Culture Crush

Rustic meets exotic in a pattern-bedecked Montana getaway that blends global influences with ease

"An American lumberjack marries a worldly princess, and they really like each other!” That’s how interior designer Charlene Petersen describes her family’s sumptuous Montana retreat, where unlikely pairings result in a home as fanciful and colorful as its owner’s daring design sensibility.  

Perched on a forested Big Sky mountainside, the structure showcases spectacular Lone Peak views while also allowing for easy ski-in/ski-out access from the lower level. “The home is designed to be very open and spacious,” explains Steve Gordon of Bozeman-based Locati Architects, who collaborated with Petersen on the project. “Large expanses of glass invite the outdoors in.” 

Rustic materials ensure that the house merges naturally into its alpine environment. “We selected local materials of timber and stone that are not only visually pleasing but wear well over time,” Gordon adds. And that rustic framework provided just the right starting point for Petersen’s vibrant imagination to take over.  

“Montana’s combination of Native American culture, mountainous terrain and cold, long winters married well with my eclectic and worldly yet modern and clean style,” Petersen says. And while she planned to indulge her fondness for traditional high-country design motifs—plaids, wools, rustic woods, wildlife accents—the Maryland-based designer was determined to weave her creative personality into the mix. 

To strike just the right balance between rustic and modern, Petersen targeted a few key elements: “I chose a gray wash to modernize the rustic wood timbers, and had simple flat-panel cabinetry—which is typically modern and clean—made from reclaimed barnwood for an earthy and warm feeling,” she explains. Reclaimed wood treads add warmth and texture to the home’s streamlined glass-and-steel staircase. 

A textile collector since her teenage years, Petersen has developed a keen eye for detail and a flair for mixing and matching. “I’m not afraid of the patterns,” she says of her assemblage of antique tapestries, Suzani rugs and Indonesian pieces. “My style always embraces a collected aesthetic—African artifacts, Persian and Moroccan carpets, bold ethnic patterns.”  

The great room embodies this rustic/ethnic mix with its combinations of color, texture and exotic global elements, from a Moroccan rug to a pair of intricately crafted antique Indian bookshelves. Petersen purchased the set years ago, then put them in storage until she found their perfect home. They ended their long journey in Montana when Gordon designed raw steel frames for them on either side of the moss-rock fireplace. And while the Ralph Lauren upholstered sectional sofa and Copenhagen leather chairs from Restoration Hardware look appealing, it’s the room’s generously proportioned  daybed that quite literally steals the scene. Built beneath an expanse of windows offering panoramic views of Lone Peak, and topped with a cozy nest of Native American textile-covered pillows and plush faux-fur throws, it’s a heavenly hangout for friends, kids and the family’s contented dog.

When asked what sort of environment she hoped to achieve in her mountain home, Petersen doesn’t hesitate: “Complete coziness!” And so far, her comfort strategy seems to be working, as evidenced during a recent vacation. “The house was full of guests, and I had four people napping on the giant daybed in the great room at one time,” she recalls with satisfaction. “Proud moment!” After all, sometimes even hard-working lumberjacks and extravagant princesses just need a little rest. 

A Passion for Patterns

There’s no shortage of tempting textiles and wall and floor coverings to choose from these days, but mixing and matching all those patterns can stop many would-be designers in their tracks. Interior designer and textile collector Charlene Petersen demystifies the process here.

“If you keep the colors subdued, you can get away with multiple patterns. When I designed this home’s guest room I really went wild with the patterns—I actually got a couple of funny looks, even from the designers in my office. But against the rustic background it really took off well.”

“The patterns you choose must be different sizes. If you have a floral, a chevron, a diamond and a stripe, they can all play together, but they each need their own stage. If they’re all the same size, it just hurts your eyes.”

ARCHITECTURE Steve Gordon, Locati Architects, Big Sky, MT, 888-700-4448, INTERIOR DESIGN Charlene Petersen, Cashmere Interior, Baltimore, MD, 410-878-0043, CONSTRUCTION Yellowstone Development and PRG Builders, Big Sky, MT, ARTWORK "Mother & Child" and "Geronimo" by Andy Warhol, Georgetown Frame Shoppe, CUSTOM DRAPERY John Tate Workroom, Bozeman, MT, 406-587-7463, DINING ROOM TABLE Ed Yanosky, Mitchell & Yanosky, Baltimore, MD, 410-467-2211, CHAIRS Lee Industries, Conover, NC, UPHOLSTERY FABRIC Darya Ikat, Schumacher, 800-532-1200, PENDANT LIGHTS Urban Electric, North Charleston, SC, 843-723-8140, BEDROOM BED FABRICATION AND CUSTOM PILLOWS Josh Levin & Associates, 410-922-2131, FABRIC Kravet Couture – Museum of Mexico (Thatch), Kravet Inc., Bethpage, NY, 800-648-5728, WALLPAPER Cavern Home, 310-694-8384, RUG Antique, Eliko Rugs, New York, NY, 212-725-1600, GREAT ROOM RUG Greenspring Carpet Source, Lutherville, MD, 410-561-9200, SECTIONAL SOFA Verellen, High Point, NC, 336-889-7379, SOFA FABRIC Blue Mesa Stripe, Ralph Lauren, Kravet Inc., Bethpage, NY, 800-648-5728, ANTIQUE OTTOMAN Lee Industries, Conover, NC, DAYBED FABRIC Ralph Lauren, Kravet Inc., Bethpage, NY, 800-648-5728, DAYBED PILLOWS East Meets West Antiques, Los Angeles, CA, 323-931-0500, KITCHEN PENDANT LIGHTS Ralph Lauren, Visual Comfort, 713-686-5999, BARSTOOL FABRIC Gustave, Ralph Lauren, Kravet Inc., Bethpage, NY, 800-648-5728, POWDER ROOM WALLPAPER Natives, Elitis, Donghia, MIRROR Arteriors, Carrollton, TX, 800-338-2150, VANITY Antique, Club Cu, Hight Point, NC, 888-992-5822, HALLWAY WALLPAPER Ralph Lauren, Kravet Inc., Bethpage, NY, 800-648-5728,  SKI ROOM OTTOMAN Verellen, High Point, NC, 336-889-7379, OTTOMAN FABRIC Kekoua, Lee Jofa, Kravet, Bethpage, NY, 800-648-5728, 

Categories: Rustic Homes