16 Apr Alpine Aerie
When a couple from the Midwest came to visit dear friends in Big Sky, Montana, to ring in the New Year in 1993, they had no idea how much the experience would change their lives. Both avid skiers (a sport they enjoyed with their then-school-aged daughters), they fell in love with the remote world-class ski resort, so much so that, within a few years, they’d found their own getaway: a log home in the area’s Mountain Village. Positioned alongside the slopes, the dwelling was also an easy 20-minute drive from the community’s golf course, another passion they shared during the summer months.
Fast forward to 2018 — with the couple now retired and living in Florida — they were ready to build the ski house of their dreams and found the perfect spot in the Spanish Peaks Mountain Club. “We wanted something more contemporary in design, and with all our living space on one floor,” the wife says. “And we also wanted to be close to the club, while keeping the same ski-in/ski-out convenience we’d enjoyed.” In addition, the couple needed ample space on another floor for their now-adult daughters and their own growing families, as well as for visiting friends.
The lot that they acquired was in an ideal location, in a neighborhood just a minute’s drive from the Spanish Peak’s clubhouse. “The views from there are great,” says the husband. “It looks down toward the [new] Montage Hotel and the valley below. And a little bit to the right, we can see Big Sky village.”
Desiring creativity in the building process and a timely turnaround, they assembled an experienced local team to fulfill their vision. For the home’s design, they chose to work with Jamie Daugaard, founder and principal of Centre Sky Architecture, who has developed a reputation for site-specific, client-responsive, sustainable design in the Big Sky area and beyond (they also have offices in Telluride, Colorado, and Park City, Utah). For the construction, they chose to work with Peter Lee and his team at Teton Heritage Builders, which has locations in Bozeman and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and is well-respected for custom residential projects that feature high-quality local materials.
Just 18 months later, the couple moved into their new home, which marks a subtle yet nonetheless dramatic departure from their previous lodge-style abode. “I’d call it clean-lined traditional,” says Daugaard, describing the structure’s subtly sleek combination of “long, flowing rooflines and softly pitched gables.” The home’s material palette features gray-toned Chief Cliff Skookum stone, a quartzite from the mountains of Northwest Montana, and rusticated Douglas fir. “It still has the feeling of a very traditional form, but just simplifies it and makes it more livable for today,” he adds, summing it all up with words that capture the end result’s openly inviting effect: “The house breathes.”
The wood surfaces on the doors, ceilings, and exterior roofline and decking were finished with a neutral gray stain that harmonizes with the stone. That marks a “refreshingly contemporary” tonal departure from the typical mountain residential color palette of natural materials in earthen shades of brown, orange, and yellow, notes Lee.
In a similar spirit, the interior walls were surfaced with drywall and painted a soft shade of white, instead of the rough-hewn wood that’s often used in rustic homes. That provided the perfect backdrop for the contemporary furnishings, fabrics, and finishes that were chosen by the Toledo, Ohio-based interior designer Pamela Straub, in collaration with the homeowners. “We tried to use organic shapes and natural materials to create a soft, welcoming aesthetic,” says Straub, who also introduced harmonious touches of color in accents, such as the throw pillow fabric that features subtle shades of buttermilk, moss, and teal.
Now finished, life in the new 5,418-square-foot home revolves around the main level, just as the clients requested. This floor features a great room that opens to a dining area, and a spacious kitchen with a prep island, walk-in pantry, and wet bar. Kimball Derrick, a Cincinnati-based kitchen designer, custom-tailored the cooking space and bar to fulfill the couple’s love of preparing meals together and entertaining friends and family.
Along a hallway to the east of this central area is a large ski/mud room with a door that leads to the slopes. And in the other direction, there’s a cozy study where the owners usually begin their day, with their bedroom suite just beyond. The lower floor features three guest suites and a family room, and a smaller floor above the main level includes a home office and one more guest suite.
With the spirit of hospitality effortlessly flowing into the outdoor living spaces, the doors in the dining room slide all the way open, leading to a spacious, covered wrap-around deck, complete with an outdoor fireplace, overhead heaters, lounge chairs with faux-fur throws, and a large-screen TV.
“Outdoor living was very important to them,” Daugaard says. “That’s how they want to live, whether it’s for apres ski in the winter or at the end of the day in summertime.”
“We even had dinner out there last New Year’s Eve,” adds the owner. A fitting bookend, no doubt, to their very first experience in Big Sky almost 30 years earlier.