Photo: Joseph Hilliard
Jeff and Malea Higgins adore the Montana landscape — so much so they pulled up their Indiana roots and moved to the beautiful Bitterroot Valley. The views, the wildlife, the people – they love everything about Big Sky Country, so the Higgins settled in the mountains above Stevensville, a sleepy little hamlet that just happens to be recognized as the first permanent settlement in the state. “We chose this property because it had the right combination of existing buildings, a perfect spot for our cabin, a fantastic view and an affordable price,” said Jeff.
With property in hand, it was time to decide what kind of home would suit it. A log cabin fit the bill perfectly, so to put this plan into action, they contacted the company now known as Montana Custom Log Homes, Inc., located in nearby Victor, Montana, to help them design and construct their new dream cabin. They liked the plans and the flexibility the company offered and felt that their customer service was superior to other companies with whom they had spoken.
“We like the look of the consistent-diameter milled log packages. We were able to design and create the exact space we envisioned, including taking advantage of the slope of our mountainside,” explains Jeff. “Our kitchen, dining and living areas flow together, and the stairways frame the high back wall. We also added a walk-out basement to the standard cabin design, which allowed more living space inside and out.”
The living spaces flow out onto upper and lower covered porches that run the whole length of their cabin. Jeff says they use the upper covered porch the most because they love the view toward the valley. “We think it is a great use of all the square footage,” Malea adds.
Jeff and Malea completed the majority of the interior finish work themselves. They stained the log walls first, then set to work on the rest of the cabin. To separate the dining area and kitchen, Jeff finished the back of the hickory base cabinets with a distinct corrugated-metal half-wall to add flash and complement the stainless-steel appliances Malea prefers. Jeff then crafted the kitchen countertops out of pine, staining and sealing them to enhance and protect the beauty of the wood. For the flooring they decided on a dark-stained laminate that was durable and waterproof, so it could stand up to the Montana elements. “We stained the trim to match the flooring and added small shelves above the windows to contrast with the light logs and show them off,” explains Malea. “We love the long logs, so we used open shelving in the kitchen to make them more visible.”
In the bathroom, function meets beauty with custom flooring and a specially designed shower space. The floor was poured concrete that the couple stained and polished by hand. “It is durable, beautiful and cost effective,” says Jeff, who also hung the room’s drywall and installed the plumbing. It took Malea some time to find just the right fixtures, but the square showerhead perfectly enhances the space they envisioned.
The mountains of Montana provided all the inspiration Malea and Jeff needed to complete the cabin’s exterior and decorate their space. They found a concrete company in nearby Hamilton to manufacture the perfect color for the foundation. They applied the faux stone to the perimeter, then built a patio off the front door to accentuate their handiwork. For the cabin’s rustic decor, which features pops of red throughout, Malea scoured local and online sources and, in the process, found the perfect accents for the log stair treads to complete their bear theme.
Built from their heart with love, this small cabin is a shining star in Montana’s Big Sky.
Tour the home:
Square Footage: 1,906
Bedrooms: 2 (including loft)
Log Provider: Montana Custom Log Homes, Inc.