By Deborah Donohue Photography by Gibeon Photography
Sleek, elegant Modernism and traditional Montana Rustic is a match made in Heaven—or its vicinity—as in the case of this aptly named vacation home perched on the very top of a mountain ridge in Big Sky, Montana. The “Castle,” poised at an elevation of approximately 8,200-8,800 ft. is located in the American Spirit area of the Yellowstone Club, a private residential ski and golf community. The sky-high location affords a bird’s eye view of the Yellowstone Lodge, as well as the club’s 18-hole Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course, Lone Peak, and the Gallatin Range. Built both as a winter and summer destination for a family whose main residence is near San Francisco, this swanky ski-in, ski-out haven was designed for comfort—and a significant wow factor. Among its particulars is an oxygen bar conveniently available to mitigate any altitude challenges between ski runs! Accommodations to comfortably host extended family and friends include three guest suites and a two-story bunkroom for all ages. An outdoor wood burning fireplace and outdoor sunken hot tub on the deck off the dining room provide warmth and relaxation après ski, all amidst the backdrop of the majestic Rockies.
The aesthetics and combined talents of several brilliant camps came together to create this perfect sports retreat and deluxe sanctuary. Jerry Locati, founding partner of renowned Locati Architects collaborated with project architect Corey Kelly, to helm the structural design of the residence. James Magni, considered one of the most respected modernist masters of our time, joined with colleague Jeremy Graef for the Interior Design. The PRG Group out of Bozeman addressed the building process and its execution.
Within the Yellowstone Club, there are certain stipulations for the exterior of a structure. These favor a mountain traditional look, for instance, cedar shake roofs.
While the home met all of the requirements, its exterior also incorporates features that create a contemporary feel while still blending beautifully with the more rustic elements. Examples include the use of Frontier Stone, which not only has a warmth to it, but a cleaner cut than some other stones, allowing for that contemporary edge, yet still complementing the powdery grey stained fir siding. According to Kelly, another innovation was “making the profiles of the windows super small.” Half of the home’s windows are steel and streamlined. The rest of the windows though more customary, have no exposed window trim, keeping a clean looking edge. Though reclaimed timbers were used for beams and columns on both the exterior and interior, they were sawed a quarter inch on all sides to create a smoother finish. The beautifully rendered traditional exterior with its subtle modern twist is a perfect prelude to the dramatic pop of the home’s interior spaces.
The ease of transition from indoor spaces to outdoor living areas is an important detail in the Montana climate and terrain. Proximity to nature and outdoor activities are an integral draw to the area, and both are significant aspects of the Montana lifestyle. A transparent and open quality was paramount throughout the home’s layout to ensure nature’s majesty could be readily viewed. An impressive three-story steel, wood and glass staircase with chrome-accented handrails became a focal point, rising from the main floor to the living spaces above. While the stairs themselves are lighted and open-tread, a sparkling, uber-modern two-story chandelier illuminates them in the evenings. Expansive windows ensure a continual view of the scenery as you ascend to the upper levels. The open plan of the great room, kitchen, and dining room offer spaciousness—and unobstructed views towards the Gallatin Range. Lustrous precious stone slabs add sophistication to the great room’s hearth and bring the natural world right at hand. The marbled-looking, textured wall above the hearth is plaster with a wax finish. To align with the contemporary design, interior walls are “level five dry wall, super smooth with no texture,” says Kelly. Baseboards blend in unobtrusively above the wide-planked, stained oak floors, all a part of the modern vibe.
The interior design choices in the home are a study in honing modernism to its most elegant degree, using sensuous curves, clean linear symmetry and textural interest. Designer Magni, widely recognized for his impeccable style, is also known for his Magni Home Collection, many of which can be found in the home. According to Graef, ‘We wanted “Castle in the Sky’ to feel New York Chic meets Montana Rustic. It’s the right amount of drama with a sense of restraint and elegance.”
Yet the home is not without whimsy. Lanterns highlight the doors to the foyer where at dusk a neon sign casts a violet glow on the milky walls. The regal head and rack of a crystal stag gleams over the hearth in the great room beyond, a perfect trophy for this present-day Castle.
Locati Architects and Interiors, Jerry Locati, Corey Kelly
The PRG Group
Magni Kalman Design, James Magni, Jeremy Graef