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Buying a Pristine Timber Home in Montana

A couple opts to buy an existing timber home in Montana in lieu of building one on their own.

Written by Stacy Durr Albert
Photography by Heidi Long

If the mere thought of planning and building a custom timber home from scratch leaves you feeling stressed, take heart — there is another way you can get your dream retreat. The secret? Buy an existing timber home. In fact, that’s exactly what Rick and Diana Nash did when they set out to create a getaway near Bigfork, Montana.

“We weren’t specifically looking for a timber home, but as soon as we found this place, we knew it was the perfect fit,” recalls Rick. “It wasn’t just the house, but more about the whole setting — the way the site sloped gently down to the water created a safe approach which was important to us since our son was young at the time.” Set on five acres on the shores of picturesque Flathead Lake, the 5,500-square-foot home features everything the Nash family dreamed of and more.

Defined by a beautiful fir frame, the home boasts striking truss work, great open spaces and distinctive textured walls. “It’s dramatically different from our full-time home in Missoula,” explains Rick. “The words ‘wow’ and ‘awesome’ certainly sum up our initial reaction to the place.” Looking at the timber frame, it’s easy to see why the home is awe-inspiring to all who enter through its doors. Structural in some areas and decorative in others, the stately Douglas fir frame features 8-by-12-inch timbers stained in a walnut hue.

A dramatic vaulted ceiling in the great room reveals the true beauty of the frame. “This is our favorite area of the home,” shares Rick. “We just love the way the room feels so spacious, and it’s great to sit by the fire and admire the beauty of both the interior and the exterior views that the setting offers.” The floor plan, created by retired builder Russ Edmonston of Bigfork, marries practicality and aesthetics. The home features four bedrooms and five baths, with the majority of the public living space set on the main level.

Natural light pours in from all sides, and a loft level provides close-up views of trees and nature. Decks and patios serve up plenty of outdoor living space, seamlessly blending the barrier between outside and in. “The house offers spectacular views of the lake, woodland and wildlife,” says Rick. “We have plenty of deer, and we even had a black bear build a bed down by the cottonwoods near the lake.”

Inside the home, the decor hints at the beauty of nature outside. The home’s defining feature is its use of paint and texture on the plaster walls. Reddish hues suggest adobe roots, paying homage to a guest ranch that the family owns in Arizona. Flagstone floors continue this theme. “The textured walls really appealed to us,” recalls Rick. “We’d looked at other homes with similar safe water approaches, but nothing compared to the overall beauty of this house. It was in great condition, and the design details just really caught our attention.”

Another selling point for the Nashes was the inclusion of a 3,500-square-foot guest cottage on the property, which serves as both garage space and extra living quarters. It was unfinished when the Nashes purchased the property, but they finished it a few years ago. “It’s now a great area for our teenage son and his friends,” says Rick. Outside, relaxation areas abound, from inviting balconies and stone patios, to a spacious gazebo overlooking the lake. The property also boasts a concrete dock and a boat lift station, as well as an organic cherry orchard.

Spruce trees, lush perennials and native flowers define the rest of the landscape, providing great texture and color throughout every season of the year. Whether the Nash family is enjoying the serenity of the great outdoors or spending time together inside savoring the lake and mountain views, they know they have found a true gem. Best of all, the biggest decision they had to make was simply when to move in. 

“Other than a minor easement issue that the former owners had to address, it was a really smooth process,” recalls Rick. The family agrees that there’s definitely something to be said for buying an existing home — it’s a great way to get a custom look without having to fret over every design detail. And, who knows, choosing this stress-free path might even add a few years to one’s life.


Home Details

Square footage: 5,500


See also Hybrid Heaven: A Montana Custom Timber Home

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