Truckee’s Sunset House drawing crowds |

Truckee’s Sunset House drawing crowds

Emma Garrard/Sierra Sun Kim Parisi shows the living room of the Sunset Idea House in Truckee Tuesday. The docent volunteer coordinators are looking for more docents for the house.

Overlooking the 18th hole at the Golf Club at Gray’s Crossing, a newly built 6,000-square-foot home is attracting hundreds of visitors every weekend to the Tahoe Truckee area ” even in the snow.

On Friday about 150 visitors dropped by the Sunset Idea House Lake Tahoe to have a peek on a self-guided tour. Much of their feedback was positive.

“This exceeds Sunset standards,” said JoAnn Byler, a visitor from Idaho. “I like the way the outdoors [is] brought in.”

“It’s gorgeous and has a lot of innovative ideas for a mountain home,” said Tahoe Donner second-home owner Victoria Srago.

Once the Idea House closes to the public on Oct. 28, the demonstration home will be available to buy at a suggested price of $5.5 million.

Pointing to a massive fir support beam with circular glass plugs lit from the outside, Susan Ritchie explained that the model high country retreat features numerous recycled materials.

“All of the wood is reclaimed from within 500 miles of the building site,” said Ritchie, the co-chair of the Queen of Hearts docent program that supplies volunteer guides for the home. “That colored glass is the way the builder dealt with holes in that beam.”

The emphasis on green building methods is a theme found throughout the house, from the aluminum sink recycled from a farmhouse to the 200-gallon underground cistern that recycles rain water and snowmelt for landscaping.

Sunset Magazine, the glossy, high-end publication that caters to readers in 13 western states, builds two demonstration homes a year to bring the pages of the magazine to life, according to the periodical’s event coordinator Fray Below. This year Sunset chose to build homes in San Francisco and Truckee, with construction still under way on the San Francisco idea house.

“For Truckee to be chosen puts us in the creme de la creme,” Ritchie said.

From the time of its Aug. 24 opening, the local economy stood to benefit from the 15,000 visitors that were expected to stream through the doors of the Idea House during its two-month run as a showcase.

To guide the public through the roughly hewn concrete and clay-lined hallways, Sunset selected a volunteer partner for the project, the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation Queen of Hearts Women’s Fund.

“We have had 700 volunteers through the 10-week period,” said Martha Simon, the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation’s development relations officer.

Though 700 seems like a lot of volunteers, Ritchie said the Idea House needs even more volunteer docents since as many as a dozen docents are on duty at once.

“It’s a great way for people to see the house ” they can even bring their friends,” Ritchie said.

The lifestyle magazine donated $25,000 to the Queen of Hearts Women’s fund, which will be used by the nonprofit community group for future endowments to local arts, education, environmental and health programs, according to Simon.

The Sunset Idea House is on the market, according to Ritchie. East West Partners will sell the spacious property for $5.5 million.

The house will be open from 9 a.m.. to 5 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, closing Oct. 28.

For more information about Sunset Idea House visit

for more information about green building visit

Want to be a docent?

Call: Susan Ritchie at 587-1776

or Martha Simon at 550-9097

or Susan Brandy at 448-5237

There are two shifts Friday, Saturday and Sunday: 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Want to visit?

Admission Costs

$15 – Adults

$10 – Seniors

$5 – Children ages 6-12

Free – Children 5 and under

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