In a former flour mill in Bozeman, Montana, interior designer Susie Hoffmann turns 1,000 square feet into a streamlined and stylish live/work space
"It's kind of like the Brooklyn of Bozeman," interior designer Susie Hoffmann says of the area surrounding the converted 1930s flour mill near downtown Bozeman, Montana, she calls home. “It’s an industrial building that’s situated in what used to be a very gritty area, but it’s getting hipper here.”
Like many Brooklyn residences, Hoffmann’s home is small. The former office space, which occupies the building’s top floor, is just 1,000 square feet. But that modest footprint didn’t stop her from seamlessly incorporating a kitchen, dining and living rooms, office and “guest nook” into one space.
The secret, says Hoffmann, owner of Bozeman-based Envi Design, is knowing how to edit and conceal. “You have to be brutally selective in what you will include in the space,” she explains. “An open plan will not work with clutter, so you must ensure that there is proper storage.”
In an effort to preserve the space’s openness and industrial feel—and to accommodate the possibility that it might someday revert to an office for her design business—Hoffmann worked within the layout that was predetermined by the building’s 14-inch concrete walls, adding mostly topical treatments such as paint, flooring, finishes and furnishings. “Everything I wanted to do was temporary, so that it could be moveable and changeable,” she says. “It’s not a big space, so I had to think about how I could maximize the floor plan and the storage without the help of additional walls or partitions.”
Hoffmann decided on a strategic mix of concealed and open storage options. In the kitchen area, she hung open shelving to display her white dishware. In the bedroom and entry, she erected birch walls to create closets for her clothing and a gear room for her skis, bikes and cleaning supplies. And to tuck in even more storage, Hoffmann built a lofted guest nook in one corner that offers plenty of hidden storage space beneath. “There are times when you want to be able to celebrate function, and there are times when you want to hide it,” she says.
With the home’s functionality addressed, Hoffmann next layered in the finishes and furnishings. In the main living area, she installed white oak plywood flooring and darkened it with a water-based stain—an industrial and budget-friendly solution with a natural, zebra stripe-like grain. Its hue works well with the home’s color palette, which was inspired by the loft’s views of mountains and Montana’s big blue sky.
When it came to furnishings, the designer included only the essentials in her home’s eat-work-relax zones, choosing pieces of a similar scale to ease the transitions between different areas. An angular couch from Room & Board measures up well against a weighty kitchen island custom built by local metalworker Marty Balus from sheet steel left behind by a previous tenant. A contemporary desk blends into a corner of the dining area, echoing the horizontal lines of the shelving and kitchen countertop. Even the artwork hanging between the living and dining areas—a photo by Montana artist Audrey Hall—matches the scale of the neighboring windows and balances out the room.
A self-proclaimed “neutral-palette person,” Hoffmann decided to add an unexpected splash of color by having her gray factory stools powder-coated in hot pink. She liked the results so much that she carried the pink into the living area with a cheery Madeline Weinrib area rug. “The pink was a last-minute addition to the space, and now I adore it,” she says. “It just feels very bright and very happy.”
For Hoffmann, who’s never lived in one space for more than two years, designing her own home is influenced by a life in flux. “Making a home for myself is about constant reinvention,” she says. “I have a few items that I hold onto, but other than that, I continually change my environment to suit my life. I think when I stop doing that, I will have found my true home.”
STYLE SNAPSHOT: Susie Hoffmann
What color are you excited to use in your next project?
“It’s not one specific color, really, but I love the notion of using vibrant pops of color as opposed to just peaceful neutrals.”
Are you pro- or anti-tchotchke?
“Anti. I think it’s important to celebrate a careful selection in little displays, but one of my design philosophies is to keep a space pure.”
What’s your favorite sentimental item in your home?
“Driftwood collected by my grandfather from a beach near my childhood home. He hung it on the wall as art and now I have the pieces. They remind me of where I came from and also of him. He was a very talented designer and woodworker.”
Who is your style icon?
“Christian Liaigre is one of my favorite designers. I just love his sensibility. He’s able to take the culture that’s all around him and incorporate it in his spaces.”
What books are on your coffee table right now?
“I have more magazines than books. I read Wine Spectator and New York magazine religiously.”
What’s a design trend you wish would end?
“Glass tile. I’m tired of it and soon everyone else is going to be, too! Even I have some in my home, but it’s done.”
Describe your dream design project.
“I love designing pools and spas, and right now I’m designing a Japanese bathhouse, pool and gallery all in one. Honestly, it’s the most exciting project I’ve ever worked on, and I’m going to be sad when it’s finished.”
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
“Something that would allow me to spend lots of time in the ocean. I think I would be a surfer, or maybe a sailor. I know that’s a strange answer from someone who lives in Montana.”
INTERIOR DESIGN Susie Hoffmann, ASID, Envi Design, Bozeman, MT, 406-585-1765, envidesign.com CONTRACTING SERVICES: FLOORING, TILE AND CARPENTRY Pine Creek Builders, Red Lodge, MT, 406-455-9199, pinecreekbuildersllc.com CONTRACTING SERVICES Home Equity Builders, Bozeman, MT, 406-219-3372, home-equitybuilders.com TILE US Enterprises, Bozeman, MT, 406-581-7066 PAINTING AND FLOOR FINISHES Lone Mountain Paper & Paint, Bozeman, MT, 406-587-2683 MIRROR AND GLASS Bozeman Glass, Bozeman, MT, 406-587-4205 METAL WORK Marty Balus, Bozeman, MT, 406-600-7568 CUSTOM CASE WORK “Ink Case,” “Wave Case,” “Owl Case,” Christopher Quist Kautz, Bozeman, MT, 347-841-1112, cqkstudio.com CUSTOM SIDE TABLES AND SHELVING Blockhorse Design, Roundup, MT, 406-672-6777 ARTWORK Audrey Hall, Audrey Hall Photography, Livingston, MT, 406-222-2450, audreyhall.com RUGS IN LIVING AREA Madeline Weinrib, available through ABC Carpet and Home, New York City, NY, 212-473-3000, madelineweinrib.com STONE COUNTERS AND FLOORING Madison Slate, available through The Flooring Place, Bozeman MT, 406-587-7472, theflooringplace.net CABINETS DeWils, available through Summit Cabinetry, Billings, MT, 406-655-1610, dewils.com BEDROOM FURISHINGS, DINING CHAIRS, DESK AND COUCH Room & Board, roomandboard.com CUSTOM POWDER COATED BARSTOOLS Powdercoating of Montana, Belgrade, MT, 406-388-8295, powdercoatingofmontana.com FLOOR STAIN Fuhr, available through Refuge, Bozeman, MT, 406-585-9958, refugebuilding.com FLOOR SEALER Bona, available through Buckeye Hardwood & Lumber, Belgrade, MT, 406-388-7886, bona.com PAINT Sherwin Williams, Bozeman, MT, 406-586-5530, sherwin-williams.com