are covered in simple botanical patterns; above the bed, a local artist’s trio of works depicts Lake Tahoe’s characteristic boulders and sand patterns.


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Guest bath

A concrete vanity embedded with river rocks continues the natural theme. The curvilinear shape of the pendant light echoes the sink’s own subtle modulations.


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Girl's guest room

Angling the bed toward a window wall makes the most of a million-dollar meadow and golf-course view. Cool natural hues for wall and bedding connect to the landscape.


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Details and finishes

Call it the new Craftsman style: The house celebrates simple, honest materials and contemporary artisanal skills. The house is a feast for the eyes, thanks to the artful way in which each material is treated.


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Railing reinvented

Warm wood treads seem to dissolve into cool steel rails―made from abandoned roadside snow poles―in this sculptural stairway. The design evokes the work of the famous Pasadena Craftsman-style architects and brothers Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene.The light paint color in the stairwell provides a neutral background for structural expression.


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Barn door

A sliding door to the television room and office saves space by opening neither inward nor outward. Its handsome detailing shows off the wheel-and-track mechanism.


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Floor boundry

For an eye-catching juxtaposition of materials and a creative transition between kitchen and dining room, slate meets a natural threshold in the Armstrong hardwood floor.


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Kitchen island

An uneven edge calls attention to the interesting material—Lyptus wood, a sustainable and renewable eucalyptus. The detail allows you to appreciate the grain.


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Contrast of textures

Rough, board-formed concrete echoes the wood used throughout the house and provides a foil for the smooth steel edging. The horizontal bands are made by allowing wet concrete to seep between the lumber that’s used to make the temporary frame, which holds the mix while it cures.


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Dramatic main entry

Guests make their way to the front door on floating concrete platforms surrounded by greenery. The exterior fir beams extend into the house, visually connecting inside and out. The kids’ loft is wrapped in all-weather James Hardie siding.


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A deck with a tub

A Japanese ofuro (soaking tub) turns an EverGrain deck into a personal spa outside the master bedroom.

See more of this Lake Tahoe retreat home


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Water feature

Recalling gold-mining flumes, this runnel-like recirculating fountain uses water from a buried cistern.


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Outdoor sofa

The rammed-earth “couch” around the firepit appears to grow out of its setting.


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Mudroom and main entry

The first minutes inside a house help set the tone for how you feel throughout. Calming, orderly, serviceable entries allow you to unwind and relax. This house has a casual entry for the family and a more formal one for guests.

Accessed from the garage, the mudroom serves as the family’s entrance. Eldorado Stone veneer, slate floor, and wood create a warm welcome.


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Guest entry

Guests use the metal-and-wood front door.


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The plan

The house embraces a courtyard (with the front door at the center) and follows a meandering path of discovery with diversions along the way, like the screened porch off the kitchen and the sun terrace off the living room.

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