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Although it feels a bit like he's sitting in a snow globe, Charles Klasson says when it snows, it's silent. And that is the point.

Klasson's business world revolves around diagnosing and treating cancer, so he built this Bear Canyon beauty as a sort of personal retreat, a place to get away and recharge.

“I'm always glad to get away,” he said. “Sit up here and meditate, put my fly rod in the stream, walk around the property and commune with nature.”

The house was designed and built to fuse with its surroundings, and the melding of nature with structure is evident both externally and internally. For example, the wood on the extra-long eaves closely matches the color of the bark on the surrounding trees. The roof is metal and rusting naturally, producing a reddish-brown patina, and there are very few lights on the outside of the house to ensure a very small light footprint. The internal lighting makes the house look spectacular at night, but it stays inside and is visible only through the windows.

To tighten up the house, the walls were built with staggered frame construction (so there are no studs that go from the outside to the inside, eliminating cold transfer) and then infused with high-gauge insulation. The bounty of colossal, triple-pane windows provides both transparent insulation and stunning views in every direction.

“There is no room on the walls for artwork really, because the artwork is the blending of nature with the house – no matter where you go in the house, I'm bringing the outside in,” Klasson said. “And, the ‘artwork' is always changing with the sun and seasons. Every day it's a new picture and you never know what it's going to be. You can't go anywhere in the house and not see nature.”

Klasson's instruction to the contractors was to build a house that would last 100 years and make it incredibly energy efficient. To that end, “lots of different local characters gathered to make it happen.” It is robust with custom, hand-worked timber, iron, tile, and stone. It blends rustic with Mediterranean and is even medieval in places. Klasson's fiancée, Jane, said, “When I first saw the place I thought, wow, this is like a Montana monastery. A Montana, Moroccan monastery.”

Zen and feng shui principles informed all of Klasson's decisions and his concern for the resulting energy of the home. The 30-foot ceiling in the great room presented a special challenge since the expanse sucks all the energy too far upward for comfort. To remedy this, lower hanging, custom iron chandeliers handcrafted by Tom Holcomb of Sore Elbow Forge provided a “false ceiling,” and painter Loretta Domaszewski, utilizing a lazure clorwash technique with multilayered earth pigments, helped draw the energy back down by painting lighter at the top of the wall and gradually getting heavier at the bottom.

Overseeing the two-year project was Klasson's brother, David Klasson, owner of Klasson Relocation and Destination Services, a company specializing in property development and estate management. Besides enlisting extraordinary local craftsmen for the myriad interior details, David also reconfigured the mountainside to erase scars left behind by decades-old logging activities. He was awarded grants from MSU Extension to address hazardous fuel reduction (they removed about 3,000 beetle killed trees, many of which were then used in the construction of the house), and from Gallatin Valley Land Trust focused on erosion control and vegetation management, coincidentally resulting in improved wildlife habitat.

“Dave has really done a tremendous job,” Klasson said. “This property blends heaven and earth, bringing nature into the house with all these open windows and huge ceilings, and the artistry of everything going on. And there's always something: the bear cubs in the spring, the elk and deer in the rut in the fall; nature is always playing out its majesty.”

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