Written by Ann Johnson | Mountain Homes | Winter 2022-2023 | Photography by Kat Alves
Classic Tahoe architecture is perhaps best defined by lodge-style homes complete with floor-to-ceiling stone fireplaces, log rafters and gables. But when a retiring couple set about planning the home of their dreams in the flourishing Clear Creek Tahoe community, they wanted to go for a decidedly different look.
“The clients were drawn to the mountain agrarian vernacular (aka mountain farmhouse) where simple forms are utilized,” says architect Ryan Marsden of Marsden Architects. “The simple roof forms and simple lines of the structure bring a fresh take on a more traditional mountain home.”
THE CLEAR CREEK TAHOE HOME, WITH ITS COVERED FRONT PORCH AND MOUNTAIN FARMHOUSE AESTHETIC, WAS DESIGNED BY MARSDEN ARCHITECTS AND BUILT BY MARK TANNER CONSTRUCTION, WITH INTERIORS BY JOANNA BRANZELL
Over an 18-month period, Marsden collaborated with the team at Mark Tanner Construction and interior designer Joanna Branzell to bring the vision to life and ensure that the design aesthetic aligned with the project goals and budget. They used extensive 3D modeling throughout the design process to help the clients visualize the concept and see the virtual finished product prior to the start of construction. Once everyone was aligned on the desired result, Tanner’s team began working in tandem with Marsden and Branzell to flawlessly execute the vision—from its farmhouse foundation to its modern finishes.
SITED ON A FORESTED LOT WITH VIEWS TOWARD THE CARSON RANGE, THE BACK OF THE HOME FEATURES A COVERED OUTDOOR LIVING AREA WITH A FIRE PIT, DINING TABLE AND PATIO HEATERS FOR YEAR-ROUND ENJOYMENT
Set on over an acre of land, the 3,463-square-foot home has four bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms. “The floor plan is somewhat unique given the layout of the site,” says Marsden. “There’s a cross slope to the site, which informed a pseudo-split level to the northern part of the home.”
The walk-out lower level has a family room and adjacent bunk room with two guest suites above; the separation of these spaces was designed to provide ample privacy for both the couple and their guests.
“Unlike many other homes in the Tahoe area, this was designed to be a permanent, full-time home,” says Mark Tanner, who has been constructing homes in the Tahoe area for over two decades. “You don’t see many homes with a front porch where people can hang out and talk to their neighbors … but it was designed to be very sensible and livable.”
Black double doors lead from the front porch into the open-concept, light-drenched interiors, where faux beams in the kitchen and dining room are stained to match the exterior of the home.
A COZY MEDIA ROOM INCLUDES A GREEN ACCENT TELEVISION WALL AND RECESSED CEILING WITH POPLAR WOOD THAT WAS LEFT RAW AND UNPAINTED
Two eye-catching pendants hang over the kitchen island, which overlooks the living area complete with built-in shelves and a stone fireplace. Nearby, an antler chandelier—“a fun play on the actual deer that live in Clear Creek,” says Branzell—hanging over the dining room table hints at the home’s Lake Tahoe roots. But most of the other touches (like the custom white plastered oven hood and white-marbled backsplash) reflect the couple’s modern proclivities. Large glass doors and windows throughout the living and dining area provide panoramic views of the Carson Range, while the stone fireplace serves as the perfect gathering spot on chilly nights.
“The design inspiration was from the wife, who loved the aesthetic of homes in Napa,” Branzell says of the interiors. “We chose light fixtures that gave it a Napa Valley feel, and reclaimed beams for the mantel. [The interior design] is more muted and neutral so they could have more fun with the furniture and switch out accessories throughout the year. All of the selections are a different vibe from what you would typically find [in the area].”
Branzell spent around three months curating the finishes and design pieces to match the architectural aesthetic and give the home an elevated yet accessible feel. The end result is a warm, clean and endlessly classic home that is just as well suited for entertaining a large dinner party as it is for enjoying a quiet night at home.
PORCELAIN TILE FLOORING WAS SET IN A HERRINGBONE PATTERN IN THE MASTER BATHROOM, WHERE A FREESTANDING TUB SITS UNDER A LARGE WINDOW WITH VIEWS TO THE CARSON RANGE
Since the couple wanted to host their adult children and grandchildren regularly, the selections and finishes needed to be as durable as they were beautiful.
“A lot of the products in the house are kid-friendly: Bathrooms have porcelain tile, prefinished hardwood floors are easy to clean and hide the dirt … there is a durability factor in all of the finishes,” says Branzell.
Other special touches—such as an electric dog door that leads to the backyard and a recreation room in the basement for the grandkids—contribute to the home’s truly custom feel and ensure that there is something for everyone.
Outside, a picturesque ravine and seasonal creek runs along the backside of the forested property, and a multi-slide Sierra Pacific door from the great room leads to a large covered outdoor living area on the back of the home.
The patio, complete with a fire pit, dining table, heaters and a large pass-through window to the kitchen, provides shelter from the late-day sun or inclement weather while also capturing panoramic views of the mountain setting. And a steel support bridge on the back deck spans to the primary bedroom patio, with the grade below designed to accommodate a future water feature that would give the sense of walking across a creek.
From the interior layout to the backyard, every inch of the home was designed to be a truly livable and accessible space for the couple and their loved ones.
“The beauty really is in the simplicity of the home,” says project manager Casey Eberhardt.
Ann Johnson is a Los Angeles–based writer.