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Shore Thing

An architect and an interior designer join forces and talents to transform a lakeside retreat.

Wood, limestone, steel, concrete and leather are among the materials that sublimely converge in the great room.


Works by artist Katherine Sandoz hang above a JRI-designed bed. 

Leon Hushcha’s fish-themed mural graces the media room. 

 Wood-clad walls and dark green cabinetry evoke the outdoors.

In the master bath, vanities composed of reclaimed wood and sconces from Urban Electric set a rustic-industrial tone. 

If you had driven by the vacation property belonging to Timothy Chappelle’s clients 50 years ago—soon after it was built—and then again today, it would appear unchanged. The siding, roofing and silhouette all look the same, as do the windows, doors and decks. But step inside, to a mudroom appointed with reclaimed wood and limestone, and a more contemporary vision emerges. “It has one foot in nostalgia and one foot in edginess the whole way through,” says Chappelle, a principal at Arcanum Architecture.

The two-story house on Lake Tahoe’s west shore is situated in a development that restricts exterior modifications. Hence, despite the homeowners tearing down the original structure and completely rebuilding, its outward appearance is no different than it was back in the 1960s. So why undertake the 2-year project? For starters, the lower level was “substandard height,” according to Chappelle, with ceilings under the typical 8 feet. By beginning anew, they were able to create the additional height that the clients wanted, as well as update the floor plan.

The homeowners, a family of five that comes here mostly in the summer and had worked with Chappelle on their primary residence in Menlo Park, trusted the architect implicitly. When it came time to furnish the Tahoe place, Chappelle was joined by longtime collaborator Jennifer Macdonald, proprietor of Jennifer Robin Interiors. Together, they banished the “dark and outdated,” as Macdonald describes the home’s previous condition, in favor of spaces that are cozy and cool, while also reflecting the vernacular of the setting. Since accommodating large groups was another priority, the great room boasts ample seating and a bunk room is outfitted with four beds.

The dwelling is noticeably absent of any drywall, with a palette of surface materials that spans from rustic to industrial. In the great room, for the ceiling, Chappelle and Macdonald selected cedar in a lighter shade than what was there before. Steel ceiling beams now happily coexist with wood ones. The walls throughout are Douglas fir planks with a custom stain that beautifully highlights the grain. Reclaimed timber is coupled with concrete for the kitchen island and the vanity in the master bathroom. Macdonald’s penchant for mixing materials is further showcased in the decor. For example, a warm charcoal sofa—her own design, fabricated by Kroll Furniture—consists of a nailhead-trimmed body upholstered in Moore & Giles leather, topped with plush cushions covered in Mark Alexander velvet. Nearby, she paired an oxidized maple-slab dining table, made by Tod Von Mertens, with a combination of Richard Wrightman chairs and custom benches that are unified in their leather and wood composition.

“I loved working with Tim and the clients, and being in such an inspiring location,” says Macdonald, noting that the design scheme draws heavily from the surroundings. Take her paint choice for the kitchen cabinetry, shelving that flanks the fireplace and accent wall in the dining area: Farrow & Ball’s Studio Green, a hue that might be found in a forest. More subtly, the veins in the kitchen’s limestone backsplash are reminiscent of a mountain range. Accessories in blue tones—pillows and throws—pull from the watery views. “When you wake up in the morning here, you know exactly where you are,” Chappelle observes. “We wanted [the clients and their guests] to be immersed in this environment. It’s about the lake house, it’s about families coming together—and we never want you to forget that.”


Single-family vacation home

Lake Tahoe

Jennifer Robin Interiors

Timothy Chappelle

Farrow & Ball
Studio Green paint on kitchen cabinetry, shelving flanking the fireplace and dining area accent wall

Rug in media room, master bedroom

The Urban Electric Company
Entryway fixture, kitchen island pendants and master bath sconces

Tod Von Mertens
Dining table, game table in great room and master bedroom dresser

Restoration Hardware
Round coffee tables in great room

Roll & Hill
Antler chandelier in master bath

Henry fixtures in master bath