Kootenai Estates, a breathtaking summer getaway in the heart of the Flathead Valley in Montana, welcomed such venerable guests as Will Rogers, John D. Rockefeller, Jane Wyatt and Charles Lindbergh during its heyday as a turn-of-the-century retreat for wealthy mining barons.
We have been closely involved in restoring this idyllic Bigfork, Montana, community, and a standout of our work here has been the transformation of the legendary Lindbergh Cabin, rumored to have housed the famous aviator when he visited the grounds in the 1920s.
In addition to the renovation of the historic 1906 Kootenai Lodge we described in our last blog, we helped refurbish and expand three original log cabins and built three new homes from the ground up. We are especially proud of our work on the expansive 6,500-square-foot Lindbergh Cabin, now a meticulously restored waterfront home.
This cabin was originally built in the 1880s and in definite need of some modernization when we embarked on rebuilding it in 2007. We restored the original residence and expanded it to include two new two-story wings. All the original hand-hewn logs were restored to their original beauty. To maximize the stunning lake views, we enlarged all the windows and doors. The original maple flooring was carefully refinished, and a massive exterior fireplace – comprised of indigenous chief cliff rock – was dismantled and relocated to adorn an accent wall and three interior fireplaces. The residence today includes a gourmet kitchen and breakfast room, formal dining room, elegant great room, walk-in bar, office, outdoor dining deck, a master suite with a private patio and a full ensuite bathroom for each of its five bedrooms.
Fully furnished with custom finishes, this one-of-a-kind residence now features a lovely entry courtyard and fountain, as well as a full-view lakeside terrace with a commanding vista of both Swan Lake and Swan River stretching all the way to Crane Mountain. The home is accented with beamed vaulted ceilings, rustic timbers and rugged stone throughout. The other homes at Kootenai Estates are similar in style, with traditional log architectural accents that pay homage to the Old Montana West.
The project is still a work in progress and marks the dramatic transformation of “The Kootenai Camp,” a former destination for Anaconda Copper executives and their families into a collection of custom, multi-million dollar homes.
When complete, all the homes – both old and new – will masterfully echo the traditional Adirondack Camp style architecture of this original turn-of-the-century retreat.
Summertime brings to mind one of our most intriguing projects: Kootenai Estates in Bigfork, Montana. Situated on 42 pristine acres on the majestic Swan Lake, this is an idyllic summer getaway in the heart of the Flathead Valley surrounded by a national forest.
This project, now underway, marks the transformation of a once turn-of-the-century retreat for wealthy mining barons into a collection of custom, multi-million dollar homes, and currently consists of the renovated historic lodge, three restored and expanded log cabins, three new homes and an expansive swimming pool and Jacuzzi area, complete with a pool house and open decks. When complete, the property will encompass 42 custom luxury homes (25 of which will be located on Swan Lake, Swan River or Johnson Creek), a fitness center, a small museum and more. Ten of the homes will be masterfully refurbished and enlarged original log cabins; 32 will be brand new.
The story of Kootenai began in 1906 when a pair of Anaconda Copper Company executives – Lewis Orvis Evans and Cornelius “Con” Kelley – acquired 2,700 acres of wilderness in northwestern Montana. Between 1914 and 1928, they created a sprawling vacation resort for friends and family, business associates and company executives.
We embarked upon this project in 2005 with the initial task of restoring the main lodge, built by the Anaconda Copper Company as a hunting lodge. Originally designed by architectural pioneer Kirtland Cutter in the iconic Adirondack camp style of the early 20th century, the storied 14,000-square-foot log lodge had welcomed such venerable guests as Will Rogers, John D. Rockefeller and Charles Lindbergh over the years. Famous Western artist Charles Russell etched playful images into the concrete of the lodge’s ample courtyard.
When we undertook the lodge restoration, each original log had to be restored and stained. The charming original waved glass windows were removed, then carefully repaired and painted. Since some of the building’s original river rock foundation was deteriorating, it had to be carefully rebuilt on the same footprint, using Cutter’s original blueprints to ensure accuracy. In addition, we reconstructed the main staircase, repurposed the original rock maple flooring, refinished the massive central fireplace and installed all new lighting fixtures. The lodge is a gathering spot for residents, and also used for special events and parties, so the interiors had to be comfortable yet appealing. With this in mind, we carefully furnished the lodge with custom window treatment, area rugs, plush furnishings and fine accessories – all carefully selected to reflect the era and style of the lodge.
Now an anchor of the Kootenai Estates community, the lodge is U-shaped and wrapped by refurbished 10-foot deep covered porches with sweeping lakefront views. The interior of the sprawling main hall is characterized by exposed cedar and timbers, soaring 30-foot-ceilings, a restored original billiards table and a grand piano. An adjoining media room – equipped with a 60-inch flat screen television – transports guests to a more modern day era. In the adjacent lounge, a gorgeous bar features glistening copper counter tops.
Our overall approach was to gently blend the past with the present, remaining sensitive to the building’s history, while updating it with the comforts of today.
The lodge has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and offers a beautiful example of turn-of-the-last century rustic log architecture.
Summer has arrived which is a great excuse to freshen up the décor.
With colorful palettes and natural materials, summer interiors evoke a more casual, inviting feel. Warm summer nights and longer sunny days make entertaining more appealing as well.
For these and many other reasons, we recommend a few simple summer decorating ideas:
- Add brighter colors to your color scheme, such as lemon yellow, apple green or tangerine orange. Softer pastels work as well. Instead of repainting all the walls, try some accents such as painting your ceiling a bright color.
- Have two sets of decorative pillows – one for summer; one for winter. Summer pillows should be fresh and fun, with light florals and other patterns.
- Stow away heavy, dark tablecloths. Add a bright table runner for either your coffee or dining room table.
- Reframe personal photos in painted white frames with bright, colorful mats.
- Use slipcovers or decorative throws to bring out more pops of color and brightness.
- Flowers, plants and fresh fruit bring the outdoors in and make your home smell good – and look beautiful. Fill a simple glass bowl with apples or lemons or place fresh flowers in a sparkling vase every few days.
- Create a summer-inspired centerpiece by filling a tray with white sand and seashells.
- For a natural ambiance, try eco-friendly materials like bamboo, hemp and jute area rugs.
- Replace heavy drapes with sheers or bamboo shades for an open, airy look.
- Clean your fireplace well and then place a plant or floral display inside for a decorative touch.
- Cover your existing comforter with a fresh new duvet. Or better yet, store your comforter and use a colorful cotton coverlet instead.
- Rearrange your furniture. It’s surprising just how spacious a room looks after doing so.
- Purchase new and colorful area rugs, which can alter the look of your room by setting the tone and color palette.
- Change out simple things like place mats, candles and other accessories.
- Less is best. Regardless of the season, it’s always nice to come home to a clean, clutter free house.
Most importantly, get outside and experience the playfulness of summer.
As always, feel free to email me or post to our Facebook page with questions, comments and pictures of your design updates.
One of the most exciting projects our firm has had the opportunity to work on in recent years is The Grand Del Mar, a Five-Star, Five Diamond, 249-room resort just north of San Diego.
This resort features an impressive degree of craftsmanship rarely found in buildings today. In fact over a period of two years, 800-plus workers, contractors and craftspeople labored more than one million hours on this ambitious luxury property.
Working with the architectural firm of Altevers & Associates, we took our design cue from turn–of-the-century architectural visionary Addison Mizner, credited with launching the Florida design renaissance in the 1920s. We designed all the interiors, as Altevers created the exterior architecture, often consulting with our team throughout the process on historical details.
With a distinctive Mediterranean motif, the resort’s architecture and design features an exotic mix of Spanish, Portuguese, Moroccan and Venetian elements evoking the grandeur of a historic European hotel.
Mizner viewed architecture as a seamless integration of buildings, décor and landscaping – and this emphasis on melding the indoors and outdoors is apparent at The Grand Del Mar. Interiors and architecture are complemented by lush landscaping – a mix of tropical and indigenous plantings – punctuated by garden fountains, sun-dappled patios and courtyards, terraces and walkways.
Many guests to The Grand Del Mar are under the impression the resort has existed for decades – which is something I love to hear. We worked very hard to develop a timeless appeal unearthing the finest materials as well as sourcing extremely talented artisans, artists and craftsmen from around the world.
Select interior design highlights include:
- Cubic stone hand-carved by a family of four generations in a small town near Verona, Italy. Weighing in at 20 tons, the 30 different types of stone and polished Italian marble include Gallo Cleopatra, Jerusalem limestone and Rojo Alicante.
- More than 2,000 pieces of custom-designed furniture and art (mostly oil on canvas by European artists), with 85% of all furnishings custom-designed. Much of the artwork was commissioned, and many of the frames are exact replicas of ones found in the Louvre or the Cluny Museum in Paris, crafted by a frame maker in Italy.
- More than 25,000 square feet of handcrafted wood floors, Roman pan tile roofing, hand-painted ceiling frescoes on canvas, burled and gilded wood accents, Venetian-plastered walls, hand-hewn wooden beams.
- Over 50 elaborate chandeliers; more than 500 fabrics; vibrant Portuguese glazed tiles; and 20,000 sheets of 23-karat gold – carefully hand applied on ceilings, walls, and wrought iron accents.
- The Elizabeth Capella, an ornate onsite chapel with beautiful Jerusalem limestone and Italian marble flooring; Venetian plastered walls; a high, rusticated wood plank-beamed ceiling; and hand-carved walnut pews.
- A team of 120 carpenters worked 150,000 hours designing, finishing and installing 16 different wood species – including fine walnut, mahogany, olive, alder, sycamore and maple accents – with 35 different finishes.
- Hand-stenciled and painted decorative ceilings, took 24 people three months to complete.
It is extremely unusual to have such a high degree of craftsmanship and extensive number of fine, hand applied finishes – plaster, stone, millwork, tile, wrought iron, etc. – so prevalent on such a large scale. Quite simply, American resorts aren’t often built like this anymore.
Fortunately for guests at The Grand Del Mar, the resort has introduced a series of architectural tours for the summer, which will describe in detail the design, as well as the fine finishes and materials found throughout the resort. If you visit the resort, please let me know your thoughts and share your photos on our Facebook page.
For more information about the resort and the architecture tours, visit www.TheGrandDelMar.com.
I have worked on many intriguing projects throughout my career – from the design of an antique car museum to a rustic 1906 log lodge – but one of the most interesting of late was overseeing the interior design of the broadcast set for San Diego’s newest television station, U-T TV, a station recently launched by San Diego’s daily newspaper, U-T San Diego.
We worked in conjunction with general contractor and longtime colleague Bob Petrossian of Landmark Hospitality Contracting Inc. and partnered with seasoned lighting designers Matt McAdam and Darran Web – veterans of high profile television shows like American Idol.
Not surprisingly, what made this space especially unique was the lighting. Working alongside seasoned Hollywood lighting experts we constructed and designed the first broadcast set to exclusively use LED lighting. LED, light-emitting diode, is a technology that produces light differently from incandescent light resulting in beautiful and dramatic color changing effects produced from a single light source.
Appropriately, the studio’s backdrop includes San Diego iconic images such as Balboa Park, Del Mar horse races, downtown and the beach, all selected from the U-T San Diego photo archives capturing “America’s Finest City” in a multitude of formats. Because the set needed to be fluid and ever-changing, we installed Duratrans light boxes to reflect the many themes of San Diego. Using these methods, we can take a projected scene and throw light at it from behind, appearing “alive,” not fixed.
Since the set is a high-traffic area, we used durable flooring (faux finished by hand to resemble polished onyx marble and black granite), as well as exotic wood veneers, marble and bronze, all accented by our key design component, the specialty LED lighting. Vertical segments at the base of the broadcast set are lit from behind and can be accented with different colors and intensity.
A project not without challenges, our biggest consideration: ceiling height. The studio sits on the third floor of an office building, so height limitations were extreme. We had only 9 ½ feet work with, and we had to drop the ceiling to conceal mechanical equipment.
A space’s design is all about perception by the human eye. In this case, however, we had to consider how the area would be perceived through a camera’s eye, its lens. During the initial design process, we lacked the camera view, so we couldn’t actually see how the set would appear on screen. Talk about a challenge. I had to make my best delicately balanced “guestimate” – thankfully, it worked. For example, I was careful not to use broad expanses of color because other camera shots wouldn’t be able to capture the delineation of the layout.
This was a fast-tracked project using the most cutting-edge equipment available today. Through our extensive research and visits to other Southern California studios, we know that what we have produced at U-T TV is leaps ahead of the industry.
I love that Warren Sheets Design has a repertoire of unique, exciting one-of-a-kind projects that require high levels of creativity and expertise, and this project certainly was no different.
Tell me about your biggest design challenge. What creative steps did you take to overcome?
A historic home in Woodside, a small Northern California town in San Mateo County, is the site of the 2013 Peninsula Volunteers Decorator Show House, which is now open through May 24.
With classic Monterey Colonial architecture, the home features elements from both Spanish Colonial and New England Colonial styles. Homes in the classic California Monterey style – including the Show House – are typically two stories, with a second story balcony with wood or wrought iron balustrades, a low-pitched tiled or shingled gable roof and exterior walls of contrasting materials such as wood, stucco and brick. This type of architecture is traced to an 1837 Monterey, Calif., home built by Thomas Larkin, America’s first and only consul to California.
Originally built in 1938, the Show House is located on property that was once part of a Spanish land grant given to Simon Mezes by the widow of Luis Arguello, an early California governor. W. R. Voorhies was the original architect, and Carter Warr updated the home 20 years ago.
Spanning 11,000 square feet, this beautiful building is situated on 21 acres, surrounded by gardens, stables and majestic views of the countryside. A selection of 20 rooms is styled and decorated by premier Bay Area design firms, among them Warren Sheets Design, Inc.
We have transformed the living room and our designs pay homage to some of the world’s most creative artistic forces. With this in mind, the space has become veritable museum of fine art and artifacts. A select highlight is the room’s focal point: “Trousdale,” a bronze cocktail table fabricated by Paul Ferrante.
Additional fine touches include “Three Ladies,” an unknown artist’s oil on canvas interpretation of a piece by Fernand Leger; an abstract artwork by Linn Thygeson; a satin block L’architect writing desk from Baker Knapp and Tubbs created by French artist Andre Arbus; and a Chantilly white linen drapery fabric from Manuel Canovas. Tying together the past with the present, this room combines elements of classic and contemporary design, mixing energetic hues of orchid pink and peacock blue with classic metallic gold and silver leaf accents.
We are proud to be part of a group of more than 15 noted designers, as well as artists, master gardeners and garden designers, working magic on this beautiful, landmark estate.
While this home showcases the work of many Bay Area top talents and offers a glimpse of California’s colorful architectural history, its most important role is the financial support it will generate for Peninsula Volunteers, which has developed programs, properties and services to support seniors for 65 years. Proceeds will fund the organization’s four major senior programs: Meals on Wheels, Little House Activity Center, Rosener House Adult Day Services and its low income Partridge-Kennedy and Crane Place apartments.
For tickets and information, visit www.penvol.org or call (650) 381-9933. Please let me know if you attend and what you think.