By Deborah Donohue Photography by Roger Wade
The iconic grandeur of the West and nature’s inherent elegance is echoed in this timber and Montana fieldstone home, located in the exclusive Yellowstone Club, a private residential community nestled among the Rocky Mountains of Big Sky, Montana. Situated on Andesite mountain at the end of a land peninsula, this rustic yet sophisticated multi-generational family haven has nearly 360 degree views that include Lone Mountain to the north—the main marker in Big Sky country—as well as Cedar and Sphinx Mountains. The home’s particular orientation on the site affords the opportunity to enjoy both sunrises and sunsets, along with spectacular vistas of the surrounding ski slopes, Pioneer Mountain, and Moonlight Basin among them. The home was designed by Locati Architects, whose signature elements include a highly sensory experience and organic feel—in both interior and exterior spaces. With the evocative use of water features, majestic reclaimed timbers, and Montana Moss rocks (surface stones quarried from the fields, all indigenous to the Montana countryside), the Locati team created a tactile and visual essence of the natural world. The soothing sound of flowing waters is integrated as a treasured part of daily life.
The ingenious design boasts a multitude of unexpected creations, one of which is an unusual nod to the night sky: the dining room ceiling twinkles with fiber optic stars. The romantic indoor nightscape not only features shooting stars and a rising moon, but accurately depicts the constellations visible on the couple’s wedding night.
The main upper level entrance to the home leads directly into the Great Room. Upon entering, one’s gaze is immediately drawn to the magnificent landscape beyond Italian bronze-framed, floor-to-ceiling windows that look out on Pioneer Mountain and its ski runs. Electric grass shades by Hartmann & Forbes can be lowered for softening the brilliant light reflecting off snow, while remaining translucent enough to see through. Draperies can be drawn when complete privacy is desired, as well as adding an element of layering, acoustic ambiance, and a finished feel. The massive beams in the home (beautifully showcased in the Great Room) are of Douglas fir. The repurposed timbers were gathered from warehouses that had been torn down throughout the Northwest—from California up to British Columbia—including the old Rainier Beer Factory in Seattle. The Great Room ceiling, also of Douglas fir, was surface milled and then stained for a more refined look. Hand- carved corbels and a mantel supported by hand-forged metal contribute to the artisan feel of this mountain retreat whose beauty is in the attention to details. Floors are hand scraped red and white reclaimed oak.
According to Darin Hoekema, Lead Architect on the project, “The home is large enough to be a family retreat where many can gather together, but still feel they can each have space.” Despite the grand size of approximately 12,000 square feet, the residence has a comfortably intimate feel and a lack of pretension, exuding an inviting sense of warmth. Along with the artistry and meticulous design of the Locati team executed with precision by SBC Builders, the approach to interior design also contributed to the spectacular final result. Designer Lynette Zambon took the owners on multiple buying trips to San Francisco, Santa Fe and elsewhere. Together, they discovered one-of-a-kind art and furnishings that spoke to the owners and reflected their sensibilities. What they did not find, Zambon had custom designed. While many of the pieces may be new, the result, in Zambon’s words, is that of a “collected feeling rather than something put together.” A scattering of select antiques found on the owners travels, such as the Tibetan cabinet to the left of the hearth in the great room, spice the decor with mystery and intrigue.
While each room in the home has a sense of belonging to the whole, every space offers a surprise. The canopy bed by La Lune in the Master Bedroom has the whimsical form of natural branches. The Master Bath has a custom concrete bathtub with water cascading and re-circulating on either side. Bath water emerges out of a dished stone as if flowing from a natural spring. The frontier stone surround was buffed to give it a two-tone feeling that melds seamlessly with the concrete aesthetics of the tub. A multitude of Italian bronzed framed windows bring the outdoors in, blurring the boundaries of nature and nurture.
A favorite guest bedroom displays its uniqueness in the form of a historical wall mural opposite a custom made walnut bed. The mural was created by artist Jennifer Bessen, who researched andthen painted an accurate replica of an authentic map depicting the journey of historical explorers Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition.
The home would not be complete without the requisite exterior spaces to optimize engagement with the natural environment. Coveted in this part of the West is a deck complete with snow melting features—a true luxury when intoxicating Montana summers give in to stunning, if severe, winters. A hallmark of the Locati team is the extensive thought, planning, and finesse given to exterior spaces, designed that maximize both indoor and outdoor living enjoyment all year round. The design and craftsmanship of this Big Sky retreat perfectly embodies and reflects Montana’s innate gifts; her enduring stone and wooded forests, her abundance of water, and her abiding, stately presence through all of nature’s varied seasons.
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