Rubicon Bay home transformed into modern lakefront retreat
The owner asked to keep some of the large wood beams in the master bedroom. Lindsay and crew also added built-in benches, photo by Scott Thompson
Aristotle may not have had home design in mind when he surmised the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. But, for Truckee contractor Craig Lindsay, the tenet is well represented in the minute details of this West Shore project.
Over the course of a year, Lindsay and his team transformed the 5,500-square-foot Rubicon Bay property from a dated mountain interior to an elegant, modern lakefront retreat. Lindsay worked closely with the owners and architect Nick J. Kromydas to implement dozens of design changes that resulted in an entirely new feel.
“Every room had a lot of fine detail involved in it,” Lindsay says.
The living room is accented with modern furniture and a clean white design, photo by Scott Thompson
The finish team started with the kitchen, pushing one wall back to increase the room’s size. The expansion was the largest structural change throughout the remodel.
Lindsay and crew replaced the existing wooden cabinets that distracted from the bright blue of the lake with a wall of clean white cabinetry, hiding the refrigerator and dishwasher. He added a triangular island, topped with a sharp black granite countertop. The owner chose brushed nickel stools to line the outer edge, matching the new stainless steel appliances.
The changes put the room’s emphasis on the lakefront windows. The blues and teals of the Tahoe shore seem brighter, Lindsay says.
"When you walk into the house, you see clean lines and the lake just comes into the house,” he says.
The large living room river-rock fireplace was one of the few original features the owner decided to keep, photo by Scott Thompson
But the modern look doesn’t come without challenges. Because of the clean lines, contractors must be razor precise. A ceiling or floor that is not level can cause a domino effect that throws the project into a tailspin. Not to mention, there’s no room for other minor errors.
“That’s the biggest challenge in these homes,” Lindsay says. “There’s no trim to cover mistakes up. There’s no baseboard, so all the floors are cut tight to the drywall. No trim around the stairs. No trim or fastening details around the railing. Everything has to be straight, clean and plumb.”
In addition to replacing the cabinets, resurfacing the walls and changing all of the flooring, Lindsay’s team had a few large custom builds to add. In the stairwell, the owner imagined a feature of raw birch poles rising from floor to ceiling. Communicating with photos of progress, Lindsay installed the birch poles near the entrance.
“I think it brings a lot of nice warmth for this space. Otherwise, it would feel really sterile in here,” he says.
Lindsay Construction installed seamless metal railings on the stairs. Communicating via phone and photos, Lindsay also added the wall of birch poles the owner had conceptualized, photo by Scott Thompson
Building the birch wall décor and custom features like the hanging-mirror divider in the master bathroom required constant communication with the owner, whose primary residence is in Hong Kong, 6,000 miles from Tahoe. Lindsay and Kromydas set up weekly calls and sent photos of the progress. The owner, who prefers to remain anonymous, was amazed with how well the work turned out, despite the challenges of distance.
“The case of our bathroom divider is just one of the many examples,” she wrote in the Tahoe Quarterly home submission. “Craig thoroughly thinks in both practical and aesthetic terms about an idea, adds suggestions that improve on it and then makes it happen.”
Lindsay has been building and remodeling homes in Lake Tahoe for over 30 years. Though he now subcontracts for a lot of the work, he still likes to put his tool belt on and go to work. He’s especially fond of the finish work. For the Rubicon Bay property, he enjoyed installing small details like the hidden LED strip lighting and the custom mirror features.
“The price point goes up if you really want this look because it takes a lot of time,” Lindsay says. “There’s a lot of labor in these homes. There really is.”