Observations from Lake Tahoe and Northstar

Andrea's blog – September 2011

This past week I had the opportunity to visit Lake Tahoe and the Northstar Area located about 10 minutes north of the lake. The village at the base of Northstar mountain is a newly developed area with a nice mix of shops, condos & restaurants. It is an intimate setting, with interesting architecture and a family friendly vibe. About half way up the mountain a secondary village is taking shape with the Ritz Carlton at the hub, with townhomes & single family sites in the works. A wonderful new townhome development called Homerun is being built amongst the evergreen trees, right alongside the ski trails. Most of the architecture is a little less over the top, with a mix of timber, shake & stone.

The second area I visited was Martis Camp, which is a 2,177 acre development with single family home sites. The beauty of this development was its laid back approach with community based buildings offering places to meet with friends and partake in a slew of activities.

Martis Camp – Family Barn

Unlike so many gated communities this one is different as it allows homeowners to do what they would like in terms of architecture. With the community amenities available homeowners can keep the overall size of their homes more reasonable, since they don’t need to have their own personal bowling alley or movie theater. This is a more sustainable approach to building and as a benefit the area feels more intimate, instead of a land of gigantic homes. This community nature also encourages meeting your neighbors and being active in classes/activities offered at the camp. As with the mid mountain home sites & townhomes at Northstar, you are surrounded by the forest and it makes you feel like you’re back at camp as a kid. There is a lost library found at the end of a walking path and community lodge with a work out facility & spa. The real show stopper for me was the family barn. With beach cruiser bikes parked out front and the red painted exterior, it immediately felt like a fun place even before I stepped through the door. Once inside the creativity of design was everywhere.

The Soda Shop greets you on the main level with books & games at the ready.

Downstairs a brightly colored bowling alley is ready to entertain guests of all ages.

The basketball court is ready for a quick game, with nature never being far away with oversized doors opening to the outdoors.

On the upper level creativity is at its peak in an arts and crafts space fitted with a kiln for pottery, easels for painting & stainless tables for creating works of art. In the center of the space is a large metal fireplace, decorated with children’s artwork from bottom to top. The floor is intentionally splattered with paint, so messes are not a worry in this space.

The developer allowed their design team to express their creativity to the fullest extend, which kept me interested and surprised at every turn. Each nook and cranny of the building was packed with interesting design details.

Painted stair risers throughout the building showcase creativity from the design team involved.

Framed shower caps near the pool entrance add a bit of whimsy & color to a lower hallway.

Overall the trip was inspiring to see such creativity and a change in approach to what had become industry standard. Smaller scale residences, whether townhomes at Homerun or smaller sized single family homes, take sustainability into consideration and make for comfortable family vacation spaces without being overdone. The laid back feel of the community carries through to a slightly less pretentious design sensibility, using beautiful materials but in an understated way. Creativity is alive in Tahoe!

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