A Sleek Lake Tahoe Retreat Shows Off an Impressive Art Collection

Outside Tahoe National Forest, one family's vacation home takes the shape of a modern farmhouse and acts as a gallery for the owner's art collection.

Located on a low bluff with distant views of Martis Valley, adjacent to the Tahoe National Forest, the Martis Camp house was built as a summer getaway and winter ski retreat for a San Francisco family with two daughters. Tahoe-based architect Clare Walton took a restrained approach to the modern farmhouse aesthetic, composing the 4,812-square-foot home out of four distinct gable forms separated by square, stone-clad volumes.

The home is made up of four gabled forms: the main house—with an attached master bedroom suite in its own distinct volume (on the left)—an artist studio, and an attached three-car garage.  

The open interior layout features a double-height great room that unfolds naturally with easy transitions between the distinct spaces. Floor-to-ceiling windows create a sense of lightness and transparency. The interiors were a collaboration between the homeowner, who is an artist and an art collector, and interior designer Brittany Haines of ABD Studio—who used to babysit the family's daughters and also worked on the interiors of the family's primary residence in San Francisco.

The entry features a custom-made floating bench. Hooks were added for convenience, as the mudroom would be the main point of entry after a day spent on the slopes.

"With a background in art and a great eye for color, space, proportion, [the homeowner] was just as much a collaborative part of the process," says Haines. "We created a unique home particular to who they are. Their primary residence is a thoughtful juxtaposition of very traditional architecture layered with modern pieces, and the design for this project couldn’t be more different. With her vacation home, she was looking for something completely new." Working together, the two came up with a spectacular mix of bespoke furniture and exotic vintage finds in addition to showcasing pieces from the homeowner's personal collection.

Upon entering the home, guests come into a bright and airy, double-height great room. Part of the challenge for the design was to figure out how to make each space feel separate while making the entire home feel cohesive. 

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The decor is a balance of custom fabrications and vintage finds from all over the world. The living room features a custom-made sofa, daybed, and coffee table paired with vintage midcentury Danish chairs and an antique rug. "The chairs have interesting details from all angles," says Haines. "Everything needed to look good from every angle."

The dining room table is a new, custom-made piece from Nickey Kehoe. It is paired with ebonized black wood chairs with leather sling style seats by Sawkille Co. The chunky braided jute rug with fringe is from Armadillo & Co., the large pendant lights are from Frezoli Lozz, and the artwork is a photograph by Richard Misrach. 

The table was designed to patina with age. 

For the kitchen, the homeowner didn’t want a lot of closed cabinetry. So while the island features plenty of concealed storage space, she was excited to have open shelves to display a selection of beautiful pieces from her collection.  

A six-person breakfast banquette was crafted from walnut wood. The table was custom-made by ABD Studio and has a cold roll steel top with a turned wood base that has been ebonized black. The pendant light is vintage. 

The laundry room is simple and efficient.

The mudroom is an essential stop for the family after skiing and other outdoor excursions. Lockers provide neat storage for all their gear. 

The media room is clad in floor-to-ceiling oak panels. The custom-made, built-in oak banquette was designed by ABD Studio and upholstered in a striped linen. The eclectic mix of artwork is from the collection of the owner and includes pieces from Kiki Smith, Kenneth Noland, and a sculptural work from Mary Shaffer. The rug and side tables are vintage. 

A vintage Womb Chair was reupholstered with a nubby custom fabric from Cowtan & Tout. The floor lamp is from Atelier de Troupe, and the rug is a vintage Moroccan flatweave. 

From the living room, an open floating staircase leads up to the balcony loft and the second-floor bedrooms. 

The girls' bedroom was designed for sleepovers and contains four full-size bunk beds and a banquette with a single-size mattress, all custom-designed by ABD Studio. 

The bunk room bathroom was designed to be used by multiple people at the same time. The tiles are from Commune Design, and the wall sconces are from Schoolhouse Electric. 

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The guest bedroom features custom, built-in shelving over the bed designed by ABD Studio. The bedding is a mix of vintage pillows with Coyuchi. The black and white photograph is from Olivo Barbieri. 

The master suite is on the ground floor and accessed via a home office. The pendant light over the bed is a commissioned custom fabrication by Stephen White made from dowels and rice paper. "We didn’t know exactly what we were going to get until it arrived," explained Haines, "but it is spectacular."

The custom built-in bed and bedside tables are from ABD Studio. The art above the bed was commissioned from James Surls. 

A peek into the master bath. 

The home backs on Tahoe National Forest, so the surrounding nature that forms the backyard view will remain unchanged. Concrete slabs with a decorative pebble border form the outside terrace, and the separate structure holds the homeowner's art studio.  

Project Credits: 

Architect of Record: Clare Walton, Walton AE
Building/General Contractor: Jim Morrison Construction
Structural Engineer: Walton AE
Interior Design: ABD Studio, Brittany Haines

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