Livingston, Montana

Site Size: 17,000 acres

Project Size: 2,800 square feet

Program: The Cookhouse is the latest project in an ongoing renovation of an abandoned homestead in rural Montana. Over the last 15 years, the clients have renovated and expanded a number of structures for a working ranch and family vacation compound. The 2,800-square-foot Cookhouse is meant to be the hub of ranch activity; its kitchen and living areas are large enough to accommodate extended family dinners and community gatherings.
The architects were charged with designing a structure that would complement—but not overwhelm—the neighboring buildings. The severe climate in south-central Montana was a major concern; temperatures can fluctuate by as much as 115 degrees and 75-mile-per-hour wind gusts are not uncommon.

Solution: At one-and-a-half stories, the house, clad in stained wood, complements the other clapboard structures. The orientation of the house is east-west so the narrow ends point into the wind, while an overhang shields the wrap-around porch. Dormers in the steep, gabled roof provide additional light and ventilation.

In planning the living spaces, Fernau + Hartman organized the house, completed in September 2012, around a central axis containing a long gallery for the client’s collection of Western art. On the first floor, a mudroom, pantry, kitchen, dining, and living spaces branch off the central gallery, while a master bedroom and children’s room extend off the gallery on the second floor. The axis also connects the entire house to a thermal chimney projecting from the roof, which keeps the house cool in the summer. In the winter, geothermal heat and wood stoves warm the house.

Fernau + Hartman Architects
2512 Ninth St. No. 2
Berkeley, CA 94703
t: 510-848-4480


Completion Date: September 2012

Gross square footage: 2,800 sq.ft.

Total construction cost: Cost withheld

Owner: Name withheld

Fernau + Hartman Architects
2512 Ninth St. No. 2
Berkeley, CA 94703
t: 510-848-4480

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Architect of record: Richard Fernau, FAIA (Registered Architect, Principal-in-charge)

Design Team:
Richard Fernau (Registered Architect) and Laura Hartman (Registered Architect)
Laura Boutelle (Registered Architect) and Andrew Ballard

Bridger Engineering (Civil/Structural)
Energy 1, LLC (MEP)

Landscape: Blake Nurseries

Lighting: Anna Kondolf Lighting Design

General contractor: North Fork Builders, Inc.

© Richard Barnes Photography

Renderer(s): Bryan Allen (Fernau + Hartman Architects)

CAD system, project management, or other software used:
Vectorworks, Sketchup, Modo



Structural system
Wood framing

Exterior cladding
Stained Inland Red Cedar siding

Standing seam copper

Corrugated Corten roofing over SIPS

Wood frame: Marvin

Custom wood doors: Great Northern Woodworks

Other wood doors: Simpson

Doors: Baldwin, Crown Industrial, Richards Wilcox, Krown Lab

Pulls: Sugatsune

Interior finishes
Cabinetwork and custom maple woodwork: Great Northern Woodworks

Paints and stains: Benjamin Moore, Cabot, Farrow & Ball

Douglas fir stained wood paneling
Integral Color plaster walls

Special surfacing:
Concrete counters – Big Horn Architectural Concrete

Floor and wall tile:
Heath Classic Field tile at showers

Special interior finishes unique to this project:
Reclaimed douglas fir flooring – Montana Reclaimed Lumber Co.

Custom extendable dining table by Fernau + Hartman Architects

Interior ambient lighting: Iris, Translite Sonoma, Stonco

Downlights: Louis Poulsen

Task lighting: Artemide, Alkco, Bartco, Juno

Exterior: Louis Poulsen, Cooper

Toto, Grohe, Kohler, MTI, Chicago

Energy management or building automation system:
Thermal chimney evacuates hot air through operable windows, with independently operable fans (by Tamarack) that are automatically sealed off by insulated covers when not in use.

Ground source heat pump for hot water & radiant heat, with outdoor reset system that automatically supplies cooler water or shuts off when outdoor temperatures are higher.

Ceiling fans - Modern Fans
Radiators - Runtal

Other unique products that contribute to sustainability:
Fuel-efficient, EPA certified wood stoves – Rais stoves