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Western Red Cedar For a Log Home in Montana

Logs redefine the drama of a Montana resort residence. These homeowners who, after years living in Europe, decided to relocate to build a log home in Montana.

Story by Teresa L. Wolff | Photos by Karl Neumann

Exterior-Front Magnificent custom trusses, soaring eaves and octagonal rooms give this Big Sky residence the look of an elegant Swiss chalet. The home was conventionally built, using flared cedar vertical support logs and Douglas fir half-log siding on the exterior and interior.

Years of living in Europe persuaded these homeowners to move to a rural area when they returned to the United States. They were invited to visit the Yellowstone Club, near Big Sky, Montana, and found this northern Rocky Mountain area similar to the ski areas in Europe with which they were familiar. They also liked the club’s exclusive atmosphere. They bought three and one-half acres and began planning their new home.

“We felt a log structure would fit in this wooded mountainous area perfectly,” the wife recalls. “However, we wanted it to be elegant and refined and not rustic.”

They planned the home to be conventionally built to permit more angled spaces and turreted rooms, with logs applied strategically. They selected western red cedar logs for the vertical posts and Douglas fir for the half-log siding. HearthRoom

Having previously built five homes in Europe and North America, the couple was familiar with the process. They employed a CAD designer to put their ideas on paper.

Their list of must-haves included a grand entrance to showcase the magnificent logs. They wanted the home to be large without feeling overwhelming, and elegant without seeming grandiose.Separation of public and private spaces was essential.

After interviewing several builders, the couple selected Bozeman-based Martel Construction. Project manager Todd Goertzen oversaw the work.

Over the next three years, the owners worked side-by-side with their contractor to complete the three-level, 12,000-square-foot home. The kitchen flows into the formal dining room, where the homeowners built an adjoining wine cellar.

“Too often during dinner, we decide we would like another bottle of wine,” the husband explains. “In most homes, this usually means the host or hostess has to leave the guests and venture to the basement. We have found that situating the wine cellar off of the dining room is more convenient. We can display beautiful bottles of wine while enjoying the convenience and ease of having the wine so close to where it will be consumed.”

The bar island was designed to allow guests to congregate in the kitchen without interfering with food preparation. The bar island was designed to allow guests to congregate in the kitchen without interfering with food preparationThe layout has several highlights.

The large, airy kitchen, for example, is an efficient workspace that welcomes as many as 20 guests. Two islands add practicality to the beauty of the space. Family and friends can gather around a breakfast table large enough to accommodate eight diners, or cozy up and engage in quiet conversation in the two leather chairs situated in front of a stone-clad fireplace.

On the left of the great room is an elegantly appointed powder room. It has a honey onyx mosaic floor, and walls and a dome-tray ceiling finished in plaster. The home includes his-and-her offices. His has two stories. Hers is situated in front of his, with three oversized windows overlooking the waterfall. It is finished with black walnut floors, plaster walls, a stone-clad fireplace and a large built-in library. She can work at a custom-made walnut desk or relax in the elegant sitting area with two leather armchairs and lounge.

Two oversized leather chairs sit in front of a granite-clad fireplace in the two-story library, which is paneled in black walnut. A floating spiral staircase leads to the upper level, where a collection of medieval helmets is displayed.

The master suite is the owners’ private retreat. A large bedroom with a gas fireplace and sitting area opens to a hallway featuring a morning kitchen, complete with sink, dishwasher and microwave, and a private laundry area. Twin walk-in closets flank the hallway leading to the stylish master bath.

A Jacuzzi tub and dry sauna are located on the terrace immediately outside the suite. Entry to and from the hallway is through two stone arches.

Because the Yellowstone Club features activities for four-season recreation, the owners welcome company regularly and added many amenities to the daylight basement to make their guests’ stay comfortable.

The staircase leading to the basement has a large stone opening showing a beautiful and life-size bronze sculpture of a swooping eagle. A 36-inch log and log steps anchor the staircase. To maintain the continuity between the levels, the walls are also clad in logs.

This level also enjoys a theater room with a custom American black walnut ticket booth for a bit of whimsy. The owners equipped their large fitness area with professional-grade equipment to make it a welcoming workout space. Two ensuite guest bedrooms with walk-in closets are available for family and guests planning an extended stay.

Younger guests are treated to a bunkroom, which has four bunk beds (two doubles and two singles) and large walk-in closet. Additional guest accommodations are available in the second-story apartment, accessible via a walnut staircase located between the garage and utility room. 

This apartment has a full-sized kitchen, with a cozy dining area and an adjacent sitting area with a stone-clad stove fireplace. Ensuite bathrooms in the two identical guest bedrooms have double sinks, marble floors and showers with glass inserts, and linen cabinets.

“Even when we have 14 people staying in the home, everyone still can enjoy his or her privacy,” the wife says.

Landscaping the home was an interesting process.

“We looked at the site plan and determined how we would replenish the vegetation we had removed during construction,” the wife says.

They included two water features. One has a bronze skier, which, when covered in snow, appears to be skiing into the house. The second flows under the porte-cochere. The home’s layout has proved to be so convenient for the couple that they vow to duplicate it when they build their next home.

Meanwhile, the wife says, “This home is so beautiful and elegant, yet intimate. It is peaceful and removed from the worries of the world. It will always be special to us.

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