01 Aug Western Design: Surprise Moments
Reid Smith Architects
Envi Interior Design Studio
It’s an oft-heard story in Big Sky: a Bay Area couple who owned a home in Deer Valley, but were considering a change, went to visit friends at the Yellowstone Club. “It was a bluebird day and super quiet,” recalls the wife. “On day one we just fell in love with the place.”
It wasn’t long before the couple saw a home under construction that captured their interest. The approximately 7,000-square-foot residence was designed by Reid Smith Architects with three levels oriented toward iconic dead-on views of Lone Mountain. From the site, the vistas are grand, looking along the valley and to the Spanish Peaks. The ski-in/ski-out location was merely (powdered) icing on the cake.
The structure — comprised of cedar and native ledgestone, with aluminum-clad windows, standing-seam metal roofs, and a mix of vertical steel and horizontal wood-clad beams — tucks into the hillside among the trees. Inside, from almost every room on all levels, the home embraces the extraordinary views and spills outdoors into multiple living spaces for a true indoor-outdoor experience. “We saw the potential,” says the wife, “and decided it was worth waiting for.”
The virtues of modern design in an alpine environment are many, says Daryl Nourse, Reid Smith’s lead architect on the project. “There’s an aspect of contemporary design that lends itself well to the mountain vernacular, largely because the style itself is low-slung and linear,” he explains. “It sets itself nicely into the trees and is close to the hillside, so you don’t have big gable roofs popping up through the treetops. There’s quite a bit of glass, which people might think is too reflective, but unless direct light is hitting it, that glass reflects the surroundings so the house actually blends more. Beyond that, we use a lot of native materials. The stone and the siding blend well with the surroundings, so the house becomes just another element that merges with the environment. It’s a nice mix of material and details that makes for modern living in a mountain setting.”
Since the exterior palette and footprint were already set, the clients focused their attention on the interiors. Retaining interior designer Susie Hoffmann of Envi Interior Design Studio, the team started working together to craft the ideal mountain home for a young, active family. “We wanted it to feel like a mountain house, but we’re minimalists and we didn’t want to add more rustic elements,” says the wife. “We wanted a house that was not too delicate, with fairly robust furnishings, but was still nice to look at. And, I kept saying it had to be cozy.”
“The home had beautiful design and structure,” says Hoffmann. “The challenge was to add personality and style to represent the client and make the home their own.”
The main entrance ushers guests onto the middle level, where a somewhat compressed foyer expands immediately into a living area that runs the length of the house and takes in the entirety of the breathtaking views. As one steps into the room, a romantic round metal swing, designed by Envi and custom made by a local artisan, takes center stage, drawing the eye through to the distinctive peak of Lone Mountain. To the right is the seating area, furnished with a low-profile sectional and custom leather ottoman facing the fireplace, and opening onto a large deck at the east end of the house. To the left, a dining area anchored by a live-edge dining table leads to the kitchen, which is backed by a stone wall that helps ground the space against the glass wall opposite to it. The remainder of the program consists of six bedrooms, an office, a ski room, and a large downstairs space for fun and games. There’s plenty of opportunity for privacy within the larger spaces, as well as countless areas where the interior touches pop.
In the mostly glass and stone living room, for instance, a bold contemporary painting by John “Crash” Matos — purchased by the husband, who spied it in a gallery window in New York City — is tucked into one corner to catch the eye and enliven the space without detracting from the views. Some bedrooms have wall coverings only behind the headboard to ground those walls. Unique drapery details provide texture, while minimalist lighting offers sculptural interest. Throughout the home, original artworks and photographs by artists such as David Yarrow, Matt Devine, and Christopher Dydyk add color and verve.
In the downstairs billiards area — where a custom floating bar of walnut hangs from cables in front of floor-to-ceiling windows — Hoffmann worked with Juniper Books to design a collection of custom book sets in red, orange, and yellow to display next to a holographic deer mount wallpaper within the built-ins, which, in turn, are set within a plaster and limestone surround. In the same space, an array of fabric mounts from Near and Deer and custom knit “domestic trophies” by artist Rachel Denny speak to the bold blue velvet sectional below it. Nearby, next to the ski room, is an eye-catching original piece: A collaboration between Brian Pickering of St. John’s Leather and sculptor Ira Coelho, the designer’s husband, combines vintage skis with leather art that replicates the view of Lone Peak under a full moon.
The overall goal was a home that combined comfort, practicality, and personality, one that would be “less ordinary, especially in the main living spaces,” says Hoffmann. “It really came down to the artwork. It’s so personal and they really had a lot to say about what images spoke to them. The furniture is pretty neutral, so I was really surprised by how bold and bright the artworks are, but even on the early trips the wife would see very colorful art and be drawn to it. It’s unusual here, where many of the homes are quite gray, and it’s been great to see it come together and [to see visitors] be wowed by this space.”
For her part, the wife credits the creatives at Envi for having the overall vision. “There are things Envi did that I wouldn’t have thought of in a million years,” she says. “I wouldn’t have said, ‘Hey, can we have a powder room with sparkly wallpaper on the ceiling?’ In some cases, they gently pushed us and, in most cases, we deferred to them. They knew what was going to work and they were so right. There’s nothing in the house we would change today, not one thing. It just feels homey the minute you walk in.”
Chase Reynolds Ewald has been writing about Western design, food, art, travel, and rustic style for more than 25 years. A consultant and freelancer, her recent books include National Outdoor Book Award winner Bison; Portrait of an Icon, her sixth collaboration with photographer Audrey Hall; Modern Americana; and At Home in the Wine Country; chasereynoldsewald.com.
Audrey Hall’s photographs of fine art and commercial, documentary, and editorial projects have appeared in a variety of media across the globe; audreyhall.com.