LIKE AN ICONIC EUROPEAN CHATEAU ON A BUCOLIC HILLSIDE, Sandra and Richard Jacobson’s home in Montana’s Yellowstone Club stands sentinel over the mountains that surround Big Sky.
“We wanted a lodge style home with Asian undertones and a timeless feel,” said Sandra. The Jacobson’s met with, Jerry Locati, founding principal of Locati Architects of Bozeman, in their original home in Minnesota. Together they pieced out the aspects of their Minnesota home that they loved — the gardens, the personal spaces, the kitchen — and asked for a completely original design.
The view from the Yellowstone Club is breathtaking any time of year.
Finding the right ingredients to tastefully combine Montana lodge style, European elegance and Asian aesthetics in the architectural design of a home is no easy task. But seasoned architect, Locati was up to the task.
Positioned prominently along the slope of Andesite Mountain, the house draws daylight from sun up to dusk. Views of the Spanish Peaks, Gallatin Mountains and the Madison Range are stunning.
“For me the perfect site is one where I can design a house so that when you walk through the door you rediscover the view from a new perspective. This location had that, so much that we had to approach it from a 360-degree perspective and choose which view to center the house on,” explained Locati.
In the great room, reclaimed timbers and the masonry of the central fireplace are focal points in the room as much as the vistas toward the east.
In the end, the east-west lot called for a house that faced the sun in the morning, in order to deflect the late-day heat. From the outside sweeping views envelope the house, but once past the property’s stone gateway, the reverse becomes true. The home folds the landscape into itself, through views, natural materials, landscaping and an organic flow.
To offset the prominence of the homesite, Locati and the owners planned a soothing water feature to wrap around the northeastern half of the home. Refined by landscape architect Stacey Robinson of Land Design, Inc. in Billings, the gentle sound of moving water cultivates a private environment in an otherwise very visible home. Outside, the small pond and cascading waterfall cultivate privacy and create an intimate focal point that transforms the intoxicating vistas into a pensive retreat.
In the dining room, a round table overlooks a small Zen garden with a scholar stone as a focal point in the alcove near the garage. The formal area curves away subtly from the main living area, where a stone water feature and sculpture diverts the floor plan. In the great room, earthen reds and gold-hued overstuffed couches entice guests to lounge around the double-sided stone fireplace. The reclaimed wood timbers are as much a focal point in the room as the mountain views.
“I wanted a great room with a ‘wow’ factor,” admitted Dick. “Jerry kind of built the house around the view.”
Balancing that “wow factor,” Locati also designed smaller spaces that would accommodate the couple when they were not entertaining; the larger public spaces are thoughtfully punctuated with intimate areas, such as a library on the opposite side of the great room, the seating area in a nook off of the grand kitchen and the numerous outdoor hideouts close to the sound of water and birdsong. The result is a home that is as comfortable for 50 people as it is for two, noted Locati.
The showcase kitchen functions comfortably with 50 guests or intimately with just two people. Brazilian granite on the island and "Absolute Black" granite on the countertops sleekly offset the custom cabinetry by Mountain High Woodworks of Bozeman.
Working closely with Mike Schlauch of Schlauch-Bottcher Construction in Bozeman, Locati drew on the old world elements of thick, insulating stone and rich tones of antique wood. Sitting in the main living area, Dick points out the beauty of the timbers that frame the vaulted ceiling. He marvels at the quality of construction and energy efficiency in the house as a result of SBC’s tremendous attention to detail.
The couple relied on the expert eye of interior designer Robin Strangis, of Loring Interiors in Minnesota to cultivate a comfortable setting in the house. Sandra accompanied her to the International Design Center in Minneapolis, where they began by selecting the rugs. In turn, the colors in the rug patterns set the tone for the overall color palette. Strangis helped Sandra incorporate their growing art collection into the interiors and brought many sophisticated elements together in a tasteful way.
The master bedroom interior has a feeling of sanctuary with soft earth tones and a collection of the couple's Asian art to extend the sense of solace in this private area.
The Jacobson’s have gathered art and antiques that recall their adventures and now resonate with those personal experiences within their Montana home. To this point, the master suite turns toward the Asian motif, with sculpture, artifacts and fine art that reflects the Jacobson’s journeys abroad. Additionally, each of the guest rooms are decorated with a whimsical theme: The Durango Room replete with cowboy memorabilia and leather fringe; the Alpine Winter bedroom with Austrian figurines and snowflake rug; and the Montana Summer suite with airy furniture and lupine accents.
“In this house you really get a feel for the clients’ personality, the details and concepts of tying spaces together inside and out, the way the art ties in with the architecture and even how the bedrooms reflect their care for their guests,” noted Locati, “I think the livability of the home and the flow of spaces play off each other and make it all tie together.
After 21 years in practice, Locati Architects has cultivated a signature style that combines bold structural timbers with stone, glass and forged metal elements for an original mountain architecture that is renown for a natural elegance that connects to place and accommodates modern living with open floor plans. The firm has always had a foundation in quality design that stems from the tradition of timberframe and Craftsman Style, but in this case, the clients had a distinct vision of how they wanted to live in the mountains. That vision brought Locati Architects’ design philosophy and palette of materials together in a different vocabulary.
In the end, every inch of the Jacobson’s home is a reflection of their personal taste and style, as a home should be. “It’s a work in progress,” said Sandra, “We adore it and will keep adding personal touches.”