Nuanced Nostalgia

VIEWED FROM THE WATER BELOW, Bottle Bay Ranch ambles upwards across 50 acres of pine trees and pastures like an updated turn-of-the-century homestead. Tucked into rocky terrain overlooking one of North Idaho’s pristine glacial lakes is a 17,000-square-foot home surrounded by guesthouse, office, stables, bunkhouse and numerous outbuildings. 

“When we build,” notes Scott Newhart of Thunder Ranch Design, “we take the essence of a particular style and distill it, then blend it with the setting.”

Nature is their inspiration, says Scott, whose 25-year collaboration with wife, Lynn, includes homes in Hawaii, southern California and their native Wyoming.

“The colors and textures we choose often come from the landscape and the natural colors that surround the homes.”

Outside, for example, locally culled rock with bands of bronze and burnt umber is handfitted to create a timeless, dry stack look in retaining walls and capstones along the infinity pool. Exterior siding painted in rich taupe draws the eye upward to a rusted metal roof against azure sky, alluring in all four seasons.

Inside, angular ledge stone and time-worn river rock distinguish wall treatments, countertops and nine massive wood-burning fireplaces in this four-bedroom, seven-bath home. Walls are salvaged barnwood — the rarer root beer-colored boards on non-weathered sides — and timbers sawed in half, mounted and chinked to resemble old cabins, everything sealed to preserve the patina.

Overhead, tongue-and-groove, hand-rubbed pine ceilings and distressed, painted cabinets by Oregon-based Western Pacific Decorative Arts complement doors made of reclaimed wood. Metal tiles, iron fireplace doors, drawer pulls and copper countertops with steel rivets (from Thunder Ranch’s Forge and Foundry) incorporate the earth-toned palette of the interior rockwork and aged wood.

This method of working,” says Scott, “creates a special flow and congruency from inside to outside,” which local architect Krister Allen, of Straight Line Building Design, ensured over the project’s two-year timeline.

Combined, the architecture, finishes and even furnishings reflect the couple’s passion for horses, ranching, cowboy culture and the rural lifestyle. They also showcase another of the couple’s passions: art. 

Large, curtainless picture windows bring nature’s artful vistas indoors, yet plenty of room is reserved for artwork and both Native American and Western artifacts: saddles, arrows, blankets, elaborately beaded moccasins from Plateau tribes procured by Cisco’s Hunters of the Past. Buck McCain’s Santa Clara Dancers was commissioned specifically for the family room fireplace, while other spaces were designed to accommodate existing pieces. 

Outside the master bedroom, for example, a specially built wall houses a Wyoming statehood flag, flanked by Cree artist Audrey Nanimahoo’s stone grizzly bear. 

Thoughtfully placed modern art adds visual punch yet feels right at home, like the careworn faces emerging in North Idaho photographer Mark Story’s black-and-white photos or rough-hewn ceramic Button by Ryan Mitchell from Coeur d’Alene’s The Art Spirit Gallery.

“Our homes are always designed and built to integrate with art,” says Scott. “We wanted some Western art to maintain the ranch feeling,” he adds, “but we always like contemporary pieces mixed in, which creates the magic.” 

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