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A Western Timber Home With Eastern Flair

Homeowners build a western timber home near Montana’s Bridger Mountains.

“This project was definitely one of our more interesting,” notes Steve Locati, principal of Locati Architects, a Montana-based firm well-versed in the vernacular timber-frame style of Big Sky Country.

The house, located in the foothills of the Bridger Mountains, blends design elements of the region with architectural salvage from India, Tibet and Pakistan acquired by homeowners Russ and Cathy Richard during their many antiquing excursions. “Our challenge was to take these two vastly different styles and meld them into a cohesive design,” notes the architect. “We had a great team in place, and Russ and Cathy were very involved in the whole design process to help us achieve this goal.” That team included builder Jamie Bottcher of SBC Construction, Inc., interior designer Lisa Laswell of Wise Designs, and lumberman Pat Iwanski of Montana Timbers.

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The Beginning

Russ and Cathy were eager to find a piece of land with wide-open views in a good community where they could raise their two daughters. They stumbled upon an area just north of Bozeman and knew they had found their home site: a parcel of 40 acres with grasslands and forest, and spectacular western views toward the Bridger Mountains. They expressed their desire to the architect for a comfortable home that would function well whether it was used just by the immediate family or to host groups of 75 for fundraisers and parties. 

“Our challenge was to blend the juxtaposing design styles and create cozy spaces that could transition to accommodate larger gatherings. The couple also wanted to blur the line between the interiors and exteriors,” says the architect.

Western Elements

The front of the home is a welcoming one-story facade. “The steep slope really drove the design of the 10,000-square-foot home, which has a walkout basement,” notes the architect. “We worked the house into the natural landscape.”

To break down the overall massing of the house, the architect created three different gable structures with heavy queen-post trusses connected by a central structure. To keep the look cohesive, similar materials were used throughout the exterior, such as reclaimed Douglas fir timbers and dry-stacked prairie fieldstone. The siding is a mixture of heavy lap and board and batten, which adds authenticity to the mountainside structure. 

The reclaimed timber was sourced from a defunct railroad station in Oregon.

“The salvaged timbers add a wonderful patina to the house and are easier to work with because of their low moisture content,” notes the lumberman.

Far East Interiors

While the exterior and transitional spaces reflect the Wild West, the interior of the home offers glimpses of the Far East. Columns from the Goa region of India dating to the 2nd century are incorporated into a hallway, ancient Eastern temple doors are featured throughout the home, and an elaborately detailed screen from Pakistan became the headboard in the master bedroom. Chests and decorative accents also blend into the design. The walls are finished in wax plaster to further the illusion of antiquity.

Reclaimed hardwood floors retaining blemishes and knots give the sense these spaces have been here for centuries. The main level of the home offers the more formal and family spaces — such as the dining room, kitchen and great room — while the lower level offers a billiards room, wine cellar with a tasting room and a home theater.

Great Outdoors

“It’s become an architectural cliché,” notes the architect, “but we worked hard to transition the interiors and exteriors.”

A series of public and private outdoor spaces are found throughout the exterior. The couple requested a wrap-around water feature. A creek flows into a waterfall and pond, offering tranquility and piece. The outdoor spaces are connected with a series of walkways. Russ and Cathy’s favorite spot is a massive deck with a dry-stacked stone wood-burning fireplace.

To further the connection with nature, accordion walls in the dining room, master bedroom and bath open to decks and the view. “While you are sitting at the dining table, the views are just spectacular,” notes the architect. 

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Playful Design

Russ and Cathy purchased an old ore cart and wanted to incorporate it into the design of the house. To include the cart in a substantial way, the team created a media room that resembled an old mine shaft; the room appears as if it has been carved out of stone. “We even added an old mine shaft door,” notes the architect. The ore cart delivers popcorn, sodas and candy from the concession stand just outside the theater.

“It was so much fun to think outside the box when working on the house,” notes the architect.

Russ and Cathy couldn’t agree more. They love being surrounded by artifacts found on their antiquing excursions. The views of hundreds of elk gently running through the grasslands as the snow begins to fall onto the mountains beyond as we part solidify the home as a dream — inside and out.

Square footage: 11,000
Architect: Locati Architects
Builder:  SBC Schlauch Bottcher Construction, Inc.
Interior designer: Wise Designs
Timber provider: Montana Timbers

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