Beartooth Retreat

Beartooth Retreat

Contemporary Project | Montana
VistaLuxe WD LINE windows and doors complement the rustic exterior and contemporary interior of this unique Montana home. Expansive walls of glass expose the dramatic mountain views and allow indoor-outdoor living for family and friends.

Seeking a retreat from the high-tech, hectic life of Silicon Valley, an active young couple from San Francisco found a seven-acre site in Montana’s Beartooth Mountains to build their getaway destination.

Porth Architects was recommended to them by the land surveyor as the firm that could design a home to suit their goals and personal style, while respecting the natural beauty of their surroundings. Listening to the wishes of his new clients, Andrew Porth, AIA, understood: “They wanted a refuge from their urban lives in a place where they could hike, ski, fly fish and entertain guests. They were graced with absolutely spectacular views.”

They wanted a refuge from their urban lives in a place where they could hike, ski, fly fish and entertain guests. They were graced with absolutely spectacular views.
ID: AH600

The home was oriented on the property above the confluence of two branches of a small creek, encompassed by pastoral landscapes, and positioned so the living room faced the Beartooth Mountains. Its structure was organized in three volumes set at slight angles to one another. “Their plans are not quite rectangular, lending dynamism to the assembled form,” explained Porth.
ID: AH608_AH605

“The homeowners wanted to have large expanses of glass to capture these incomparable and uninterrupted views,” he added. The living room serves as an open, central gathering place that offers the indoor comforts of home and immersive outdoor views. Here, Kolbe’s VistaLuxe® Collection floor-to-ceiling windows and doors create the transparent, exterior walls. The combined unit stretches about 17 feet wide by 12 feet tall on one wall. Intersecting at the corner, the stacked windows wrap around the fireplace and continue across the wall’s full height and width.

The homeowners wanted to have large expanses of glass to capture these incomparable and uninterrupted views


ID: AH606

“The large, fixed glass units coordinate perfectly with adjacent operating casement and awning units, as well as both swinging and sliding doors,” said Porth. “The flush style exteriors are consistent with the very minimal look we sought for the exterior walls and enabled the glazing to occupy the same plane as the reclaimed wood siding, while exposing a minimum amount of the frame.”

The reclaimed wood siding contrasts with and complements the weathered steel roofing. The rusted standing-seam metal roofing folds down to clad exterior walls surrounding the living room, on one side of the garage, and on the covered entryway. At the end of the path to the main entry, the door and wall almost disappear as the opening greets guests with views all the way through the home and out the opposite windows.

ID: AH601

“We had the luxury of installing a glass entrance,” said Porth. “As private as this location is, you don’t need a solid front door. Presumably, any visitor is expected and has been announced.” Once inside, Porth’s angular positioning also plays with perspective. For example, standing in the kitchen and looking toward the living room fireplace, the space between feels close. Standing at the fireplace and looking at the kitchen, it seems to grow larger.

ID: AH610

Regardless of where one stands inside, a connection to the environment outside is ever-present. This tether is emphasized through the use of wood and other tactile materials with a neutral palette. The interior trim, baseboard, doors and cabinets are all made of vertical grain ash. The doors and cabinets are veneered in quarter-sawn ash with the grain oriented horizontally, complimented by matching ash interior trim and stair treads. The windows and patio doors were crafted in pine and finished in a clear coat to accentuate the warm, tactile quality of the wood.

In the cold months, Kolbe’s VistaLuxe Collection products’ thermal and wind-resistant performance enhance the cozy indoor climate. During the summer months, the (motorized) clerestory and crank-out windows open to allow for passive cooling with natural cross ventilation. Because heat rises, this functionality was especially important for the second-floor guest bedrooms.

ID: AH609

Initially, a second floor was not considered. The homeowners were inspired by the single-level, Californian, mid-century modern homes built by developer, Joseph Eichler, and designed by Los Angeles-based architect, A. Quincy Jones. Drawing from these sources, early concepts for the home were one-story structures with low, sloped gables consistent with the mid-century aesthetic. As the concept evolved, the homeowners and Porth gravitated to a two-story plan. The resulting, compact, 2,700-square-foot structure provided a greater economy of scale proved more economical than a lone level plan, while simultaneously reducing site disturbance, and the three upper bedrooms’ windows also deliver impressive views.

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