16 Apr Layers of Textures
To the birds gliding above Yellowstone Club in Big Sky, Montana, one home might appear to be a cluster of small buildings — a somewhat anomalous sight. This is, however, an illusion accomplished by ingenious design. Sections of the 5,700-square-foot home’s roof are flat, covered with soil, and planted with perennial succulents. When viewed from above, a sizable portion of the house blends in with the green, forested landscape. The purpose was not to delight or trick the avian wildlife, but “so the resident up above isn’t looking down at a giant expanse of roofing material,” explains architect Nate Heller, principal of Studio H Design located in Bozeman. “It’s a little bit more friendly to them.”
Considerate and also captivatingly beautiful, the rooftop’s mix of living greenery and wood shake softens its visual impact. And this thoughtful mingling of textures is carried throughout the home’s exterior and interior design.
Heavy stone, 140-year-old reclaimed lumber, and sleek glass combine to create a look that might be called “modern agricultural,” Heller suggests. Exterior building materials penetrate through walls to become part of the home’s interior, and vice versa. In some areas, Heller explains, “the studs are on the outside of the house and the cladding is on the interior of the house, which gives it a unique, almost agrarian look.”
“A lot of the project was about striking a balance of contrasts,” adds Josey Hasson of Studio H, who served as the project manager. “The contrasts relate to the different seasons [in Big Sky]: hot and dry in the summer and extremely cold, gray, and white in the wintertime. You want to experience the outdoors, but the weather can change in an instant up there.” Consequently, a lot of this home’s design, Hasson says, was about synthesizing a sense of sheltered warmth and security with a feeling of nearness to an easily accessible natural landscape, and “getting that indoor-outdoor feeling.”
The home’s entry embodies these contrasts. “It’s sort of the anchor of the whole house,” says Heller. Timber and stone used on the outside come through the walls, adding dimension to the clean, white interior plaster. A large glass front door seems to float between both entry walls, allowing the heavy organic materials to be bathed in natural light.
Working with the homeowners — Gary Furukawa, who shares the home with his wife Della, their children, and their dog — Sharon Lohss, principal of the Bozeman-based Shelter Interiors, delighted in maintaining that mixture of rustic and modern textures throughout the home, with an emphasis on modern. “I feel like the clients’ tastes and personalities really show through,” she says. “They loved the rich, warm shades of brown, versus the grays and whites you see a lot these days, so I feel like it’s a very warm, inviting palette, with all the beautiful wood.” Lohss brought in lighter neutral colors, including the soft white wall colors, for a sense of modernity and serenity, and peppered them with punchy pops of bright orange, aqua, and green.Even the antler chandeliers, fairly ubiquitous in Montana, have a uniquely fresh look. Locally crafted by Fish’s Antler Art, they were “bleached in the sun,” Lohss explains, “so they’re very light and clean, and we used slightly matte gold for the metal hardware.” The chandeliers harmonize with the organic look of the live-edge walnut-slab dining table, which was also crafted locally by Epoch West Furniture. It’s an ideal place to gather and savor a nourishing meal. But the home’s pervasive sense of inviting comfort might be best expressed by the authentic Japanese soaking tub in the master bath. “I really love how that master bath turned out,” says Lohss, “with all of the white material finishes, but with the really rustic wood ceiling, which we offset with a kind of glamorous chandelier.”
A soak in the deep tub is a restorative way to end a day of skiing, an activity cherished by the residents. The ski room features lockers and hooks for equipment, making it easy to ski in and out of the property. “We enjoy the easy access to both cross-country and alpine skiing,” says Furukawa. This isn’t the family’s first home in the Yellowstone Club, but they appreciate “the combination of rustic and modern elements, which is different than what we’ve done before in past houses,” he adds.
Eschewing the emphatic rusticity that can come with antiques, almost all of the home’s interior furnishings and features are new — from the kitchen’s custom glass lighting fixtures, designed by Bozeman artist Ona Magaro, to the family room’s cloud-like Restoration Hardware sofa. But there is one piece that’s very old: An antique stone wheel of Chinese provenance sits near the top of the stairway, holding all the untold stories of its travels. The wheel’s soulful quality is echoed by that of the reclaimed lumber used throughout the house, all sourced and provided by the contractor, Chris Lohss, of Lohss Construction. He utilized old-surface wood (which bears the original saw marks from when it was first cut) from a pair of 140-year-old Midwestern barns he bought and salvaged.
“The ceilings in the house are old-surface, reclaimed white and red oak,” Lohss says. “They came out of the same barns as the old hand-hewn timbers that are also in the home.” As a builder, he loves the poetry in the fact that the wood has been around, and will continue to shelter people for generations. Every grain, mark, and variation in color infuses the old timbers — and the entire house — with character and comfort.
“I feel like the layers of textures between the architecture and the interiors make it so comfortable and really livable,” says Sharon Lohss. “It’s a real feel-good home.”