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Home splashed with red

“We really do call it our tree house,” says owner Lynn Wenzel. “The 180 degree views make us feel as if we’re sitting on top of the world.”

Actually, Lynn and Jeff Wenzel live just outside Nevada City – but as soon as you enter their home, you’re aware of height. I felt as if I were at some magical point where the earth ends and the sky begins.

Look out, and you see the Sierra in their sunrise, daytime and sunset splendor. Look up through the many strategically placed skylights, and you feel a sense of anticipation.



“It’s as if we’ve got a bird’s eye view of the universe,” Jeff adds, “and to witness an eclipse, a falling star or even just an ordinary nightly stellar display is breathtaking.” By day, depending on where the sun is, they reflect multiple images of clouds, sky and aspects of the home’s interior.

Angles everywhere




The three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath home and separate office/guest house with its own bath and kitchen are nestled on two secluded acres. Built in the early 1980s, it is a one-only architectural design that features three levels. Soaring ceilings and beams create space for the imagination to run wild – and it does.

You can’t help but notice that nothing is square. Instead, angles are everywhere, adding different dimensions to every room and corner. It’s unashamedly quirky and engaging. Sometimes, particularly in communal rooms, the angles enhance privacy in a covert way. Without doors, they provide a sense of beginning and end, as you move from the kitchen to the dining room and parlor, for example.

Lynn Wenzel, a former interior designer turned author and antique expert, is passionate about the color red, and she uses it to create a Victorian cottage style with more than a hint of the Far East. “You’ll see I don’t shy away from using earthy, terra cotta-type reds in one area, then cherry shades in others.”

Faux finishes add subtle contrasts and textures, and provide the perfect backdrop for the many paintings, prints and artifacts that grace the rooms. The living room, for example, features a lavish landscape screen, circa 1849. In the dining room, there’s a magnificently carved nautical image, crafted by Lynn’s own grandmother in 1911.

Victorian? Or Eastern?

The sofas and chairs mix textures, shapes and accessories that are reminiscent of Victorian times, with extra-large pillows, patterns and an Eastern area rug. The natural wood floors add subtle warmth to the eclectic furnishings.

The master bedroom features a mahogany four-poster bed. Multicolored, floral-print quilts and distinctive throw cushions enhance its drama. Although each room is modest in terms of floor space, every one has a surprising focal point. The impact may be large, but never overwhelming or “busy.” It’s an ideal place for antiques.

As you go down one flight of stairs, you see a grouping of mint-condition framed theater magazine covers. Look closer and you’ll notice they protrude just a bit under the glass. That’s because it’s not just the covers that are framed, but each one houses an entire vintage magazine.

The sense appeal of colors and textures also includes the sound of a fountain in the solarium. Located just off the kitchen, it’s an ideal place to relax, read and enjoy the spectacle of the huge plant grouping that faces the large windows.

Some of the decor is reminiscent of King George IV’s romantic Brighton Pavilion in England. Lynn describes her home as “voluptuously minimalist – with lots to see, but no clutter.”

Peeping deer

Ironically, sometimes the views work from the outside in, and at least one deer would agree. Recently the Wenzel’s daughter came for a family visit complete with husband and grandchildren. She was taking a shower and enjoying the private view, when all of a sudden she was looking straight into the eyes of an inquisitive deer!

For Lynn and Jeff, their home is warm and vibrant, with surprises everywhere. “It’s fun to live here,” Jeff points out. “It’s also a relaxing, yet energizing place to work.”

Their respective offices include a lawn area – and, of course, that spectacular, wrap-around view of the Sierra. Some windows are a stage for the Buttes; others for Donner Summit and Cascade Shores.

Since the Wenzel’s home is located in the “banana belt,” it enjoys a natural, temperate balance. While the expansive views may be covered in snow throughout the winter, the snow around the house melts quickly, making winter maintenance surprisingly easy.

With its hillside location, stunning views, dramatic angles and decor, this is one spectacular tree house.


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