Reimagining Montana Living
Workaday Design reimagines the hallmarks of Montana homes — stunning natural materials, expansive-feeling interiors, a focus on natural surroundings — while incorporating local craft and a modern aesthetic.
W hen most people think of Montana architecture, a heavily timbered mountain lodge is often the first thing that comes to mind.
“Having grown up here, I have often wondered if a traditional, rustic aesthetic needs to represent what architecture in Montana is all about,” says Workaday Design partner Zach George. “I feel like folks should be able to build in a way that makes them happy to live in their built environment, but I think it can sometimes play out as an old-west theme park view of what it is actually like to live in the Flathead.”
Instead of succumbing to stereotype, Workaday reimagines the hallmarks of Montana homes — stunning natural materials, expansive-feeling interiors, a focus on natural surroundings — while incorporating local craft and a modern aesthetic. The architectural design and interior firm seeks to create good design that is meaningful, innovative and timeless. They work on projects large and small, from new residential builds or remodels to commercial interiors.
The most eye-catching local example of Workaday’s design is the new “Twin Peaks” home recently completed in Whitefish. The name refers to the building’s silhouette, which features two cedar-clad “living volumes,” two-story gables flanking a single-story indoor-outdoor main gathering space. Each gable has a lake-facing recessed deck, prime spots to take in the views of Whitefish Lake. The designers created a striking effect by using charred cedar to create the decks’ dark lining, an effect also mirrored on the back side of one gable with a gorgeous charred cedar screen wall. The entryway, an alcove clad in white brick, matches the angle of the street.
General contractor Mindful Designs and Lauren Ellingson, who outfitted the interiors, collaborated to bring Workaday’s design to life. “Lauren did an amazing job really honing in on the specific material finishes, dialing in all the furniture choices, and really making the interior of the home reflect the language of the overall house,” says Zach. “Mindful Designs pulled together a team of highly skilled craftsmen to ensure a really quality home came together. Pulling off the detailing in a modern home can be tricky, and they brought a lot of knowledge and expertise to the table in that conversation. They used their knowledge of building science to put together a tight little home that lives bigger than it is.”
Zach says, “This home is exciting for us at Workaday because it breaks away from a traditional architectural stereotype of the rustic lodge home that is so pervasive in the Flathead Valley. It’s refreshing to see a home that is more clean and honest in its massing and material choices, celebrating the workmanship of the craftsmen in tight, clean details that take a lot of time to get just right.”
As even a quick drive through the valley can tell you, new construction is taking off in the Flathead. In addition to the influx of people moving to the area, many locals are seeking to improve their existing houses, having recently found themselves spending more time working from home and venturing out in public less.
“More people are starting to think about the quality of space in their home, as opposed to the quantity,” Zach explains. “Clients seem to be placing more of a premium on their work-from-home capabilities when considering their living arrangements. This seems to manifest itself in a solid connection to the outdoors and clean, well-thought-out interior spaces.”
In regard to the rapid growth happening in the Flathead, Workaday Design believes architecture is very important in channeling positive, smart growth in the area. “I think architecture and urban planning can play a huge role in the Flathead Valley’s future as we begin to consider why it is that we all enjoy living here,” Zach says. “I believe part of the draw for people of all different viewpoints is the large open spaces and accessibility to the outdoors. There’s only a certain amount of land in between the surrounding mountains on our valley floor, and making sure that we leave room for the agricultural and recreational landscape between pockets of developed land seems to be a vital issue. I don’t think anyone here is particularly interested in living in a sea of one-acre fenced-off residential lots. Making sure we create a valley that has a variety of densities, scales, and walkable mixed-programatic uses in between the spaces that we all cherish should be at the forefront of the conversation.”
Find more projects from Workaday Designs at workadaydesign.com
Architectural Photos by: Zach George
Portrait Photo by: Mandy Mohler
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