Arts and Craft Architectural Style and the Lahontan Clubhouse

For some years now Tahoe home design has been heavily influenced by the Arts and Crafts Style. In the 80's and 90's master craftsman, Bruce Olson of Bruce Olson Construction had a big influence on local building styles, and still currently does.
An example of the building style Bruce Olson spearheaded and is still developing today.

Here you see the hand-crafted detailing found on Olson houses...each one is uniquely it's own personality.
However, in the 90's and early 00's, a high-end private resort called Lahontan began to emerge as the place where all the mind-blowing new ideas were happening. Because the Lahontan building code required many angles and roof lines and multiple changes of surface materials, architects had to become clever in solving lot-situation problems and program requirements within Lahontan's 100-plus page building manual. It became impossible to build a Lahontan tract-style house. Everything was custom and this required big budgets. And the big budget home-owners wanted rustic hand-crafted style.

The Lahontan club house, one of the first buildings on the site, was also influential in setting a style tone for the development. It was Tahoe Rustic blatantly meets Arts and Crafts Style. At the time it was built, there really was nothing else out there like it. This building, along with the early homes built in Lahontan, became trend setters in mountain construction and are still influencing modern building styles.
The Lahontan club house exterior.  Slate roof, multiple roof angles, dormers and shapes are reminiscent of the California Arts and Crafts style.  But everything is on steroids.  Just look at the massive trimwork around the windows on the right.  The posts and beams holding up the porch roof are huge.  Even the wood siding shingles and the roof tiles are larger than anything you would normally see.  

The Gamble House, Pasadena, California, 1908. Yes, the roof lines get more complicated at Lahontan, but you can definitely see it's early influences here.

A few months ago I happened to be in the Lahontan clubhouse and I surreptitiously snapped some of the following photos on my iphone. The interiors are very dark inside and I was trying not to be too obvious, so I apologize for the quality of some of these photos.

In the dining room, above, everything is overscale, rustic, heavy and hand-made. The interiors are dark and have a cocooning feel when you are in the rooms. This look is popular now, but it was new twenty years ago.

The furnishings are rugged and influenced by Arts and Crafts styles.

In the photo above, you see the one-of-a-kind detailing, such as the way the staircase is trimmed out so that it looks like each tread is a big rustic piece of wood, the heavy-set supports coming off the columns, the wide plank floors, the hand-forged light fixtures and railings. All the accessories are rugged and massive with a hand-made appearance, from the chunky pottery to the parchment lampshade. By the way, the map of nearby Lake Tahoe is really charming, isn't it?

Above, Orkney Island Chairs in the entry between a massive side table. Throughout the clubhouse you see the kind of attention to detail like the basket of lap blankets thoughtfully placed where guests can grab one to cozy up to on the collection of rocking chairs out on the porch. Games, books relating to local topics like fishing and hiking, antique sports equipment are placed throughout the interiors. Some of it is intended for the comfort and amusement of the guests and other items add unique Tahoe character to the interiors.

Also, take a look at the massive trim around the windows and the size of the beams. Remember that the orkney chairs are tall. The scale of these details is massive, something you did not often see at the time.

By the way, do you spot the arts and crafts references in the book case on the right?

The paint palate in Lahontan was very new at the time. The colors are deep reds, dark taupes, mustards, eggplant and deep sage. This new use of paint was influential for the next 20 years and we are just starting to move away from it and toward lighter, brighter colors and whites again, now.

Wicker was pretty commonly used in earlyArts and Crafts style interiors and I think it works beautifully here, too. The contemporary carved wood side table sets up the perfect counterweight between the chairs. Old black and white photos of local Native American tribe members, an Arts and Crafts style lamp mix with a modern Tibetan carpet in rustic colors and texture.

Comfortable wicker rocking chairs march in a row on the outdoor porch.

More than any other part of the club house, the tile in the ladies restroom is period Arts and Crafts:

I just love it and when I'm in the room I find it rich and enveloping. It's really gorgeous!

Above, the contrast of the old Arts and Crafts inspired tile with the modern doorknob perfectly explains what's going on at Lahontan.

A detail of the floor where the Arts and Crafts tile is inset into stained concrete.

Absolutely beautiful and still timeless twenty years later!

Lahontan Clubhouse interior design by Vallone Design of Scottsdale, Arizona.

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