Living the Dream

WITHIN JERRY AND KARI LOCATI'S MONTANA HOME there is a place for everything. From the prominent entry gate, to the generous expanse of front door and on to the way in which the elegant interiors seamlessly connect to the outdoor areas, it is a gracious home touched with exquisite detail. For a couple who loves entertaining and recreation, this is a place that effortlessly combines all of their interests.

“Our house is driven by our activities and lifestyle drives the design,” says Jerry, founding principal of Locati Architects in Bozeman, Montana. 

The tour begins at a threshold that gradually leads the eye toward the high, reclaimed timber trusses in the great room, and eventually draws the eye outside toward a painterly property, dappled with sunlight from the nearby pond. Stepping deeper into the living area the scenery envelops the house, but does not detract from the lovely welcome that ensconces anyone who visits. Here, the Locati Architects’ signature rustic materials — timbers, stone, metal and wood — are integrated in a refined fashion. A thoughtful art collection finishes the interior spaces with a connection to the West — Steve Seltzer, Rocky Hawkins, Tom Gilleon and many others — combining a love of landscape, history and contemporary works. A treasured Salvador Dali sketch flanks the stone fireplace and alludes to the couple’s distinguished tastes.

Jerry and Kari spent a year discussing the possibilities of this 20-acre property on the rich flats of farmland near Bozeman. Its beauty is subtle, Jerry notes; there isn’t necessarily a central focus, but more of a panoramic view. That wasn’t a drawback for the Locati team, but instead an opportunity to create design solutions. Layering architectural and landscaping elements, the final design of multiple, low-profile rooflines and natural materials become a self-contained focal point, where ultimately the home seems to echo the length of the Bridger Mountain range in the distance.

“There’s no reason you can’t build your own Disneyland,” muses Locati, as he surveys his backyard, replete with trout pond, flowing creeks, meandering trails, lake house, driving range and guesthouse. The theme-park reference infers Locati’s firm belief that a client’s dream is entirely possible through good architectural design. 

In this case, shaping the property into a dreamscape was intimately connected to the artful work of a talented team of landscape design professionals who contributed to the extensive styling in the back yard, including Lone Pine Landscaping and Mayville Landscaping; Jim Urbani and Jim Saunders for aquatic design. Locati often uses his own home as a model for potential clients to illustrate this point and that fact fostered another level of excellence in the design process. Crediting his fellow partners at 

Locati Architects, brother Steve Locati, Kyle Tage and Greg Dennee, Jerry points out aspects of the house that even he marvels at regularly. General contractor Schlauch Bottcher Construction and handful of local craftsman were essential to Locati’s vision for his home.

It is a mountain lodge, touched with European sophistication. Yet it’s the personal touches, from antiques to friendly family dogs, that override the showcase elements and make it feel every bit the family abode that it is from day to day.

“We fill this house up,” says Kari, who claims the kitchen as her domain. “We love having our family and friends over to share time here.”

Designed to expand and recede comfortably, the house entertains 100 guests or their own family of four. On any given night, the couple cozies up around the kitchen island to share a meal, the corner fire burning, to catch up on family life. “It could be a legacy house,” Kari admits.

This is the third home Jerry has designed for their family and though they appreciate the amenities here, it’s possible it won’t be the last one on the books.

“Architects design their own houses at great peril, for who wants to be trapped in yesterday’s idea?” wrote renowned architect Robert A. M. Stern, of his own cottage in East Hampton, New York. Inspired by Stern, Jerry echoes that sentiment to a degree: “As an architect, designing your own house is really hard because you are your own worst critic,” he admits.

Yet he also champions the idea of home as a constantly evolving thing and something limited only by one’s imagination. 

No Comments

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.