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Home Tour: Modern Lakefront in Tahoe

Tasked with turning a modern lakefront home into a comfortable retreat, a designer trained her eyes on the expansive view and focused on the family’s swim-and-ski-lifestyle. Her strategy: Use highly durable materials, honor the dramatic beauty of California, and create flexible spaces with a multigenerational clan in mind.

The deep, cool water in Lake Tahoe is so famous for its distinct shade of cerulean blue that paint colors have been named after it. Framed by towering pines and giant rocks, it makes for a jaw-dropping tableau. But it also poses unique challenges for an interior designer as meticulous as Liza Reyes, who started working on this northshore weekend home when the foundation was just being set. “The house is very sensitive to color because of the light and the reflections from the water,” says Reyes. “I spent a lot of time there to see how it changed throughout the day.”

The home’s owners are a Los Angeles couple with two daughters, one in college and one grad, who enjoy the lake year-round, skiing, hiking, swimming, and entertaining. “We had long conversations about how the family would grow in the space,” says Reyes, who responded with weatherproof surfaces (bring on the clunky ski boots and wet swimsuits!), as well as sleek builtins and clever catalog finds. “Tahoe is not the easiest place to get in and out of,” she explains, so rather than hiring delivery companies to drive pieces from L.A., she relied on shipments from brands like Restoration Hardware, Rejuvenation, and Waterworks.

The result is a getaway filled with custom features that check off all the family’s boxes—and a rock-solid gathering place for years to come.

A Sitting Room for All Seasons

The family’s wish list for their vacation home was short and sweet. It had to withstand the elements, have forgiving textiles, and be easy to sweep, says Los Angeles designer Liza Reyes, who responded with natural-concrete floors, a cowhide rug, and leather bench cushions. A fireplace made from local rocks offsets a wall of walnut tongue-and-groove paneling; a custom-made table expands for game nights; and tub chairs swivel toward the kitchen, so conversation can flow.


A Crowd-Friendly Kitchen

Enthusiastic cooks and hosts, the owners wanted a large kitchen that would open onto the living room. Steel-frame windows let in the lawn and lake, and a walnut butcher-block top on the island and pietra del Cardoso stone counters are both sturdy and handsome. Navy stools by O&G Studio and dining chairs by Nakashima for Knoll nod to traditional Windsor style, and the dining table was constructed from rare old-growth pine salvaged after a windstorm in Pasadena felled the tree. A Lindsey Adelman light fixture adds an artful touch to an otherwise hardworking room.


Thomas Hayes leather chairs with swiveling backs complement a walnut table built by Reyes and her husband.

A high concentration of algae gives Lake Tahoe its famed cobalt hue. Simple Scandinavian chairs by Kembo are positioned on a deck to soak in the surroundings (top image)—the distant mountains are snowcapped in winter and spring, and green all summer. But this energetic crew doesn’t spend much time lounging when they’re here, says Reyes. “They swim and kayak off the dock. This house is built for fun.”


Heartfelt Touches

In one of the guest bathrooms, inlaid tiles form a playful graphic heart. When Reyes presented the idea to the owners, they were instantly smitten. A Kohler cast-iron utility sink has double faucets for side-by-side toothbrushing.

Bunks for a Brood

Built-in dressers speak to Reyes’s make-it-last mentality. The designer punctuates most of her projects with custom millwork, like this walnut piece on the home’s second-story landing and the generous drawers under the guest-room bunk beds: “I want things to be classic and modern, but not trendy.”

In anticipation of future grandchildren (and a steady stream of guests until then), the couple installed a family-friendly room for eight. Phone chargers are built into the shelves, and denim bolsters and Rejuvenation library sconces allow easy bedtime reading. Despite the owners’ initial hesitation, they’re into the white wall-to-wall carpeting. “It’s inexpensive, stain-resistant, fluffy, and so cozy,” Reyes says.

A Spa-Worthy Soak

Reyes had a graphic-designer friend adjust the tone and color of a Getty Images photo, then got it blown up by Astek Wallcovering, in Los Angeles, for the master bathroom. The tub sits in a Craftsman-inspired walnut apron, and the herringbone floor, “another classic American pattern,” is one of Reyes’s favorite touches. “With a weekend place, you can think about materials differently,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be as serious as your full-time home.”