A Mountain House With a Veterinarian Twist
At Montana’s Yellowstone Club, a young San Francisco family built an idyllic getaway that includes an homage to animals
Photography by Audrey Hall
Three winters ago, a San Francisco veterinarian and her investment executive husband traveled with their three young children in tow to Montana’s Yellowstone Club. A week in the snowy mountains was all it took. By the time they left, they’d bought a place of their own.
The couple’s purpose in buying a home at the Yellowstone Club was simple. They wanted a place where they could spend quality time with their children. A place where the kids would want to come back, year after year. It was important that they be able to accommodate family, friends and maybe even grandchildren someday.
The couple bought a unit in The Settlement, a townhouse property designed by architect Andrew Brechbuhler of Bozeman’s Brechbuhler Architects and completed in 2017. Brechbuhler describes the structures as “transitional design” rather than the “mountain traditional” style the club is known for. On top of native stone and timber exteriors, Brechbuhler employed low-slope roofs and simple geometries to create visual interest and anchor the buildings to both the site and the development.
Inside, Brechbuhler focused on flexibility in design, livability and comfort. All the units have five bedrooms spanning three floors. The goal was to create comfortable space that lent itself to customized finishes. This family, notes Brechbuhler, added wood walls for a clean look, plus contemporary finishes, cozy furnishings, wonderful art and abundant kid-friendly space.
“The way [they] took it and made it their own is what makes these units so special,” he says.
When it came to the form following the function, the homeowner was equally resolute. “We wanted mountain design,” she says. “But we wanted it to fit our personality too. We’re not rugged people,” she says with a laugh. “We ski. We hike a little. But we live in San Francisco. We didn’t want to fake it.”
Enter Rain Houser and Skye Anderson of Bozeman’s Urbaine Home, an interior design firm and lifestyle boutique. The design duo had worked together for 10 years before opening their own firm in 2016. After meeting with the homeowners several times, Houser and Anderson started with a clean palette of neutral colors—gray and white walls—and added in materials.
“We used a lot of texture,” says Houser. With the kids, the couple wanted durability and ease, and their personal tastes steered Houser away from busy designs. “Visual interest comes from texture if it doesn’t come from pattern,” she says.
The rich and varied textures include timbers for the ceilings and posts, reclaimed wood walls, cashmere and wool furnishings and hair on hide, plus bamboo and mohair rugs. The homeowner delights in the outcome—the soft materials, the clean lines and the fact that her children can run around to their hearts’ content. “It doesn’t feel like a showcase house. It’s pretty special,” she says. “It’s perfect.”
The couple’s art added whimsy, color and more texture. Their contemporary collection includes a 1,000-pound metal elk head by Bozeman artist Kirsten Kainz, photography by Jill Greenberg and paintings by Billy Schenck, Tracy Stucky and Amy Ringholz. “The art was one of our favorite parts,” says Houser, who sourced many of the artists locally.
“It’s a nod to mountain taxidermy,” Houser says of the Kainz piece that hangs above the fireplace. But it’s also industrial and funky, she says, noting the homeowner’s love of animals and her specific desire to steer clear of traditional animal mounts. Elsewhere the couple has deer heads made from woolen blankets, a fanciful unicorn head by artist Tamar Mogendorff and an antler chandelier made of porcelain. The nonlethal homage to animals suits the homeowner perfectly.
“I love that it’s a mountain house with a veterinarian twist on it,” she says.
Steel, bronze, stone and rattan provide an earthy palette for the home.
The great room combines wood and stone with the softness of cashmere, hide and supple leather. The metal elk mount above the fireplace is by Kirsten Kainz.
Designer Rain Houser used lighting to add playful but sophisticated character, including soap bubble pendants in the dining room and custom kitchen pendants by Ona Magaro.
In the dining room, “A Place for Jane” is by Tracy Stucky; hair-on-hide rug is by Kyle Bunting and Czech pendants are from Urbaine Home.
The young family’s sense of fun is evident throughout the home, including Bullseye wallpaper from Urbaine Home and a whimsical arrow marquee light.
The office doubles as a guest room with a cozy pull-out sofa. Billy Schenck’s “Kamikaze Cadillac” hangs alongside woolen blanket deer mounts.
In the rec room, whimsical animal portraits are by photographer Nine Francois.
Neutral colors set the tone, but softness defines this bedroom with a bamboo silk rug, Baxter leather chair from Urbaine Home and a Kyle Bunting hide headboard.