Houzz Tour: Tahoe Ridge House
The landscape and traditional forms shape a contemporary mountain home
Houzz Contributor. I am an architect and writer living in New York City. I have Bachelor of Architecture and Master in Urban Planning degrees, and over ten years experience in architectural practice, split between Chicago and NYC. Currently I'm focused on writing and online pursuits. My daily blog can be found at http://archidose.blogspot.com
Houzz Contributor. I am an architect and writer living in New York City.... More »
The name Tahoe Ridge House concisely sums up what the design by David S. Wilson of WA Design is all about. It's located in Tahoe, California, on a large plot of land near the world-famous lake — a location that inspired Wilson to tap into the area's industrial vernacular. And the house sits partly on a ridge, whose high point captures distant mountain views. Here we take a tour of the house to see how the vernacular and the landscape combined to shape the house.
The entrance to the house is from the east. On this elevation, we see the garage clad in corrugated metal on the left, a two-story gable volume covered in wood to the right, and then the front door at the end of a covered porch with some wood columns.
From here we can see the basic layout of the house, which is an H-shaped plan with the living space extending from the front door, a hallway moving perpendicular up the ridge in the distance, and another wood-covered gable volume atop the ridge that houses the master bedroom.
Before we head inside let's look at other views of the house.
Now we are on the opposite side of the house, the west elevation; note the hallway moving up the ridge at the left. At this end is the main living area and its chimney. A scaled-down version of the entrance canopy is located on this side, offering access to the patio.
Heading to the right of the previous photo, we come to the south elevation. The second-floor "sleeping perch" is the tall central volume whose window looks towards the distant mountains. Remember that the living portion of the house is lower than the master bedroom up on the ridge, so a little extra vertical push is needed to grab some views from here.
On the opposite side of the house, we are now looking at the north elevation, what Wilson calls "a collage of vernacular forms." The vernacular he is referring to are the "old mining buildings in the Tahoe area," like the Kentucky Mine stamp mill.
Here we are looking from the master bedroom towards the north side of the living portion of the house. Wilson points out that "almost no grading involved in the construction. The house plan conforms to the existing topography."
Heading back to the entry door and its covered walk supported by recycled cedar posts, the diagonal bracing hints at some of the whimsy that can be found inside.
After walking along the long entry hall that ascends a couple short flights of steps — reinforcing the way the house follows the site's topography — we come to the large living area with its dining room and family room. The open space sits below an open gable roof with exposed beams and steel bracing.
Looking in the opposite direction from the family room, we can see the stairs that lead to some bedrooms. In the foreground is a loft and a perpendicular stair that ascends to the sleeping perch to the right.
Heading up the stair and then turning around, the scale of the living area is apparent. As well we can see the first of many custom touches: the loft's guardrails ripple as they move along the edge of the floor.
"We designed the custom light fixtures at a large scale to fit the space," says Wilson.
Back downstairs we get another view of the dining room and the table that Wilson and company designed for the space.
Adjacent to the dining room is the kitchen, which is a more intimate space, owing to the lower ceiling. A couple more custom touches are apparent: the faceted range hood and the wood cabinets on either side of the stove.
Looking at the kitchen from the dining room, we can see that the faceted range hood is echoed in the face of the sink island. The edge of the island's lower surface is rough, a hewn granite that contrasts with the smooth and faceted surfaces. A closer look at more custom light fixtures reveals that they match the loft guardrails, a metal mesh that filters the light.
Walking the hallway that climbs up towards the ridge and the master bedroom, we come to an opening that "has the colors and transparencies of glacial ice," according to Wilson. In the distance is the master bedroom; behind us is the study.
Inside the master bedroom, we can see how the exposed gable and diagonal bracing is a theme that runs throughout the house. Tall windows do a great job of framing the exterior scenery.
Glancing right, we see some custom touches that are found elsewhere: the faceted flue over the fireplace, the wood casework, and the hewn granite hearth.
The bathrooms have some idiosyncratic touches, especially the double bowls that project beyond the cabinet fronts in the master bath.
But the double bowls have nothing on the custom concrete "canoe sink" that serves the other bedrooms.
The last couple of photos show the house in a snowstorm, making apparent how vernacular forms have their reasons. Note how little snow is on the wood gables versus the shallower entrance canopy.
Ideabook updated on Feb. 9, 2012.
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