House of the Week: Storybook House in the Woods

885 Hill Ln, Lake Tahoe NV
For sale: $3,700,000

When Paul Arnold and his wife Elizabeth decided to build their custom home, they wanted something beyond fun. They wanted something fantastic.

Hence, “The Hobbit House” was born.

“As a framing contractor, I do hundreds of homes a year,” explained Arnold. “To do something different and beautiful was always our mindset if we were going to do something for ourselves.”

For years, Arnold has worked alongside Jim Brashers, a local expert in designing, constructing and renovating historic and period homes.

“We have built lots of really cool Disneyland-looking mountain cottages,” explained Arnold. “My wife has always wanted to have a Jim Brasher-designed house.”

The resulting property is something that belongs in a fairy tale — literally: A forested lot complete with a waterfall, views of a lake and a 1700s European-style cottage that is more the size of a castle, ringing in at 6,640 square feet.

It is a most fascinating mix of whimsy and formidable architectural styling.

A carved stone entry and 3-foot thick door, built from trees on the property, lead into the home where visitors are greeted by a handmade dragon chandelier holding court over an enormous entryway with hickory floors. Most of the woodwork was hewn from trees on the property, including the cabinetry and paneling — a decision made by Arnold’s wife.

“She asked me if we could build the house without taking down any of the trees,” said Arnold. His compromise was to build the house the best he could around the trees, and to incorporate the few trees that fell into the home’s design.

Other whimsical details in the Reno-area home include a giant wood-burning fireplace, guest suites with small windows looking over a great hall, and an indoor pool that is only accessed by a stone bridge. An outdoor wine cellar is built into the side of the hill.

And of course, detailed murals cover many of the walls.

“That’s a very favorite part of the house,” Arnold says. “There was an artist in that house for months, and the artwork on the walls is spectacular; we just cut him loose.”

Despite the rustic appeal, the home is firmly planted in the 21st century — a blend of a “yesterday and tomorrow,” says Arnold, who amped the home with technological details, including a controlled lighting system by Creston.

The 4-bedroom, 5.5-bath home is listed by Ronda Moll of Sierra Sotheby’s International Realty.

According to Zillow’s mortgage calculator, a monthly payment on the home would be $13,616 a month, assuming a 20 percent down payment on a 30-year-fixed mortgage.