Bitterroot Timber Frames Big Sky, MT Distinctly Montana
Featured Home By Savannah Barnes
It is a house about water and light set in the woods. Like the stretch of Gallatin River bordering the property, the structure angles a d wends from one level to the nex, offering views, long light, and sounds of moving water and wind through the trees.
Although larger than what many would term a “cabin,” it 6,400 square feet are more an extension of its surroundings than a destination unto itself. It’s as if, after a great day on the river, you thought, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a small lodge right here where we could hang out? Someplace quiet to eat while watching the sunset and the evening fish surface.
A place where we could sit with friends and family around the fireplace to share the days events, or find a nook to ourselves-one that’s not isolated, but just apart enough to find solitude.”
A sense of place is key to the Bitterroot Group’s design and building ethic. Owner Brett mauri studied historic preservation and environmental studies-as well as business-at the University of Vermont. His focus connects high-end ski and fishing homes with a responsibility to the natural setting. In this featured home , for example, all of the logs were standing dead spruce and pine from Canada and eastern Idaho.
These clients approached Bitterroot because of the multiple services offered. Although each facet of the group-Bitterroot Design, Bitterroot Builders, Bitterroot Interiors and Bitterroot Timberframes-is separate, most often they work together to take a project from initial client consultation through site analysis, architectural design, log package, timber frame, millwork, built-in furniture, and fine cabinetry. Most of all says Mauri, “They liked our chemistry.”
In addition to a collaborative ease with the owners, there is evident harmony in the details of the home that results from the work of a solo master carpenter or master craftsman who are equally dedicated to the whole. The latter is where Mauri’s concept for the Bitterroot Group delivers old-world quality with modern speed. Communication between the design and construction teams allows for tighter timelines by knowing immediately if a design will work and what materials are available.
Although the Bitterroot Group has only been building in Big Sky since 1991, Mauri brings decades of experience with him. Throughout the years he has helped rebuild the Trapp Family Lodge (“The Sound of Music” family’s Vermont resort), built the spectacular Four Seasons Resort in Jackson Hole, and worked on the restoration of the turn-of-the-century Mountain Sky Guest Ranch in Paradise Valley. Mauri’s staff is largely Montan educated and trained, and the timberframe group is based in Stevensville. The majority of clients may bee from outside if the state, but the work and artistry come form local sweat.
Even the Harlowton Moss Rock used is local. The fireplace is a pivotal point in the home, integrating with the log walls as naturally as the rocks outside. The main sitting area is two stories high, and warm afternoon sun streams through the wood-framed windows to fill the space with light. Part of the signature of this home is how light is filtered through the timber frames as if it were shining through the trees.
In addition to a wise use of light, rock, and wood, which blends into the outside environment, radiant floor heat provides efficient comfort through the common areas and four bedrooms. The floors are center-matched Douglas fir boards in random widths that continue the natural design elements. Hand-split cedar and copper flashing traditionally cap the house.
The master suite is its own sanctuary, separated from the sitting room by a see-through fireplace. The suite includes two walk-inclosets, an artist’s loft and a private screen-in porch overlooking the river.
Whether stepping onto the riverbank or into the house, the quality of this design honors Montana’s beauty. While sharing some similarities to large log gateway homes, the Bitterroot Group is set apart by keen attention to detail, centuries-old craftsmanship, and the setting. The home graces its surroundings with timeless endurance and elegance.