Influenced by sweeping views of peaks and pine trees, the aesthetic of a mountain residence lends itself to more rustic mediums than the typical urban dwelling. For designer Brittany Zwickl, who works primarily in big cities, creating a Montana vacation abode was a thrilling opportunity to explore familiar materials. “I’m from Wyoming originally,” explains Zwickl, who collaborated with partner Shannon Wollack on the project. “It’s fun for me to work in the mountains with a different set of natural elements.”
Her clients, who have two young daughters and a large extended family, were building a home in Yellowstone Club, a private community in Big Sky, Montana, that offers year-round outdoor activities like skiing, golfing and hiking along with dining and clubhouse facilities. “They owned a condo at Yellowstone Club for quite a while before building this residence, but they wanted to get something larger that would accommodate their entire family,” Zwickl says.
The couple worked with architect Reid Smith and general contractor Brandon Romero to design and build a structure that would take advantage of the lot’s stunning views. “We placed the house on a bench of land, so it’s notched into the mountain,” Smith says. “The vistas looking north are the most broad and panoramic, so we gave the terrace and great room the prime viewing spot.”
Because the community buildings are planned around the environment’s beauty, homeowners are encouraged to use a natural palette that fits the setting. “We started with the stone and other hard surfaces, and we schemed from there to get the look we wanted,” notes Zwickl, who handled the exterior material choices.
Those selections were then thoughtfully carried throughout the interior as well. “The fireplace surround in the great room was always going to be stone, but we took it across the whole wall and into the kitchen,” the designer says. She framed the firebox in a column of steel, and then used that same metal to create niches for extra log storage and define the passage from the entry to the great room. “We brought that moment to a few different places in the house,” she says. “It gives the materials a chance to speak to each other.”
The pared down, natural style resonated with the owners. “My clients wanted it to be a warm, family home, but they didn’t want too much fluff,” the designer explains. “They like pieces that have a purpose and are functional.” In the great room, Zwickl achieved that yin and yang by grounding the space with a plush rug, then layering on four modern chairs and a clean-lined sofa softened with pillows and a cozy throw. Crowning the room is a modern, sculptural light fixture that references the exposed steel beams and mountains beyond.
That clean design aesthetic continues in the kitchen. “The light-colored countertops and wood cabinets bring in a softer and less rustic feel,” Zwickl says. “The layout is nice in that the kitchen faces out to the view.” The primary bedroom also commands sweeping vistas of the mountains. To give the serene room a strong focal point, the designer commissioned a dramatic headboard made from a single slab of black walnut.
Once their vacation home was finished, her clients began enjoying it in all four seasons. “It’s fun because it’s rustic, but still a contemporary mountain house,” Zwickl says. “We wanted it to feel warm and cozy, and we accomplished that with different layers and textures.” For her part, Zwickl is looking forward to the next project that brings her and her team back to the mountains and that panoramic view. As she notes, “On a clear day, it’s just stunning.”