Martis Camp Cabin Refresh

Mountain Eclectic: A Moody Tahoe Makeover

Stephanie Russo

Martis Camp, Calif.

About the project

When one of your favorite friends with insanely chic taste calls and asks you to collaborate on reimagining their home in Lake Tahoe, you stop what you’re doing - ask yourself if you’re dreaming - then immediately say "yes!"

Tucked away within the prestigious Martis Camp community, this home had a lot of beautiful structural qualities to it, but cosmetically felt as if you were sucked into a 1990’s time warp: think track lighting, faux plaster-painted walls and a kitchen island with a jogged step up. The good news was that because of the minimal structural upgrades needed - which can eat up a ton of time and money - we were able to apply their full budget to cosmetic changes to help the place shine anew.

Our goal was to create a collected, lived-in feeling, yet balance the space with a mix of mountain-inspired and modern elements to keep it feeling fresh and youthful for their young family of five.

We chose saturated colors and bold, statement-making patterns to help define this Mountain Eclectic concept.  We painted almost every room in this house a different color, which perplexed the painter immensely until the very end when he saw it all come together!, to create overall continuity while ensuring that each space also had its own unique identity. The home sits at the basin of one of California’s greatest natural treasures, so we wanted to ensure that it stayed grounded within its surroundings, yet felt modern and designed in a way that wasn’t so on the nose that it included antlers and taxidermy.

Here is a breakdown of the spaces we transformed:
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Living Room and Entryway

  • Two elements that the homeowners wanted to keep as-is were 1) the barn wood ceilings and 2) the alder wood cabinetry and door/window trim found throughout the home. Since our starting point in the wood department included rich tones with a lot of variation, we doubled down on it by adding horizontal tongue and groove interior siding to the main interior living space (which has almost 20 foot ceilings no less) which we then painted a bold Farrow and Ball Off Black to give the room a striking, modern moment.
  • We replaced most of the light fixtures in this house, and for the living room, we wanted to turn the idea of a typical mountain-esque antler chandelier on its head by choosing something with a similar shape but with a clean, brass form and round milk glass bulbs. It’s minimal profile and contrast to the black backdrop allows your eye a momentary highlight before moving around the room.
  • For the fireplace, we wanted to keep the existing concrete hearth and the wood mantel, but update what was a dated and mis-matched facade, so we applied brass sheeting to the upper and lower face then filled the mantle with a collected mix of vintage finds.
  • For the living room furnishings, our client fell in love with a moss green Nickey Kehoe sofa that fit perfectly in front of the full length window wall, so we collectively determined it was worth the investment as it fit the room and window wall to a tee. We balanced the couch’s clean form with an adjacent gray boucle Restoration Hardware sofa. Centered between the two couches sits a custom coffee table that we had built using two opposing English walnut slabs sourced from Urban Wood Rescue.
  • We continued the horizontal wood and black painted motif in the adjoining front entryway. We utilized a piece of cabinetry that was originally dividing the living room and kitchen, which we repurposed into an entry bench with lots of storage. We upholstered a plaid cushion custom for the seat, and we added a minimal row of hooks for the millions of coats you’re bound to have up in the mountains.
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Kitchen and Dining Room

  • My favorite change to the kitchen was removing the awkward step-up to the island, which cut the island in half and made the it fairly unfunctional. Once we brought the entire island down to counter height, we selected gorgeous soapstone slabs to sit atop their roughly fourteen foot island. We also tore off all the old tile backsplash and ran the soapstone up the wall for a seamless transition.
  • We gave the dated hood a similar treatment as the living room fireplace. We re-framed the hood to run from base to top at the same width for a more modern look with clean lines, and wrapped it in sheets of brass with evenly placed rivets running along the edges as a subtle trim detail.
  • We added two striking, bright white island pendant to stand apart from all the alder cabinetry, then completed the space with simple Room and Board matte black hardware and a beautiful new Brizo faucet in luxe gold.
  • In the dining room, we first removed the lattice patterned wood detail that hung between the support posts and created a visual distraction in the room. Then, with our newly painted black walls as the base, we added two eye-catching pieces of art in the room: a handmade, sculptural Anders light, which sits centered over the dining table and perfectly catches the light coming through the window behind it. This magnificent piece is sculpted from layers of banana fiber, and is then draped and stitched around the central light fixture. It took MONTHS and months to get, but was worth every day of the wait. For the second element, on the longest wall of the room, we found a gorgeously geometric Mohair Hand Woven Rug Wall Hanging from Bofred, a female-owned design shop based out of South Africa, that told a visual story of the surrounding mountains in a simplistic and abstract sense.
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Kids Loft, Bunk Room and Guest Room

  • For the bunk room, Kele created a custom design that he worked and re-worked to ultimately fit four bunk beds (it’s an insanely complicated matrix to design bunks in an angled room), featuring built-in reading nooks on the lower levels, and constructed out of a wonderfully grainy hickory wood to bring in some much needed mountain-y character to the space. We mixed striped bedding with bright yellow duvet covers for a poppy contrast against the Farrow and Ball duck green walls, then finished it with sweet, geometric Minna throws on each bunk.
  • For the quaint upper guest room, we created a moody mountain ethos with the help of adding Farrow and Ball’s Salon Drab to the walls as well as a black and white bison art print. For bedding, we mixed terracotta, rust and clay hues from Parachute, then finished it off with a cabin essential: a Pendelton throw.
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Ensuite, Guest Room and Powder Room

  • For the downstairs ensuite, we wanted it to feel a bit more elevated, calm and refined than the upstairs rooms. We used Sherwin Williams’ Artichoke paint to set the tone, then ground the entire space with this fabulous Design with Reach multi-patterned rug.  We worked with Oakland based woodworker Jacob May to create an exquisite Flora bed in natural walnut, then loaded it up with cream bedding, an ochre linen velvet lumbar pillow…and yes, another Pendelton throw (is there ever NOT a reason to use these amazing throws in every room of a cabin?!) We flanked the bed with vintage side tables and hung Orikata Teardrop Pendants from the ceiling to frame the bed and draw your eyes upward to to windows above.
  • For the downstairs guest bedroom we used one of my favorite materials in the house, by hanging wall-to-wall heritage plaid blue wallpaper from Graham & Brown. We had to scour everywhere to find enough of this material to fill the entire room, and an important note on ordering wallpaper, you need to order it all from the same place at the same time so thatyou get the same dye lot - otherwise the pattern and color might not perfectly match! We really leaned into the blue notes in this room, with the exception of the two Schoolhouse reading pendant lights in butterscotch that hang above the bed.
  • And finally, while this little powder room was so narrow that we could only capture a tiny corner of it, we did get to use our client’s insanely cool gold vintage mirror, sitting in front of sweet floral wallpaper featuring Morris & Co’s Blackthorn Wallpaper, and we paired it with a natural stone vessel sink.