The Guest House
Posted on 03 August 2002
Guest-ready: Four Montana-inspired guest rooms
By Amity K. Moore
Like fish, guests are plentiful in Montana.
It seems everybody who hasnt been here wants to come, and, in-state, those who live on one side of the Continental Divide want to visit friends and family who live on the other. Of course summer sees the largest visitor migration, but Christmas runs a close second.
Montana Living spoke with four homeowners, one each from Missoula, Bigfork, Bozeman and Red Lodge, about their guest rooms and the techniques used to make visitors feel welcome
In Missoula, the homeowners, who wish to remain anonymous, have hosted 12 guests in just over a yearsome of whom have stayed as long as 10 days. Privacy becomes important, the couple says.
They want the room to be as accommodating as possible so guests will feel like its their space. "Weve made the rooms comfortable with seating areas, big closets and dressers, so guests can unpack," says the lady-of-the-house.
Plus, she's added some intimate touches, like hanger covers with filled sachet pockets, to keep clothes smelling clean and fresh.
And she made the bed linens, tossed pillows and curtains pictured in the room at left. On the inside of the closet, she also painted flowers that match the duvet fabric. "The women have really noticed that its not just a plain, old white closet," she says.
Her special care complements the rooms cozy cabin feel thats communicated by the log walls. Plus, the view of the Mission Mountains and the ponderosa pines, she says, is undoubtedly Montana.
The owners of the Bigfork home agree that views are important in making guests feel like they are in Montana. Thats part of the reason why the couple, who also prefer to remain unnamed, had huge picture windows installed in their family guest suite. The suite is two-part, with children snuggled into quintessentially Montana lodgepole pine bunk beds in a loft area, and parents cozy under a quilt in an adjoining room.
The homeowners like the idea of putting a family together not only for the purposes of being close to little ones who might need an extra hug in the middle of the night, but also so the family has a space to which to retreat together. ML interviewed the wife.
"When you have guests in your home, you give up a bit of your privacy," she says. Its nice for guests and for hosts to have some quiet time, and she adds that they enjoy taking that time in the morning.
So she supplies a coffee tray, complete with chilled creamer, sugar, coffee and eatables, and places it on a dresser in the loft area.
Her actions translate to hospitality, the care thats taken to make her and her husbands guests comfortable by ensuring the bathrooms stocked with shampoos and soaps, that the beds are comfortable and the pillows are just right. Her desire is to make visiting families feel like theyre in a nice, small hotelone thats homey. To that end, she and her husband have combined mementos from throughout their lives with distinctively western accessories.
"I wanted a mellow western look," she says, "so that my pieces from my 57 years would still fit nicely here." Thus, she has furniture and decorative pieces from her Mexican grandmother mixed with American antiques from her husbands family, mixed with Ralph Lauren linens and log accents. "I wanted the rooms to reflect our past, and be colorful, cheerful and reflective of our choice to retire in Montana."
Patrick Stranahan, owner of the Flaming Arrow Ranch in Bozeman, didnt have much choice about capturing a Montana feel. He says, "People tend to come into the rustic log building and say This is Montana to us."
His ranch has been part of Big Sky culture since 1935 and was built as a center for Western culture during the post Arts-and-Crafts movement. In fact, he and his interior designers from Bozeman-based Helen Kent and Associates wanted to stay away from traditionally western dcor, like log beds. They succeeded in the room at right, in which a French Provincial-style bed is the centerpiece. "It seems to complement the [rooms] heavy, rugged construction," Stranahan says.
Other unique features of the room include the curtains and Roman shades that cover the French doors and offer privacy, and the vintage furniture that came from an early Yellowstone National Park hotel.
Likewise, Margaret Murphy of Red Lodge says the furnishings in her guest room contribute to its Montana sensibility. An antique walnut bed is her guests (most of whom come from in-state) favorite she says, unsure exactly why, other than "its soft with lots of pillows and a duvet."
Accents like the wrought-iron lights hung on the wall over the bed, oil paintings of Montana scenes and a buckskin pillow edged in fringe and braiding further evoke a western feel. The log walls and cedar-beam ceilings remind her of her early days on an Absaroka ranch where she was raised.
Apparently it proved the perfect getaway for her granddaughter, who spent her honeymoon in the room.