How a couple with three kids, along with a brave designer, pulled off a stunning makeover in a matter of weeks.
By Katrina Paz
Photography by Vance Fox
ALL IT TOOK was a few Pinterest pages—and a big leap of faith—for this townhouse on the slopes of Northstar to exceed a family’s dreams. And ironically, it was a dream they didn’t even realize they had until they walked into the property last fall.
Tom and Laura were looking for something to enhance their family life. With three kids, there were many needs to be met and a second home in Tahoe fit all of them, even for Laura who originally wasn’t sold on the locale. She’d grown up in Placerville with a father who ski patrolled, and the appeal of snow had worn off through the years. She’d recently visited the area in the summer, however, and everything changed.
“I had no idea about Tahoe in the summer,” she says.
She also wasn’t sure about designer Scott Corridan, and his ability to transform their new townhome into a cozy mountain hideaway. While she thought his website was “lovely,” she believed it was just too modern and sleek for the classic cabin flavor they were going for.
But his attention to detail, big and small, earned their trust. They sent him three Pinterest pages and the direction to “make it cozy.” Corridan clued in on their personalities and set off to create a youthful, energetic spin on the typical Tahoe lodge.
One of his first steps was to meet them at the Design Center in San Francisco where they went on a “like/don’t like tour.” Whenever they didn’t like something, he’d ask why. Much to Laura’s surprise, the only thing she really connected with were two orange poof ottomans (that ended up in the great room).
“Scott used that trip as a gauge for our taste,” Tom says. “He said, ‘Give me an idea of your tastes and I’m going to take you there.’”
“It’s what we needed,” Laura adds.
Designers and decorators would describe the home as layered, which means all the tiny touches and accessories that take years to collect and aren’t instantly noticed, but only reveal themselves after months of lounging and dining and running in and out of the house. It’s what gives a space its personality.
An old-school chair from one of Sugar Bowl’s original lifts greets guests at the front door. The living room is where the cabin atmosphere takes hold. The walls, which were originally plain white, were transformed with wood paneling, creating warmth and ease.
While not overly spacious, the room is exquisitely appointed with an eclectic selection of furnishings and accessories. Rich leather recliners (one of Tom’s must-haves), upholstered chairs and a sofa complement the orange poofs. Mexican area rugs and a variety of throws—from faux fur to chenille—flow seamlessly. An antlered lamp juxtaposed with sleek white faux deer heads amp up the stylishly rustic spirit.
A desk displays candles, small plants, books, family pictures and an antique camera and typewriter. The oldest daughter fell in love with the typewriter and wrote a story for Corridan to find on one of his many return visits to enhance his design with little discoveries. Floor-to-ceiling windows and a fireplace framed by granite round out the quintessential cabin offerings.
The kitchen is basic and functional, but the space is wisely configured to create three dining areas: a breakfast nook, a game table, and bar seating at the kitchen island.
Intimate Space with Big Personality
The four bedrooms are small, functional and exude their own signature coziness. The master bedroom showcases soft colors with industrial chic nuances. One guestroom features a four-poster canopy bed (sans canopy) and the other an upholstered headboard with faux fur rugs.
Pops of color, particularly blue and turquoise, are a common occurrence throughout and the layering continues with tiny touches of nature. Small bunches of succulents in burlap and buckets of lavender mingle with candles, bowls of pinecones, stones and minute pressings of butterflies and various flora.
The kids’ bunkroom is furnished with two custom bunk beds and a window seat. The downy-soft bedding is Pendleton-red and as close as this modern-day cabin comes to flaunting flannel. A dresser lazily displays a pair of classic ice skates next to a small black raven and antler-framed mirror.
The home’s showstoppers may in fact be the bathrooms, where Corridan boldly used wallpaper panels to create an entire forest setting. A verdant forest scene with a rushing stream flows around a deep tub in one, while another features an Ansel Adams-type landscape of towering pines.
“Wallpaper is back in trend and Laura and Tom are definitely young and hip,” Corridan says. “It just felt like something that could marry both their desire for a ‘cozy’ cabin with classic cabin elements and something more trendy and funky, like the big murals.”
With three kids, one of the main gathering places is the media room downstairs. Colorful checkers, backgammon and Chinese checkers boards adorn the entryway. Despite the fact the bunkroom is just across the hall, the younger ones often just conk out on the oversized lush leather sectional. A custom-made wood coffee table stores a variety of games. Pillows and throws abound while an ottoman, plush beanbag and black leather low-back chairs round out the seating options.
Corridan also made a makeshift reading nook and an arts and crafts corner on the third floor. A small table and chair with desk lamp is ideal for the kids’ beading. There are even spools of thread and accoutrements on small wooden shelves. A low-key club chair and trio of white faux deer heads complete the space.
A Whirlwind Transformation
Luxury doesn’t happen overnight. Or does it? Tom and Laura, a Bay Area couple, were looking for the seemingly impossible: They purchased a townhouse in Northstar in September 2016, and wanted it move-in ready by Thanksgiving (just over seven weeks away).
After meeting with four designers, they sat down with Scott Corridan, a prominent designer in Tahoe and Napa. They initially balked at his proposed budget, which was significantly higher than the others. After breaking down the budget and walking them through it, however, they were sold on his ideas and dedication.
“The budget wasn’t high because he’s more expensive, it’s because he’s more thorough,” Tom says. “I got the sense that he would take initiative with the whole project, so (I knew) if I just said yes, we were going to end up with something special.”
The home was barebones to begin with, so much so that Corridan came in and redesigned an entryway and created nooks and seating alcoves as well as installed wood paneling in the main living area. The entire home was painted, more than once, and Corridan often sent images to his clients for yay or nay opinions.
“It’s just so fun what a client can create when they allow us another 20–30 percent more in the budget,” Corridan says. “We had the most incredible army amassed in no time. And with a two-month turnaround time, it was cutting it down to the wire.”
The process and timeline were unnerving for everyone involved, particularly given the unending series of storms that swept through the region that year. Tom says when he came up for a visit in late October–early November, his home was a total construction zone.
“Things weren’t going according to schedule,” he says. “The wood guy couldn’t get the wood. There were electricians here, and weird paint…. Scott said, ‘don’t worry, that’s not staying.’ I don’t know what (Corridan) did to get people here to finish it, but he did.”
The budget was slightly exceeded, but not by accident. Every major refurbishment and decision was made after careful discussion.
The final result was beyond the client’s wildest dreams. They walked in, three kids in tow, to a home complete with candles burning, music playing and cookies on the table. The kids, who had no idea this would be their very own, found pictures of themselves throughout the home and their robes lying on the custom-made bunk beds.