Designed by Popp Littrell Architecture and Interiors, this dreamy, Nordic-inspired Lake Tahoe vacation home actually began as a 1970s condo that needed a clean slate. With a prime shorefront location, the views of the lake became the focal point of the project, leading the designers to open the existing architecture to encourage a lighter, brighter, and more serene type of vacation lifestyle.
With the client’s penchant for Scandinavian design in mind, the condo was transformed once the pale color palette was applied, surprisingly feeling winter-y and beach-y at the same time, much like the Lake Tahoe backdrop. We caught up with one of Popp Littrell’s principles, Curtis Popp, to learn more about this project. Read on to learn the background behind this unique remodel in Tahoe City, CA. (Photos via Popp Littrell Architecture and Interiors by Kat Alves).
Lumens (L): Tell us a little background on this project.
Curtis Popp (CP): The homeowners wanted to update the house (a 1970s remodel) from dark and dated, to fresh, bright and sophisticated. They wanted the space to be calm and serene, but also functional. The first floor was very dark and confining, so we removed the enclosed stairwell and replaced it with a open stair that helped bring some of the natural light downstairs.
We also brought in a much lighter color palette—more beach house than old Tahoe cabin—and accentuated that even more with our lighting package. The original kitchen was walled off from the rest of the living area and obstructed views of the lake, we knew we had to remove the wall and open the space to the fantastic lake views.
L: This home has a distinct color scheme throughout, almost Scandinavian in execution. What was the inspiration behind the brightness of this interior design?
CP: That was driven by the homeowner. She loved Scandinavian furniture and design and wanted to brighten the space. The existing beams went from black to white, and the original cedar walls were white washed. There was significant drywall throughout and we added more cedar than was there originally.
L: How did the lakefront landscape influence the design of this space?
CP: The landscape of Tahoe changes dramatically between summer and winter, and when I met with the clients at the space it was primarily winter time. Greys and whites with “Big Blue” in the distance; this had a profound influence on the direction we went with the condo. Summer is much more green and brown, but the beach/Nordic feel still is in line with the interior, just more of a juxtaposition.
L: Did your client have a direction they wanted to go in terms of style and function?
CP: It is a vacation home for them, and they are recently retired. They wanted the space to be calm and serene, but also functional. She likes to cook, so she wanted a well-appointed kitchen.
L: The pops of color seem to come from the art, rather than the architecture and furniture—was the décor taken into consideration before choosing the final color scheme?
CP: Yes, this is something we preach on nearly every project, keep the spaces neutral and bring color in through art, furniture, accessories etc.
L: Could you explain some of your favorite pieces in the space?
CP: My favorite piece of art is the green/yellow painting in the kitchen; it literally ties the space together and has such visual impact. It’s exactly what I referenced earlier—a little color goes a long way in a neutral space. The piece is by Penny Olson; she is represented locally (in Sacramento) by JayJay Gallery.
L: The lighting feels very intentional in following the same bright and minimalist feel of the house. How did you approach the lighting choices throughout the home?
CP: Generally speaking, we prefer that most of the lighting recedes into the space, not be seen. The fixture is less important than the light quality that it gives off. The exception to this is the impact of decorative or “art” lights. Typically, a pendant that is in a prominent location. In this case, it’s the Moooi fixture that hangs in the dining room. We wanted something that was light and airy enough to bring the outside in without blocking the view.