The Forest House is a 4,500-square-foot holiday residence built in a California forest near northern Lake Tahoe. Filled with Jeffrey and sugar pine trees as well as white and red firs, the two-acre site is located 6,300 feet above sea level and faces views of the Northstar California ski resort in the distance.
The entire house is fitted with low-maintenance, eco-friendly features like radiant heat, enhanced glazing and efficient insulation. Elongated panels facing the south collect solar energy, even during the snowy, winter months.
According to the designers, they used a simple, rectangular plan to place the home with minimal environmental impact to the site, leaving a surrounding screen of about 115 trees towering 60 to 90 feet tall. To mimic the texture of bark, the designers included an rainscreen built of three-inch ebonized steel each spaced an inch apart. The steel rainscreen also functions as a fire protectant for the wooden portions of the home, a valuable feature considering California’s increasing wildfire dangers. There are also fire sprinklers installed on the ceilings for added safety.
Connected to the entryways, translucent glass screens colored with green tones reflect light throughout the day, creating beams and reflections to complement the evergreen forest. Although the home is supplied with several large windows, its three-dimensional skylights provide an abundance of natural light during the day and views of the stars at night.
Inside, neutral organic tones complement the setting, while black trim gives walls and fixtures a connection to the dark exterior. Common areas are placed on the ground level, while four bedrooms reside on the second floor. For a modern touch, the fireplaces are made with polished galvanized steel, meant to reflect movements. The architects used sustainable materials such as cut ballast stone and unfinished reclaimed teak wood for the ceiling and floors.
Photography by Joe Fletcher via Faulkner Architects