big sky country homestead cowgirl magazine

Photography by Whitney Kamman 

OPENING SPREAD: The structure is built into the hillside, contributing to the concept of it being an historic homestead.  

Perched along the legendary Yellowstone River and surrounded by four stunning mountain ranges in Montana’s Paradise Valley, Livingston is known for its Western hospitality, wild landscapes, and a diverse community that values and stewards this special spot in the West.  The town of about 8,000 residents —located between Billings and Bozeman—is the original gateway to Yellowstone National Park and features a preserved downtown that is so picturesque it makes you feel as if you have stepped onto a Western movie set.  In fact, there are more artists and writers per capita in Livingston than anywhere else in Big Sky Country, aligning a rich cultural scene with the area’s endless outdoor recreational opportunities.  

Asymmetrical boulders were hand-selected by the project team for the front entry and hold up the posts of the front porch.

For a family from North Carolina who had looked all over the West for a place to build a vacation retreat, Livingston was the perfect fit.  “A friend made me promise we wouldn’t buy anything until we came to Livingston and he showed us around,” the owner explains.  “I fell in love with it because of the kindness of the community, and we loved the diversity.  You could say Livingston called to us.” 

They ultimately settled on a picturesque piece of land resplendent with meandering hillsides dotted with Gambel oaks and aspen trees that wasn’t too far from town yet felt remote.  The owners were captivated by Montana’s historic homesteads and enlisted Centre Sky Architecture to design an unobtrusive home that feels as if it has always been part of the landscape.  The clean-line rustic residence is festooned with reclaimed materials, local stone, and a vegetative roof over the garage that’s embedded into the hillside.   

The peaceful deck captures beautiful views and overlooks the pond that was constructed for on-site recreating. 

Conceptualizing an established cabin that had been added onto over the years, the architects created three “pods” linked by hallways of windows that capture the stunning panoramic views.  The great room’s kitchen, dining, and living areas are in the central pod.  A spacious primary bedroom wing lies on one side of the home, while the other side features a guest wing complete with two bedrooms and a cozy loft space for the grandchildren.   

Materials are used strategically to imbue the homestead theme, with reclaimed oak horizontal-stacked siding on the outside of the central portion of the home that transitions to reversed granary siding in varying shades on the wings to create a weathered look.  Hand-selected, asymmetrical boulders flank the entryway and conform to the columns that hold up the front porch awning, engaging guests as they enter.  Douglas fir beams, Montana moss stone, a metal roof, and purposely unfinished craggy chimney caps also contribute to the allusion of a home built in an earlier era.  

The stunning vistas and the fabulous fireplace are the focal points of the living room. The stones were individually selected and placed to make it look as if it has been there forever. 

There is no sheetrock in the house; instead, it features reclaimed timber, French oak hardwoods, plaster, and shiplap.  It is about 4,000-square feet of living space—all of it designed and utilized to keep the home from feeling too grand.  “This house is just really cozy, and it works as great for two people as it does for 20,” says Centre Sky Architecture’s principal architect Jamie Daugaard.  “I just love the space sizes, the scale and the materiality.  It’s elegant, but also very homey.” 

Creating a new-but-aged look was paramount to the success of the design, but minor details also pay homage to 21st century architecture and add a subtle modern touch.  These include the use of black architectural steel accents, angled columns, and clean-lined black windows, which frame the lovely landscape from every room and function as art for the home.  The muted color palette mimics the outdoors, and the interior design is earthy and organic.  Rustic textural elements like cowhide, sheepskin, wool, and Native American-inspired patterns add to the home’s Western sensibility.

TOP: Luminescent handmade tiles from Morocco are striking against the handmade pressed steel metal hood by Stronghold Fabrication. The beautiful cabinets throughout the home are handcrafted by Homestead Woods. 
BOTTOM: The warm and welcoming entryway is a glimpse of what’s to come as you enter this grand yet cozy home. 

“We were really intent on making this house very special and unique so every single finish was hand-picked; there is nothing cookie cutter in this space,” explains interior designer Kathy Tatom.  “A lot of passion went into this project, which is quintessential Montana.”

Gorgeous reclaimed Douglas fir wooden beams from Montana Reclaimed Lumber ground the great room. The beautiful dining table was designed by interior designer Kathy Tatom and built by local craftsman Eric Nelis. 
ABOVE: This furniture in the nook-like loft, which is reminiscent of “grandma’s attic”, is handcrafted by Eric Nelis based on interior designer Kathy Tatom’s imaginings.   
RIGHT: The master bathroom is a serene space with creamy handmade tiles and whitewashed shiplap. 
The exterior areas elegantly expand the home’s living space and allow occupants to comfortably commune with Big Sky Country.

Centre Sky Architecture, Ltd.

Tatom Design

Sievert Construction