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By Emily Wolfe Explore Big Sky Managing Editor

DENVER, Colo. – Every one of the 13 homes Centre Sky Architecture designed this spring in Montana, Colorado and Arizona is currently under construction – a contrast to recession times, said principal architect Jamie Daugaard, when homeowners often found a reason to postpone projects a year or longer.

Centre Sky was one of three Big Sky businesses listed in Mountain Living magazine’s “Top Mountain Architects and Designers,” alongside Carole Sisson Design and Dan Joseph Architects. More than a dozen Bozeman businesses were also in the annual feature, which the Denver-based publication released Sept. 3.

Daugaard, who has been included five years running, said his office this year received an inquiry from a potential client the day after the release.

Mountain Living focuses on luxury design firms and has been doing this feature since 2006; this year it included 185 architecture firms, 111 interior design firms and 12 design-build firms from around the mountain West. The magazine has 140,000 readers per issue, said Editor-in-Chief Christine DeOrio.

To choose firms, DeOrio says, “We consider everyone who we come in contact with throughout the year, and also those whose work we are familiar with and admire.”

Regarding uptick in the industry, she said firms have sent in more new projects for consideration this year. “We’re certainly hearing that things are picking up. For a while people were laying low and not starting new projects, and if they were doing things it was more remodels.”

Since the recession, Bozeman architect Larry Pearson, also featured, has seen a shift in architecture toward a more contemporary style.

“[We’ve] move from the classic, more ranch-style architecture to a contemporary aesthetic with a simplified use of material, larger and more dramatic use of windows, flat roofs,” Pearson said. “A lot of the classic elements have been opened to some dramatic opportunities.”

Many of Pearson’s clients are now looking for smaller homes than in the past – perhaps 5,000 or 6,000 square feet, he said. “I think that’s very reasonable to go for high quality but less square footage. Environmentally, it’s better and the fiscal expenditures are more controlled.”

Erika Jennings, from Carole Sisson, says that although interior designers are the last to see trickle down from a real estate boom, things are looking up in her shop, as well.

“I definitely feel like people are not afraid to have nice things and buy things again,” Jennings said. “It seems like the fear is gone, and so people are a little more open to having fun… Even the [vacation] rental market, people are sprucing for that market…. Every aspect of our field is ramping up.”

The other Bozeman-area architects included in the Mountain Living feature were Locati Architects and Interiors, Bitnar Architects, Comma-Q Architecture, Faure Halvorsen Architects, JLF & Associates, K.M.A., Inc., Miller Architects, STUDIO.BNA Architects, Van Bryan Studio Architects, Reid Smith Architects, Studio Ryker, Medicine Hat, Inc.

Bozeman interior designers were Abby Hetherington Interiors, Envi Design, Design Associates, Haven Interior Design, Locati Architects & Interiors, Peace Design, Shack Up Studio, Varda Interiors and YS Squared.

“People don’t expect [it], but year after year, we see great work and really creative, forward thinking designers coming out of Montana,” DeOrio said. “You guys are rocking it in Montana.”

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