Photography by PK Gibeon Photography
Escaping the sizzling Southern heat for the promise of mild mountain air is an annual tradition for many East Coast families. One crew in particular makes a point to leave their North Carolina home and head west, making a beeline for Big Sky, Montana, every summer. Months later, when a blanket of white settles over the Rockies, they reverse the trek.
Each time, the family’s cross-country journey ends in the luxury community of Big EZ Estates at a home that, fittingly, displays a subtle East-meets-West approach to timber framing. Outside, the aesthetic is an elevated take on a classic cabin, with a mixture of materials and textures that give off a collected look. “The core of the home features adze-faced slab siding with the chinking in between, relaying the appearance of a true-log stack,” shares Peter Lee, president of the home’s builder, Teton Heritage Builders. Along with the Douglas fir timber framing and log siding, vertical shiplap with granary accents bolsters the rustic aesthetic.
The design itself has an octagonal bent, with two arms stretching out from the central core at a 45-degree angle. Though the shape was primarily “driven by the topography and view corridors,” says architect Jamie Daugaard from Centre Sky Architecture, it also creates a built-over-time effect that hearkens to the homesteaders’ cabins of the Old West. Standing-seam metal elements mixed alongside traditional asphalt shingles echo the approach.
Inside, there are overt nods to a classic mountain home, but the application of the materials is where things take a turn — or a U-turn rather — heading straight back east and all the way across the ocean. Look closely and a subtle European influence begins to emerge. Arches appear everywhere, lending a sense of refinement. Each timber truss features a curved lower chord, and an arched element appears on the fireplace openings, doorways, and kitchen cabinetry. “We maintained that arched language and theme throughout the home, allowing the shapes to play off each other,” adds Jaime.
The Old-World aesthetic continues on every floor. The antique and custom iron light fixtures (hand-forged by local artisans) feel like something out of a medieval castle. (One, in fact, is from Europe.) In the kitchen, a metal coat of arms (also European) rests above the range. In the wine cellar, a heavy plaster finish on the walls gives off Tuscan vibes. The interior designer on the project, Liz Robb, says the home’s many nods to far-flung locales came from the homeowners’ travels. “They have been all over the world and that reflects in the house,” she says, “They definitely embrace the European flair and that feeling of traditional elegance.”
While the house has an abundance of noteworthy spaces, Liz readily admits that the primary bathroom is her favorite spot in the home. Walls made of local Montana fieldstone envelope the space, punctuated by the warmth of the Douglas fir timbers. “Bringing in all that natural stone really makes it an experience,” she says. “It makes it feel like you’re in a castle.”
The bathroom isn’t the only area in the house that lays claim to that feeling. Perhaps the most notable feature of the home — and the area where European inspiration crystallizes — is in the lookout tower. It’s also where you’ll find the best seat (or four) in the house. Rising slightly above the roofline of the main structure and clad in stone on the only wall without windows, the tower is evocative of a turret (albeit with an updated geometric shape). “It’s at least 270-degrees worth of views that they captured, framing mountain views,” says Peter. “It’s the spot where [the homeowners] can congregate with friends and family and take it all in.”
Liz and her daughters had the chance to do just that during a “Princess Tea Party” hosted by the homeowner in the lookout tower. “It’s a super beautiful, high-end, fancy house,” she says. “But it still has this warm, inviting feel and that’s what makes it extra special.”
Square Footage: 6,600
Baths: 4 full, 2 half
Builder: Teton Heritage Builders
Designer: Centre Sky Architecture