Mother Earth Living


Good Neighbors: A Natural Home on Montana's Flathead Lake

Nestled into the hillside overlooking Flathead Lake, this Montana home welcomes friends of all kinds.



By hiring a neighbor's excavating company, the homeowners minimized truck fuel use. And instead of blasting through bedrock, they moved the house 60 feet to softer ground. Strategically placed plants and boulders make the home look tucked into the landscape.
Photography by Michael Shopenn
A view of Flathead Lake enlivens the spacious kitchen. A local Amish woodworker built the pine kitchen cabinets, and Mary stressed and finished them with natural-oil stains, then cut rusty metal panels to decorate their fronts. She carved birds and animals into scarred spots in the kitchen wood.
Photography by Michael Shopenn
A see-through fireplace, topped by a found-log mantle, warms the 6,000-pound hearth stone found on the property. The stone retains warmth and releases it slowly into both the main room and the bedroom. The rough-sawn kiln-dried beams are locally milled and left in their natural state to eliminate toxic stains and sealants.
Photography by Michael Shopenn
Mary’s son Andrew designed the doorway mosaic, which is created with leftover tile remnants, broken chunks of granite and onyx.
Photography by Michael Shopenn
Mary and James take all necessary precautions when enjoying the fire pit on their green roof. Mary’s son is a firefighter, so they know the rules. The garden is always well-hydrated, and the stone patio surround reduces fire risk.
Photography by Michael Shopenn
Many of the plants in the landscape are native species, either bought locally or given to Mary by fellow gardeners.
Photography by Michael Shopenn
Originally carved from local stone to be a planter, the rectangular bathroom sink also features antique bird handles and uses bent copper tubing for the water spouts. Over the hand-troweled plaster walls, Mary applied yellow-ochre, water-based glaze.
Photography by Michael Shopenn
The master suite features a shower bordered by a dramatic log found nearby. James rescued the granite trim from a fabricator’s pile.
Photography by Michael Shopenn
Mary and James recoated a plain white tub with a truck-bed liner so it would look more like stone and have a safe, non-slip surface. Water trickles over a flat stone into the romantic tub-for-two.
Photography by Michael Shopenn
The master suite’s open floorplan includes a see-through fireplace that leads into the main room. For a spa-like feel, the bedroom is open to the soaking tub and walk-in shower.
Photography by Michael Shopenn
Mary and James love their handmade home’s personalized, earthy feel.
Photography by Michael Shopenn











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