At Home in a Lookout

A secluded sanctuary near Glacier National Park offers 360-degree views—no window coverings needed
Old Montana Building Lookout

A careful mix of wood, glass and steel come together to create a modern version of timeless national park architecture. Interior Photos by Jeremiah and Rachel Spray Photography.

Perched atop a cliff, just minutes from the west entrance to Glacier National Park, Somer Treat’s home is a secluded sanctuary with inspiring 360-degree views of northwest Montana’s wilderness. The unique home, built on family property, required strategic design and artistic innovation. Crafted to mimic national park architecture, the one-of-a-kind structure rises more than 40 feet above the ridge-line in order to capture the full effect of a windowed fire lookout.

Old Montana Building Lookout

The metal dining table serves both art and function; it converts to an air hockey table for parties. Glass walls enclose a three-story floating metal staircase by High Ridge Steel.

Treat, co-owner of Old Montana Building Company of Whitefish, wanted a forever home—a property that will stay in her family for generations rather than something designed for resale. She and business partner Jon Krack believe the project to be their best collaborative effort. “I wanted a visitor center where people will come and hang out, drink coffee and play games. I wanted an apartment so nice it will be used every week of the year, and I wanted to make people feel like they were living a little piece of Glacier Park,” Treat remarks.

Old Montana Building Lookout

Homeowner and builder Somer Treat perches on her floating steel staircase in her Lookout.

Old Montana Building Lookout

An original Edward Curtis glass plate hangs in the master near a floating shelf.

An art major in college, Treat figured she would manage a gallery someday. Instead, she’s crafted a live-in work of modern art. Every element, from reclaimed beams to floating timber stairs and glass walls, pays homage to her modern mountain aesthetic. The curated collection of Glacier Park and Forest Service memorabilia, paired with fine art and Edward Curtis photogravure, speaks to Treat’s love for Montana’s Crown of the Continent, views of which she’s framed with trim-less windows. The clean lines and custom details make the space cohesive and memorable.

Old Montana Building Lookout

A portrait of early park ranger Joe Cosley, who fixes his gaze above the fireplace (Anderson Masonry). A topographical map of the Glacier Park is encased in a glass cube for a perfect coffee table.

The sophisticated, minimalist design required dedication from Treat’s crew and family. “I wanted big windows mulled together, I wanted a wood ceiling, I wanted timber stairs and metal cabinets, to name just a few,” Treat recalls. She was able to create the look of reclaimed wood floors throughout the home with a custom blend of seven stains and a collection of mismatched flooring from a local supplier.

The one-bedroom, two-bathroom home, set on 10 acres and surrounded by national forest, totals 2,100 square feet. An additional 900 square feet of guest space was carved into the trusses above a detached two-car garage.

Old Montana Building Lookout

Concrete countertops (Anderson Woodworks) add warmth and luster. The gun-blue steel island (CMT Fabrication) includes Sub-Zero refrigeration.

The first level of “the Lookout” includes a home gym and a single-car garage with a glass door made by facing three doors in cold-rolled steel, which Treat claims was her “one crazy idea.”

The open-concept second-story living area includes a modern kitchen. Sleek concrete countertops and warm barnwood walls complement flat white cabinetry and a metal island. Nothing impedes the view.

Old Montana Building Lookout

The pantry door and digital canvases display family photos and a wide variety of interchangeable art. Each collection brings a different feel to the space, which allows Somer to curate her own mini gallery.

A perfectly organized pantry is tucked neatly behind a thick black door. Glass doors lead to a wraparound deck that extends the entertaining space and makes for a spectacular viewing platform.

Old Montana Building Lookout

A wall of reclaimed wood from a historic local barn balances a handmade platform bed made with cold- rolled steel and topped with Pendleton blankets.

The stunning third-story master suite includes more panoramic views. “No window coverings are needed,” remarks Treat, as “there isn’t another home or road in sight.” The platform bed was made by her brother out of reclaimed lumber and is topped with a collection of Glacier Park Pendleton blankets. For a fun touch, a ladder leads to a deck observatory, just like the nearby Forest Service fire lookouts—including one Treat’s grandfather manned.

Old Montana Building Lookout

Glacier Park Pendleton blankets sit on top of a bench built by Somer’s father.

The master suite also contains studio space. On the work table is a custom alidade, a combination of a map and compass on a special mount, used to identify the location of a forest fire. This one, a gift, includes colloquial names for local places. At its center is West Glacier Lookout. From this vantage point, one can see signs of seasons changing: a pair of golden eagles hovering in thermals over the treetops, and the sky above Apgar Mountain turning a gorgeous pink with crimson ruffles. Treat’s home, while a masterpiece of design, evokes a feeling of magic. “I love the feeling of the space—the feeling of being in a glass box surrounded by open space in every direction I look.”


Categories: Rustic Homes