This Cottage Is Brimming With Americana Charm
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This Cottage Is Brimming With Americana Charm

The need for a little extra space for friends and family led to the creation of this cozy guest cottage brimming with color and character.

Written by Suzanna Logan
Photography by Heidi Long
Home renovations have a reputation, and it goes something like this: One thing leads to another, which leads to another, and another ... and before you know it, a small fix has ballooned into a major project. This tendency to veer off course and budget has cast home improvements in a less-than-favorable-light, but what about the upside?
Embracing the snowball effect can lead to some pretty spectacular results — just ask homeowners Brad and Pam. They’re living proof of the proverbial fact that “from small beginnings come great things.”
This California couple’s runaway reno began with the need for more space in the lower level of their Montana timber getaway located in the Rock Creek Cattle Company community, a working 30,000-acre cattle ranch.
“It all started with just trying to add a bathroom to a bedroom downstairs,” Pam explains. Their plans quickly came to a standstill due to the rocky terrain, but that’s when the real fun began.
With a growing family on the horizon (their adult sons were starting families of their own), Brad and Pam’s dream blossomed from an extra bathroom in the main house to a private guest cottage. Because of its proximity to the main house (it’s within view via a gravel path), the new structure would need to stay true to its mountain setting on the outside, but inside the four walls, a no-holds-barred approach to color and pattern could reign.
The couple shared their vision with Jesse Vigil, AIA, a residential design specialist at Montana design firm Cushing Terrell, and after a few iterations, the result is a 1,500-square-foot cabin with a traditional timber and stone exterior and strikingly playful interiors. “We started with the idea of a trapper’s cabin, but our goal was to lighten it up and create a space that was modern and engaging,” Jesse explains.
Inside, high ceilings and walls of windows make the space bright and airy, while shiplap walls and white tongue-and-groove create a rustic backdrop for vivid layers of finishes, furnishings and eclectic accessories and artwork.
Outside-the-box touches like cobalt-blue cabinetry with red hose knobs for hardware, retro artwork and Americana details, like the oversized flag in the great room, make the cabin a fun and inviting place to gather with the family.
“When everyone is here, we go back and forth between the main house and the little house for dinners,” says Pam. Their favorite place to dine: the screened-in porch that opens fully to the home’s interiors, thanks to a 15-foot Sierra Pacific folding glass door. The home’s close proximity to the water means cool breezes and the music of nature are always on the menu.
“To take full advantage of the location, we worked with the natural topography and tucked the home into the hill on one side, then opened up this great wrap-around porch onto the creek on the other,” says Jesse.
Besides boasting a close connection to the outdoors, the cabin features a unique layout with a separate mudroom entrance that allows guests to “enjoy Montana to the fullest, then drop the gear, like waders or fly-fishing rods, head straight into the bathroom to clean up then out into the common zone,” Jesse explains.
Of course, he is quick to note that the shared spaces are the only thing “common” about the inside of this cozy retreat: “On the outside, it’s very cabin-y and fits in with the vernacular, but when you walk through the doors, it’s a total departure that really reflects the Pam and Brad’s personalities.”

Home Details

Square Footage: 1,500
Bedrooms: 2
Baths: 2.5
Designer: Cushing Terrell

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