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Alpine Escape

Anh-Minh Le | January 18, 2017 | Story Interiors National

Ski-house decor often conjures images of moose heads above the fireplace and paintings depicting animals in the wild, not to mention an excessive amount of pinecone- and log-themed accessories. But interior designer Kelly Hohla was determined to avoid such cliches in the Big Sky, Mont., seasonal retreat she devised for her clients, a young family that resides in Hillsborough. “For us,” says the wife, “a country vibe just wasn’t authentic.” So Hohla infused their 4,500-square-foot abode with her trademark bold patterns and colors for a decidedly more rened than rustic look. “I wanted to contrast that old mountain-home feel,” Hohla explains. “The architecture is so strong with it, why add more layers of that on?”

The owners—the husband works in investment management, and the wife is a stay-at-home mother to their son and two daughters—knew they could trust Hohla and her taste implicitly: Their relationship dates back seven years; this was the second residence they worked on together, and they are currently collaborating on a third. “They wanted a ski house to get away to with friends and family—something that is comfortable first and stylish second,” says Hohla. “I saw no reason why we couldn’t have both in equal amounts!”

The makeover is even more impressive when you consider that Hohla’s San Francisco-based team did it all in six months—remotely.

“We completed this project in a very short amount of time, but still managed to pay attention to the small and important details,” says Alana Dorn, who served as Kelly Hohla Interiors’ project manager for the residence. “This was very important to us, as we wanted our clients to walk into a warm and inviting space that felt like home.”

Among the clients’ priorities was accommodating as many guests as possible (according to the wife, they’ve had 18 people in the home at one time). In addition to the dwelling’s four bedrooms—which includes two appointed with bunk beds—Hohla created more sleeping quarters by integrating Murphy beds in a playroom and in an office. The double-height living, dining and kitchen area, along with a downstairs media room that includes a bar, are conducive to large gatherings too.

In the living room, the expansive windows overlook the picturesque terrain. There’s an absence of window treatments because, Hohla posits, “we couldn’t see any reason ever why we would want them to be blocked.” A Michael Gregory painting from John Berggruen Gallery surmounts the stone-clad replace (“The foggy valley just has a quiet and calming feel to it,” says Hohla). Teal figures prominently as an accent in the space, courtesy of a custom leather-and-walnut ottoman on casters and a pair of armchairs, both fabricated by Edward Ferrell + Lewis Mittman. The latter are topped with purple-and-aqua wool plaid pillows that add an extra dose of visual punch. A Hudson sofa done in a gray plaid allows for comfortable lounging. And the scheme’s steely hue carries over into the adjacent dining room, where a BDDW walnut table with leaden tones is flanked by chairs upholstered in a Holland & Sherry gray-and-purple houndstooth. “It’s not your typical colors for houndstooth, but it reads as neutral,” Hohla notes. “When you’re sitting in it, you really see the detail and how it ties into the living room.”

Each of the bedrooms seems to have its own personality. For instance, a custom wool check headboard, set against a branch-themed Trove wallpaper, anchors the crisp and contemporary master. The photography is a nod to the locale: Lee Friedlander’s images, from his America by Car series, were snapped during his travels through Montana. “The Cloud chandelier by Apparatus appears as if it is floating, and contributed to the light and ethereal vibe in this room,” says Dorn. A guest bedroom exudes a masculine aesthetic with a tufted headboard of Hohla’s own design, a wrought-iron chandelier from Troy Lighting and a Phillip Jeffries wallpaper punctuated with rows of rivets. Elsewhere, a small space already outfitted with wooden bunk beds was brightened with another Trove design on the walls and ceiling, this one with a moth motif that most observers mistaken for butterflies. For Hohla, the moths lend a subtle edginess to the room.

Another eye-catching design choice can be found in the media room, which Hohla furnished with a custom gray sectional and hair-on-hide zebra-print chairs from Coup d’Etat. “They were the only things in the house that we didn’t reupholster,” the interior designer says of the latter. Chartreuse accents like the trim on the ottoman/coffee table and the throw pillows provide cohesion with a neighboring bar area, where the stools are covered in a yellow-green leather. The home’s most vibrant palette, however, was earmarked for the playroom: Pinks and reds pop against blues and grays. “I think kids’ rooms should be whimsical and a little wacky,” says the client. “Kelly knows we’re willing to go out on a limb for kids’ rooms.” Hence, a Jean de Merry spiky light fixture with a custom rosy finish—“It really turned up the volume on this unique chandelier,” says Dorn—hangs above a turquoise sofa by Holly Hunt. Patterns in shades of coral appear on the drapes, pillows and throws.

For Hohla, the one-of-a-kind elements in the home—the artwork, vintage finds and custom designs—are her favorites. “That’s what makes a room come alive,” she says, “the pieces that aren’t in anyone else’s house.” At some point during the project, the contractor remarked to her: “I’m not really seeing stuff like this here.” A smile crosses Hohla’s face as she recalls the conversation. “It was fun trying to find that balance—achieving an outdoorsy feeling without everything being what you would expect in a mountain home.”

Originally published in the January issue of Silicon Valley

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