12 Apr The Cooper Park Remodel
Story Street Studio
In a historic district in Bozeman, Montana, a house that exudes century-old charm paired with tasteful updates makes a heartening statement: All things old can be made new again through the art of faith and the power of engineering.
The Cooper Park Remodel, named for its proximity to the city’s 4-acre park, presented Tim Blazina, partner at Yellowstone Traditions in Bozeman, with what is commonly called “a unique opportunity.” But that doesn’t adequately describe the design solution that emerged from Yellowstone Traditions and homeowner Laura Stanley, founder of Story Street Studio, a boutique, full-service residential interior design firm with offices in Bozeman and New York City.
Built in the early 20th century, the craftsman-style house was composed of modestly sized, sectioned rooms that conveyed coziness but were hard-pressed to admit the sweep of light and space that so define the current architectural era. In an act infused with respect for the structure’s footprint, original community, and current neighborhood, the remodel of the 4,500-square-foot house is an archetype for balanced building.
An observer would hardly posit that the Cooper Park Remodel began with stripping the home nearly bare to address its structural integrity, which was followed by adding a finished basement. It now stands as it’s likely to stand for generations to come, and that is because of the restorative and creative vision of Stanley, her Story Street Studio partner Lizzie Bailey, and the Yellowstone Traditions team.
Stanley possessed a particular sense for what the house could be — and what it deserved to become. “I had a feeling about the house before I bought it,” she says. “With beautifully proportioned rooms drenched in natural light, the house had a gracious floor plan but was lacking the charming details I associate with craftsman houses of its era.”
Her clear-eyed aesthetics meshed with Yellowstone Traditions’ desire to bring new life to a building weathered by time but possessing the quality of timelessness. The exchange of ideas gave rise to a dynamic that propelled the project in the right direction. The Yellowstone Traditions team worked in harmony with the house, drawing out its proportion and design integrity so expressive of the Arts and Crafts movement. “Laura was able to articulate her vision with no intermediary, and we had quite a bit of freedom between the guardrails of her overall goal,” says Blazina.
The proof is in the house itself. Streetside, it presents a cheerful mien: modern lap siding, staggered-edge painted shakes on gable ends, and a porch of painted brick with natural cedar decking. Asphalt shingles, black oak in color, combine with dark bronze snap-lock metal roofing, while bluestone steps lead to the front entry. An abbreviated avenue of native plants separates the main house from a 945-square-foot guest house that, like the building it mirrors, is an homage to understated artistry. Much of the primary home’s living space does not interact with the street, and retains an aura of privacy despite its proximity to public space — an arrangement that translates to a peak achievement in urban architecture.
Paradoxically, a structure that has undergone a metamorphosis as major as the Cooper Park Remodel exudes steadiness. Its layered appeal, particularly in a kitchen-side hearth area and in the main bedroom suite, suggests a sequence of sonnets. A living room with a board-and-batten wall finish is anchored by an oak plank floor, and the features add to the sense of welcome that imbues the space. Liberal use of smoky blue paint is broken up by dashes of color that echo. Barrel-back swivel chairs upholstered in bold mustard mohair find their color match in abstract art, which possess terracotta shades similar to the custom Oushak rug and pillows perched on a built-in window seat.
Stanley created corners of color and areas of interest throughout the house with wallpaper, antique furniture of varying periods, spare but exquisite tile, and handcrafted lampshades equivalent to objects of art.
The kitchen flows from a formal dining area highlighted by mid-century modern chairs and wallpaper framed by wainscoting in a gesture of bonhomie. Neutral colors in the kitchen invite the eye to land in a soothing spot amid a multitude of patterns in an adjacent room. Warmth and texture are exuded by the herringbone oak floors, an island topped by a walnut slab, and a reverse board-and-batten ceiling. Brick-shaped wall tiles present horizontal strength, while custom, marble-topped cabinets, flush to the ceiling, provide vertical relief.
The kitchen is a working space that speaks of simplicity yet exhibits elegance, where a breakfast nook throws a saucy look at a nearby fireplace-side seating area. The arrangement avoids isolating the chef from guests or, more commonly, producing the standing-room-only crowd that clutters a kitchen.
A central element of the nearby room that Stanley refers to as “the keeping room” is a wood-framed gas fireplace with craftsman details and graphite marble mosaic tile. The rug was custom loomed in Turkey with a geometric design that finds an answering call in the angles of the fireplace. A custom sectional sofa in aubergine mohair is flanked by a tufted leather coffee table that doubles as an ottoman, providing additional seating when Stanley entertains. “The leather ottoman is meant to gain patina through use,” Stanley says. “The more it ages, the better it looks.”
That could serve as the motto for the Cooper Park Remodel. Stanley’s design approach stamps rooms with specific traits that, ultimately, gather into a single, vibrant personality. The intention of the builder and desire of the homeowner gave rise to a house whose merit and appeal seem effortless.
This finds further expression in the dedicated primary bedroom, where airiness is achieved by the vaulted ceiling, exposed rafters, blush pink grass wallpaper, and a chandelier in the shape of a dandelion preparing to send forth its seeds. If the eternal search for truth, beauty, and goodness finds material expression in a house, that house just might be near Cooper Park in Bozeman, where Laura Stanley lives.