A Cozy, Minimalist Home in Big Sky

A Montana home redefines minimalism while keeping comfort and warmth

Photography by Whitney Kamman

He likes modern; she likes antiques. But when it came to the design of their “forever home” in Big Sky ski-and-golf country, they agreed that, above all, it should be comfortable and welcoming.

Sculpted stone and wood anchor the entry and set the tone for the interiors.

After the couple bought the perfect building lot—with picture-perfect mountain vistas—their team of Bozeman-based architects and designers was tasked with creating a home that centers on two-person living but can also be an amiable gathering place for family and friends of all generations. The home also had to incorporate her love of rustic and his love of clean lines. Jackson Trout, project architect and Daryl Nourse, principal—both of Reid Smith Architects—designed the two-level, 5,300-square-foot mountain contemporary home, warmed up by the liberal use of wood and reclaimed materials.

A rough-edged wooden-slab table is surrounded by Saba Italia chairs in the dining room; the chandelier was created by a local glassblower.

Local Montana Chief Cliff stone anchors the exterior of the home and carries over to the interior, where, for example, it flanks the main stair with two stone fireplaces oriented toward the great room and outdoor living, features prominently in the kitchen and creates a backboard for the bed in the master suite. Masons chipped and fitted the stone by hand. The homeowners were frequently at the building site and got to know the artisans working on their home. “You can’t really appreciate the art in their work until you see the toil that goes into it,” they say.

Hot cocoa and freshly baked cookies welcome kids and grandkids in the locker room after a day of skiing.

Window walls frame epic views of the Spanish Peaks and flood the home with natural light. “The sunsets and alpenglow are amazing,” say the homeowners, and “when the winter storms roll in … the views from the great room are stunning.”

A double-sided fireplace provides ambience and a warm glow to both master bedroom and master bath.

One of the interesting challenges, according to contractor Jamie Bottcher of Bozeman-based Schlauch Bottcher Construction, was integrating vastly different materials like reclaimed rain-and-sun-aged fir boards from horse corrals with powder-coated steel I-beams. He had worked with the homeowners on another project and understood how to meld their dual visions into a well-matched reality.

Alex Casey, senior designer at Abby Hetherington Interiors, worked with the homeowners on the interiors. “She loves warm-and-fuzzy, and he is more the uncluttered type,” Casey explains.

The homeowners enjoy having breakfast at the ebonized wooden table by Colworth. Leather-and-metal chairs by Montana Expressions are stylish but built for comfort. Early morning views can be both moody and dramatic.

In the interest of keeping the home’s kitchen sleek and uncluttered, the wife (who loves to bake) wanted a working pantry—not visible from the open-plan living/dining room—containing double ovens and a sink as well as shelves that could be filled with groceries and cookbooks. For the six grandchildren, who are frequent visitors, the pantry’s candy station is a real highlight.

The cozy Pendleton blanket-decorated bunkroom is divided from the kids-only rec room by big barn doors.

The kid-centric rec room—separated from the bunk room by two huge barn doors etched with the outline of Big Sky and Moonlight Basin—is also a big draw for the grandkids. They hang out with their friends, watch movies, play pool or foosball and make popcorn in a circus-sized popcorn machine.

Both homeowners were born and raised in central Montana. The wife comes from a family of farmers and ranchers, the husband from a family of small business owners. They honored their heritage by incorporating old photos, made into wall-sized murals, in each of the guest rooms.

A favorite family photo is enlarged to cover an entire wall of a guest bedroom; persimmon-colored poufs add color.

Being able to “age in place” was high on the list of the homeowners’ requirements, resulting in the open-plan living spaces, master suite and garage on one level with no steps. The grand-and-comfortable master bedroom is a serene spot to relax, read and sleep. A double-sided fireplace provides a warm glow to both bedroom and master bath.

A mosaic tile floor and old corral boards complement the stonework in the master bath, which shares a specially designed double-sided fireplace with the master bedroom.

Past and present coexist beautifully in the home, which is modern but not stark. It is a place where children, grandchildren and family friends feel welcome and there is a space for everyone.

The grand and comfortable master bedroom is a serene spot to relax, read and sleep.


“Special pieces give a home personality and can be blended seamlessly into the décor or purposely made to stand out,” says interior designer Alex Casey of Abby Hetherington Interiors. She offers these tips for incorporating family mementos and heirlooms into Mountain Modern homes:
ADAPT A VINTAGE PIECE OF FURNITURE to fit your home’s look by reupholstering. Cover a delicate French chair in men’s-suiting fabric or buffalo-check wool. REPURPOSE PIECES THAT HAVE GREAT SENTIMENTAL VALUE but just don’t fit the décor. A Victorian hall tree gets a coat of bright lacquer and becomes a ski-hat rack with boot storage below. CONSIDER DECONSTRUCTING Kids’ trophies, for example, can be taken apart and incorporated into a midcentury “sputnik” chandelier. SHOW OFF SMALL PIECES—like antique sterling silver spoons or Grandpa’s favorite pipe—in sleek shadow-box frames. LARGE PIECES like a quilt or afghan can be framed and displayed or repurposed as sit-on-the-floor pillows. GET CREATIVE WITH FAMILY PHOTOS Choose just a few iconic images and enlarge them into big graphics to use instead of wallpaper. IF THE FAMILY PIECE IS IMPORTANT but you’re not in love with it, don’t put it in the main room. It may be appropriate in a guest room, powder room or game room.

 Reid Smith Architects INTERIOR DESIGN Abby Hetherington Interiors CONSTRUCTION Schlauch Bottcher Construction

As seen in the January/February 2020 issue


LIVING ROOM SWIVEL CHAIR Roxy Swivel Tilt Chair by Thayer Coggin COFFEE TABLE from Montana Expressions SECTIONAL Gunnar Sectional by Cisco from Architect’s Wife CHANDELIER Emily Chandelier by Daniel Becker from 1st Dibs RUG Antique Rug by Eliko from Architect’s Wife DINING ROOM CHAIR New York Side / Arm Chair by Saba Italia  from Architect’s Wife DINING TABLE Custom Dining Table from Little Bear Interiors LIGHT FIXTURE Custom Light Fixture from OM Design KITCHEN TABLE Colworth Dining Table from Bernhardt DINING CHAIRS from Montana Expressions MASTER BEDROOM CHANDELIER Custom Chandelier from OM Design BED Eastwood Upholstered Bed from Bernhardt NIGHTSTANDS Spawlding Nighstands from Bernhardt CHAIRS Amelia Swivel Chairs by Saba from Architect’s Wife TABLE LAMPS Nina Tapered Table Lamps from Visual Comfort ENTRY PENDANTS Neverending Glory Pendants from Design Within Reach REC ROOM SECTIONAL Up Sectional by Saba from Architect’s Wife SIDE CHAIR from Montana Expressions GUEST BEDROOM PENDANTS Spinning Pendants by & Tradition from A+R Showroom POUF OTTOMAN W/ COM by Cisco Brothers from Architect’s Wife COM Tjanting Stripe in Cardinal by Pollack from Egg & Dart DRAPES Custom Drapes from John Tate Workroom DRAPES COM Custom Drapes COM by Gradient Geometric on Belmar from Opuzen WALL WRAP Custom Wall Wrap from SCS Wraps SKI ROOM BENCH by Cisco Brothers from Architect’s Wife

Categories: Contemporary Homes