The Transformation of a 100-Year-Old Granary
Photos by Heidi A. Long
“A labor of love” is how Amy Hyatt describes the painstaking process of transforming a worn early-20th-century granary into a welcoming place for her family to relax and enjoy Montana’s glorious summer months.
It began when Hyatt’s father, Richard S. Pate, decided he wanted to spend his golden years on a ranch and began scouring the West for the perfect property. He eventually discovered nearly 200 acres in Paradise Valley, Montana, just north of Yellowstone National Park. “He loved it right away,” Hyatt recalls.
Once a working cattle ranch, the property was dotted with old structures: a log cabin built in 1934 (and previously owned by Peter Fonda) and several rundown outbuildings, including a granary. It was almost perfect, but Pate and Hyatt feared the main cabin would be too small to accommodate the entire family. So, after Pate purchased the property, the pair made plans to add a guesthouse.
A beautiful, classic red barn is just one of the many outbuildings on the property.
At first, they considered building a brand-new bunkhouse, but Pate had his eye on the crumbling granary. He thought a little structural reinforcement and a good scrubbing would save it, but it quickly became apparent that a much larger project was in store. “The more we got into it, the more we had to take it apart,” says Jon Evans, co-owner of Bozeman-based Northfork Builders. “We ended up dismantling the entire building, including craning off the roof.”
Despite the extensive renovations, the granary’s original form, footprint and many of its building materials were preserved. And while the structure’s shell displays a traditional rustic style, the interior of the 1,200-square-foot space reflects Hyatt’s vision of something fun, modern and industrial.
The design began in the kitchen, where clean lines create a dramatic contrast with the room’s Montana stone walls, dark wood ceilings and rustic, live-edge wood slab bar. Jerrad Inlow of Elements Concrete devised many of the room’s clever custom details, including open shelving, a range-top cutting board and a unique concrete countertop that’s actually a lighted trough. “You fill it with ice and drinks and as the ice melts, it runs down the side, creating a waterfall,” Hyatt explains.
A floating staircase creates a dramatic focal point for the open living space. An engineering marvel, it was a feature upon which Hyatt had insisted. “I think she had wanted that forever,” says Evans, who enlisted Custom II Manufacturing to fabricate its metal structural plates that are embedded in the granary’s new foundation. Three-inch-thick reclaimed-oak stair treads are welded onto the plates but appear to be suspended in mid-air.
Upstairs, a pair of bedrooms and a bathroom have a soft gray color palette and coverless windows that allow views of the scenic valley to take center stage.
The bath features more design ingenuity from Inlow, who created a concrete sink that drains with a “waterfall” effect.
The stylish simplicity of these spaces belies the scale of the effort that went into creating them. Evans admits that there was a moment when everyone wondered if the work—and expense—of rebuilding the granary was worth it. “We even paused during construction and reconsidered a new building,” he says. “But now we’re thrilled that we moved forward with it.”
Sadly, Richard Pate passed away just two years after the renovation was completed. But though his time on the property was much shorter than expected, Hyatt says, “He did enjoy it. He enjoyed every second of everything we did there.”
These days the family gathers on the ranch, usually for the month of July, to celebrate Pate’s birthday—July 4—and the sweeping western landscape. “This was Dad’s dream and vision,” Hyatt says. “There’s not a piece of the property that doesn’t remind me of him.”
SMALL SPACE, BIG STYLE
Making a small space live large can be a lofty goal, but this simple granary’s design team accomplished it with the help of these rules:
LIMIT INTERIOR WALLS
An open floor plan might be the easiest way to make a small space seem bigger. Here, the kitchen and living areas occupy one room; the owners even nixed a downstairs bath to avoid additional walls.
MAXIMIZE OUTDOOR SPACE
When there’s an opportunity to connect with an adjacent outdoor living space, take it. Hyatt lobbied for the granary’s folding-glass wall system that connects the living room to a patio, even though it was expensive and requires maintenance.
FURNISH LIKE A MINIMALIST
In a gathering space, it can be tempting to opt for an oversized sectional, but smaller, clean-lined, leggy furnishings take up less visual space. Add an upholstered coffee table and a few small ottomans, and there will be seats for all.
CONSTRUCTION Northfolk Builders LANDSCAPE DESIGN Native Landscapes & Reclamation Livingston, MT 406-222-0457 ARCHITECTURE Candace Miller Architects Bozeman, MT 406-551-6950 ARTWORK Duke Beardsley, Visions West Gallery Livingston & Bozeman, MT 406-222-0337 OUTDOOR FIREPLACE Jim Marshall Carpentry, Clyde Park, MT 406-220-0917 RECLAIMED WOOD SUPPLIER Montana Reclaimed Lumber Gallatin Gateway, MT 406-763-9102 MASONRY Beartooth Masonry, Inc. Livingston, MT 406-220-0001 CABINETS/SINKS/VANITIES Jerrad Inlow, Elements Concrete Bozeman, MT 406-587-0506 LIGHTING/FIXTURES Edison Electrical Contractors, Inc. Bozeman, MT 406-522-5441 METAL FABRICATION, SUSPENDED STAIRS, & RAILING Custom II Manufacturing, Inc. Bozeman, MT 406-388-8054 WINDOW/DOOR SYSTEM Montana Sash & Door Bozeman, MT 406-586-1858 PLASTER BEHIND FLOATING STAIRS Yooper Wall Systems, Inc. Big Sky, MT 406-995-2480 STAINED CONCRETE FLOOR Big Horn Architectural Concrete, Bozeman, MT 717-658-5366 PLUMBING Parisi Western Plumping & Heating Livingston, MT 406-222-2073