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In Red Lodge, Montana, a family of four from Georgia found respite from the heat and humidity of the South in the summertime and an outdoor playground for their active family year-round. Tucked into the beautiful Beartooth Mountains of south-central Montana, they were drawn to the warm and welcoming town after their son took a trip with another family whose grandmother owned a home in Red Lodge.
“He kept telling us we had to see it, so we started renting property there before we built our home,” the owner explains of the family’s love affair with Red Lodge. “It just feels like home. We had a special calling there; It spoke to us.”
When it came time to build their 3,800-square-foot, four-bedroom and four-and-a-half-bath vacation home that sits on a 15-acre site, they wanted something that leaned toward the sleek and modern, but also a space that was comfortable for family gatherings. Architect Andrew Porth, principal of Porth Architects, Ltd., designed the space.
“It’s a bit of a transitional house,” explains Porth. “It does have a very clean, modern interior, but it’s not hard modern; It’s cozy, not cold.” On the outside, the home has a traditional form, with a customary window arrangement and the use of rustic materials including stone, steel, metal, and glass. Inside, the home is warm and welcoming with a neutral palette that doesn’t sacrifice comfort for modernity.
“We are a busy family—in and out and on the go—and when I walk in, I don’t like to see ‘stuff’ everywhere,” the owner explains of the minimalistic design decisions. “Basically, everything in our house is useable and enables us to grow old there.”
The light-filled home features warm walnut flooring throughout and a vaulted ceiling that is supported by industrial, yet visually light, steel rods and turnbuckles. The soaring ceiling in the great room is a whitewashed softwood supported by fir beams finished in a soft gray color that creates a calming effect. The perfect wall paint color—a mélange of green, gray, tan, and beige—offers a soothing backdrop for the neutral-toned furnishings and the owners’ art collection.
Sliding glass doors open to the huge, partially covered deck constructed of steel and wood and covered with bluestone flagstone for easy maintenance. A cable-and-steel railing around the deck preserves the views while an outdoor fireplace built on the backside of the great room fireplace extends the outdoor season.
The views of the Beartooth Mountains are a feature in the kitchen, as well, where windows reach almost to the floor along the south-facing wall. The kitchen island, carried by rugged steel legs and flanked by leather barstools, is constructed of a nearly indestructible natural slab material that looks like a cross between volcanic stone and concrete. “If you took the island out of the space, it might look very harsh, but it’s not in that environment,” remarks Jeremiah Young, creative director at Kibler & Kirch, which was in charge of the interior design.
A beverage kitchen is located in an adjacent hallway that leads to the mudroom—an oversized space the owner says is surprisingly one of her favorite rooms in the home for its practicality. Here, guests and children can help themselves to drinks from the wine and beverage fridge or the coffee machine without disrupting meal preparation.
A generous stairway featuring a dramatic, custom iron railing constructed of salvaged steel cables facilitates the flow between upper and lower living areas. It was designed and constructed by local blacksmith and sculptor Ira Cuelho. “The railing is brutal and industrial in a way, but at the same time soft,” Young describes. “He took a really unyielding, impossible-to-work-with material and made it really soft and comfortable to the hand.”
The stairway leads from the entryway into the walk-out lower level, which Porth designed to feel spacious and light-filled. “One of the things that was important in designing the lower-level living spaces was that they not feel like basement rooms, so we did a few things to ensure that,” says Porth. The deck above stops short of the lower-level windows, enabling light to flow freely into the downstairs area. Additionally, the downstairs bedrooms have windows on two sides—another way to infuse natural light into the spaces.
Porth says good clients make good projects, and everyone associated with this home agrees the team really made this dream home work. The owner says her family spends as much time as they can at the property, and she and her husband plan to spend their retirement years at the home in Red Lodge. “We just happened upon a gem, and I’m real thankful for it,” she says.
Architect Andrew Porth, Principal, Porth Architects, Ltd.
Builder Dan Kyro, President, Timberline Builders Inc.
Interior Design Jeremiah Young, Creative Director, Kibler & Kirch