OPENING SPREAD: The home is positioned on a sloping lot that descends toward the water’s edge. The entry light (Hammerton Studio) is finished in an espresso hue with light acrylic shade and casts a warm, welcoming glow.
Photography by Gibeon Photography
Perched above peaceful Whitefish Lake in the Flathead Valley of northwest Montana, this luxe lake house is a lovely balance of old world rustic and new world sophistication that is an invitation for connection and relaxation. The architecture sets up an interesting juxtaposition of an old world lodge and classic lake home where lake living is the focus. The main house is oriented to maximize lake views and link inhabitants to the natural environment.
The warm cinnamon fabric on the chaise lounges in the master bedroom (Swaim Furniture) offset an otherwise rustic room.
“The desire at Whitefish Lake is to feel connected to the water’s edge, so our efforts were to get the home positioned as low as we could,” explains Greg Dennee, partner at Locati Architects. To accomplish this, he and founding partner Jerry Locati situated the home on the sloping lot so you go down into it, much like a waterfall cascading down a hill. “The property is fairly steep, so you descend down into the home—you actually step down into it,” Dennee describes. “There are steps on the entry and steps from the patio, so it really feels like you move down to the water’s edge as part of the entry experience.”
The materials—dry stack native stone, reclaimed fir timber beams and lath siding, and a combination of cedar and rusted metal roofing—give the home a distinctly rustic feel.
The detached garage, in keeping with lake house tradition, encourages you to pull up, park your car, and never use it again while you spend all of your time enjoying the lake, Dennee says. The outdoor living space is another essential component of the design, and it is connected to the home in creative ways. Over the kitchen sink, a bifold window accordions open to the outdoor living area. The timber trusses—used inside to create a more intimate scale in the large main living area and also define rooms in the open layout—extend to the substantial outdoor living space. Here, there are creature comforts including a native stone fireplace, dining area, kitchen, and supremely functional room for cleaning up after time outside. The vanity in this lake room is bespoke with custom copper branch pulls that reference the natural setting and a unique blue-toned concrete trough sink and countertop that mirror the lake.
The connection to the natural surroundings is further enforced throughout the home’s organic interior with the use of natural materials, colors, and patterns. Hunter Dominick, founder and owner of Hunter & Company Interior Design, used bold paint, accented tiles, unique wallpaper, unexpected fabrics, artisan ironwork, eclectic antiques and tons of texture to keep the home balanced, yet intriguing.
TOP: Rich details in the kitchen include the custom copper sink by Hunter & Company, a Perrin & Rowe bronze-finish custom copper faucet, and the blue glass tile backsplash that mimics the water outside. BOTTOM: The reclaimed wood table in the library is an invitation for family game night.
“There are a lot of little details throughout the home that are there, but you don’t necessarily notice them at first glance,” says Dominick. “The antiques, the custom-made pulls, the rich fabrics—it’s all of these little details that contribute to the high texture and high style of this home, set against the structure that is more rustic.” She adds, “A lot of local artisans and craftspeople worked on this project, which is really cool.”
These artisan touches include the copper sinks in the kitchen and bathroom and the custom ironwork on the stair railings and fireplace grates. A local blacksmith built one of the beautiful beds that features an oversized bird perched on the headboard.
The generous wet bar sets the stage for entertaining and features a Hunter & Company custom pendant in a tin finish.
The primary bedroom is wrapped in Siberian birch bark panels, creating the sense of sleeping in a grove of aspens—a special request from the owner. Traditional furniture and two beautiful chaise lounges in a warm cinnamon tone create balance in this otherwise rustic room.
CLOCKWISE STARTING TOP LEFT: The oversized tub in the master bath is perfect for soaking in the views. Chandelier by Currey & Company; The woven chair—one of the many examples of color and texture in the home’s eye-catching interior—is from Baker FurniturE; The walls in the master bedroom are covered in Siberian birch bark panels that conjure up feelings of sleeping in a forest. The Currin king bed and the Yorkshire House concave mahogany cabinets are a traditional twist in this otherwise rustic room.
Antique reclaimed hardwood floors connect the main living spaces and contribute to the classic styling, while more contemporary textiles and furnishings create interest. In the family room, for instance, lies a custom white wool rug with silk fish swimming across it—a nod to one of the favored lake activities—paired with mid-century chairs upholstered in contemporary fabric. The dining chairs, set around a glass table, have very clean, contemporary lines. In the cozy sitting area, striking zebra hide chairs are positioned perfectly for watching the sun set over the lake. The kitchen features a glass backsplash that resembles the shimmering water outside, as well as a contemporary branch light fixture that was custom-made in South America.
The great room is incredibly refined with classic, colorful furniture set against the rustic shell of the space. The coffee table and chandelier are custom made by Hunter & Company. The sofas and chairs are by Hickory Chair Furniture Co.
The guest house, which was original to the property and relocated to its current position, was redecorated in a decidedly Montana fashion. “Forest service cabins in Glacier National Park are typically trimmed in green; therefore, we remodeled the cabin to include grass green cabinets to tie in that detail,” says Dominick. The rustic cabin is complete with a rock fireplace, barnwood cabinets, wooden beds, plaid coverlets, and Pendleton pillows.
Dominick concludes that the success of the property is driven not only by the overall style, but also by the function of the home, which works really well for the family. “I’m a big fan of functional spaces, and each room in this home has its own identity and is maximized to its full functionality,” she says.
Hunter & Company Interior Design