LOOK OUT ANY WINDOW from Mark and Judy Shelstad’s Big Sky home and the peaks play center stage. The mountains are displayed like paintings from the timberframed windows to the flagstone patio and wood burning fireplace off of the master suite opening up to a sweeping landscape.
“It’s always been about the views,” Centre Sky principal architect Jamie Daugaard says. “And everybody on our team knew that.”
The Shelstads wanted a house large enough to accommodate their family and still intimate enough to offer a kind of log cabin coziness. They even named it “Koselig Hus” which comes from the Norwegian term for a comfortable or cozy house.
In order to fully integrate the owners’ wish list efficiently, this project became a team effort from the very first visit to the lot.
“We walked the site and figured out how to take advantage of the view corridors,” Daugaard says, referring to himself, Teton Heritage Builders and the owners. “We have a dual angle floor plan to accommodate two primary view corridors and allow for ease of vehicular access and once we had the layout, Erika [Jennings, interior designer for Carole Sisson Designs] jumped in.”
“The Shelstads came out to Big Sky and narrowed it down to three lots. He asked me to look at them from a builder’s perspective,” Peter Lee, of Teton Heritage Builders, says. “I did an analysis and this lot was the recommendation. It had great tree cover, great views, and not a lot of hidden surprises once we got onto the site.”
The idea to get everyone on the same page from the beginning of the project helped to keep the home on budget and guaranteed everyone’s concerns were heard.
“We try to get the team together early on so Teton Heritage was there for input, the owners were there for input, and everyone stays engaged in the full project. Peter was very involved, not just about cost but design constructability. And we’re all local,” Daugaard says, “With the design team located in Big Sky we’re five minutes from the job site so we can run up there and review the project at a moment’s notice.”
All along the way Daugaard took in the owners’ needs, adapting the design to their particular point of view. Like an optometrist who asks his patient to try on lenses: Better or better?
“We keep honing our focus as the process goes on,” Daugaard says. “We keep the team up to date until all the designs are approved as we look to further define the intent of the home.”
The teamwork also had an extra bonus of staying within the stated parameters, relating to cost and time.
“If the builder, architect and interior designer can work with the client from the get-go, we can understand the architect’s design intent and maximize the experience for the client,” Ben Emanuel, from Centre Sky Architects, says. “As the design unfolded we kept it going as we worked backward from a budget.”
The layout consists of three main structures: the great room, the master wing and the garage.
“We laid the rooms out to be dead center with Wilson Peak,” Daugaard says. By using timber elements in the windows, Daugaard was able to accommodate larger windows and include spectacular views.
The Shelstads wanted that log cabin look without the heavy lodge feel.
“One way to do that was to use the laced logs on the corners but keep the lines clean with a few timbers. We also kept the roof lines low, to avoid the chalet look, and let the rooms flow from one space to another.” Daugaard says. With an eye toward the practical, he wanted to give the Shelstads the impression of a log cabin without actually using traditional logs. “Log cabins are known for not being energy efficient or stable. Some logs can move as much as two or three inches after construction.”
Instead builder and Teton Heritage project manager Ben Jones stacked all the logs offsite and cut the centers out, then sandwiched the framed and insulated walls inside the logs. Called a “hybrid” log construction, it gives the walls a much higher R rating than a traditional log home.
“That was our biggest challenge,” Jones says. “But it mitigates the log dynamics.”
The unique entryway is not that of a typical mountain home. Rather, there is a contemporary feel that creates interest. The “eyebrow” roof covering over the front doorway, an arch covered with cold-rolled metal and a natural rust patina, turns a modern form to a rustic icon for Koselig Hus with the use of rustic materials. The bark shingles, tucked up into the gable peaks also presents a hint of something different.
Carole Sisson Designs applied warm colors, different textures and plush surfaces that all work to create an inviting feeling. Candles and lamplight play a big role in ‘cozy’ as well. “With the giant logs and tall ceilings, the accents of stone and l
“It brings in the greens and grays of the lichen that’s still on the bark,” Daugaard says. “And the expression of structure on the upslope corner of Koselig Hus has a signature log — a large vertical log — that lets your eye know when to stop at the upper slope portion of the structure.”
There are a few subtle touches of asymmetry including the built-up stone clad base on one side and boulder base on the opposite side and angled knee brace timbers transitioning to vertical columns at the front of the house, for example. All together the asymmetry adds a distinctive subtext to the home.
Interior designer, Erika Jennings, brought in a few key items to add a feeling of uniqueness without going over the top. “They were on a budget but had fun splurging on things that really popped,” she says. In the kitchen she included a handmade zinc hood with hand-hammered steel strapping for the cooking area. The island is the centerpiece of the room with its Exotic River Blue countertop, one of the most extravagant in the world, it offers visual light displays as the semi-precious gem Labradorite, within the granite, glows with brilliant colors when the light hits it.
“Warm colors, different textures and plush surfaces all work to create the inviting feeling the Shelstads were after,” Jennings says. “Candles and lamplight play a big role in ‘cozy’ as well. With the giant logs and tall ceilings, the accents of stone and log are so massive I balanced them out with larger scale furniture.”
She also worked hard to create conversation areas: sitting spaces and groupings that are appropriate for the rooms, so people are not shouting to each other.
The great room features an enormous wood-burning Montana moss rock fireplace with massive single slabs of Frontier Stone for the mantel and hearth. The fireplace also includes hand-forged steel doors. Artistically set within the fireplace are an art niche, TV niche and a wood storage. Opposite the fireplace, a secret passageway to the wine room can be discovered through the antiqued alder cabinets.
The master suite offers vaulted ceilings, full log walls and log accents, as well as breathtaking views of the Spanish Peaks Range and Lone Peak. The floors are hand scraped rustic hickory. The master bath is fully finished with travertine tile and granite, a steam shower, separate water closet with vanity, a jetted tub with views of Lone Peak. Full eight-foot tall custom alder doors give access to a covered porch.
Also included in the home is a bunk room with two sets of bunk beds, a loft area where the younger crowd can hang out, lower level guest rooms, an entertainment/gaming room where the bar has an iron foot rail that was originally used on the railroad in Butte, a mud room and a laundry room.
The rooms’ angles work subconsciously to give off the feeling of space.
“By making use of angles, other than the typical 90-degree, squared off rooms, we were able to create more space, more of a flow into other rooms,” Daugaard says. “We were able to give the Shelstads the home they wanted, by working with people we trusted, like Erika’s sense of design and Teton Heritage’s ability to work within our stated goals.”
Ben Jones, from Teton Heritage agrees.
“There are a hundred ways to do everything,” he says. “And there’s always a way to make something work.”
When taken all together, the Shelstad home feels like a home away from home, a retreat, a place where the family can relax and unwind. In a word, cozy.