A Retired Couple's Lake Tahoe Home Is a Modern Mountain Retreat

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Lake Tahoe, a picturesque enclave perched in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, has long been a fresh-air getaway for San Franciscans. But many of the homes in the area resemble classic timber lodges with hunter green trims — and that traditional look wasn't what a retired couple had in mind for themselves. When they decided to leave the city to purchase an outdated 1970s condominium, they turned to Sacramento-based Popp Littrell Architecture + Interiors to create a modern address inspired by the minimalism of Scandinavian design. "The biggest challenge was making the space feel larger," principal Curtis Popp said. The team removed a wall to give the illusion of more square footage, and brightened the setting by whitewashing the ceiling to match the new surrounding light paint. And once the layout was set, they thoughtfully considered ways to bring the outdoors in: a central chandelier resembles tree branches, artwork nods to the scenery, and large windows provide idyllic views. It's just what the couple had envisioned when they sought a new life in the great outdoors.

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Living Room
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Living Room

A standing light from Artemide Tolomeo stands next to a Bensen sofa in the living room. A Herman Miller Noguchi coffee table gives the gray room dimension.

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Dining Room
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Dining Room

In the dining room, a Straight Table by Carl Hansen is surrounded by Eames shell chairs.

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Dining Room
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Dining Room

Tractor Barstools purchased from Design Within Reach sit next to the dining table. The stools, which were originally inspired by a tractor seat on the side of the road in Switzerland, bring a bit of the outside world in.

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Kitchen
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Kitchen

Custom-made shelves provide just the right amount of storage for the owners. Aluminum windows, purchased from Milgard, were installed to bring in more natural light.

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kitchen
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Kitchen

Tahoe is known for its lush greenery, beautiful sunsets over the water, and incandescent snow on the hills. Somehow, this kitchen captures all of these aspects: a painting by Penny Olson evokes the colors in the landscape, and a chandelier by Moooi resembles tree branches.

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kitchen
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Kitchen

In the kitchen, pendant lights by Original BTC, a sink faucet by Grohe, and a Miele stove provide the homeowners with quality without relinquishing artful design.

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Fireplace
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Fireplace

No Tahoe lakeside home is complete without a wood-burning fireplace. Purchased from RAIS, the fireplace is both simple and functional, a perfect metaphor for almost every other piece of furniture in the home.

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Staircase
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Staircase

Custom-made stairs with a steel railing, built-in storage, and criss-cross cables maintain the minimalism of Scandinavian design.


After interning at Dwell magazine in San Francisco, Kate began writing about arts, design and culture for other national publications. She is based in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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