Views set the Scene

Western Sierra's View

For this House Tour, I invite you to a 2 bedroom condo in downtown Reno at the Park Tower Complex where we turned a very bland space with awesome views into an inviting home with a rustic contemporary flair that welcomes out of town corporate executives moving to our area.

Standing in the empty condo for the first time, I was immediately impressed by the spectacular view!  The living room / kitchen had a 180 degree view of downtown Reno, the Truckee River all the way to Mt. Rose.  In addition to that, the two bedrooms each have a large picture window overlooking the same western view as the living room.  The rest of the space was really simple – grey walls, white trim and simple, clean bathrooms that had been updated with new sinks.

Meeting my client here in the condo,  I learned that this was going to be a corporate rental. Reno is growing at a fast pace in the business sector.  With our great tax rates and business friendly environment, plus the overall lifestyle of our city and the surrounding Lake Tahoe area, many companies are moving here.  In many instances, company executives move to the area and need short term living arrangements until they find a permanent home and move their families here.

Concept to Completion ~ Balancing the Rustic Contemporary Elements

My client ended up having a very clear vision for the condo, she wanted a rustic contemporary look that would be consistent with the Reno/Tahoe area, but more interestingly, she wanted to educate the newcomers about our city by using artwork to tell the story of Reno.   I loved that idea!   While my client was a property owner in Lake Tahoe, she actually lives in the Bay Area full time, so we put together the design of the project via email and phone meetings.  The best tool to get us started in the e-design project was Pinterest.  She shared her inspiration boards with me, and I was off and running to pull all of the ideas together.

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Searching for Artwork

The search for historical Reno pictures proved a little more challenging that both of us had initially planned on.  My client would find images online and our plan was to blow them up and have some on canvas wrap frames and others framed in black frames with colorful matting.  The challenge came when the online images we downloaded were too low of a .dpi to be blown up without severe quality issues.  That led me on a quest to find the original files, which led me to the most amazingly resourceful and helpful people at the Nevada Historical Society.  Sheryln Hayes-Zorn, curator of manuscripts and photo orders, helped me track down all of the photos we wanted to use, making a couple of alternative suggestions for some we couldn’t find.

We highlighted Reno’s famous Air Races in the living room, the cowboys and ranches that shaped our area in the guest bedroom,Reno Air Races General Reno and our state song in the guest bath, and the Reno Wheelmen, a group formed in 1896 to promote cycling, in the master bedroom.  Using the old photos as art, alongside  furnishings with clean lines gave us that rustic contemporary style we were working towards.   Best of all though, was the welcome into the condo itself – as you open the front door, you are greeted by a life size wall mural of the Reno Arch in 1940 featuring the star studded cast of “Virginia City”.  Ronald Reagan, Errol Flynn, Miriam Hopkins and Humphrey Bogart are just a few that take their hats off to you as you come inside.

Reno Arch

The cast of “Virginia City” in 1940 under the Reno Arch

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Victories & Challenges

Some of my favorite elements of the rustic contemporary design

  • We created a focal point in the living room (besides the view) by painting an accent wall in a rich, dark grey , then centering wood boards on it from floor to ceiling. The natural wood brought in the rustic while the furnishings brought in the contemporary.
  • Our POP color was orange.  So, I framed the custom artwork with orange matting that I ordered online.
  • The wall mural that greets you as you come in, very unique and immediately sets the theme for the entire space.
  • The custom bench seat under the window adds a lot of seating to the room and offers the prime spot in the house to watch kayaker’s maneuver through the course in the river.
  • The living room features two seating arrangements, due to it’s long narrow shape.  One side has a leather sofa to watch TV from, the other offers 4 swivel chairs around a coffee table to enjoy conversation as well as the downtown view.

Some of the challenges we faced:

Master Bedroom features a rustic contemporary sofa

Master Bedroom featuring cycling theme

  • Working in a condo with small elevators and narrow stairwells was a true challenge.  After measuring the doorways, hallways, stairwell and elevator, the initial sofa was too long to get into the front door due to the front hall being too shallow.  We had to re-order a new sofa that was shorter.   In addition to the sofa, the windows were so wide in all of the rooms, the window shades were so long, the installers had to hoist them 9 floors up over the balcony.
  • The building is old and all of the walls are concrete.  When drilling into them for the window covering installation as well as the artwork, the cement was prone to crumbling.  We had two installers turn down the job due to the walls.   Luckily we have two great handymen who took on the challenge and prevailed.
  • Finding a local contractor to build the bench under the window in the living room.  The growth in our city is so busy, it is hard to find anyone for small jobs.

    Reno Wheelman

    Reno Wheelman circa 1800’s

 

In the end, my client was very happy to see the rustic contemporary design she had imagined come to life.  She is now working to rent it out.  I hope that the renters feel welcomed to our wonderful city and learn a little about our history during their stay.  To see photos of the complete project, Click Here

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