A diamond has the ability to reflect light in such a way that it creates additional sparkle. Similarly, gorgeous homes incorporate the elements of their surroundings into a design that allows for dazzle that goes beyond natural grandeur.
Nestled between the mountains that surround Whitefish Lake in an area known as Lion Mountain, there is a home that draws its inspiration, design and namesake from Montana’s finest elements, incorporating them like a diamond reflects light—into a singular structure that mirrors natural beauty into something more.
From the comforts of this 10,000 square-foot, fully-furnished and decorated home sitting atop 40-acres of wooded terrain, one can gaze directly at Big Mountain, the local ski resort, or see into Glacier National Park and even the Canadian Rockies toward the north.
Like anything well wrought, the design elements work because they are both subtle and distinct.
Subtle, as in the glass railing that lines the wrap-around clear cedar deck and includes mitered corners that allow an unobstructed view. Or the glass showers that lay claim to the best views in the house. Or the exercise room that has a floating maple floor, which flexes in order to go easy on the legs.
Distinct, as in the white cedar Finnish sauna or climate-controlled wine room. Or the two-story interior waterfall that makes this home feel like a private mountain retreat. The soft backdrop of burnished copper and the soothing sounds of water work wonderfully when played against the majesty just out the front door.
Standing at the bottom of the waterfall and gazing up through the 12 skylights into the blue sky brings the home’s namesake to life: endless sky. With the push of a button the motorized skylight adds another dimension to that blue sky: a rush of clean mountain air. On a sunny day the light catches the waterfall, and you can look up in the great room through to the sky as the mountain air fills the room and know what people mean when they say Montana is ‘the last best place” – a quality you can feel as well as see.
With “endless sky” as theme, other subtle design elements fall into place. Capacious 27-foot ceilings create an interior grandeur that reflects the outdoors. Antique copper accents along fireplace mantles and copper along the kitchen range complement the cherry wood cabinets, adding sunset glow to the open spaces. You could glimpse similar colors every evening on the deck, but an exquisite sense of natural materials and lighting brings those same subtle sunset hues inside at all times.
Aside from a blend of organic materials and hues, warmth is achieved through an architectural design by CTA Architects Engineers that harmonizes elaborate living space with a homey tranquil touch. A fireplace in the master bedroom and five others interspersed throughout the house bring coziness to cold winter nights. Well-placed art adds a sophisticated touch to rooms. And although 10,000-square feet might sound enormous, this home exudes comfort in every corner, integrating guest rooms, two main floor suites, library, office, exercise room, theater, recreation room, pantry, kitchen, great room and dining room into a home that feels and operates like a unified whole. Sitting atop the three-car garage, even the separate apartment continues the theme of elegant quality.
While endless sky is an important theme, this home is also grounded in old growth timbers and solid stone accents. Eight trusses grasp the great room beam in a hold that seems pure craftsmanship—and engineered without exterior steel supports. Below, the stone fireplace fits together like a jigsaw puzzle. Solid wood handcrafted cabinets in mahogany, maple and cherry show off the finer points of each grain throughout every room. Fine workmanship is apparent in such details as the specially made wooden heating vents and stains that bring out the character of each material. The swirling grains of the walnut floors invite pausing to marvel at nature’s inherent patterns and beauty. This attention to the textures and details within the wood is yet another addition to the sense of natural wonder that acts like a force throughout the home. Where hardwood floors end, wool carpet begins in a continued effort to bring the finest quality to every inch of livable space.
Another structural enhancement are the walls, which are not common sheet rock and paint, but instead veneered plaster, ensuring that the color goes all the way through the finish and that paint touch-ups will never be needed. Custom wood trim is continuous throughout the house and even into closets. The fire screens in the great room and recreation room are hand woven with different metals.
Outside, over 300 tons of “Chief Cliff” stone exterior promise to keep out the most blatant of blizzards. And the 2,000 square feet of cedar deck frames that craftsmanship with splendid vistas from many angles.
All the natural materials are enhanced with a flair for fine art that combines classic western themes with a dose of the unusual. For instance, a sculptural totem in the kitchen/dining room blends modern art with ancient tradition. The glass dining room table is a work of art in its sleek graceful lines. Chandeliers are matched to paintings; glass is carved, etched and fused. And along with contemporary art, pieces by Flathead artists bring home a regional flavor that is echoed in the leather accents throughout the house. Even the outdoors is adorned with art: a bronze sculpture of a mountain lion guards the front driveway, echoing the setting of the home in Lion Mountain.
Artful inspiration is nothing without the advances of technology, and the finest features of the 21st century add to the home’s creature comforts. A Dacor range joins two Dacor ovens and a host of high end appliances, including two subzero refrigerators, two subzero freezers, two subzero refrigerator drawers, a Dacor microwave, a Dacor warming drawer, two Asko dishwashers, and a Subzero wine cooler in the kitchen. A button marked “welcome” brings art gallery-inspired lighting to life in every room. A satellite sound system and speakers perched to make the most of elevated ceilings ensure great music wherever you may roam. Activated with the touch of a button, music seems to float in the air. A piano perched in front of a view of the lake will inspire fingers. For evening fare, the wine cellar is the perfect temperature to store 862 bottles of your finest reds and whites. After dinner, the home theater boasts a top of the line Runco projector system that will bring movies to life on the flat projector screen.
Any escape to the mountains would be incomplete without a classic Montana feature: an outdoor fire pit. Lion Mountain earned its name from an assortment of mountain lions known to once prowl the area. And while the lions have retreated deeper into the mountains, the fireside is the perfect place to spin tales about the varied wildlife of the region—be that the grizzly bear, the mountain lion or the milder mannered deer. Surrounding the home, stonewalls and patios break up the native landscaping with its thousands of thoughtfully selected plants.
If you’d like to change landscapes and experience water features, Lion Mountain has a cozy private beach for the boater, picnicker or sun seeker. While this mountain retreat offers privacy of its own with its own gate inside the already exclusive development of Lion Mountain, the community of Whitefish sits a mere 15 minutes from your doorstep.
Dan Averill of Trails West Eagle Bend Realty knows that it is familiarity with the home that reveals the depth of its beauty and inspiration. After 30 years of doing business and half a billion in sales in the Flathead, he has sold and seen astounding homes. But after the first impressions of “wow” are over, the real fun of a great home is the things that you notice over time.
“You can’t see everything the first time,” he explained, “And after the first time (is over) the magic is in the workmanship.”
Which is why, between the subtle and the distinct, this exquisite home has the capacity to inspire and surprise any owner like an endless blue sky.
You can see more information about the house at their website www.EndlessSkyMontana.com or contact the listing agent Dan Averill, Trails West Eagle Bend Realty, 800-976-6682 ~ 406-837-7050.
~ Christine Hensleigh is the former reporter and editor of the Whitefish Pilot, who is now a freelance writer and mother of a busy toddler. In 2004 she was the recipient of five Montana Newspaper Association awards, recognizing her features writing, in-depth reporting, column writing and educational reporting. In one of her former lives, she was a river guide and kayak instructor in the South. She looks forward to the day when she can find the time to read or perhaps write an entire novel.