Flathead Estate

John Steinbeck once wrote, “I’m in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love. And it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it.” These words perfectly express my own love for this state where I spent much of my childhood, so I jumped at the opportunity to remodel and decorate a large family summer home on the shores of Flathead Lake.


My challenge was to create a beautiful interior that took nothing away from the breathtaking view. The lake and the vast expanse of sky is such a lovely blue in the summer and very grey in the summer. So I decided to bring the colors of the outdoors to the inside, repeating them in subtler tones. 


The family wanted me to use as many sustainable materials as possible, so I sourced local stone for the interior and exterior of the home. I used Marmoleum on the bathroom floors, cork in the downstairs family room, and Caesarstone for the countertops. I hired a local concrete artisan who worked with me to create a custom fireplace surround, as well as the master bath floor and shower enclosure. All the tile I used was made from recycled content, and the cabinetry was custom made by a local craftsman. Lastly, I intentionally purchased furniture that was made by American craftspeople in American factories.


One of my favorite elements of this design job was working on an installation of black and white photos of the family's ancestral history. The family handed over photographs from the turn of the century showing their ancestors in Canada and North Dakota working the land and the railroads. I created a whole wall of these images in the dining area so that the family could reflect on their journey and their connection to the Northwest. 


The spruce trees, the color of the lake at twilight, the driftwood that gathers in the bay after a storm, the moss that grows on the forest floor and the awe-inspiring view over the Mission and Swan mountain ranges provided the truest inspiration for this project.


The walls and ceiling were entirely covered in knotty pine. The flooring was wall to wall carpeting, and the bathrooms and kitchen looked as if they had not been touched since 1970. So we gutted it all and began again.


Even though the house left a lot to be desired from an architectural standpoint, it had good bones. The ceilings were soaring and the windows captured the view in a captivating way. Still, the floor plan was odd and the rooms awkwardly angular. So we decided to open up the space and make one grand room to serve as the living room, dining room and kitchen.