Montana Modern Style Makes An Appearance in Afton

Everything from this home’s site to its stone landscaping was meant to bring a little bit of the west to Minnesota

Photos by Spacecrafting

With reclaimed wood from Wisconsin and stones hand-selected from Montana, the exterior and landscaping of this home would fit right into a western setting, just as its homeowner wanted.

The client was clear: His new home on 40 wooded acres near Afton needed to reflect “everything Montana,” says Rick Hendel, president and owner of Wayzata-based Hendel Homes—at least on the outside. To achieve this, the 5,500-square-foot home was sited over a creek bed, and a new waterfall feature feeds a man-made trout pond. Every stone around the pond and natural landscaping was hand-selected by the client during trips to Montana as well, for a total of five semi loads that were brought back (some of the stone was also used for the dramatic fireplace inside). The home’s exterior completes the picture, showcasing reclaimed wood from a snow fence in Wisconsin and a bonderized steel and metal roof.

Whether the floor-to-ceiling windows showcase the beautiful 40-acre property the house sits on, the pond, waterfall, or even some of the home’s own wooden siding, you can’t help catching a glimpse of nature as you explore the interiors.

With the main entrance situated over the waterfall, walls of floor-to-ceiling glass that overlook the pond and woods, and a rustic material palette, the interior was designed to bring the outside in while being sleek and contemporary. (And if the call of the wild is too much to resist, the owner, an avid fly fisher, has multiple access points to fresh air, including a walkout off his lower-level office to enjoy some secluded moments in nature.)

The office features an area rug, accent chair, and wall hanging above the window that add a distinctly Southwestern vibe to the space.

Wall niches and a long gallery hall were designed to display the owners’ collection of Southwest-inspired artwork. “The views are panoramic throughout the house,” says James McNeal of James McNeal Architecture and Design in Plymouth. “The whole idea was when you’re not looking out the windows to the waterfall, pond, and woods, you’re looking at art.”

Upon entering the home, a bridge over the waterfall leads to a screen porch with a steel trellis that connects the private and public areas. White oak floors lead you to the couple’s master suite on one side of the home, with his office and an exercise room down a spiral staircase below. On the other side are the main living areas and kitchen, which features custom clean-lined, clear alder cabinetry and a hidden pantry.

Even the kitchen island, large as it may be, ensures sightlines are uninterrupted.


The focus of most rooms, of course, is the landscape. An open steel staircase leading to the kids’ bedrooms upstairs ensures the eyeline is unimpeded. Walls of glass allow for expansive views of all the property’s assets: the woods, the trout pond, and the saltwater swimming pool. “The pool is straight-edged and modern compared to the rustic informality of the trout pond,” adds Angela Liesmaki, a principal designer at JMAD.

“Designing and realizing this house was such a fun process,” says McNeal. “Together, the teams worked hard to create this work of art, which would definitely be at home in the mountains of Montana.”

Home Details

  • Architect: James McNeal Architecture and Design
  • Builder: Hendel Homes
  • Home Location: Afton
  • Square Footage: 5,500
  • Bedrooms: 4
  • Bathrooms: 5
  • Style: Rustic contemporary

Tour this home on Midwest Home‘s Virtual Tour here.

No posts to display