A Contemporary Woodland Truckee Retreat Near Lake Tahoe


Contemporary Neutral Living Room with Terrace

A gray leather chair, paired with its matching ottoman—both by Minotti from Arkitektura—swivels to take advantage of conversation in the living area or views through the sliding doors toward the terrace. The floor lamp is by Circa Lighting.

Contemporary Neutral Exterior with Pine Trees

Architect Greg Faulkner designed this concrete-and-steel structure clad with hot-rolled steel and cedar siding. Lending to its distinctive appearance, about half of the house’s cedar was charred using a centuries-old Japanese technique called shou sugi ban.

Contemporary Neutral Living Room with Expansive Windows

Inspired by its wooded site, a contemporary house was designed by architect Greg Faulkner with a central living area flanked by two-story wings. The central portion of the house, which was constructed by builder Jim Morrison, features expansive windows by Fleetwood Windows & Doors that frame views of the surrounding trees.

Contemporary Neutral Living Room with Travertine Fireplace

A travertine fireplace defines the living area, where a custom rug by Tufenkian anchors a sofa and two armchairs, all by B&B Italia from Arkitektura. Designer Sarah Jones created the coffee table with glass and walnut on rusted-metal supports.

Contemporary Neutral Kitchen with Breakfast Area

The kitchen includes custom-stained rift-cut oak cabinetry, fabricated by Truckee River Sash & Door, and a polished Luce de Luna quartzite island countertop by Walker Zanger. A three-canopy pendant by Niche Modern in New York distinguishes the adjacent breakfast area, which includes a table and chairs from Design Within Reach.

Contemporary Neutral Staircase with Mottled Concrete

Faulkner combined rustic materials with a light and airy open floor plan. Mottled concrete by Calibrated Concrete Construction provides a backdrop for the staircase’s open walnut treads and blackened-steel frame fabricated by Hunter Metal Forge & Iron Works.

Contemporary Neutral Terrace with Custom Fire Pit

A terrace positioned just off the living area offers an alfresco spot to gather. Adirondack chairs by Loll Designs, purchased from Design Within Reach, provide seating around a custom fire pit, which was made by Hunter Metal Forge & Iron Works. The house’s roof is by Class A Roofing in Incline Village, Nevada.

Contemporary Neutral Exterior with Cedar Paneling

Surrounded by primarily fir and pine the home near the ski slopes of Lake Tahoe features a simple square garden featuring strawberries, wildflowers and other native vegetation by landscape designer Scott Murase and Mark Tilbe. The rest of the property designed and installed by landscape designer Erik Neu, includes red twig dogwood, yarrow and salvia, and a grove of mature aspen trees for added privacy.

Neutral Contemporary Dining Room with Cedar Screen

A brass-and-glass light fixture by Lindsey Adelman Studio makes a sculptural statement above a dining table and chairs, both by Desiron. Faulkner designed a custom cedar screen to create a sense of separation between the central foyer and the living area without obstructing the flow of light through the space.

Contemporary Neutral Foyer with Blow Glass Light

A blown-glass light fixture by Bocci in the entry foyer produces a glow when viewed from outside at night. With a copper wire that can be twisted into different shapes, it also serves as a sculptural element. The built-in bench below is made of walnut.

Contemporary Neutral Art Studio with Green Chairs

The art studio features the same wide-plank walnut flooring from Above & Beyond Flooring as the rest of the structure’s living areas. Dome pendants by Rezek, a division of Artemide, illuminate a Restoration Hardware table.

Contemporary Neutral Family Room with Built-In Daybed

A sliding glass door connects the light-filled family room to an exterior deck. A Womb chair from Design Within Reach stands inside, where a Secto Design pendant hangs above a custom built-in daybed.

Contemporary Neutral Window with Steel Accents

Just off the living area’s fireplace, Faulkner designed a west-facing space appointed with windows by Fleetwood Windows & Doors that offers a thoughtful glimpse of the trees outside.

Contemporary Neutral Bedroom with Walnut Bed

A large blackened-steel fireplace defines the master bedroom. Jones designed the walnut bed with built-in side tables and covered the headboard with a Kravet fabric. The gray-and-white-upholstered chair is by Viccarbe from Lepere in New York, and the George Nelson pendant in the window is from Design Within Reach.

Contemporary Neutral Bathroom with Deck Access

In the master bathroom, a Le Soleil suspension lamp by Foscarini from Lightology hovers above the room. A freestanding Barcelona tub by Victoria + Albert pairs with a Kallista tub filler, both from Ferguson. The shower is clad with black vein-cut travertine from Creative Design Interiors in Reno, Nevada.

Buying property was not on the agenda when New Jersey residents Scott and Claire Mackin took their three sons on a ski trip to Lake Tahoe a few years ago. Sometimes, however, life takes an unexpected turn. In this case, that turn was into Martis Camp, a 2,177-acre community near Lake Tahoe with trails, family-friendly amenities and homesites tucked away in a forest of pine and fir trees. “Like everybody else who goes there, we were gobsmacked by this place,” Claire explains. “It touched us in a way that was very emotional.”

Six months after that first visit to Martis Camp, the Mackins purchased a site and then turned to architect Greg Faulkner to create their new retreat. “This house is all about the sun, the views and the wind,” says Faulkner, who designed a concrete-and-steel structure clad with hot-rolled steel and cedar siding. Lending to its distinctive appearance, about half of the house’s cedar was charred using a centuries-old Japanese technique called shou sugi ban. “The idea is that once wood burns, it’s less likely to burn again, so it’s somewhat fire-resistant,” Claire explains. “It also has a beautiful patina with the texture of the char.”

To create just the right look for the siding, the project’s builder, Jim Morrison, and his crew burned sample boards and then compared the results. Once the team and the Mackins decided on the right color and texture, the boards were treated, installed and oiled. “It’s a really cool natural technique to get an interesting sheen and luster that will stand the test of time,” Morrison says.

According to Faulkner, the home’s form is a direct response to its surroundings. “Because it’s not a lush forest, there are these fragments of sky and landscape that overlap and build a reciprocal relationship with each other,” says Faulkner, who drew inspiration from the locale in giving the structure a single-story volume flanked by a pair of two-story wings. “The two-story wings create this reaching feeling much like the trees.” The architect housed the main living and dining areas in the central connector space—marked by floor-to-ceiling windows and a pair of sliding doors—and then positioned the kitchen, family room and guest bedrooms in one wing and the master bedroom suite, a study and art studio in another. “The H-shaped plan creates protected south-facing outdoor spaces,” says Faulkner.

The generous use of windows frames majestic views and strengthens the connection with the surroundings. “It’s a see-through house,” Claire says, noting that from the front walkway it’s possible to see into and beyond the glass walls of the centrally situated living area. “When it snows, it feels like you’re in a snow globe with the woods on one side and the mountains on the other side. There’s a blurring of the lines between the indoors and outdoors.” The materials help to blur those lines, as well. While most of the main spaces have floors of rich walnut, an 8-foot band of concrete marks the entry foyer’s floor and flows outside to anchor a covered terrace that overlooks a pool and a cultivated garden by landscape designer and artist Scott Murase. “There’s a yin and yang between the architecture and garden,” says Murase, who, working with Mark Tilbe, created a simple square garden featuring a mound planted with strawberries, wildflowers and other native vegetation surrounded with gravel. Encompassing the artful space, the rest of the property was designed and installed by landscape designer Erik Neu, who added red twig dogwood, yarrow and salvia to the site, as well as a grove of mature aspen trees for added privacy.

Inside, the design’s palette consists mostly of neutral tones that complement the natural materials of the architecture. Touches of color brought in through the upholstery echo the wildflowers and lichen found on the property. “We wanted a peaceful and serene space that referenced the site,” explains Claire, a former designer and amateur artist, who was closely involved throughout the project and collaborated on the finishes with Faulkner and designer Sarah Jones, with whom she also worked to select furnishings. “The house is a piece of art in itself that doesn’t need a lot of decoration.”

Indeed, Faulkner designed cedar-slatted screens to help define spaces within the house’s open plan and brought the hot-rolled steel inside to highlight an industrial-style staircase and the living area’s commanding fireplace. For the latter, the whole design team and Claire came together to finesse the proportions of the item, which is topped with striking slabs of travertine. “Getting it to look like one cohesive piece was quite an ordeal, but it’s the focal point of the room and a very important piece of the puzzle,” Jones says.

Other important elements in the home are the sculptural light fixtures selected to play off the clean-lined furniture throughout. “There is not a lot of wall space for art, so we went the extra mile to find fixtures that were pieces of art in and of themselves,” explains Jones, who also custom- designed the living area’s hefty coffee table and a walnut bed for the master. In the dining area, for instance, an arresting Lindsey Adelman Studio fixture makes a statement while allowing light to pass through unobstructed.
In the front entry, a handblown-glass globe pendant hangs in front of a floor-to- ceiling window, creating a welcoming glow from the exterior. “It’s magical at night when the house is lit,” Claire says.

During construction of their west coast pied-à-terre, the Mackins moved from New Jersey to London. Despite their much longer commute to the home, the couple have no regrets about the project. “It can take us 20 hours door-to-door, but it’s worth it,” Claire says. “This was a decision of the heart. When you’re buying land, that’s not always smart, but we’ve never looked back.”

—Tate Gunnerson