If you want a well-built home, try the personal residence of a builder. But if you want one that’s also extraordinary, look to a builder who is not afraid of expressing his personality and having some fun.
A sink made from a smelting pot? Wine barrel ceilings? Light fixtures fashioned from beer growlers? Yes, yes and yes.
This reclaimed timber-clad house in the resort community of Lahontan in Truckee, California, has what can rightfully be called “one-of-a-kind” details in every direction.
Designed by architect Dennis E. Zirbel, it is the family home of Mark Neave, the owner of award-winning NSM Construction.
To create the rustic contemporary, Neave gave the architect one vision and asked him to bring in his own ideas. “Then, we noodled it together,” Neave says. “The ultimate goal was to make the home look like it was built by an artisan, not a builder.”
Native basalt stone covers portions of the structure’s irregular walls, while salvaged wood siding borders a variety of window shapes and sizes.
“I love the architectural massing of the house. It’s quite contemporary in form,” Neaves says. The rough wood, chinking and deep eaves, however, “help it look settled into the ground.”
The strong dose of character continues at the front door, where a timeworn framing hammer serves as a door knocker. The glass-panel door has a sidelight and windows above to bring sunshine into the high-ceiling foyer.
Wood trim frames doors and windows throughout the 3,442 square feet of interiors. Textures are varied. Distressed and reclaimed white oak floors are used in most of the home.
Thick redwood beams top many of the rooms, some of which feature stone fireplaces. All the ceilings are made from wine barrels sourced from Southern California.
“There was a half-inch build-up of sediment on the wood,” Neave recalls. “We had to run it through a planer.”
The decision to upcycle previously used building materials was intentional.
“I wanted the patina that reclaimed material provides. You just can’t create it,” he says of wood weathered by sun, wind and time. “There’s a character and story behind the materials.”
The dining area, living space and kitchen flow seamlessly within an open-concept great room where three steel beams function as both structural and design elements.
Other living spaces include a media room, a loft office/flex room and four bedrooms. There are 4.5 bathrooms, one of which has a double-sided fireplace sharing a wall with the primary bedroom.
The vanity sink in another bathroom was fashioned by drilling a hole in a smelting pot that came from Chicago.
Adding to the rustic vibe is custom metalwork by Mountain Forge, a local blacksmith shop. The door knocker, hammered steel wall hooks in the mudroom and the metal framework for the lighting are among the details.
To create the globes for the custom light fixtures, the workman cut the bottoms off beer growlers.
Neave wanted the metal interior stair railing to look as though he had gone out in a field and picked up parts and pieces from an old tractor. What he got was more sophisticated, but close inspection reveals spots of red and yellow spray paint that make the railing look like it was salvaged.
A living green roof covers the garage. “The wispy grass spills over and softens the home,” Neaves says, blending it into the environment. The 815-square-foot garage has room for two cars, storage and a golf cart.
Another 1,151 square feet of patio extend the living area outdoors. A six-person hot tub, a barbecue and two fire pits complete the space.
Neave, who has been in the home for seven years, says it “lives well with children.” But now that his kids are teenagers, he wants more space.