Linda Shannon-Valentiner grew up on a farm in New Zealand, loving the natural world and being deeply attuned to it. Ted Valentiner was raised amid the romance (and reality) of the American West. From the time he was a young boy, he held a deep affinity for a vintage lifestyle. Both were working in London when they met and fell in love.
Though adventure, travel, and careers soon had them globe-trotting to foreign locales—Saudi Arabia and Calgary among them—the couple never forgot the spell of the wild, indelibly cast upon them both at a tender age. When a life outdoors amid the rich heritage of the west became a siren call too loud to ignore, husband and wife began their search for a place to call home, far from the big cities. It needed to be in the wilderness, but not too far away from a nice bit of civilization. Whitefish, Montana, a year round resort town with postcard-worthy views, boutique shops, and gourmet eateries, fit the bill perfectly. They chose ten private acres a short distance outside Whitefish, in a spot where no other construction could infringe on their dream retreat. They would be able to ride their horses, Whiskey Pete, Honey and Buzz, directly onto bordering national forest land. Gathering together an inventive team who could artfully execute the plans they envisioned was the next step. Brad Neu of Montana Log Homes supplied the logs, and Eric Bachofner of Bigfish Drafting, (a division of Montana Log Homes) handled architectural design. Reclaimed wood was sourced from Wildwood Eccentrics. Jim Blankenship joined the team as builder and Lisa Giles of Grizzly Interiors assisted in interior design. The resulting cabin has the look and patina of a structure that has long stood amid the larch and pine trees, the mountains, and the nearby lakes.
Shannon-Valentiner’s passion for antique stores and vintage fairs and markets (where she often has her own booth-Groovy Cowgirl) served her well in creating interiors with just the right mix of rugged and refined. Her “rustic chic” approach—for both the upstairs and downstairs cabin area—combines a variety of sensual textures and surfaces.
One of a kind antiques are an integral part of the home’s personality. A rough linen coverlet (spun on a Scottish loom) in the master bedroom, along with a French-inspired chandelier and “heavy, thick, delicious linen drapes” are a tactile contrast to the majestic logs and reclaimed wood that define the hardscape of the cabin. The becoming front door is from an old schoolhouse. An antique cart from the 1800s, covered in authentic French burlap-linen, rests near the McGregor Stone hearth in the Master bath, providing a comfortable and toasty place to sit. Kitchen countertops, constructed of wood salvaged from a 1940s General Mills granary, are dressed up by stylish linen shades on the windows. The owner’s collection of delicate English teacups reserves a place of honor in an in the kitchen’s antique pie cupboard.
Passionate about their new cabin in the woods, the couple became eager to share their experience and lifestyle. The cabin was designed with a lower story—asecond and independent unit—with the intention of having it as a romantic getaway, not only for friends and family, but also as a vacation rental. They named it Old Wagon Wheel Whitefish. In fact, both upstairs and downstairs cabin areas evoke the feel of a historic hotel, at ease in the woods, but with an elegant European flair. Although the cabin is new, all rooms possess the grace and ease of a historic homestead, but with comfort—and indulgence—the key. A claw foot tub placed outside on the lower deck for example (with Adirondack chairs nearby to relax in) is a memorable amenity, especially after an epic trail ride, spectacular snowshoe excursion, or tranquil hike on the nearby trails. Cowgirls welcome!
Big Fish Drafting
Linda Shannon Valentiner
Lisa Giles-Grizzly Interiors