Form and function come together in a Montana home that is as much about lifestyle as beauty
Photos by Gibeon Photography
Last New Year’s Eve, Cristi and Charlie Sullivan—she’s an anesthesiologist; he’s an orthopedic surgeon—invited 40 friends over for an evening of revelry that included ice skating on the lighted rink that occupies much of their Missoula front yard come winter. The high-spirited event—lots of young children, including their son and daughter, were part of the mix—says a lot about the doctor duo. “We love to play,” says Cristi, who admits that moving to the Montana university town was as much about the welcoming medical culture as proximity to the local ski resort.
Opening the 24-foot sliding living room door erases the barrier between indoors and out, and the connection is complete thanks to an all-weather conversation set the Sullivans purchased through houzz.com. They owned the dining table and chairs previously.
So when they discovered a house six miles from Snowbowl, they looked past the “underwhelming interiors” of the dated 1970s ranch and endured it until they couldn’t anymore. With visions of a modern farmhouse in their heads, they sat down with architect Angie Lipski at MMW Architects to share their wish list. Beyond a clean-lined aesthetic, a high-functioning mudroom and a place to stow both kid and adult toys topped their list.
The engineered living room maple floors are from Sheoga Hardwood Flooring & Paneling.
With the decision made to save elements of the existing structures, Lipski got busy drawing. “It’s part of our process to offer three different floor plans and 3-D printed models so the client can see how the house lays out,” she explains. “We saved almost all of the existing house and garage footprints and foundations, and added 664 square feet to connect the new house and garage.”
But as builder David Edgell, Edgell Building, discovered, tying new and old foundations together is tricky business. “The old foundations were constructed very differently than we do them now, and being able to use them required a lot of time and materials to bring them up to today’s standard,” he explains. “We worked with the engineer and came up with solutions for the various parts of the home where this occurred.”
The Sullivans relied on the West Elm website for their living room sofa, concrete coffee table, armchair and multi-colored rug.
The new forms that emerged had the fresh farmhouse feel the Sullivans imagined, with the expanded version enhancing a courtyard oriented to the stream and garden. Crafted from crisp white board-and-batten siding and topped with standing-seam metal gable rooflines, the minimal palette is an intentional nod to the old farming valley. Generous fenestration, including a 22-foot sliding door in the living room, establishes the connection with nature.
Glass pendants from Ballard Design light the Caesarstone island in the kitchen.
Pitched roof forms outside led to soaring ceilings inside—and a discussion on how best to finish the surfaces. “I said, let’s go for a no brainer and keep it all clean and white,” recalls Cristi. “But Charlie wanted something more organic, and it was his idea for the stained wood on the ceiling in the great room and in the hallway that leads to the sleeping quarters.”
The reclaimed walnut dining table is from Blue Dog Furniture; the chairs are from houzz.com.
Furniture selection fell to Cristi and Charlie, who opted for neutral furnishings and color in the form of rugs and accessories. “I really like teals and turquoises,” says Cristi, pointing to the glass pendants over the kitchen island and soft-toned dining room chairs. “There’s so much beauty going on outside, I wasn’t worried about having a plain interior.”
Continuing the wood on the upper-level walls and ceiling distinguishes the sleeping quarters.
In the master suite the Greenington bamboo bed and nightstands complement the home’s natural feel. The silver-finish pendant lights and rug are from West Elm.
Meanwhile, the addition of another garage bay solved the adult toy storage problem, and a mudroom that functions with military precision handles everything else. “Every family member has a bay for hanging coats and stowing hats and gloves on one side, and there’s a room to drop hockey gear and wet ski boots across the way,” Lipski explains. “By the time they step inside the house everything has been deposited, and the only thing anyone needs to be carrying is groceries.”
“We were impressed from the start by how much Angie understood about how we wanted to use the house,” says Cristi. “Of course we wanted a pretty house, but we are more about function and ease of living, and she really got who we are.”
The Sullivans love to entertain outdoors, and automated screens on the porch keep bugs at bay on summer nights.
Located on Grant Creek outside of Missoula, the Angie Lipski-designed house features a simple materials palette of painted board-and-batten siding, and an Epic standing-seam metal roof.
Cristi Sullivan calls it her “drop zone,” referencing the customized area just beyond the garage and mudroom where she can post calendars on a giant corkboard and stow essential items like keys and checkbooks for easy grabbing on the way out. It was one of several high-functioning areas crafted by architect Angie Lipski to keep family gear and clutter in check.
BIG DRAWERS In the mudroom they house hats and gloves, and in the great room they capture games, puzzles and art supplies, making cleanup in the latter a breeze. MEASURE FIRST Getting dimensions on food processors and other small appliances and designing cabinets around them makes more sense than cramming them in after the fact. DOUBLE DUTY On the wall that backs onto the staircase, Lipski put open shelving on both sides of the fireplace to create twice the display and storage space.
As seen in the May/June 2019 issue
LIVING ROOM SOFA Bliss Sofa 91.5 Luster Velvet Silver from West Elm SIDE TABLE Industrial Concrete Side Table from West Elm RUG Charm Wool Rug, Multi from West Elm COFFEE TABLE Industrial Concrete Coffee Table from West Elm CHAIR Bliss Chair-and-a-half Luster Velvet Silver from West Elm CHAIR Wood Framed Lincoln Cane Chair from Target FLOOR LAMP Target PIANO LIGHT FIXTURE Bella Crystal Round Chandelier from Pottery Barn DINING ROOM TABLE Reclaimed Walnut Made locally in Missoula, MT from Blue Dog Furniture CHAIRS Katherine Fabric Seat and Wood Finish Dining Chairs, Mint Green/Walnut from houzz.com LIGHT FIXTURE VONN lighting Asellus LED Honeycomb Chandelier from allmodern.com KITCHEN COUNTER STOOLS Ikea LIGHTING Addie Pendant Seaglass Shade w/ Silver Cord and White Trim from Ballard Designs MASTER BEDROOM BED & NIGHTSTANDS Fine Bamboo Furniture from Greenington BENCH n/a RUG West Elm LIGHTING Metallic Honeycomb Pendant, silver finish from West Elm OUTDOOR SOFA & COFFEE TABLE 4-piece All-Weather Patio Conversation Set, Gray from houzz.com DINING TABLE n/a DINING CHAIRS Crate and Barrel (CB2) PORCH CHAIRS Adams Mfg Corp Stackable Resin Adirondack Chair from Lowes