07 Apr Above & Beyond
PERCHED AT 8,300 FEET ON ANDESITE MOUNTAIN in Big Sky, Montana, and looking south toward Gallatin Canyon, “Broadside Sol,” as the architects dubbed it, offers a busy family of five the best of both worlds: easy access to world-class skiing and abundant sunshine.
“Standing on the viewing platform with the owners one day, we could really get a sense of the vastness of the mountain views and the feel of hovering above the trees,” says Bob Brooks of Reid Smith Architects.
The resulting 8,600-square-foot home is comprised of three levels with two distinct areas connected via a glass-and-steel sky bridge. The east-facing master wing includes the master bedroom, bath, and a cozy den, with most of the other living quarters located at the opposite end of the house. The wide, angled entry acts as a pivot between the two spaces, guiding traffic toward the master wing, up one level to the guest suites, forward to the open kitchen-dining area and living room, or to the downstairs. The 2,700-square-foot lower level includes two bunkrooms — the house comfortably accommodates 21 overnighters — a spa, storage space, and TV/rec room.
“A modern mountain aesthetic provided an opportunity to play with contrasting materials and elements,” says Brooks. Streamlined surfaces were achieved by using built-ins that exemplify Mid-century Modern design, with details that include a hidden living room bar and window seats in several bedrooms that are deep enough for napping. Flush-mounted barn doors can separate several areas, and a sliding steel-and-glass panel fireplace door in the living room hangs from a cantilevered concrete mantel.
“The large glass, and a design focus on transparency, lightness, and a sense of ‘hovering’ is juxtaposed with anchoring solid forms focused on texture and weight, which ground the home to the site,” says Brooks.
For example, floor-to-ceiling, steel-framed windows feature recessed treatments and ultra thin mullions to maximize views and sunlight. “They basically make nature a fourth wall, especially in the living areas and master bedroom,” Brooks adds.
For Big Sky Build’s Erin Hayes, the unique windows and high elevation posed additional design challenges, requiring the unusual use of a tower crane and the field glazing of the windows versus a simpler installation of factory-built ones. “This location and elevation can see winter conditions for eight months out of the year or more, which makes this type of complex installation more challenging,” Hayes says.
Weightlessness, or at least the appearance of it, permeates both the exterior and interior of the home, which is situated on a 2-acre lot in the private Yellowstone Club community. The roadside entry, for example, is flanked by 12-foot vertical boulders that appear to hold up the metal roof, while two similar boulders just inside the 5-by-9-foot steel-and-walnut door continue the theme. Inside, floating, underlit bathroom vanities, a suspended globe chair, and the cantilevered concrete fireplace mantel in the living room, along with hanging mirrors in front of windows and a backlit onyx wall at the base of the stairs to the rec room, all seem to defy gravity.
“All these ‘light’ features are in contrast with more solid anchoring forms, like the course stone walls which provide a rich, textured backdrop,” says Brooks. The use of steel and concrete — in the kitchen island with room for five, and in the lower-level flooring, for example — also help ground the design.
Concrete is an ideal material, says Stephanie King, a senior designer with the interior design firm Heather Wells, who has worked with the clients on two prior homes, one on each coast. It’s durable, doesn’t stain, and can be customized, as was done with the linear drain that Bozeman’s Elements Concrete incorporated into a sink in one of the home’s two powder rooms, she adds.
Based out of Massachusetts, the Heather Wells team employed numerous Montana firms to provide a range of mixed metals, wood finishes, and other surfaces throughout the home, including Windsor gray stone inside and flamed basalt outside from Quarry Works, white oak flooring from Harbour Hardwood Floors, and horizontal-grained walnut with integrated pulls from Earth Elements (complementing the stone wall in the kitchen/dining area, which features a recessed refrigerator and a concealed oven hood).
Custom treatments throughout the home range from subtle — such as the Venetian plaster walls in neutral colors — to bold, such as the Art Deco furnishings, vibrant green walls, and a large Cindy Sherman photograph in the master bedroom den. The owners’ playful side is revealed by pops of color and a wide range of metals, a slab of backlit green stone hung like wall art in the master bath, brass trim instead of grout in the asymmetrical tilework in a powder room, and several large original abstracts by artist Jamali.
The entry features a contemporary nod to the classic antler chandelier with Hudson Furniture’s “Tusk” in black stainless steel. Beneath that, an asymmetrical Kyle Bunting hide rug and nearby chair were inspired by an iconic Yves Klein table — featuring blue pigment encased in Plexiglass — in the living room.
“They want their houses to be exciting and have a ‘wow’ factor,” says King. And with the help of the experienced architects, builders, interior designers, and local artisans, this home in Big Sky certainly achieves it.