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A Custom Montana Getaway Built From 2,000 Miles Away

A Tennessee couple dreams up a custom timber home getaway in western Montana.

Written by Stacey Freed
Photography by Heidi Long
It’s true what they say: Long-distance relationships can be a little tricky, but they can also be a great success with a little work and communication. “Our architect listened to everything we said during the planning stage,” say the Memphis-based owners of this picturesque home in Deer Creek, Montana. “It was a win-win.” But the home may not have come together as perfectly without the strong support team behind it.

After a week-long series of face-to-face meetings in Memphis, the couple worked (mostly via phone and e-mail) with Missoula-based architectual designer Jesse Vigil and client specialist Randy Rupert at CTA Architects and Engineers, as well as interior designer Laney Hensel, owner of Sway Interiors, and project manager Bob Heberly of Dick Anderson Construction for the nearly year-long design and build.  What simplified things, says Vigil, is that the couple knew exactly what they wanted and how they wanted the house to support their lifestyle. Teamwork is what turned that dream into a reality. Years before the dream team came together to get to work on the home, the couple owned a Montana vacation house on 640 acres for a decade. It was private and quiet, but they wanted a different lifestyle.

“We built this house thinking about the future. We love to fly fish, play golf, entertain and cook,” say the homeowners, who are both retired and in their 70s (and married 50 years in June). Sitting on 10 acres, the 6,000-square-foot house is located in the Rock Creek Cattle Company development, and the couple has easy access to all the activities they enjoy.
“They wanted a house that was openand airy that would take advantage of the great views and that had enough room for friends and relatives to visit,” Vigil says. CTA used the sloped site to its advantage by angling the house at the garage. “We did that as a way to tuck into those contours for the least disturbance of the land and to get the views we wanted,” he says.
A combination of stick-frame construction with structural wood timbers and timber accents, the home won the 2014 Montana Contractors’ Association Best Custom Residential Building Excellence Award.  The exterior is sided in a charified wood product, which is burned through a pressure-and-heat process that changes the wood’s property. The char is then scraped away with wire brushes. "The effect is that the grain stands out and the siding has great variation in its coloring, and it’s easier for the wood to withstand the elements,” Vigil says. “The wood gave the homeowners the look they wanted: something rustic but with a light and airy feel.”

Those external elements give visitors the subtle hint that what’s inside won’t be a standard mountain home. In fact, the homeowners wanted to be able to display the art that they love to collect, so they decided to give the home a contemporary-yet-rustic feel.

“It was fun finding that balance,” says Hensel, the interior designer on the project. To do exactly that, Hensel worked closely with the couple to unearth unique light fixtures and by including industrial touches such as custom bunk beds with metal pipe ladders and cabinets made of rough-sawn wood with contemporary hardware. “It’s a mix of clean lines and rustic materials,” she says.

The best example is the kitchen — a homeowner favorite — with features like oversized cabinets, hammered-copper sinks and a copper table top anchored to the island. A cook’s dream, they have all the bells and whistles with high-end appliances, two refrigerator drawers in the pantry, a double oven and a smaller oven and an ice maker and vegetable sink on the island. It was important to the homeowners that they use local materials and locally made products.

The front door was custom made by a Missoula craftsman and features blacksmith iron work. Internal and external stone work was all quarried nearby, and wood and timbers were all logged and manufactured within 60 miles of the home. All the beams are Douglas fir, and the living room trusses feature a purlin system to support the roof and rafter system. Vertical exposed beams gently define the dining room from the rest of the main floor’s open plan.

The homeowners love that their master suite is on this main level with the guest quarters upstairs and the grandchildren’s bunk room below. And, of course, every room has a view. “It’s so functional, and we’re just so happy to be in there with all that light” the homeowners say. “It’s a wonderful place. We’re so fortunate.”

Home Details:

Square footage: 6,000
Architect: CTA Architects and Engineers, 406-248-7455
General contractor:  Dick Anderson Construction, 406-443-3225
Interior designer: Sway Interiors LLC, 406-360-5908

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