When Anne and John decided to build their dream home, they knew it had to have two things: plenty of windows so they could take advantage of the 360-degree views, and plenty of room for their three grown children and five young grandchildren.

The type of home was a given: The Montana mountain valley where the couple planned to build positively called out for a rustic log home. Mountains ring an area that is 60 miles long and 20 miles wide, providing stunning Alpine views in every direction. “When we went to view the property we were just fascinated with it,” says Anne.

Jim Schuler, owner of Rocky Mountain Log Homes, agrees. “It’s an unbelievable spot,” he says. His company manufactured the timbers and constructed the couple’s home.

Building a Favorite Place

Since Anne and John’s children and grandchildren visit often, they wanted the home to be designed with family time in mind. Jeremy Oury, owner of Kibo Group Architecture in Missoula, Montana, accomplished this with a configuration that relies on centrally located common rooms with private branching wings. “We broke down the home in smaller masses with each major room opening into the next,” he says.

At the heart of this nuclear design is an open-plan kitchen so Anne can cook and converse at the same time. Clean cherry cabinetry lines the walls, while a hunter green granite island houses a cooktop that faces outward. “I don’t like to turn my back to the room while I’m at the stove,” says Anne. The kitchen also features twin dishwashers, which make large dinner parties stress-free, and rustic barstools that invite casual chatting and informal snacking while meals are being prepared.

Designed for Success

The 11-acre plot is part of an unusual log home development centered around an equestrian facility and a lush golf course. Each home follows specific architectural guidelines and construction techniques that create turn-of-the-century style residences.

Anne and John chose lodgepole pine and spruce logs for their 7,000-square-foot Moutain-style home. The logs were milled initially, then hand-worked to give them a rougher appearance. The house features Swedish-cope corners and decorative chinking that accentuates the logs. Rustic board-and-batten siding lining the interior and exterior gables and a shallow facia, or overhang, re-create the look of the old Western grand lodges.

The couple’s home sits atop a prominent ridge at one the highest elevations in the division. Jeremy’s challenge was to create a structure that didn’t dominate the ridgeline while preserving the views from every room.

“We didn’t want the home to look like a lump on a mountain,” he explains. “So we allowed for a large amount of square footage in a walkout daylight basement level.” The basement’s retaining walls are covered with rock and natural boulders resulting in a home that appears to have grown out of the ridgeline.

The major living spaces take in about 200 degrees of the view—including the spectacular southwestern vista—and flow directly into the outdoor living spaces.

The Luxury is in the Details

Thanks to a large expanse of glass windows and doors, Anne and John’s home is bathed in natural light. Even so, a heavy truss system in the great room created shadows. So their interior designer, Tony Sutton, with Est Est in Scottsdale, Arizona, took several approaches to properly illuminate the 18-foot ceilings. Foremost, he worked with lighting firm Creative Designs in Lighting to create decorative fixtures that would give the great room a warm glow without cluttering the wood beams with spotlights. The group decided to use custom iron and antler chandeliers as well as iron sconces for the main fixtures. Then to subtly brighten up the shadowy heights, they carved out spots in the trusses for concealed indirect lights.

Est Est designed many custom hand-carved furniture pieces to augment the character of the house. The dining room buffet and round and drop-leaf tables are all one-of-a-kind pieces, as is the bench at the foot of the bed in the master bedroom. The bed itself was carved by a regional craftsman. The custom furnishings convey a unique mood and avoid a cookie-cutter look and feel. “Furniture choice communicates the feeling you want to have when you are in your home,” says Tony.

The two downstairs bathrooms also flaunt a bit of personal style and taste. The countertops are Italian tile, and the tub is a classic 1920s clawfoot style found in a specialty shop in Los Altos, California. Circular-sawn Douglas fir floors complete the rustic Old World look of the home.

For heat, Anne and John decided to go with a forced hot-air system supplemented with radiant heat under the wood floors. A generous rectangular chimney of ledgerock provides venting for two hearths—one indoors and another fronting an outdoor stone patio. And although the home is mainly a winter retreat for the couple, central air was also installed.

For entertaining, the billiard room adjacent to the living area is equipped with a vintage 1930s billiard table, purchased and refurbished just for the couple’s log home. Anne says her husband is the pool shark, an understandable pastime considering the backdrop of breathtaking mountains in the distance.

For resource information, see the June 2003 issue of Log Home Living.