Montana architect designs vacation houses that blend in seamlessly with their environments
Q: What's the biggest trend in the design of second homes?
A: They're getting much smaller and more energy efficient. A few years ago, people realized they don't need a 15,000-square-foot second home. Today, the largest homes we are designing are less than 7,000 square feet. Many of our projects are under 3,000 square feet. Exterior space can expand the feel of a small home.
Q: What's more important--the house or the location?
A: To me, the property is the most important element. It must have wonderful views, privacy, good exposure to natural light, and, ideally, a natural water feature and mature trees.
Q: What role does climate play?
A: Here in snow country, we get dramatic temperature swings, extremely high winds, heavy snow loads, and seismic activity. We tend to build minor forts.
Q: How would you design the perfect holiday house?
A: The architecture would be simple but elegant--a long, low profile on the landscape. For the exterior I'd use indigenous stone with hewn timbers and a terne metal roof, which develops a wonderful patina. For windows, I'd install large steel window walls that can open onto porches and patios in warm weather. I'd do wide-plank flooring and ceilings, and decking, doors, and cabinetry of reclaimed wood. The interior walls would be in stone and natural plaster.
Q: What's essential in a second home?
A: I like to incorporate a large mudroom and radiant-heat flooring. Don't skimp on windows--they are the heart and soul of the house, and the key to captivating views.
Q: What new projects are you most excited about?
A: A ranch with a new horse barn and indoor riding arena. An off-the-grid forest cabin with photovoltaic panels for electricity. And in Big Sky, Montana, a vacation home with ski-in, ski-out access.
"Whether you're building a new house or planning an addition, consider power supplied by the sun. Adding solar panels requires a little coordination between the architect and a panel distributor. will point you to state authorities that can supply design guidance and information about subsidies."
"Invest in outdoor furniture that will withstand the elements. Kingsley-Bate's Nantucket collection is made from sustainable teak. I top it off with cushions in Perennials outdoor fabrics, which feel as h as indoor fabrics but are amazingly weatherproof." Nantucket Deep Seating sofa, left; . Also, .
"Designing vacation homes is a matter of fulfilling dreams of living in paradise. My book Tropical Experience includes several holiday homes, including one in Hawaii organized around a Zen garden of raked coral stones. A key feature is the use of natural materials. The architecture harmonizes with the serene landscape to evoke a tropical sanctuary"; .
"Lutron's HomeWorks QS system works remotely with an iPhone or iPad. While you are en route to your second home, you can turn on the lights, heating, air-conditioning, and entertainment systems, or open the shades in preparation for your arrival. It makes you feel you've started your vacation before you even get there." SeeTouch keypad, left; .