This stunning vacation cabin for a family of five was designed by Dan Joseph Architects in Headwaters Camp, Big Sky, Montana. The goal in creating Headwaters Camp was to create a warm, charming and relaxing home for the family to come home to after spending the day doing activities in the mountains. Interior design firm, Carole Sisson Designs, wanted to give the home a camp-like feel, infusing texture and warmth into the space by using scrubbed painted finishes as well as rawhide and leather accents. Incorporating recycled pieces into the design from local antique stores created a lived-in feel, as if the home had existed for 100 years. The intention was also to create low-impact, energy efficient living without compromising beauty or comfort. The 1,900 square foot cabin is nestled on a sprawling 22 acres with two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Upon entrance to the cabin, it is apparent that a welcoming retreat waits, with a cozy, intimate atmosphere of a cherished family camp. Reclaimed materials are integrated throughout the design to maintain the rustic feel, from old railroad as coat racks to Montana and Wyoming snow fences. The open kitchen, living area and small dining nook provides ample space for entertaining, even allowing room for a pool table and a small home office beneath the staircase. The master bedroom retreat has been designed like a small cabin with its high, steep-pitched ceiling and barnwood walls. The master bath boasts a shower with a river rock drain and a large boulder that is nestled within. A beautiful handmade antler staircase leads up to a loft area with two twin beds for the boys and an antique gate leads to the daughter’s bedroom. A wall of small windows features a comfortable sitting area beneath, for the children to read or play.



The cozy living area features ceiling beams made from standing dead trees found in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley, reclaimed fir flooring, as well as a LEED-certified fireplace with airtight glass doors, local moss rock called Willow Creek and a fully insulated chimney.



Hand-forged steel straps around the ceiling beams add another Western material to the mix, while hand-peeled logs frame the vaulted ceiling.

The floors in the kitchen are iron slate. A recycled antique faded green hutch adds a splash of color to the kitchen. The picture window above the sink frames one of the family’s favorite ski runs on nearby Pioneer Mountain.

Custom built-in drawers add efficiency to the master bedroom, while old barnwood walls and a steeply pitched ceiling give the room a cabin-like feel. The door on the far wall leads to a small creek that flows through the property.



The rustic master bathroom sink was converted from a large antique wooden Indonesian bread bowl, complying with the family’s wishes to keep new materials to a minimum. The barn door seen in the mirror is constructed from reclaimed wood and metal.

This barn houses the family’s five horses. The roof is made of metal reclaimed from nearby ranches in Montana and Wyoming.



The setting around the house includes old-growth forest, streams and a horse pasture. There are also outdoor trails for mountain biking, horse riding, snowshoeing, skiing and fishing.

A large part of the construction is this man-made pond, part of a system of four ponds on the property. With a 20-foot depth, it is used as a geothermal mass to heat the home in the winter, using very little energy.

Photos: Audrey Hall