All photos by Audrey Hall
As former U.S. senator and ambassador to China Max Baucus and his wife, Melodee Hanes, watch winter overtake fall in Montana’s Gallatin Valley, they can see the storms blow in across the Bridger Mountains from the cozy comfort of their forever home. The house, designed by JLF Architects using reclaimed wood and native Montana moss rock in a paean to the valley’s agrarian history, “sits quietly on the land,” according to Country Home, which featured the house in the article “An Old Soul” in its recent Fall 2022 issue.
Nestled at the base of the Bridgers with 360-degree perspectives on four other mountain ranges, the building site offered amazing views, but the landscape took designers in a different direction from the high-country houses JLF is best known for. “Walking the site, it was agricultural,” Bertelli says. “It was less mountain-oriented and more prairie-oriented.” The resulting 3,800-square-foot home recognizes the valley’s architectural history and engages with its surroundings through its low profile, long sightlines and unobstructed views. Its design is just right for the area, Baucus tells Country Home, adding, “Being ostentatious is just not Montana.”
“Honest materials and a connection to place are hallmarks of our architecture – and of rustic style in general,” JLF principal Logan Leachman recently told Redfin for an article on Modern Rustic Home Décor Ideas. “We’re known as pioneers in the use of antique, reclaimed timber and locally sourced stone. Incorporating these rustic, time-worn materials with their natural blemishes worn by axes, adzes, boot heels, horse hooves, and the elements—what we call ‘perfect imperfections’—brings a sense of character, permanence, and inherent history to our designs. When we’re done, the idea is that the house has always been there.”
That approach is evident in the Baucus/Hanes Gallatin Valley house. From a distance, it may be hard to determine where the rooflines end and the Bridger Mountains begin. The intentional design sites the home unobtrusively between distant mountain peaks with nearly every room offering superb views of the surrounding landscape. For more examples of JLF designing for and with the land’s geographical features, embracing regional history and materials related to place, look for the firm’s beautifully photographed 2022 coffee-table book from Rizzoli, Foundations: Houses by JLF Architects.