From Horses to Hos­pi­tal­ity

A Mon­tana cou­ple con­verts an eques­trian med­i­cal barn into invit­ing guest quarters.

Cabin Living - - Contents - story by STACY DURR AL­BERT pho­tos by HEIDI LONG

A Mon­tana cou­ple con­verts an eques­trian med­i­cal barn into invit­ing guest quarters.

If you had stum­bled upon Don and Melissa Hartford’s Mon­tana cabin a few years ago, chances are you wouldn’t have been too im­pressed. While its 600-acre set­ting on the Yel­low­stone River may have daz­zled you, the 1,000-square-foot struc­ture was lit­tle more than an aus­tere build­ing used for the med­i­cal care of horses.

“The pre­vi­ous prop­erty own­ers had a horse sem­i­nar business com­plete with a huge in­door arena, sta­bles and this vet­eri­nary barn,” Melissa ex­plains. “We didn’t plan to have horses here, so we wanted to con­vert the old med­i­cal barn into some­thing more use­ful for our life­style.”

And con­vert it they did. To­day, the invit­ing cabin in Par­adise Val­ley ex­udes com­fort and warmth, pro­vid­ing a per­fect respite from the hec­tic pace of every­day life. A far cry from its util­i­tar­ian past, the cozy cabin now serves as idyl­lic guest quarters on the cou­ple’s sprawl­ing ranch.

“It’s such a great place to un­wind,” says Melissa, who spends the rest of the year in the Mid­west and South­east.

“And the set­ting is ideal — you can re­lax on the porch and hear the gur­gling creek while watch­ing all of the river ac­tiv­ity and en­joy­ing spec­tac­u­lar moun­tain views.”

The idea for the barn con­ver­sion was born when the cou­ple re­al­ized they could use more space to ac­com­mo­date vis­it­ing fam­ily and friends. Though they have am­ple room in their main house on the prop­erty, they liked the idea of cre­at­ing a sep­a­rate, pri­vate cabin with amaz­ing views and a come-on-in am­biance.

To get the project started, the cou­ple turned to Janet Jarvis, AIA, of The Jarvis Group in Ketchum, Idaho. “Not many horse barns are turned into guest suites, so our goal was to turn a rather lack­lus­ter struc­ture into a cozy cabin,” the ar­chi­tect re­calls. “We were ba­si­cally work­ing with the out­side shell of the old vet­eri­nar­ian barn to make the build­ing work for a two-bed­room guest house.”

Given how unique the trans­for­ma­tion was, the process was sur­pris­ingly smooth. Only a few mi­nor is­sues arose. “To add a base to the build­ing, we had to cut the stone to a thin ve­neer to cover a rather ugly foun­da­tion wall,” the ar­chi­tect ex­plains. “It gave the build­ing more stature and grounded it to the land­scape.”

The only other chal­lenge was floor­ing. “Since we were deal­ing with a slab-on-grade con­struc­tion, the ad­di­tion of rus­tic wood floors was a chal­lenge,” the ar­chi­tect shares. “We had to float the wood to pre­vent any mois­ture or nail­ing prob­lems.”

The ac­tual con­ver­sion, which was done by Ja­son Cipri­ani of Cipri­ani Con­struc­tion in Liv­ingston, took just a few months, and the cou­ple was thrilled that the cabin was ready in time for Thanks­giv­ing. Some in­te­rior walls were re­moved to cre­ate an open floor plan that com­bines the liv­ing room, kitchen and din­ing area into one space. A fire­place with a stone slab hearth was added, as well as wood pan­el­ing for all of the walls. Two bed­rooms and a bath were carved out of the space, and a wrap­around deck was also in­cor­po­rated.

Inside, the am­biance is com­fort­able yet stylish, thanks to a bevy of tex­tures and de­tails. “We wanted to cre­ate a place where peo­ple could come on in and put their feet up with­out fear of break­ing any­thing,” ex­plains Melissa. “With kids, grand­kids and pets run­ning around, it didn’t make sense to do any­thing like a French provin­cial style, but we didn’t want longhorn steer ei­ther. The re­sult is some­thing soft and cushy — it looks rus­tic from the out­side, but it’s very com­fort­able

and well-ap­pointed inside.”

The ca­su­ally con­tem­po­rary in­te­rior de­sign was cre­ated by El­iz­a­beth Schultz, ASID, of De­signWorks in Boze­man. “The de­sign is ca­sual, com­fort­able, slightly rus­tic and eclec­tic, a cross be­tween an au­then­tic and mod­ern cabin,” the in­te­rior de­signer ex­plains. “The own­ers are all about com­fort and the idea of ‘ live­able­ness,’ so there are so­fas you can sink into, plus win­dow seats and read­ing nooks filled with pillows.”

One of the cou­ple’s fa­vorite de­sign fea­tures is the out­door wood-burn­ing pizza oven. “It just be­came a fo­cal point for the en­tire ranch, be­cause it’s such a great place to hang out by the river and have beer and pizza,” the ar­chi­tect says.

Whether they’re en­joy­ing al fresco din­ing or just sit­ting out­side en­joy­ing breathtaking views of the Beartooth and Ab­saroka Moun­tains, friends and fam­ily feel very much at home. “We en­joy fam­ily cook­outs and just be­ing to­gether,” says Melissa. “Plus, there’s an old cot­ton­wood tree nearby that the grand­kids say is just right for climb­ing.”

Although Melissa and Don’s kids have af­fec­tion­ately dubbed the cabin “Clark’s Cabin” be­cause they say they feel like the Gris­wold fam­ily on va­ca­tion when they are there, the truth is that the cabin is the ex­act op­po­site of what you’d ex­pect from the dis­as­ter-prone movie fam­ily. In fact, the cabin is so pic­ture-per­fect now that no one would ever be­lieve it was once a sim­ple build­ing ded­i­cated to horses.

LEFT: Col­or­ful area rugs add in­stant cheer to this cabin bed­room, which fea­tures com­fort­able yet stylish fur­nish­ings that align with the rest of the decor. “The cabin is less rus­tic than some I have worked on, and more com­fort­able than oth­ers,” shares in­te­rior de­signer El­iz­a­beth Schultz.

BE­LOW: The cabin boasts am­ple out­door spa­ces, all cap­tur­ing spec­tac­u­lar views of the Yel­low­stone River, and Beartooth and Ab­saroka Moun­tains.

LEFT: A cus­tom tile shower adds a note of sur­prise to the cozy cabin, prov­ing that touches of lux­ury have their place in a rus­tic set­ting after all. The stone pro­vides a nice con­trast to the wood-pan­eled walls.

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