View and vision

Owners of Ranch Club set sights on creating luxury community in wide open spaces

Written by LORI GRANNIS for the Missoulian
Photographed by LINDA THOMPSON of the Missoulian

Sunlight pours into John and Colleen Powers' home, through windows that frame the heart of the valley beyond.

The view is what first inspired the couple, who own the Ranch Club, to begin the painstaking process of carefully crafting a community of luxury club lodge homes that will eventually sit at the edge of 340 acres of rolling hills and an 18-hole links-style golf course off Mullan Road in Missoula.

"It's one of the few (local) places where you see wide open spaces. You don't see those in Grant Creek, in the Rattlesnake, or in Miller Creek," says Colleen Powers.

"If you think about it, there are really only a few places in town where you can see all the way from Sleeping Woman Peak to Snowbowl, to Mount Jumbo and Sentinel, (over) to Blue Mountain," says John Powers.
Ranch Club co-owner Colleen Powers sits in the living room of a new 4,800-square-foot model home, part of the vision of a community of luxury club lodge homes.

The couple, who purchased the course and adjacent land from Washington Corp. three years ago, say they never realized just how stunning these views actually were until they began to spend time here.

"I think it's absolutely remarkable - you just don't capture views like this in many places," she says.

On the home's exterior, big beams meld Western style with Craftsman angles. Inside, it's a world apart - of Parisian elegance and simplicity and American creature comforts: a craft room, a wine cellar and a state-of-the-art media room for the latest in toy-tech gadgetry.

In the home's great room, formidable stacks of limestone bricks form the main fireplace - one of four in the home - its mantle a well-worn sinker log pulled from the Blackfoot River at the Bonner sawmill site. It holds a bleached-white deer skull and antlers perched high. At first glance, it's a well-known icon of Western design. Upon closer inspection, this trophy is more metaphor than icon.

This whimsical white faux rendition is composite, just one of many playful points of view courtesy of interior designer Kim Arnot.

As lead designer for the high-end lodge homes, Arnot, who also owns Red Rooster Trading in Missoula, spent the better part of a year fitting this 4,800-square-foot model with dozens of details. Some are pure polish, influenced by European jaunts. Still others lend either staunch practicality or flights of fancy.

All reflect Arnot's proclivity for melding classic technique with paradoxical and quirky elemental flourishes.

Turn-of-the-century push-button switchplates lend a stylish but pragmatic air to rooms just beyond 8-foot-tall solid alderwood doors.

A slick, elegant aesthetic emerges, from the master suite's stainless steel fireplace to ceramic tiles in the master bath, embossed to emulate horn-backed alligator hide. The ultra-modern filler above a stand-alone tub delivers a blast of bath water from the ceiling, while the barrel-vaulted marble shower ceiling was fashioned after Colleen Powers' favorite hotel: London's Dorchester Hotel.

"It's a great selling point that someone is looking out for you in all of these small details," says Powers. For that, she says, her longtime friend brings enormous value to the project.
Adjacent to the 18-hole championship golf course at the Ranch Club sits the model home.

Arnot, who has fashioned residential and commercial interiors in western Montana for more than a decade, also introduced the couple to renowned Kalispell architect Nick Fullerton.

Fullerton, a regular fixture in Architectural Digest, helped shape the Powers' concept for the Montana exteriors the couple say they wanted the lodges to have, then fashioned floor plans with flow and function not routinely found in area homes this size.

"It's the kind of place that people say they come here to buy, or even see, and can't," says Powers of the rugged Western exterior that features traditional Craftsman gallows brackets.

Fullerton's original homes and lodge renovations can be seen throughout Montana and beyond, and have garnered coveted Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design platinum certifications, and sustainability and smart growth building nods.

The smallest of these lodges is a 2,700-square-foot home featuring a main floor and basement, beginning at $950,000. A 3,300-square-foot midsize lodge features main and upper floors, while this 4,800-square-foot model is slated to be the community's largest.
Many of the home's bathrooms feature modern fixtures mixed with an earthy palette.

Colleen Powers ushers a tour across hewn fir floors stained a custom color, past stainless steel Wolf and Subzero kitchen appliances, and up the stairs to a family room and den with yet another sweeping view of God's country.

More than a bucolic escape situated five miles from the city's center, what John and Colleen Powers hope potential home buyers will feel here is a real sense of community.

In addition to the 18-hole championship course, planned amenities include a fitness facility, a pool area, and a fully operating social event barn for private gatherings.

Golf enthusiasts will find a haven. Purchase includes a waiver of the club's normal $7,500 initiation fee, and a full year of complimentary monthly membership dues.

For those who don't drive and putt, the community's social club membership fee, and a year of dues, will be waived.

"We think it's the kind of community that is a safe place for families, and so much more than just a series of next-door neighbors," says Colleen Powers.