For designer Thom Filicia, the perfect Montana winter day is simple. “After skiing on Yellowstone Club’s slopes, you return to your house where there’s a fire going, food cooking, and family and friends in every room,” Filicia relates. “Everyone relaxes in comfortable après-ski clothes, glasses of wine in hand, but they’re ready to have fun because it’s just 4 o’clock.”
This is the scene the noted designer brought to life in a ski-in, ski-out vacation home overlooking Big Sky’s iconic Lone Peak. His goal was to create the ideal backdrop, one he describes as an “environment to gather in and feel pampered.”
When Filicia joined the project, his client—an active family who splits their time between the East Coast and Big Sky—had already selected a Yellowstone Club homesite and tasked local architect Nate Heller with creating a contemporary residence celebrating the mountain views while evoking the look and feel of a luxurious boutique hotel. Heller and project manager Josey Hasson responded with a design that, from the street, appears to be a single-story home. But when viewed from the ski slopes, its multistory, glass-walled rear façade “looks like a big lantern on the side of the hill,” the architect says. The dwelling offers views at every turn, from the main floor’s open-concept living, dining and cooking space—which, when the sliding glass doors retract, becomes one with a broad terrace and landscape designed by Troy Scherer—to the main bedroom suite, where a cantilevered bathing area hovers above the hillside.
Heller crafted a fresh take on the traditional Western palette of weathered woods, rusted metals and chiseled stones, opting to carry clean-lined wood, native sandstone and patinated steel from exterior to interior for a seamless modernist style. Before selecting a single piece of furniture, Filicia’s first objective was to fine-tune the fit and finish of these materials so the interiors would feel warm, textured and inviting. To that end, he and the architect created a wall and ceiling treatment in the open living room and kitchen comprising thin ribs of white oak—each individually placed under the direction of general contractor Chris Lohss—which adds dimension and softens echoes in the glass-walled rooms. Other vertical surfaces—from kitchen cabinet faces to the living room’s fireplace surround—are defined by steel panels artificially aged to achieve a dark- bronze finish. The imperfect patina “is similar to what you would see in the region’s old mining buildings,” Filicia says. “The clients were excited to create something more modern than they’ve ever done before, but it also had to respond to this location. They trusted us to use familiar materials in unconventional ways so that we could achieve a sense of warmth, strength and ruggedness while still feeling modern.”
That juxtaposition is enhanced by accents of clean-faced, dry-stacked sandstone, “which really tells the story of where we are,” Filicia notes. The regional material’s range of warm and cool tones inspired the designer to employ fabrics and finishes in a complementary palette of earthy neutrals. There’s color too—rich cabernet and truffle shades on accent pillows, slate-green hues on a sculptural chair—but the kind of après-ski comfort Filicia envisioned demanded that texture be the star. So, the designer wrapped dining chairs in velvet and heavy bouclé, upholstered headboards in suede, and draped the family room’s four-sided custom sectional—which faces a fireplace, bar, crystal foosball table and mountain- view terrace—in cozy faux furs.
All that softness balances glamorous accents of polished stone and metal: rope-like channels of Carrara marble on the powder room’s walls, book-matched onyx slabs around the family room fireplace, sexy bronze coffee tables in the living room and, above them, custom light fixtures in bronze and brass. “They look like birds flying through the living room, dining room and kitchen,” Filicia says of the latter, which hang at varying heights. “They bring the ceiling down and make the entire space feel more human-scale and approachable.”
Which means that as evenings draw near and Lone Peak’s familiar face becomes a silhouette, the après-adventure scene unfolds just as Filicia imagined. “You’re watching the sunset on the mountain, you’re seeing the color and light change, and all of a sudden the stars come out,” the designer says. “What I love about this house is that when you’re in it, you’re coddled, but you’re still part of that outdoor experience.”