Multifunctional Flathead Lake home emphasizes clean lines and natively-sourced materials

Story by Colton Martini | Photography by Gibeon Photography
A fundamental change has taken hold in alpine architecture. Today’s modern design principles break away from the expected and stress a concept unique to each specific build site. Inspiration is drawn from ancestral building fundamentals based largely on dwellings that maximize site function and location.

Primitive man’s hunting and gathering has given way to a lifestyle based largely on outdoor recreation. Though this has shifted to accommodate the modern cave dweller, the idea is very much the same: people today want a structure that provides them access to everything that drew them to the area.

When visiting Flathead Lake to show her husband where she spent her childhood summers, the homeowners found a piece of property that inspired them to make new memories together. With high alpine topography and affinity for gorgeous views, a plan was laid to build a multifunctional house that took advantage of all that the Flathead Valley has to offer.

When the owners collaborated with Denman Construction, they knew they had found their match. A family-owned company dating back 37 years, Craig, Travis, and Troy Denman have created a unique team. Travis is the architectural facilitator. Having a strong eye for all facets of design, Travis and the Denman team were able to work with the unique plans offered by the homeowners and incorporate them in a way that was harmonious with the landscape.

The home’s relationship with its surroundings is an integral part of the design’s completion. An emphasis on bringing the outdoors in has led to the careful selection of site-appropriate plants and materials. Regionally supported trees, grasses and other greenery were used to complement the home’s exterior.

“The house slowly reveals itself as you walk up to it,” explains Travis Denman. “Parapet walls both visually and functionally tie the house into the landscape.”

Before the foundation was poured, Denman completed a sun study. The orientation of the home emphasizes the seasonal angle of the sun, and the placement of the house, nestled into the hillside, keeps the house at a relatively consistent temperature all year long. Oriented to the west, the house is comprised of three boxes at slightly different angles. To the southwest, the homeowners can see unobstructed vistas of Wild Horse Island rising out of Flathead Lake.

To bring outdoor elements to the interior, emphasis was placed on the use of local materials. Natively harvested Douglas fir is used throughout the home, including the kitchen cabinets. Sourced from a quarry a stone’s throw away from the home, Chief Cliff rock adorns the face of the fireplace, and continues to the home’s exterior.

While the homeowner has a fondness for red, neutral base tones of browns, creams, grays and taupe hold the house in symbiosis with its natural surroundings. By incorporating these color palettes, the homeowners were able to infuse their individual sense of taste and style by selecting statement colors, textures, furnishings and artwork to complement.

Each room in the house is designed in such a way to be multifunctional and flexible in its use. The kitchen is divided into separate spaces for cooking and prep work. The idea is that everyone can interact with the homeowners as they cook. The kitchen island was even built on castors and can be moved to suit whatever the occasion calls for.

Guest rooms in the home are located on the lower-level walkout. They open into sitting areas that can be closed off from the sleeping quarters when guests want to use the spaces in different ways. The office off the great room on the upper level can also be used as a bedroom. With a bed built into the wall and private access to the guest bath, the room can be comfortable for those who may not be able to use the stairs, or for overflow guests.

Emphasis on clean lines and simple materials keeps the eye moving to focus your attention on the view. The spirit of simplicity captures the surroundings in a snapshot that’s ever evolving. Travis Denman goes on to explain that “this version of well-articulated and transcendent design opens up possibilities for a level of construction” otherwise unattainable to many homeowners. The birth of modern and minimalist architecture has led to limitless possibilities in form and functional flexibility. Details are in the raw architecture and the work of the trades and craftsmen speaks for itself.

A native Montanan, Colton Martini studied architecture at Montana State University and has worked in the design-build industry for several years. A practicing interior designer, he is currently aligned with Hunter Dominick and Hunter and Company Interior Design. He can be reached at 406-862-1402.