Sleek midcentury furnishings and weathered timber and stone redefine Western style in a Montana home
Timothy Haynes and Kevin Roberts, founding partners of the distinguished New York City interior design firm Haynes-Roberts, have no interest in playing it safe.
When the duo accepted their first commission in Montana—a ski house in Big Sky for a family with young children—they saw no reason to sacrifice their sophisticated style and had no intention of falling into Western clichés. “We wanted to shake things up a bit,” says Roberts, “and show that you can still have the great warmth and beauty of a Western house, but infused with a hip, up-to-date sensibility.”
To achieve that goal, the designers collaborated closely with architect Paul Bertelli, principal of Bozeman, Montana-based JLF & Associates, and his team as they created a structure that was authentic to the region but pared down to communicate a 21st-century lifestyle. The architects designed framing elements from huge weathered barn timbers, clad ceilings and floors with reclaimed wood planks and constructed fireplace surrounds from regionally quarried stone. “The whole contemporary belief of ‘less is more’ is how you keep reducing the components down to their essence,” Bertelli says. “So the question became, how do we do that using these reclaimed timber assemblies?” Their solution was to strip away extraneous knee braces, avoid trim and decorative embellishments, and simplify a prominent staircase down to a spare steel-and-glass form. “It was an opportunity to bring these very clean materials and uncluttered lines into the historic shell,” he explains.
The rich texture and warm gray tones of the building materials served as both complement and counterpoint to the furnishings. “We wanted to impose a sense of modernity you don’t often see in the antler-filled Western ski home,” says Roberts, “and because of the quality of the wood and stone background materials, I felt that this was the perfect opportunity to add a hip 1960s/’70s overlay. The vintage pieces provide more nuance than contemporary furniture, and they evoke a bit of the James Bond era.”
While the furnishings exhibit clean minimal lines, tactile fabrics in a “dark neutral” palette blend with the surrounding walls and recede from the sweeping vistas. “The views are so spectacular that I wanted to keep the colors to a minimum,” Roberts says.
While the hues are meant to blend in, the light fixtures are meant to stand out. Starting in the living area, two 1960s Murano glass fixtures set an immediate point of departure. “People usually use bronze or brass,” says Roberts, “but I wanted nothing that was expected.” The furnishings follow suit. Rich charcoal-colored mohair covers two Edward Wormley for Dunbar sofas, and Warren Platner lounge chairs pull up to a black-lacquer game table in the adjacent sitting area. Underfoot, the traditional cowhide rug is remade into a modern patchwork that “continues the texture of the background,” Roberts says.
The architecture also provided inspiration for the sturdy dining table the designers had made from solid planks of rift white oak and then sandblasted so “it could handle a lot of heavy-duty use,” Roberts says. Vintage Jacques Adnet chairs upholstered with taupe snakeskin encircle the table, and a linear 1960s Italian chandelier sparkles above. “I wanted the light fixtures in this house to be particularly special,” says Roberts, who hung a striking vertical metal-and-glass fixture in the hallway and a 1960s Stilnovo chandelier in the master bedroom. To give the bedroom a distinct, luxurious feel, the designers had a graphic silk-and-wool carpet made in a warm bronze tone and upholstered a custom bed with a silk-velvet fabric by Clarence House.
“The design wasn’t meant to feel modern and jarring,” Roberts explains. “It was meant to feel exciting and sophisticated.” While it doesn’t fit the typical image of a rustic Western home, the house is still thoughtfully tailored to its mountain environment. “It has a sense of timelessness, like it’s always been here,” adds Bertelli, “but it doesn’t respond to what people think the West should be, but more what the West really is.”
MODERN IN MONTANA
“In New York, modernity has been embraced and accepted,” says Kevin Roberts of Haynes-Roberts. “In Montana, that’s not necessarily so.” But that didn’t stop the designers from appointing a timber-and-stone residence in Big Sky with streamlined midcentury furnishings. By keeping these simple guidelines in mind, Roberts and his partner Timothy Haynes were able to create a modern interior that, while unexpected, feels right at home.
Don’t take it literally. Choose pieces that reflect the feel of the region in a modern way. Replace antler chandeliers with glass light fixtures that evoke the feel of snow, and try a geometric cowhide rug instead of the typical bearskin.
Stay down-to-earth. “The most beautiful thing about Montana is the outdoors,” Roberts says. “I felt that the blue of the sky and the green of the trees should really provide the bulk of the color.”
Materials matter. Give your project a sense of authenticity and timelessness by reclaiming building materials from the region. “This could have been done with new wood stained to look old,” says Roberts, “but it wouldn’t have been nearly as successful.”
Don’t overdo it. “I find that in Western ski areas, people tend to clutter things up,” Roberts says. “In a house with this much texture and strength in terms of the view, it’s really important to pull back and try to keep things spare.”
INTERIOR DESIGN Timothy Haynes and Kevin Roberts, Haynes-Roberts, New York, NY, 212-989-1901, haynesroberts.com ARCHITECTURE Paul Bertelli, JLF & Associates, Inc., Bozeman, MT, 406-587-8888, jlfarchitects.com CONTRACTOR/BUILDER Peter Belschwender, On Site Management, Inc., Bozeman, MT, 406-586-1500, onsitemanagement.com STEEL STAIRCASE Mike Winters, 406-586-4683; Midwest Industries, Bozeman, MT, 406-587-5417 TILE Paul Holborn, Bridger Tile, Bozeman, MT, 406-586-5629; John Czyzewski, Table Mountain Tile, Belgrade, MT, 406-580-3682 CONCRETE SINKS Mark Price, In Concrete, Bozeman, MT, 406-580-5753 TIMBERWORK Gabe and Amber Williams and Sean Gadberry, Bozeman, MT, 406-586-1500 STONEWORK Sandoval Masonry, Bozeman, MT, 406-763-4765 LIVING ROOM SOFAS Edward Wormley for Dunbar, circa 1950, upholstered in “Museum Mohair” in charcoal by Joseph Noble, josephnoble.com COFFEE TABLE Custom table with steel base and high-gloss lacquer top based on design by Jansen WHITE SWIVEL CHAIRS vintage Scandinavian swivel chairs in woven two-tone linen by Holland & Sherry, hollandandsherry.com COWHIDE RUG Custom design by Beauvais Carpets, white and grey cowhides seamed together in patchwork pattern, beauvaiscarpets.com HANGING LIGHTS 1960s spherical starburst made of white Murano glass forms in the shape of flowers with nickel details, made in Venice GAME TABLE Custom table in black lacquer in the style of Prouvé WIRE CHAIRS Warren Platner lounge chairs in Knoll fabric, knoll.com DINING ROOM TABLE Custom design made of solid wood planks in sandblasted and sealed rift white oak, by Haynes-Roberts, haynesroberts.com CHAIRS Vintage armchairs by Adnet with wood legs and fully upholstered seats in taupe snakeskin LIGHT FIXTURE Linear surface mount chandelier with interlocking glass plates, by Mazzega Italian, circa 1960 MASTER BEDROOM CARPET Custom wool and silk hand-tufted carpeting with large-scale interlocking “Y” pattern in off-white, bronze and black BED UPHOLSTERY Bronze Silk Velvet by Clarence House, clarencehouse.com BED LINENS Custom design, and from Calvin Klein, calvinklein.com LIGHT FIXTURE Five-arm nickel chandelier with massive white glass shades by Stilnovo Italian, circa 1960 STAIRHALL LIGHT FIXTURE Vertical metal chandelier with 12 rows of five clear glass globes, Americana, circa 1960, refinished in satin nickel