By Jamie Daugaard
Published Aug. 17, 2011

Social and financial changes in our
culture are causing an evolution in
the style and substance of the American
mountain home. Many people are
finding less can definitely be more in
both the expression and size of new
Design details often have the most
impact. Done well, these are clean,
unobtrusive, useful, and subtly
carried throughout the rest of the
design. These vary from a structural
connection detail, to variously sized
and expressed recessed niches for artwork
or firewood, to a backlit lighting
element guiding up the driveway
and into and through a house. Details
can make even the smallest of homes
rich with character.
The trend in new construction is to
decrease the square footage. Most
new and vacation homes now are
about two-thirds the size of what
they were before the recession. This
has positive effects, including decreasing
heating, cooling and lighting
load, and minimizing the impact on
the surrounding environment. Increased
construction and utility costs
and an awareness of sustainability are
also encouraging this change.
Geothermal heating and cooling
is another movement that works
well in Southwest Montana due to
the temperate climate. This system
is low maintenance, reliable and
has a long lifespan. Other sustainable,
low-input systems like solar
energy are also growing in popularity.
Solar technology’s increased
efficiency and integration into
building materials and systems like
window glazing and shingles has
made it a viable and non-intrusive
solution that doesn’t dominate the
style of a house.
The new design tendency is becoming
more contemporary, while remaining
within the context of mountain
style: Clean lines and textures,
lower-slope roofs, and a balanced
combination of materials characterize
it. Natural elements such as wood and
stone accented with metal, salvaged
and reused items recall and celebrate
our rich mountain history.
Traditional materials are also being
used in new ways. Large and multiple
windows with low or no-profile
trim and minimal mullions, open
floor plans, sweeping celebrated
staircases, and exposed structure are
a few interior elements that create a
light, airy and honest impression.
This new regional mountain style
includes elements of sustainability
and independent living integrated
into simple yet full and connected design.

Jamie Daugaard, principal of Centre Sky Architecture, received his B-Arch and M-Arch from Montana State University. Sustainability is deeply rooted in his work, which is mostly located in mountain regions with offices in Denver, Colorado, and Big Sky, Montana. If you would like to comment on this article or would like to learn more about another topic, you can contact him at or (406) 995-7572.