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A Montana Timber Home Masters Rugged Elegance

A sprawling Montana timber frame home combines elegance and ruggedness in the Western vernacular.

Written by Stacy Durr Albert
Photography by Heidi Long


Building a home in the midst of a Montana winter is no easy feat — especially when you factor in negative 20-degree temperatures and a biting wind that seems to whip across the mountains. Nevertheless, when you’re building on the grounds of an exclusive private ranch that’s incredibly busy during warmer months, winter just might be the best option.

“Building at a private club offers a challenge to design and construct the residence without affecting the activities of other members,” explains project manager Jesse Vigil with Missoula, Montana-based CTA Architects Engineers, the company that designed this stately mountain home in a remote area just outside Deer Lodge.

Construction of the home had to take place after the ranch’s summer activities had come to an end, creating a challenge for the design-build team. Yet in spite of some harsh weather conditions and a tight deadline (the homeowner requested delivery by early spring), the project came together seamlessly. The success was credited to a collaborative effort between the designers; the builders at Montana Build of Whitefish; and the Chicago-based interior design team of Tom Riker and James Dolenc of jamesthomas.

“Montana Build was brought into the process during the early design phase, and this enabled us to meet the compressed schedule and membership preferences,” recalls Vigil.


Views Dictate Design

When the homeowner first approached the design team at CTA, he had a few key ideas in mind. “He had a desire to capture the expansive views over the club’s golf course and to the Pintler Mountains beyond,” Vigil says. “He also wanted the floor plan to feel open and full of natural light, and to create a residence that blended into the natural hillside.”

The resulting design offers nearly 5,000 square feet of living space in an expansive single level, plus a 2,000-square-foot stone patio and outdoor living space that affords views of the historic ranch property as well as the club’s elite golf course.

“The floor plan is very linear to allow natural light to filter into all spaces and for the indoor spaces to flow into the outdoor living space,” Vigil explains. “The house has a quiet rugged elegance about it. When you walk in the front door, you enter a floor plan of simple complexity — the layout is simple, but the detailing of the structure and the interiors has a high level of interest contrasted against a backdrop of the Pintlers. The abundance of natural light is apparent as it floods in through the large windows.”

The home’s timber frame, crafted by Montana Build, is equally stunning. Trusses rest on beams that are nested between double 8-by-8 rough-sawn Douglas fir columns.

“Designing with timber requires foresight and planning in the layout of the rooms and spaces — each must be responsive to the exposed structural layout and rhythm it creates,” says Vigil.

Another important aspect of the design is the harmony with its setting. The home is built into a hillside, overlooking a landscape traversed by streams, and framed by the Pintler and Flint Creek mountains.

“The house reflects its setting by incorporating many rustic materials while at the same time grasping a more contemporary feeling,” shares Jenn Prunty of Montana Build. “The combination of timbers and stonework gives the home a true Montana look.”


Light, Airy Interiors

While the outside of the home is pure Montana style, the interior is a different story. “The owner wanted to shy away from real serious Western clichés,” explains interior designer Tom Riker. “The house is not about antler chandeliers or Navajo rugs, but instead has more edited, clean lines that create a more sophisticated look.”

The contemporary flavor is enhanced by an abundance of natural light. “The owner didn’t want the house to be dark and heavy, so we maximized natural light while creating a muted, neutral color palette that still fits the setting,” Riker says.

One of the home’s signature features is its all-white kitchen — not a typical find in a Western home. “We wanted to create something that would feel fresh and sophisticated,” explains Riker. “At the same time, our interior still fits the setting because it ties in many earth tones found outside. The interior tends to be more contemporary, but it still speaks to Western aesthetics. It was really exciting to bring a new perspective to a Western look.”


Home Details

Square footage: 5,000

Architect: CTA Architects Engineers

General Contractor: Montana Build

Interior designer: jamesthomas

Timber provider: Rocky Mountain Lumber Co.


See also You'll Love This Rustic-Meets-Comtempory California Timber Home

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