“I bet you will like this one,” says an enthusiastic John Seelye, president of Big Sky Woodwork & Design, Inc. We hop in his truck parked in front of the company’s office building and head towards Bill and Susie Friedman’s vacation home.
Once we park in the back, the house looks majestic and it is: 9400 square feet of imposing solid splendor. But it’s by walking to the front that the lofty, refined structure strikes you the most. “The whole idea was to have such a massive house maintain an intimate feeling,” says architect Bayliss Ward of Bayliss Architects Company, who worked with Seelye on designing the Friedman’s house.
“We needed tons of glass to provide the majestic views the house has.” The Spanish Peaks and Lone Peak are seen through the lodge’s large windows. The Friedman’s log home was designed with family and friends in mind. A lot of space is dedicated to guests. Two spacious, cozy master bedrooms and adjacent bathrooms stand ready for lucky friends.
“ Friedman was overwhelmed by how much the results of our work matched his vision,” explains Ward. “Certainly working with John and his company facilitated my own work too. There was great communication, often not very common between architect and builder. It was definitely a team-deal.”
“This is what I’d call the typical Montana lodge,” says Seelye. Our tour began with the vast garage. Following Seelye around feels like an interminable architectural enthrallment. The first steps inside the house promise a classic western, rustic but elegant style. Meandering inside this posh-but-cozy log home instead reveals a mysterious European Gothic allure, accented with earthy, colorful details, such as large paintings from local Native American artists, strings and bows and dream catchers. Miniature Indian teepees enclose lamps down the stairs to the basement, forming curious arrow figures when lit.
“Follow me and step back for second,” instructs Seelye once at the basement. As I curiously let him set whatever is going to be revealed before my eyes, Seelye acts with the eagerness and suspense of a magician about to burst a rabbit out of his hat. “Voila,” he says as he gestures a welcome with his arms. I’m invited to step towards dim, flickering orange lights coming from two lanterns placed beside the opened door, I feel transported in time and space, surrounded by a thousand stacked bottles of wine on the surrounding walls of a perfectly recreated 17th century European tavern. The trick was that an attentive Seelye just learned of my interest in wine and history, just as before he learned that the Friedman’s priorities in life were good food, wine and quality time with family and friends, before building their Montana lodge.