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A French Country Montana Timber Home

Building a modern chateau in Montana.

The Rocky Mountain west might be far removed from the European Continent, but for these homeowners, Montana was the perfect place for a chateau. The couple moved from the urban Midwest with the dream of a home with a French accent.
The home offers plenty of outdoor living space to appreciate the site's evergreens and Aspen trees. The terrace on this side of the home has stairs that lead down to a landscaped lawn.

Architect Duane Millette of Whitefish, Montana, dug right into the project, researching the details of the French country style his clients wanted. Working from the top down, with a steeply pitched roof and heavy timbered ceilings, Duane incorporated his clients' desires for an open home distinguished by handcrafted details like arched doorways, stone fireplaces and plaster walls. Everywhere, tall, divided-light windows frame views of the trees and provide authentic charm.

Because the homeowners had dreamed of this home for so long, they'd amassed a wealth of ideas for it. Interior designer Carin Cross stepped in to help them sort through their desires for the home and hone their vision with finishes, color choices and furniture placement. With the help of their design professionals, the homeowners created a 7,000-square-foot home with quiet, understated elegance to enjoy by themselves or when entertaining guests. "There's a nice combination of public and private rooms," Cross says, "The spaces easily flow."
The masculine den features a fireplace with leather armchairs. An office with a wet bar is just steps away.

The more formal living and dining room is "castle-like," Millette says. "It's large," Cross agrees, "but it still feels cozy." Both spaces open to patios through tall French doors. Close by, the kitchen basks in natural light that streams in through soaring, arch-top windows. The homeowner is an expert cook who designed the kitchen to her specific needs, complete with two tables that provide work space and a casual seating area.

Cross worked with the cabinetmakers to obtain the exact distressed green paint finish the homeowners wanted for the cabinets. Beyond the kitchen, a family room also opens onto the terrace. In a house with this sense of openness and long sightlines, Cross knew the decor also had to flow. "Everything should work together," she says. "You have to be sure there's nothing startling or fragmented." Cross worked with many furniture pieces and rugs the couple brought with them from their former home, weaving them into a cohesive design that has one unexpected pop of color: the wife's red sitting room, a private oasis that sits at the back of the house. The husband also enjoys his private area: a den complete with a fireplace, office area and wet bar.
A rooster formed in metal tile struts above the commercial-style range in the cook's kitchen. Twin tables double the work space. Tall windows fill the room with light, even on Montana's gray days. Designer Carin Cross worked with the homeowners to formulate the perfect shade of green for the cabinets.

Outside, Millette and the homeowners fit this European inspiration into its New World site. The home nestles into the lightly forested property and opens out with curving terraced landscaping. "It feels authentic," Cross says, "but not austere."

Home Plan Details:

Square footage: 7,000

Architect: Millette Architecture

Interior designer: Carin Cross Design

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