Mindful Designs’ husband-and-wife team combines aesthetics with functionality in beautiful show home

Story by Colton Martini | Photography by Gibeon Photography

Even though art and design can be compared with one another, it could also be argued that art and design are two completely separate concepts. Art tends to inspire, whereas design tends to motivate. Incorporating too much art without enough design, or vice-versa, can result in something looking incomplete or monotonous without one ever understanding why.

The most successful designs are those that most effectively communicate their message while still maximizing a home’s sensibility. Art is created to share feelings, and to encourage the participant to learn and relate, all of which can only be achieved from the experience.

When Dave Radatti of Mindful Designs in Whitefish and his wife, Kelly, an accomplished artist, decided to take the plunge and build a home for their family, they created a space that beautifully combines her artistic vision and his methodical and playful views on design. The result is not only a one-of-a-kind showplace (art if you will) but also a functional space to call home. Every so often, art and design intersect.

Any materials that had to be taken from the site to build the house were intentionally repurposed and incorporated into the structure of the home. Trees that the owners salvaged from the property beautifully adorn the home’s exterior as living edge siding. Mixed with reclaimed barn wood and salvaged metal, the home’s somewhat contemporary exterior evokes a very natural rustic vibe.

The exterior, with a porch to gather on and a fire to gather around.

The exterior, with a porch to gather on and a fire to gather around.

That feeling carries into the interior spaces. Corner fence posts from cattle ranches in eastern Montana, which have been smoothed and weathered by livestock, are incorporated as newel posts. Steel drilling rods act as horizontal balusters to continue a rustic, albeit industrial, modern look. Having grown up in rural settings, these details seemed natural to the Radattis. Another creative detail includes outhouse planks salvaged from yesteryear and reworked as cabinets in the kitchenette.

A designer’s job is to take something that has a particular purpose or function and communicate it in his or her own way. When something new is generated, a designer tends to have a fixed starting point, such as setting out to create a chair, kitchen or entire house.

The kitchen utilizes counters poured in place and adorned with tractor gears set lovingly in the concrete. Dave Radatti’s grandfather was a former engineer with John Deere, and this was a creative way to honor his memory. The concept continues with the use of retired saw blades to create a unique lighting arrangement over the island.

Dave Radatti describes their home as “somewhere in the middle between modern and rustic.” Though it was built as a showplace to exhibit the range of styles and practices Mindful Designs can do, Radatti goes on to explain that the house is a “reflection of ourselves.”

“You really have to meet us, and you will understand immediately,” he says.

Radatti and his wife use the house for entertaining and welcoming guests. Five nearby families enjoy each other’s company in the area and take every opportunity to get together. The lower level of the home was designed for company, with a pool table and projector screen bringing friends and family together. Other amenities include a wood-fired hot tub perfect for a silent soak and some stargazing after an afternoon of cross-country skiing.

Like the hot tub, the home generates most of its energy naturally. With a ground-source heat pump, ICF Form Concrete Panels, and other environmentally conscious building practices, the home maintains an even base temperature through all seasons. And with passive solar heat, even without air conditioning it stays cool and comfortable in the summer.

Finished primarily by Radatti and his wife, many of the design touches were trial and error, created as art installations. Tasked with a steep learning curve, the couple learned to set tile in the midst of building, and after years of long nights and weekends, they developed a uniquely artistic style. Dave Radatti says that the main purpose was to “have fun with it,” as they were specifically building it for the “long haul.”

Leaving behind no opportunity for artistic expression, the pair designed most of the home’s furniture as well. A custom sofa made to inspire conversation, and perfect for an afternoon nap, also includes clever storage compartments. The master shower was actually modeled after a skate ramp flipped on its side, an example of the innovative collaboration of artistic vision and functional design.

Now with a 21-month-old daughter, the Radattis plan to take their design and artistic exploration even further. Having already created a secret passage to Narnia in their daughter’s room, they are collaborating with another designer to create a climbing rock wall for years of playful expression and fun.

Colton Martini, who studied architecture at Montana State University, is a practicing interior designer. He can can be reached at 406-480-2375, or 105A Wisconsin Ave., Whitefish