This classic mountain lodge style retreat in the Martis Camp community of Truckee, Calif., has family written all over it—quite literally. Built as a legacy home for a Bay Area couple, their adult children, and eventual grandchildren, the family wrote their favorite Bible verses inside the walls on the plywood sheeting before the drywall went up. “We wanted the house to be blessed eternally,” says the owner who was so hopeful for grandchildren that she wrote the verse, “Be fruitful and multiply,” on the walls in the children’s bunk room.
Because of the multi-generational nature of the 6,000-square-foot home, there were three design considerations, according to project architect Ryan Marsden with Kelly and Stone Architects (KSa). The home needed to be comfortable and accessible when the couple was there alone. So the master suite, office, wine room, and laundry room are on the first level near the kitchen and great room. When their children came to visit, it needed to be expanded to comfortably accommodate them. Four guest suites that are equal in size and removed from the main living area to offer privacy tick this box. Finally, as the family grew and grandkids came into the mix, there needed to be plenty of space for them. The kids’ “crash pad level” on the top floor—complete with a treehouse-like bunk room, made-for-fun media/game room, and a huge, functional bunk bathroom with two separate water closets and a trough sink with three faucets—achieves this goal.
“That was really an exciting design opportunity, and it created a fun architectural challenge,” says Marsden. “Everything was designed so it can be closed off when it’s not being utilized; it doesn’t feel like wasted space.”
The owners were looking for a flat lot to build on, but when the wife walked to a specific site on the parcel of land they ultimately chose and looked out at the stunning sunset splashing across the Carson Range of the Sierra Nevada, she was sold. “At that moment, I knew the great room had to be right where she was standing,” explains Marsden, who designed huge lift slide doors (24 feet wide and 10 feet tall) that pocket into the wall at exactly this spot. “I wanted her to be able to stand in her great room and look out over that view.”
Marsden knit together the multi-level timber frame home with Sierra granite, stone accents, gabled rooflines, and heavy cedar siding to give it a classic mountain lodge feel. Curved trusses throughout the great room not only provide structural support via the massive steel beams hidden underneath the chunky wood, but also they bring a human scale and sense of coziness into the area. Unique features like a double kitchen island—one for cooking preparation and the other for gathering and serving—enable circulation and function for large get-togethers.
Interior designer Sarah Jones was enlisted to help with everything from finishes to furnishings. “They wanted a traditional mountain home, but with a modern twist,” says Jones. “They also wanted it to be very comfortable and casual so their family could really use it.”
The color palette exudes casual mountain elegance that complements the natural environment and the indoor-outdoor livability with a mix of neutrals, browns, and greens. “The house is tucked into the hillside with lots of great trees and native plants,” Jones explains. “Nature has done its work to create the perfect backdrop for the home.”
Mother Nature beckons through the paneled windows in the great room that lead to the massive patio, which is partially covered and heated for four-season accessibility and is as interesting and functional as the indoor space. Screen panels enable the doors to remain open without worrying about too much nature entering the home. Lounge chairs situated around a big fire pit are an invitation for star-gazing, and the grass lawn that rolls out beyond the patio is begging for kids to play.
Jones developed the spaces inside to be versatile and expandable to entertain a lot of people. There is a large amount of comfortable seating in the great room, including the soft sofa, built-in bench under the window, and bar stools tucked under the narrow table behind the sofa. A whimsical faux-fur ottoman in front of the fireplace adds a touch of playfulness while the family of textiles throughout the great room space—pillows on the couch, fabric on the dining chairs, and cushions on the under-window bench seat—tie everything together.
Creative lighting in the form of metal basket-like fixtures—large in scale, but not heavy or massive—illuminates the space without interfering with the architectural detail. Sconces in the living room add another layer of lighting at eye level.
“It turned out so well, better than we could have imagined,” praises the owner who loved the home so much that she started gifting retreats at the house to non-governmental organizations for team-building and strategizing. “It’s a great place to get together; it’s a dream, and we are so happy.”
To add to their happiness, “Poppy” and “Gogo” are now the proud grandparents to three grandchildren, an answer to a prayer scrawled on the walls before the house became a home.
Architecture & Construction
Kelly and Stone Architects (KSa)
Jim Morrison Construction
Sarah Jones Interior Design