ALONG THE ROAD TO TONY EATON’S AND LAUREN HARRIS’ Paradise Valley Home, you feel a story unfold.
First you cross a narrow one-lane bridge, then turn on the dirt road that parallels the creek. A hill to the south creates a shady lane, where the cottonwoods tower over a historic log cabin and quaint carriage house that allude to simpler times. Weathered outbuildings constructed of stone and wood hint at the days when this was a working ranch. Follow the jack-rail fence and it leads to a house, settled in a sweet little meadow.
“We wanted to respect the roots of this property,” said Lauren.
With that came a connection to Candace Tillotson-Miller, principal of Miller Architects in Livingston, Montana. Known for designing with reclaimed and rustic materials, Miller worked with the couple to meld their disparate architectural tastes of Modern versus Montana. Having previously lived in both a log cabin here and an ultra-Modern home in California, Tony was set on a sleek, contemporary style. Lauren, who grew up in Canada, felt that a rustic home would connect with the location and give a sense of shelter during the long winter months.
Tony and Lauren lived in a cabin on the 300-acre ranch for several years and planned. They walked the property and experienced the seasonal shifts, the changes of light and wind. Lauren began collecting furnishings and art for a decade before the home was built. When they approached Miller Architects they had a clear vision for how they wanted to live in this new house.
The answer was a log and timberframe style house that pushes the edges of contemporary design on the inside.
“They loved the idea of creating a home that was one and a half stories, utilizing light and space to create intimate nooks for reading, playing music or gathering with friends.”
Ultimately, they found a middle ground that pulled elements of stone and timber from the ranch’s original buildings and married it with a personal aesthetic that reflects years lived well in the West and abroad in France. For Tony the stone accents were essential and for Lauren, the natural tones of wood equated to a sense of shelter.
“I’ve always liked national park buildings,” admitted Tony, who fondly recalls family vacations as a child to America’s national parks. “This has the vibe and bones of the Parkitecture Style.”
Parkitecture with a twist. The entry of the home says a lot about their style — through the heavy, rustic wooden door the first thing you see is an industrial cityscape painting hanging on a stone wall above an antique metal sideboard found on the property. From there, reclaimed fir floors with a dark stain accent the silvered trim and other wood elements throughout the house, while Miller Architects’ signature tall, broad mullioned windows draw daylight and showcase pastoral views in the meadow where elk and deer rest and bears saunter by.
Clockwise, from left: The quiet section of the Harris-Eatons' is a hallway that links the guest room and small library, where a corrugated tin roof loosely echoes the traditional coffered ceiling. • Honoring the homestead roots of the ranch, the guest bedroom features antiques and traditional quilts by fiber artist Char Devine. • A classic apron-front sink adds refined contrast to the circle-sawn cabinetry in the kitchen.
One of Tony’s and Lauren’s requests was that the kitchen, dining and living area be functional for entertaining. The L-shaped space links each area fluidly, while keeping a connection to the surrounding landscape. From the kitchen, French doors lead to a garden and breakfast area which the couple uses daily. Divided from the kitchen by a casual bar, in the dining room a custom-designed, glass topped table and mirrored Philippe Starck chairs sit on a Harlequin-patterned rug with a nod to Modern. The organic materials of the house embrace this refreshing motif gracefully, adding the eclectic flair of a home with personality.
“Lauren’s time in France influences her colors of strong ochre and blue,” noted Miller, “she flips between that to very contemporary to Adirondack traditional, but it really works.”
Every corner of what Tony and Lauren have dubbed the Tall Pony Ranch seems to have a story. Relishing the details they’ve incorporated into the living spaces, Lauren points out the wagon wheel chandelier in the living room that once hung in Livingston’s old Long Branch Saloon; it still has the original Thomas Edison light bulbs. The richly textured timbers throughout the house were rescued from a friend’s barn on the Yellowstone River. A magnetized metal wall in the kitchen is made form vintage billboards. The handmade tin lanterns that hang on the dining porch were made by the original ranch owners.
In each room the ceilings are compiled of different recycled materials, from the droplap siding in the master bedroom to the rusty corrugated tin in the library. The tone of wood is pervasive, but not overpowering, because it’s broken up by hand waxed plaster walls and metal accents that add another layer of texture to each room.
Throughout the home a mix of antiques and Modern furnishings meld together as a reflection of taste and experience. Both well traveled, their art collection ranges from folk art to Abstract, with a juxtaposition of high design and rustic materials. Blending influences from Lauren’s decade of living in Paris and many years spent visiting Santa Fe, New Mexico with a touch of California and a foundation of rustic Montana, the house brims with personal detail and tasteful elements.
Lauren took on the interior design like a pro, selecting all the finishes, color palette, furnishings, upholstery and art. Some of the most interesting aspects of the home are materials that have been repurposed, such as railroad spikes found on the property that are now used as hooks or the corrugated tin roofing that was flattened and applied as the backsplash behind the stove. The two joke about it, calling the interior design “French country meets Modern Montana farm house.”
In addition to loving the interior space, both Tony and Lauren treasure the skilled craftsmanship it took to build the 3,900-square-foot house, crediting Bud Anzick of Livingston with the construction. He learned to work with rustic and reclaimed materials, carefully matching the hewn logs, large timbers and stone expertly.
The result is a house that seems as if it’s been in this meadow for a very long time.
“I love many kinds of architecture, but I feel like this house belongs to this place,” said Lauren.