A Serene Montana Retreat Made for Aprés-Ski
A Florida couple’s Yellowstone Club abode is custom built for a little rest and a lot of revelry
Love stories can begin in many ways. For one family, the infatuation with Big Sky, Montana, started some 25 years ago for a fairly pragmatic reason: short lift lines. After spending a week going up and down the slopes, the Stahls were smitten. “It became a tradition. We began spending our Christmases there every year,” says Kathy Stahl.
While the trip to Big Sky became a big reason for their yuletide season, the Florida-based family of four never made the trek west during the warmer months. That all changed when Stahl and her husband visited the Yellowstone Club development one summer at the behest of a friend.
“When it’s snowing, the inside and outside all become one.” — Homeowner and Designer Kathy Stahl
During the course of that weekend, the couple found themselves falling for Montana in an even bigger way. “We loved the sense of community here right away,” explains Stahl. “My husband played in a golf tournament, and then we went to one of the Friday-night barbecues. I ended up getting invited to play golf with four women who are now my best friends.”
The instant love connection led the couple to purchase a town-house. “It was perfect,” says Stahl, and yet her husband remained on the lookout for just the right spot to build their very own family-friendly getaway. “He’s always driving around, looking at real estate,” she says. “He’s been obsessed with Lone Peak from the start, and one day, he found a lot with a dead-on view of it, plus views of the Spanish Peaks and the Pioneer Mountains. He came home and said, ‘We’re doing it!’”
With the perfect mountain view in place, the Stahls turned to Corey Kelly of Bozeman-based Locati Architects to help realize their vision of a rustic-yet-refined retreat. Stahl, a St. Petersburg-based interior designer by trade, worked with Kelly to create a space that enhanced the exceptional surroundings and maximized the incredible views. “From the start, it was very important to orient the home so it could capture the multiple mountain views from as many rooms as possible,” says Kelly. “But the house is also designed to ensure that the surroundings ultimately become interior design elements.”
While the views are the star of the show in the 7,636-square-foot, six-bedroom, 10-bathroom home, they’re enhanced by Stahl’s signature blend of calm and cool. The designer took her cues from the nearby snowcaps and layered the rooms with plenty of wintry whites and cool grays. “I didn’t want the atmosphere in here to compete with the outdoors because the views are everything. The rooms needed only one continuous palette. When it’s snowing, the inside and outside all become one,” she says.
And because it was the people that drew the Stahls to Yellowstone Club, she also took care to carve out plenty of spaces for entertaining in the wide-open floor plan. Guests can (and do!) enjoy the perks of the massive 250-bottle custom wine room just off the kitchen (“We never actually have 250 bottles in there—we have adult children,” laughs Stahl), dine at the extra-long dining table and gather around the baby grand piano in the great room for impromptu sing-alongs. “When I saw the plan, I said, ‘We need a piano,’” Stahl recalls. “It’s actually a player piano that can be controlled from an iPad. My husband likes to pretend to play at parties, and then he’ll get up while the music continues.”
Some might fear hosting a nonstop cavalcade of friends and family—plus red wine!—in crisp white surroundings. Stahl says choices like high-performance fabrics and hardworking quartz kitchen countertops help her relax. “There’s nothing formal about the way we entertain. This house is all about getting everyone together, having fun and not worrying about a thing.”
Think decorating with white automatically translates to formal and cold rooms? Designer Kathy Stahl begs to differ. Inspired by Montana’s snowy landscape, she created coziness and warmth while blanketing her house in the hue.
TURN UP THE TEXTURE “I try to keep things very organic,” says Stahl. “A variety of textures will always warm up a space.” To that end, the great room is filled with an abundance of wood, from the white oak floors and stained oak panel on the fireplace to the steel-and-wood beams. “I also added some slick surfaces and a lot of fur,” she says. GET IN A PICKLE The great room’s exposed wooden beams are encased in steel painted with “Wrought Iron” by Benjamin Moore. Stahl says she worried that the dark metal might make the room too industrial, so she whitewashed the wood. “You just water down white paint and apply it—no two beams are the same,” she says. “Everyone al- ways compliments them.” MIX, NOT MATCH Don’t go with just one shade of white throughout the entire space. It’s boring, and you run the risk of creating a clinical feel. Add depth and interest by layering in different variations of white, and throw in some creams and grays while you’re at it. Then insert a surprise element for an extra pop. “The black baby grand piano is way more impactful surrounded by white,” says Stahl.