Creating a vacation home is always an exciting task for a designer, but creating one with the grace and elegance of a five-star resort is a dream job. For the award-winning mother/daughter interior designer team of Catherine and Justine Macfee, it’s a calling. “We’ve been fortunate over the years to work with some incredible clients,” notes Catherine. Indeed, her Rolodex brims with some of the most influential names in Silicon Valley These tech moguls reach out to the Macfees typically for multiple projects, and after they peruse the team’s portfolio of work in the Tahoe area, they find themselves yearning fora High Sierra home of their own. The owners of the extraordinary residence (pictured here) had searched extensively for just the right property fora vacation home.
“They looked at places from Deer Valley to Carmel,” recalls Catherine, “but they’d never spent much time in Tahoe. After touring Martis Camp, they fell in love with the amenities—particularly the golf in the summer.”
The Macfees pride themselves in getting to know their clients. “We try to interview them in depth and learn how they like to live, want to live, and what’s going to bring them joy,” relates Catherine. “These clients have an elegant European influence to their syle,” adds Justine. ‘They gravitate toward restrained luxury Think of the clothes of Brunello Cucinelli—exquisite, but understated.” Indeed, the Macfees selected a very Cucinelli-like palette for the residence—soft ivories, taupes, and charcoals abound. “With such a soft palette, texture is key,” relates Catherine. To that end, she made sure to layer rich fabrics, hand-woven over-dyed Oushak rugs, stone, and plenty of natural woods.
“The 6,000-square-foot home itself had a contemporary vibe that we wanted to soften,” Catherine notes. “We mixed in a touch of European tradition, a little elegant French country, but still kept it fresh and sophisticated.” Throughout the home, the Macfees added carefully chosen antiques that give the home an authentic chalet feel. The dramatic entry hall with its sleek open stairwell is embellished with a pair of large scale terra cotta pots and a pair of antique skis. “They lend the space a sense of whimsy and warmth,” says Catherine. The living room windows frame jaw-dropping views of the Martis Valley ‘The volume and size of the room with its cathedral-style ceiling could make the space cold and uninviting,” says Justine, “so our challenge was to make it enticing and warm.”
Over-sized sofas upholstered in velvety chenilles with multiple layers of lighting from table lamps behind the sofa to a triple-layer chandelier and a blazing hearth have done the trick. ‘This is a room that you want to enjoy apres ski, brandy in hand/’ says Justine. The dining room is another favorite. Instead of a simple table and chairs, the Macfees opted to mix things up juxtaposing two upholstered banquettes across from hardwood chairs with leather seats and adding linen-covered arm chairs at both ends of the table. Three miniature chandeliers offer dazzling light. “Our clients wanted a turn-key home,” says Catherine, “so we selected everything from the crystal and tableware to the table and linens throughout the house.” The clients wanted to be involved, as a family, right down to the teenage daughter who had visions of an old-fashioned soda fountain/candy bar in her room.
Catherine recalls, “I spotted a terrific barat Sonoma Country Antiques. They were using it as their checkout counter. After a little coaxing, I convinced them to part with it. After a coat of matte-gray paint and a new marble top, it has a new life as the center of kid fun in this wonderful house,” But the kids aren’t the only ones having fun in this house. A very sophisticated man cave/game room features a spectacular custom pool table that was crafted in Texas of reclaimed wood, Catherine designed the piece right down to the type of nail heads that were used and the color of the felt.
The master bedroom is a “four-poster sanctuary,” says Justine, “The soothing color scheme continues here, along with an emphasis on sublimely soft fabrics.” In summer months, the owners can open the rooms massive glass doors and enjoy the fresh mountain breezes. When asked what the most rewarding part of this project was, Catherine answers, “Seeing our clients’ faces when everything was installed, We had music playing, candles lit, and flowers in place, It is so rewarding to make a client smile.” One can surmise that these lucky clients were beaming.