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The view from the water’s edge exemplifies the multiple options for outdoor living. From the covered dining, to the outdoor kitchen, to the living and master seating areas, there are a number of options to allow guests to live outdoors.

Western Design: At the Lake’s Edge

Mindful Designs creates a connection inside and out

Written by Christine Phillips  
Photography by Gibeon Photography  
October 2015


Architectural Design and Construction: Mindful Designs

Additional Architectural Design: Timber Forge Designs

Stonework: Greenwood Masonry


Marty Beale, of Mindful Designs, doesn’t hesitate when asked what feature he likes most about the contemporary waterfront home his firm recently completed in Whitefish, Montana.

“It’s the connection the home has with the outdoors and its environment,” he says. “I love the sculpture, I love the lines, I love all of the tight architectural details that went into its construction … but what makes me say ‘Ahhh …’? It’s the outdoor living area that opens right out to the lake.”

Nestled within the trees at the lake’s edge, the striking 4,265-square-foot home makes the most of its location with custom features that maximize the indoor-outdoor living experience. 

Mindful’s Calgary-based clients tasked the design and build team with fairly straightforward requirements: Build a stylish and livable vacation home that steers clear of the norm, accommodates family and guests, and takes advantage of its spectacular waterfront location. The team delivered on that and more, creating an inventive and award-winning home that is a beautiful blend of contemporary style, creativity and connectivity. 

“The project was a real close collaboration between the clients, who were very involved and super fun to work with,” says Beale. “They definitely had some ideas they wanted to bring to life. We also worked closely with the big picture designer, Kevin Richardson of Timber Forge, who did a great job with the site layout and sculptural elements.”

The couple recognized early on that enhancing the home’s connectivity to the outdoors was important. Achieving this required materials that could work inside and out. 

“We chose materials that could run through and break the wall plane,” says Beale. “It was very intentional that the beams and soffit material don’t change as we transition from exterior to interior on the lake side. We brought those materials through. The same is true with the flooring — we selected a weatherproof tile that could work inside or out, blurring the lines between those two spaces.”

A series of large, bi-folding doors make it easy for the owners to allow the “outdoors in” in a variety of fun and functional ways. Open patios, screened porches, an outdoor kitchen and multiple fireplace options further allow the family to live, entertain, relax and enjoy the view in a variety of combinations.

“Initially for the patio, the client wanted one big row of steps across the whole area. That was really neat but it didn’t really define any separate spaces,” says Beale. “It didn’t offer much variety. So we brought the walls up and created distinct spaces and defined a lot of nooks and separate places that allow people to find their own little niches.”

“Obviously this house has a pretty interesting architectural style,” says Beale. “It’s a little more mountain on the outside and more modern on the inside.

“The exterior has a smooth, clean aesthetic created with rustic materials that complements its rugged environment. The inside has a much more urban feel — it’s a little more eclectic and whimsical.”

The couple wanted every part of their home to echo their particular style — they did not want to recreate what had been done before. Every design decision and material selection was conscious and specific. 

In the main room and entry, a large tile wall with soft ripples wraps around the stairwell, mimicking the texture of the lake in the morning. A series of silver balls are sprinkled playfully across a supporting wall, adding a contemporary splash of rhythmic movement. Custom light fixtures fabricated on-site further enhance the bold and dramatic space. 

“Even the rockwork: We went to great lengths to work with the client to find the perfect stone,” Beale says. “We chose stone that comes from Idaho that breaks out very crisp and clean. It’s very linear, plumb and square. Tim Greenwood at Greenwood Masonry did an exquisite job of bringing that vision to life.” 

The master bedroom on the ground level opens to the lakefront, and is situated to maximize the view of the lake. In the master bath, high windows allow the light in and create airiness without compromising privacy. Two more bedrooms are tucked away upstairs, and storage areas are neatly hidden behind walls and out of view.

“I love the diverse 3-D nature of the house,” says Beale. “It’s such a unique sculpture. It’s a tight, clean aesthetic that is also very comfortable.”

The double garage doors are constructed of a beautiful bronze glass with wood framing, providing an artful façade to the building that houses a separate guest quarters upstairs. 

“In every project we try to incorporate as much high performance building as a project allows,” says Beale. “We strive for easy maintenance and long-term low energy usage. And that was certainly the case in this project — we built it to be as mindful as possible. So while it’s highly modern, it’s also highly livable. It’s built to withstand the elements.” 

A custom built-in desk sits directly below the skybridge. Light washing down the textured tile to the left of the descending staircase is reminiscent of the ripples on the lake.

A set of 10-by-18-foot bifolding doors extends the living area to the water’s edge.

Interior and exterior living spaces flow seamlessly because of bifolding doors and fluid design elements.

Nestled into the hillside, the home’s entry welcomes visitors to the lake beyond.

The open floor plan kitchen flows both to the skybridge and bedrooms above as well as directly to the lakefront.

The unique material pallete comes together in a spectacular fashion, even in the powder room.

Tone-on-tone interior elements in the bedroom enhance the natural landscape surrounding the home.