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The Montana Home With a Vintage Flair

A California couple goes back in time to create their chalet-inspired Montana timber home.

Written by Cynthia Ward Vesey
It’s not easy creating a new home that instantly boasts a vintage flair. Timber homes certainly make the chore easier, given their abundance of traditional charm. But “instant classics” are elusive to many homeowners because most modern materials don’t always evoke a bygone era. That is, unless historic treasures are in your own backyard to serve as your muse.
Tucked alongside the eastern shore of Montana’s Flathead Lake sits Greg and Doreen Faull’s exquisite timber home. And less than an hour’s drive away, in West Glacier, Montana, you’ll find the historic Belton Chalet and Belton Depot, which served as the home’s inspiration. “We wanted something that looked like it was a hundred years old, but still was comfortable in a modern way,” notes Greg.

Originally from Southern California, the Faulls had frequently traveled through western Montana on their way to the Canadian Rockies, where they vacationed for 22 years. “It was always in the back of our minds to retire here,” Greg explains.

When they finally decided to make the move, they hooked up with a broker and home inspector to look at a few homes that had already been built in the area. From there, the Faulls compiled a list of recommended architects and contractors. Bigfork Builders, run by Andy Fischer and Brad Reedstrom, and Richard Wyman Smith, AIA, who has an architectural practice in Whitefish, Montana, were on the top of that list.

Once the Faulls found out that the two companies had worked together in the past and also had worked with their chosen timber provider, Jake Steck from Wild Mile Woodworks, they decided to meet with the whole group to show them the lot and describe their vision.
The California Home With a Vintage Flair
Photo Credit: Heidi Long

Helping Hands

Upon meeting, it became clear to Greg and Doreen that they had picked the perfect team to work with. “Richard is extraordinarily creative, and they were all familiar with the Belton Chalet, which was a huge help,” Greg recalls.

Once the project got underway, Greg, who started woodworking when he remodeled his house in California, put himself to work milling wood to be used for the wainscoting, baseboards and door and window trim. Looking back on his work, Greg recalls, “Brad and Andy kept me tucked away in the garage for the better part of a month on this milling project!”

It was that dedicated work ethic shared by everyone involved that made the project a true collaboration. “It takes a strong team to get a project together like this and have it be successful,” Richard says. “Greg and Doreen had definite design ideas. Their input, along with the competency of the Bigfork Builders and Wild Mile Woodworks, made this a stand-out project.”

Photo Credit: Heidi Long

History Repeats

The finished home features a mix of timber frame and conventional construction. Vertical grain fir enhances the exterior door and window casings. Reclaimed and standing dead larch timbers were used to create the great-room trusses, covered deck and the roof structure of the entry patio and garage apron. The interior doors, wainscoting, finish trim and cabinetry were crafted from select alder.

The home—all on one level—has about 3,000 square feet of interior space, plus a 1,300-square-foot covered deck that overlooks the 28-mile-long Flathhead Lake and grand Mission Mountain Range. It’s here where the chalet-style is most apparent. “Many of the rooms at the Belton Chalet open onto a wide wooden deck with mountain views,” Greg says. “We wanted to incorporate a deck of similar proportion.”

Overall, the home captures the romance the Faulls were looking to create. “The home really took on the character of a turn-of-the-century chalet,” explains Richard. “When you drive up to the house, it has the look and feel of place that’s been here for ages.”

In short, a perfect place for Greg and Doreen to make their own history.

Home Details

Square footage: 3,000
Timber producer: Wild Mile Woodworks

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