On the Waterfront
Surrounded by a forest of redwoods and sequoias, this secluded Tahoe compound is reimagined by the owners’ talented son.
Though Todd Gildred recently received his master’s degree in interior design from San Francisco’s Academy of Art and is just now establishing his own design firm, he started conceptualizing his first commission—a collection of waterfront cabins on Tahoe’s eastern shore—more than 20 years ago.
“I’ve been spending summers up here since I was eight months old,” explains Gildred, 29. “My parents took us to Lake Tahoe in 1985, and when they discovered this property in the middle of a national forest, my father knew he had to have it.”
Gildred’s father, Stuart, now deceased, was from a successful land-development family of Polish descent in Mexico City. The family owned a ranch in Santa Ynez, and the Gildred patriarch was an accomplished rodeo horse cutter. He was a character his son likes to describe as a “Mexican-Jewish cowboy,” and the property in Tahoe was as colorful and unique as its owners.
“If I showed you before-and-after photos, you would laugh,” says Gildred, describing the rustic interiors, including carpets with burn marks from s’mores roasting inside the main house. Gildred, who expressed a passion for building and architecture from an early age, had plenty of ideas for improving the property. “I was most excited to gut the kitchens and bathrooms, and open up everything for large family gatherings.”
After a yearlong interior renovation (the governing bodies of the communities in and around Tahoe, like the scenic board and the Forest Service, make exterior alterations a challenge), the four buildings on the property are now stunning examples of lakehouse-chic design. Gildred drew from the area’s Nordic influence, established by the post-Gold Rush Europeans who flocked to the area from San Francisco. He chose a color palette mimicking the variations of colors of the waters, the gray granite boulders, sandy shoreline, turquoise shallows and deep cobalt at the center. The Boathouse is now a sleek party room inspired by the vintage wooden boats for which Tahoe is famous. The Main House is an inviting family space built around the original fireplace. The guest cabins have whitewashed walls, exposed beams and modern kitchenettes, all designed with extended reunions in mind.
“It’s camp for adults and kids,” he explains, “waterskiing, hiking, boating across the lake for a cocktail, and getting away from technology.” One thing the house doesn’t have? “A satellite TV.”
By Christine Lennon.
Photographed by Paul Dyer.