“In many ways, I felt like I was building the house for us,” confides interior designer Chloe Redmond Warner of her recent project in Big Sky, Montana, for a pair of discerning clients. (Like Warner, the wife grew up not far from the tony resort town, albeit in more low-key surroundings.)
Warner, who now lives and runs her decorating business, Redmond Aldrich Design, in Oakland, was naturally drawn to the prospect of dreaming up the interiors for a ground-up build not far from her native Missoula, where her parents still reside. But the homeowners, fellow Bay Area residents with two school-age kids, made the commission that much more appealing. “These people are straight-up wonderful, creative, trusting, and funny. And they deserve this little place in the mountains,” she says, correcting herself: “This big place in the mountains.”
That sense of partnership translated into a serene five-bedroom showpiece designed in collaboration with local firm Centre Sky Architecture with construction by Authentic Builders. It features windows so vast and framing views so sublime that certain perspectives may call to mind one of those snowy alpine lairs conceived by A.I. on Instagram. For Warner, the structure made her look at winter in a new light. Instead of “something to battle,” she says, reflecting on her youth, the season became “my pal, and it’s bringing all this softness and quietness.”
When devising any design brief, Warner, an avid reader of novels, starts by conjuring a fictional client, a character who embodies all of the aesthetic principles she means to convey. For this project, her invented muse was a guy who grew up in Montana, she explains, then traveled extensively to Scandinavia and Japan, collected things he loved, and brought them back to a modern mountain idyll. Any severity imposed by architecture would be tempered by cozy seating setups with enveloping silhouettes, plush fabrics, primary colors, warm metals, floral motifs, and vegetal accents. “[Warner has] an architectural mind that brings dimension and purpose to her spaces,” notes the wife. “We appreciated her choice of mixing textures and making spaces feel truly unique.”
Warner’s alchemical touch is on display in the formal dining area, the first space one encounters upon entering the house. There, under 20-foot-high ceilings, a custom Fromental grisaille on silk depicting local flora, fauna, and nearby Lone Mountain (“sweet little place-affirming touches,” notes the designer) serves as a backdrop for larger family dinners. Lit by glowy Roman and Williams Guild pendants over Swedish brass candle sconces, and appointed with deep green leather and dark wood seating, an otherwise cavernous, transitional room becomes a snug dining space conducive to languorous meals.
Elsewhere in the home, that same balancing act between awe-inspiring scale and intimate gathering zones is evident. In one corner of the living area, not far from the wood-lined kitchen, a puzzle table is surrounded by hug-shaped sheepskin chairs that soften the walls of glass just beyond. Nearby, a towering stone fireplace, open on three sides, is brought down to earth by the sumptuous, low-slung sofa, armchairs, and ottomans next door. Art, much of it acquired with the help of San Francisco adviser Caroline Brinckerhoff, plays a major role. In the bedrooms, views through grand picture windows are hardly diminished by familiar touches like a Thos. Moser four-post bed and chunky woven fabrics, smile-inducing bright accent hues, and whimsical moments such as the bunk room’s merino wool “stone” stools.
Summing up the design experience—which, it’s worth noting, survived nearly every peak-pandemic-related challenge imaginable—Warner’s tone turns wistful. “You know that saying about how great clients get great projects? This, for us, is a perfect example of that,” she says. “And I love seeing this Montana girl get a top-shelf project.”