Skiers zip through the powder just a few feet away from the cantilevered living room of this stunning vacation home in Squaw Valley, California. If anyone inside wants to join them, all they have to do is head downstairs, pop on their skis, and zoom down the mountain to catch the chairlift all the way to the top. “Ski on Home” by Chicago-based architecture firm Strawn + Sierralta is an extraordinary Lake Tahoe area residence that takes cozy ski chalet vibes to the max for the most immersive experience possible. The result is part private modern ski lodge, part alien spacecraft (especially when it’s lit up after sunset).
The clients, a married couple, are (respectively) a professional BASE jumper and a former member of the Swedish skydiving team, so they’re no strangers to adventure, and they wanted a home that suited their daring lifestyle and personalities. But it wouldn’t just be a standard home for a nuclear family. Instead, the couple envisioned a spectacular home base for their extended family and network of friends, and Strawn + Sierralta delivered an award-winning design that prioritized connection to the outdoors and its unusual setting.
Not only is “Ski on Home” perched directly beneath the Squaw Valley gondola, but it’s also been built into the mountainside, so visitors can ski right into any of the home’s three levels. The mountain also provides natural insulation and protection from avalanches. Guest bedrooms and a standalone suite with its own living room, laundry room, and patio are tucked into the earth on the ground level along with a few spacious garages. At the heart of the home, the architects have created a “ski room,” whose warm radiant floors have been covered in recycled rubber to avoid ski boot damage and withstand tracked-in snow.
Numb-fingered skiers can remove their gear and head straight to the six-foot-long fireplace and its heat-absorbing wraparound concrete bench to enjoy beverages from a well-stocked wet bar. If they’re still feeling chilled, there’s always the sauna room, which itself is big enough to accommodate a large group. Sliding glass walls can be opened completely to reveal what the architects call the “ski terrace.” Three bedrooms, including a master suite with its own private terrace, can also be found on this level.
The glassy top floor offers expansive views of the surrounding snowy landscape, high ceilings, plenty of comfy seating for everyone, and a heavy-duty kitchen made to handle cooking for large groups, with plenty of counter space and sinks on both sides of a gargantuan island at its center. The kitchen’s open-plan layout and full-height glazed walls let you take in the scenery from anywhere in the room.
The 6,427-square-foot, five bedroom, five-and-a-half bath home was temporarily placed on AirBnB as a rental for $5,000 per night, which might seem a bit steep until you realize that the offer also included a 4×4 GMC Sierra truck, whose studded tires and snow chains allowed guests to get in and out with ease. And lest you think this dream vacation home is only usable for a few brief months out of the year, check out this photo captured at the height of summer, which shows the second-floor terrace in full bloom as a vegetable and herb garden.
It sounds like the process of designing “Ski on Home” was pretty fun, too. “A wide variety of prototypes were used across the entire design process,” explain the architects. “A series of massing models were made to better understand how to fully integrate outdoor living spaces into the complex terrain. More detailed experience models were utilized for scenario planning and user journey design. On-site, full scale mock-ups were also built during the construction process to help the homeowners visualize critical design moments and finishes.”