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2011 Home of the Year

A Montana home delivers a design that mixes up rustic and modern elements in a welcoming, beautiful space.



Photos by Gibeon Photography

If you passed by this home in Big Sky, Montana’s Yellowstone Club, you’d admire its low-slung, ranch-inspired exterior. The dwelling is earthy, textured and thoroughly Western—fitting for its location on a 160-acre site that looks out to the Spanish Peaks.

If you were lucky enough to go inside, you’d be in for a surprise. Instead of adopting the style of a typical mountain lodge, the home’s interiors are a smart, airy mix of rustic and contemporary elements, carefully orchestrated to achieve one goal: spaces that feel intimate for the owners’ family but welcoming when 50 friends show up for a party. “The owners wanted something a little different than what everybody else has,” says Todd Thesing of Montana-based Highline Partners, the project’s contractor. “So we all got to enjoy a lot more creative liberty than we usually have.”

Architect Kirk Michels of Montana-based KMA, Inc., created the design for the home’s exterior. Then interior designer Lisa Kanning of Colorado-based Worth Interiors, Thesing and partner Rob McRae dreamed up the interior spaces—with help from homeowners Richard and Barbara Barnhart.

Working simultaneously, Kanning and the team from Highline Partners were able to shape each other’s ideas—a collaboration that yielded brilliant results. “The furnishings and finishes definitely influenced the built structure,” Thesing says. Instead of building first and designing second, “we thought about the whole project at once.”

Part of the team’s synergy was necessary: Kanning designed many of the home’s furnishings, light fixtures and even architectural details, then turned her drawings over to her favorite fabricators and to Highline’s team, who either built them in-house or found local craftspeople to create them. The orbs of the kitchen’s pendant lights were blown by a local glassmaker; a Bozeman-based custom fabricator built the glass-and-steel doors outside the den and the master bath. “There’s incredible value in custom pieces,” Kanning says. “You don’t have to settle for something that’s not quite right.”

That goes for space planning, too. Kanning and the Barnharts decided against a formal dining room—too stuffy for laid-back living—in favor of a lounge area. Instead of a conventional dining table, the room holds hollow concrete tables and a built-in banquette under large windows for cocktail hour. Square iron tables welcome groups of four for a casual dinner; when it’s time for a more formal sit-down affair, the tables can be rearranged to seat 14. To create bar storage, Kanning cut into the log walls and slid in glass shelves on stainless-steel pegs. The cut-out space is lined with leather in a playful chartreuse hue. “I threw it in for fun,” she says.

The home is a textural marvel. In every room, layers of materials give the spaces nuance: Rough-hewn timbers stand beside smooth plaster walls. Iron benches in the entry are covered in leather and sit against walls covered in cowhide panels. In one of the bedrooms, the bed rests atop a custom-made platform of reclaimed wood with a wood-and-iron headboard. Topped with pillows in a range of fabrics, the bed is perhaps the ultimate combination of textural opposites.

This materials palette could have felt disjointed, but instead it gives the design depth. “When you walk through the house, there are vignettes that tie together because of materials and themes,” Thesing says. “There’s enough surprise to keep you interested, but nothing feels random.” Kanning struck the perfect balance between hints of Western style—leather trim on lampshades or a faux-fur throw on a bed—and clean-lined furnishings that give the home its modern kick.

And then there’s the color factor. “When we first started talking about a color palette, we were on-site and it was summer,” Kanning says. “I looked around and knew we’d pull the colors from nature but funk ’em up a little, let them play.” She began with a relatively neutral palette. The reclaimed wood beams on the ceiling and walls were refined with a wire wheel, a process that cleans the old wood, bringing out its color and character. For the floors, the team chose wide-plank oak that arrived whitewashed; the builders sanded the planks and then applied a black wash to achieve the soft, weathered look they wanted.

Then Kanning introduced a few bold colors. She designed an eye-catching red leather-wrapped console that floats on a wall in the den and is visible from the kitchen and living room. In the breakfast area off the kitchen, she chose Harley armchairs from John Saladino Furniture in New York and covered them in mustard-yellow suede from Moore & Giles. The accompanying dining sofa from K&F European Upholstery nods to the home’s site with a leaf-inspired fabric from Donghia, paired with leather also from Moore & Giles. “My designs are much more about texture than color, but there’s a reason for that: You want a lot of texture in a home; with color, you can throw in a few accents and they’ll go a long way,” Kanning says.

The home’s not-so-hidden secret is the balance—between surprise and tranquility, rustic and modern, texture and color. “If I had to use one word, I’d say it’s accessible,” Kanning says. “There’s so much detail, but nothing is in your face. It takes time to notice the materials and the layers. The home really reveals itself over time.”

INTERIOR DESIGN Lisa Kanning, Worth Interiors Denver, CO, 303-974-7182 ARCHITECTURE Kirk Michels, KMA, Inc., Livingston, MT, 406-222-8611 BUILDER/CONTRACTOR Todd Thesing and Rob McRae, Highline Partners, Big Sky, MT, 406-600-6361, ARTWORK “I look to you and see nothing” by Francis Gregory Di Fronzo, Somerville-Manning Gallery, Greenville, DE PLASTER JM Drywall, Bozeman, MT, 970-376-2395 ENTRY STAIRWELL CHANDELIER, IRON STAIR RAIL & ENTRY CHANDELIER Custom II Manufacturing, Bozeman, MT, 406-586-6809 FAUX LEATHER CEILING TREATMENT Wholeart LLC, Bozeman, MT, 406-539-6122 COWHIDE FOR UPHOLSTERED PANELS USA Rags, Los Angeles, CA, 323-346-0690 UPHOLSTERY FOR PANELS Salzburg Designs, Bozeman, MT, 406-586-6809 IRON BENCHES Highline Partners, Big Sky, MT, 406-600-6361; upholstered in leather from Moore & Giles, available at Erica Marshall, Denver, CO, 678-984-8541 CHEST Hickory Chair, available at Hoff Miller, Denver, CO, 303-698-0800 MIRROR Mecox Gardens, Palm Beach, FL, 561-805-9362 WOOD FLOORING Mafi USA, Avon, CO, 970-748-0438 DINING AREA ARM CHAIRS Harley Upholstered Arm Chairs by John Saladino Furniture, available through Saladino Group, New York, NY, 212-684-3753; upholstered in suede from Moore & Giles, available at Erica Marshall, Denver, CO, 678-984-8541 DINING SOFA K&F European Upholstery, Vero Beach, FL, 772-778-5257; leather from Moore & Giles, available at Erica Marshall, Denver, CO, 678-984-8541; fabric by Donghia, available at John Brooks Inc., Denver, CO 303-698-9977 LIVE EDGE DINING TABLE RL Dorn, Denver, CO, 303-322-2784,  AREA RUG Calvin Klein, New York, NY, 212-292-9000 BOND IRON & LEATHER SHELVING New Room, available at Profiles NY, New York, NY, 212-689-6903; leather by Cortina, available at Phoebe Marsh, Denver, CO, 303-282-8600 ETERNITY CHANDELIERS (In living room) Paul Ferrante, available at John Brooks Inc., Denver, CO 303-698-9977 CUSTOM IRON & GLASS DOORS Kodiak Custom Fabrication, Bozeman, MT, 406-580-0011 CUSTOM LEATHER TV UNIT USA Rags, Los Angeles, CA, 323-346-0690; leather from Moore & Giles, available at Erica Marshall, Denver, CO, 678-984-8541 BIRCH BARK WALLCOVERING Montana Reclaimed Lumber, Gallatin Gateway, MT, 406-763-9102 DEN CUSTOM SOFA FranDon Upholstery, Clementon, NJ, 856-784-9760; fabric on body by Henry Calvin, available at John Brooks Inc., Denver, CO 303-698-9977; fabric on seat by Maharam, New York, NY, 212-319-4789; leather cording by Global Trims, available at Windows of the World, Dania Beach, FL, 954-921-8557 LEATHER FRINGE ON PILLOW Global Trims, available at Windows of the World, Dania Beach, FL, 954-921-8557 CUSTOM COCKTAIL TABLE RL Dorn, Denver, CO, 303-322-2784 CUSTOM SWIVEL CLUB CHAIRS USA Rags, Los Angeles, CA, 323-346-0690; sheepskin from Garrett Leather, available at Chuck Wells, Denver, CO, 303-744-8584 FLOOR LAMPS Visual Comfort, Dallas, TX, 713-686-5999 AREA RUG Calvin Klein, New York, NY, 212-292-9000 RECLAIMED TIMBER Montana Reclaimed Lumber, Gallatin Gateway, MT, 406-763-9102 MASTER BEDROOM CHANDELIER Lumiere by Jean de Merry, available at John Brooks Inc., Denver, CO, 303-698-9977 CUSTOM RECLAIMED TIMBER PLATFORM BED Highline Partners, Big Sky, MT, 406-600-6361 LAMPS ON BED PLATFORM Ralph Lauren Lighting, available at Visual Comfort, Dallas, TX, 713-686-5999 FAUX FUR BED UPHOLSTERY Kast Fabrics, Pasadena, TX, 800-733-5278 COVERLET ON BED, SMALL & LARGE/WHITE ALPACA PILLOWS, & ALPACA THROW  Rosemary Hallgarten, available at TOWN STUDIO, Denver, CO, 303-282-8696 LONG FUR PILLOW Kravet, Denver, CO, 303-733-1891 CUSTOM TWIG NIGHTSTANDS Highline Partners, Big Sky, MT, 406-600-6361 TRAYS ON NIGHTSTANDS Desiron, available at TOWN STUDIO, Denver, CO, 303-282-8696 SMALL PILLOW FABRIC Andrew Martin, New York, NY, 212-688-4498 FAUX FUR PILLOW Stark Fabrics, available at TOWN STUDIO, Denver, CO, 303-282-8696 FAUX SNAKESKIN PILLOW FABRIC Kravet, Denver, CO, 303-733-1891 CUSTOM CHAISE K&F European Upholstery, Vero Beach, FL, 772-778-5257; fabric by Osborne & Little, available at Shanahan Collection, Denver, CO, 303-778-7088 FAUX FUR ON PILLOW & CHAISE Kravet, Denver, CO, 303-733-1891, kravet.com WALLCOVERING Cole & Son, available at Lee Jofa, Denver, CO, 303-733-1891 FIREPLACE North Star Masonry, Bozeman, MT, 406-932-6566 FIREPLACE DOORS Raven Forge, Bozeman, MT, 406-586-0310 TABLE LAMPS Lesley Anton, available at TOWN STUDIO, Denver, CO, 303-282-8696; feather trim by Nobilis, available at Kneedler-Fauchere, Denver, CO, 303-744-7475 BUILT-IN BOOKCASE & WINDOW SEAT Highline Partners, Big Sky, MT, 406-600-6361; window seat cushion by Salzburg Designs, Bozeman, MT, 406-587-4497; seat and throw pillow fabric by Calvin Fabrics, available at John Brooks, Inc., Denver, CO, 303-698-9977 LEATHER TOP OF BUILT-IN BOOKCASE Salzburg Designs, Bozeman, MT, 406-587-4497 LEATHER STOOL K&F European Upholstery, Vero Beach, FL, 772-778-5257; leather from Cortina Leather, available at Phoebe Marsh, Denver, CO, 303-282-8600 ANTLER CHAIR The Antler Man Frank Long, Bozeman, MT, 406-587-5255 HIDE RUG USA Rags, Los Angeles, CA, 323-346-0698 CARPET Floor Coverings by CPA, Denver, CO, 303-722-4700 RECLAIMED JOISTS Montana Reclaimed Lumber, Gallatin Gateway, MT, 406-763-9102 MASTER BATHROOM STONE TILE ON FLOOR Paris Ceramics, Palm Beach, FL, 561-835-8875 INSET MOSAICS ON FLOOR Waterworks, Denver, CO, 303-394-2940 STONE TILE ON WALL Stone Source, New York, NY, 866-271-8722 CUSTOM SOAK TUB Stone Forest, Santa Fe, NM, 505-986-8883 TUB FILL Water Décor, Chino, CA, 626-568-0900, waterdecor.com CUSTOM IRON & GLASS DOORS Kodiak Custom Fabrication, Bozeman, MT, 406-580-0011 LOUNGE/EATING NOOK CUSTOM IRON TABLES Custom II Manufacturing, Bozeman, MT, 406-586-6809 WOVEN LEATHER ARM CHAIRS PT Evata Eastern, Sidoarjo, Indonesia, 62-31-788-1316; fabric on seat cushions by Jim Thompson, available at Egg & Dart, Denver, CO, 303-744-1676; leather piping by Samuel & Sons, available at Kneedler-Fauchere, Denver, CO, 303-744-7474 BUILT-IN BANQUETTE Fabric on back by Maharam, New York, NY, 212-319-4789; leather on seat from Moore & Giles, available at Erica Marshall, Denver, CO 678-984-8541 CUSTOM TWIG END TABLES Bark Canoe Store, Spokane, WA, 509-327-7902 CERAMIC TABLE LAMP Lesley Anton, available at TOWN STUDIO, Denver, CO, 303-282-8696 LEATHER ON BAR INSET Holly Hunt, available at Kneelder-Fauchere, Denver, CO, 303-744-7474 DRAPERIES Zimmer + Rohde, available at Shanahan Collection, Denver, CO, 303-778-7088; fabric for border by Joseph Noble, available at TOWN STUDIO, Denver, CO, 303-282-8696 CHANDELIER Custom newGROWTH Chandelier, CP Lighting, Milwaukee, WI, 414-332-2069, cplighting.com RECLAIMED TIMBER Montana Reclaimed Lumber, Gallatin Gateway, MT, 406-763-9102, mtreclaimed.com SEATING AREA OPPOSITE FIREPLACE CUSTOM COCKTAIL TABLES Taracea, available at RL Dorn, Denver, CO, 303-322-2784, rldorn.com HURRICANES ON TALBES Ralph Lauren Home, available at TOWN Studio, Denver, CO, 303-282-8696, townstudio.com CUSTOM OTTOMANS K&F European Upholstery, Vero Beach, FL, 772-778-5257, getupholstery.com; leather from Cortina Leather, available at Phoebe Marsh, Denver, CO, 303-282-8600, phoebemarsh.com HALLWAY Reclaimed Aspen trees, Montana Reclaimed Lumber, Gallatin Gateway, MT, 406-763-9102, mtreclaimed.com WOOD FLOORING Mafi USA, Avon, CO, 970-748-0438, mafiwideplankfloors.com LOG WALL IN MEDIA ROOM Highline Partners, Big Sky, MT, 406-600-6361, highline-partners.com CUSTOM SOFA K&F European Upholstery, Vero Beach, FL, 772-778-5257, getupholstery.com; fabric by Joseph Noble, available at TOWN Studio, Denver, CO, 303-282-8696, townstudio.com CUSTOM OTTOMANS K&F European Upholstery, Vero Beach, FL, 772-778-5257, getupholstery.com; fabric by Zimmer + Rohde, Shanahan Collection, Denver, CO, 303-778-7088, zimmer-rohde.com FABRIC FOR THROW PILLOWS Designtex, New York, NY, 212-838-5668, designtex.com KITCHEN STOOLS Desiron, available at TOWN Studio, Denver, CO, 303-282-8696, townstudio.com; leather from Moore & Giles, available at Erica Marshall, Denver, CO 678-984-8541, mooreandgiles.com COUNTERTOP CaesarStone, available at Montana Tile & Stone, Bozeman, MT, 406-326-2389, montanatile.com CUSTOM GLASSBLOWN PENDANTS Glasshorse Studio, Columbus, MT, 406-326-2389, glasshorsestudio.com ROOT BOWL CAI Designs, Denver, CO, 303-282-8100, caidesigns.net CUSTOM STEEL HOOD Bensley Sheet Metal, Bozeman, MT, 406-539-0511 LEATHER CABINET PULLS Turnstyle Designs, Hutter + Eurobath, Denver, CO, 303-298-8453, huttereurobath.com CABINETRY Wilson Cabinetry, Billings, MT, 406-652-4671, wilsoncabinetry.com STEEL PANELED WALL Bensley Sheet Metal, Bozeman, MT, 406-539-051

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