A campfire in the deep woods along a quiet lake was, in a roundabout way, what drew David and Helen Engels to their vacation home site along Little Bitterroot Lake in northwestern Montana. What looked a temporary campsite with a ring of stones for a fire pit became the location for a rustic custom wood hybrid home in the woods.
“We wanted the home to blend with the land and feel tucked in,” says Helen. “There were other sites on the lake but we kept returning to the old campsite and felt it was right.”
The 35-acre parcel with towering lodgepole and ponderosa pine lies along 900 feet of rocky shoreline with a totally uninhabited view of the lake and nearby island.
“We based our home site and plan on this view and the fire circle,” says David. “Our front door opens into our great room with a full wall of windows that overlooks the original campsite and the pristine view.”
The exterior of the home is a hybrid of log, timber and wavy cedar siding and stone, explains Dale Munsterman, residential designer for The Munsterman Group. “We wanted to maximize the impact of the logs versus cost, so we used logs and timber trusses in the entry, great room, rear patio, and a few other public locations. The rest of the home is standard construction.”
The custom wood home is a masterpiece of detail. Each square foot is useful and each corner has a purpose. “There is almost no wasted space in this home,” says Helen. “This is the first home we have built from the ground up and had lots of unique ideas. Each room has a little surprise.”
Items such as built-in china cabinets, a hammered copper bar sink in the dining room, a built-in desk in the guest wing hallway, a compartmentalized spare bathroom that can be entered from the outside (great for outdoor entertaining), and a master bedroom complete with an exercise room, a washer/dryer closet, his and her commodes, and a fully organized walk-in closet.”
One of the favorite rooms in the house isn’t even a room, but a covered patio. “We wanted to be outside as much as possible and have made it easy to enjoy this space,” says David.
The outdoor kitchen and dining area is flanked by a two-sided stone fireplace; with a hot tub is on the other side. They also have a private master deck off the bedroom and a patio off the exercise room.
The patio areas lead to the original campsite that continues to inspire the Engels and their guests.
“The Engels’ vision was to create something timeless, beautiful, and appropriate,” says Munsterman. “I feel a great responsibility when designing a home on such beautiful unspoiled land. Over the years I’ve found that the land will usually dictate the design the house.”
“The home was not designed to be overwhelming, but to have an indoor/outdoor feel and blend with the land,” David says.