Idaho Designer Performs Reconstructive Surgery To Update A Home On Blackhawk Lake


Living with nearby staircase

Weaving together contemporary, industrial and rustic elements, interior designer Jordan Yankovich brought a fresh look to Tommy and Shanna Ahlquist’s home on Blackhawk Lake. The furnishings in the living room include a Lee Industries sectional, a coffee table by Noir and a light by Currey & Company with two directional lenses. The printed canvases are by Leftbank Art.

Living room with seating area...

Yankovich simplified the woods throughout this Idaho house, choosing engineered oak by Hallmark Floors for the ceilings as well as the floors. Yankovich describes the Bernhardt ottomans beneath the custom J. Alexander Fine Woodworking coffee tables as “really fun, yarn-y and woolly.” The leather sofa is by Lee Industries.

Detail of fireplace

Under the direction of general contractor Todd Allen, the stair in the entry received a stylish revamp into a steel structure with oak treads and perforated metal for a clean, contemporary look. The chandelier is by Curry & Company.

Detail of seating area with...

Four book-matched slabs of Sea Pearl quartzite from Mesa Tile & Stone cover the fireplace. “In a cabin, you want textural things, so we chose a leathered finish,” says Yankovich, noting that it reduces the glare from the light spilling through the Jeld-Wen windows. A Robert Allen chenille covers the Precedent swivel chairs.

Additional dining area with banquette...

The gathering room occupies one of two new wings added by residential designer Lisa Beck. A flexible space off the dining area, it’s furnished with custom tables, a long banquette in distressed leather by Garrett Leather and vintage Afra and Tobia Scarpa chairs from 1stdibs. The pendants are by Robert Abbey Fine Lighting.

Dining room with faux fur...

Topped with Surya sheepskin throws, the Noir teak-and-seagrass chairs establish a casual vibe in the dining room. Above the custom whitewashed oak table is an Arteriors light. Yankovich clad the cabinets in the adjacent kitchen in cold-rolled steel. “It will patina and get more interesting with time,” she notes.

Loft seating area with banquette...

Yankovich transformed a loft with no clear purpose into a lounge and reading area for young visitors. There’s storage for games beneath the banquette, and power outlets are tucked behind the cushions, which are upholstered in a Larsen print. Noir teak root tables and Currey & Company sconces finish the space.

Main bedroom with live edge...

Set in one of the new wings, the main suite was oriented to offer views of the lake. Yankovich and her team designed the white-oak bed by J. Alexander Fine Woodworking. The palette used elsewhere is picked up in the Fabricut drapery fabric. A Bernhardt bouclé covers the Knoll Womb chairs. Underfoot is an Annie Selke rug.

Tommy and Shanna Ahlquist’s McCall, Idaho retreat on Blackhawk Lake had become a four-season springboard for all kinds of outdoor adventures, but the house—a log kit home built in 1999—hadn’t aged well. The couple wondered if they should start fresh with something bigger and better. “We wanted a place our kids and grandkids couldn’t wait to get back to,” Tommy says. The lightbulb moment came while the pair was out canoeing. Tommy looked back at the cabin and said to Shanna, “Let’s completely redo it and make it what it needs to be.”

An ER doctor-turned-commercial developer, Tommy immediately reached out to interior designer Jordan Yankovich, with whom he’d collaborated previously. Yankovich headed to McCall for a look. Taking in the profusion of yellow-pine logs, the dated interior accented with river rock and the too-small kitchen, she asked how big of a change they envisioned. Tommy and Shanna agreed: The cabin needed major reconstructive surgery. “It’s an amazing site,” says Yankovich, “but they needed to get more out of the house.” 

Expanding was a must, but when builder Todd Allen brought on residential designer Lisa Beck, she suggested that rather than building toward the lake they extend the cabin on either side. “The idea was to elongate the house so they could enjoy the lake lifestyle much more freely,” says Beck. “Now there are plenty of indoor-outdoor spaces, and our goal was to give every room a view of the water.”

Guided by Shanna and Tommy’s desire for a family-friendly home, the team reorganized the interior into three primary zones: the main public rooms on the first floor, a kid-friendly escape with a loft, bunk room and deck upstairs, and a TV room/teen hangout in the expanded walkout basement downstairs. Oriented to provide views of the lake, one of the new wings now houses the main suite. The other contains the gathering room, a cafe-like space with a long banquette and a throwback vibe that accommodates overflow from the dining room and serves as a more intimate living area. A harmonious transition between old and new was critical, says Beck. “We didn’t want anything to feel like an addition.”

Though the house’s shell remained, the original structure gained around 1,600 square feet in the renovation, along with an expanded deck and other patios. But the biggest challenge was the nine-month timeline. “Ordinarily, a project like this would take a year, but Tommy wanted it done for the Fourth of July, and there was four feet of snow on the ground when we started,” recalls Allen, who had a team of around 40, including 14 carpenters. “Every morning Tommy would say, ‘What do you need?’ and ‘How can I help?’ ”

For her part, Yankovich, along with associates Tara Garrett and Laurie Engelbreit, knew the key to transforming the interior lay in completely overhauling the pine logs. After whitewashing a sample, she experimented with a blackish-brown stain until she achieved the contrast she was looking for. With the background established, she gave the living room’s double-height, river rock fireplace a dramatic rewrite, facing the entire wall with four massive slabs of leathered quartzite instead.

Compatible with the couple’s “mountain modern” style is the industrial-feeling metal stair and kitchen cabinets wrapped in durable cold-rolled steel, along with a palette of blues and forest greens. “As much as I like light colors and natural materials, I kept away from things that wouldn’t age well,” explains Yankovich, who frequently turned to high-performance upholstery fabrics.

Tommy made sure the cabin would contain fun details for all ages, like the sleepover deck, a 30-foot rock-climbing wall, an in-ground trampoline and a slide that spans the backside of the building, as well as a sauna and a locker room where guests can come in from a day on the slopes or the lake and change out of their “play” clothes. And then there’s the ice cream room—complete with a soft-serve ice cream maker. “Tommy would say he was playing to win the grandpa game,” Yankovich remarks with a laugh. 

The lakefront cabin now embodies its owners’ dream of a legacy family home. “Anyone can buy a piece of property and put a nice new house on it,” says Tommy, “but taking something old and making it harmonize with your wants and desires, that’s more difficult. This cabin will be in our family for generations.”