Photos: Heidi Long
Comfortably settled amidst the pines near a Whitefish Lake subdivision lies a beautiful barn-inspired residence. At first glance, one might easily assume the timber home was part of the Montana development’s original homestead, perhaps remodeled from an old outbuilding. With this thought, you’d be wrong … but only partially.
The 2,400-square-foot, two-story home with a deck, screened-in porch, first-floor master suite and enclosed loft is a new build. More accurately, it’s a newly conceived structure made primarily from repurposed materials. “All of the reclaimed wood is Montana wood. Mostly fir and larch,” says Brad Reedstrom, owner and vice president of Bigfork Builders, the project’s contractor. “Most of it came from a really old hay barn southeast of Missoula.” For homeowners Frank and Geraldine, the barn heritage was a perfect fit. They had always found beauty in a barn’s structure and purpose. “It’s that practical use for animals and storage. They hold a story we appreciate,” reflects Geraldine.
It was up to architect Keith Beck of KBArchitecture to adapt a traditional barn style into something with a lighter feel, suitable for living. “Everything is based on proportion. It’s spacious vertically, but the substantial timbers and trusses fill the volume. It has substance,” says Keith. Brad explains, “Historically, when ranchers built their barns, beams were simple and straightforward. We replicated that and let the functionality define the aesthetic statement. We chose not to use fancy arches, knee braces or corbels.”
Turning this unpretentious style into a home demanded extraordinary skill. Brad describes incorporating older pieces into the new form as a puzzle. He sought timbers with interesting character and beauty, while being large enough to be structurally sound. Additionally, he insisted on brown tones rather than the more common weathered gray. Timbers, siding, roof, decking and much of the cabinetry are all reclaimed wood.
The indoor and outdoor wood-burning fireplaces are made of locally-sourced stones from a hot springs area. A few are adorned with lichen. Sliding crossbuck barn doors were custom made onsite. The exposed sliding track hardware contributes to the home’s functionally-styled patina.
Windows that soar to approximately 16 feet high anchor the great room. The abundant natural light emphasizes rustic details, such as worn remnants of light green paint on the main support beam that was sourced from a granary.
Each room contains furniture from Frank and Geraldine’s previous, more traditional home. “These pieces respect the dignity of the craftsmanship. Many are reupholstered but assert their own formal style. It’s like having an old friend in each room,” Geraldine says.
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