Vote for our 2024 Brand Ambassador Today! →
Now Reading
Tour This Montana Homestead House

Tour This Montana Homestead House

Alyson Dorr homestead kitchen

Editor's Note: Today we have Alyson Dorr sharing with us a renovation she did on a Montana homestead house near her own home outside Glacier National Park. Alyson was one of our 2020 Brand Ambassador finalists.

Alyson Dorr homestead bedroom with offwhite carved bedframe
Original wood floors and beadboard ceilings were uncovered in this south bedroom, which lacked a closet. We installed an antique door from the Shops at Station 8 for a pretty antique accent. The bed frame was a budget Facebook Marketplace find.

When we caught wind the neighbor was listing his house, it didn’t take much discussion for my husband Casey and I to jump at the chance. The pastured four-acre parcel is now space for the horse we’d been promising our youngest daughter.

Alyson Dorr homestead horse
The four-acre parcel, the remainder of the original family homestead, is the perfect pasture for our daughter’s new best friend. Love this shot? Order a print of it here.

The wide-open views of the adjacent protected waterfowl area, nearby farmland and uninhibited mountain vistas are a spectacular setting. Plus, we really love the collection of towering Ponderosa Pine trees clustered around the south end of the property. We cringed at the thought someone might cut them down.

Alyson Dorr's Montana homestead dining room with black and white wallpaper
To keep to our budget, we renovated without moving walls. The long living room wall is constructed out of stacked logs). To define the dining space and add depth, we added a whimsical paper (Magnolia Homes Fox & Hare by York Wallcoverings).

While the land is lovely, the little house itself seemed uninspired and outdated. A simple, small structure, we figured we would slap some fresh paint on the walls and rent it out as a vacation home. Then we could save up the resources to really renovate or rebuild.

Alyson Dorr homestead tufted sofa
We wanted the décor to feel collected but not chaotic. To achieve this, we kept large pieces neutral in whites or blacks and added pops of cottage prints and blush accents. A black antique medical trunk from a barn sale serves as a coffee table.

Montana Homestead House Vision

Armed with a small DIY budget for our newly-acquired fixer upper, the Montana Homestead House, we collected the keys from our neighbor. As he walked us through the house, the same place his mom and dad had lived, and his grandparents and great-grandparents before that, he surprised us with fascinating news.

Alyson Dorr homestead kitchen
While part of the quirky character in an old house, uneven floors and sagging ceilings make installing cabinetry a challenge. Here in the Montana homestead house, open shelving paired with quartz counter tops help enlarge the space.

The building was the original homestead cabin built in the 1800s and remodeled a number of times. It also had a mid-century addition that doubled the square footage. He had never seen the log cabin walls, but supposedly the primary bedroom now occupied the space. That got us thinking and dreaming about what was under all that drywall and tile!

Alyson Dorr homestead mudroom
As a budget update to the entry, we removed the bi-fold closet doors and added a bench, shelf, and coat hooks in the coat closet for a simple mudroom solution.

Renovation or Excavation?

In the end, safety issues meant we had to renovate the house beyond our original scope. Once we began to un-renovate areas of the house, it revealed hidden pieces of its past. Finding those log walls required removing six layers of remodeling efforts! Under plaster and drywall, we found layers of wall board, board and batten, shiplap, Victorian-era wallpaper, and finally, rough-hewn logs. The ceiling and floors were a similar situation.

Alyson Dorr's Montana homestead bedroom with sculptural wood lamps
In the bedroom, a modern iron bed provides clean lines and works well with a Pendleton Yakima blanket for cozy cabin vibes.

The house regained square feet as we tore up carpet and linoleum and plywood stacked on top of the old pine floors. In the second bedroom, excavation revealed an old enclosed porch. We found beadboard ceilings and more painted wood floors.

Alyson Dorr's Montana homestead exposed kitchen shelves
My husband Casey did most of the custom millwork throughout the renovation and built open shelves from rough-cut lumber milled locally.

In a quirky kitchen cabinet of the Montana homestead house, we discovered an old brick chimney. Someone had repaired cracks with hammered-out coffee tins. We started to fall in love with this unassuming little charmer.

Alyson Dorr's Montana homestead farmhouse sink
An antique enamel pendant adds a touch of vintage style over a petite farmhouse sink.

Where possible, we preserved or re-introduced original architectural details of the Montana homestead house. It felt right to add back some of the elements, such as board and batten in the kitchen. This gives the space character and history.

Alyson Dorr homestead dining and living room
The long, narrow mid century addition presented a design challenge. However, a Home Depot sectional sofa offered the best solution for maximized seating.

There were some real challenges. We had a meager $20k budget and experienced Covid-related supply shortages. But we also wanted to create a cohesive feel between the historical eras of construction. While we could only salvage one accent wall of the original hand-hewn log cabin, we aimed to keep the vintage feel throughout the house. But we also wanted to update it with a modern cottage feel.

Montana homestead home log cabin wood wall
We were able to restore a small section of the original log cabin wall, including re-chinking it for stability.

Renovation Challenges

We ended up doing a lot more than painting the interior. However, a fresh neutral backdrop (Sherwin Williams Pearly White) blends spaces which may otherwise feel disjointed. With so much wildlife in view, it felt important to connect indoor and outdoor spaces with larger windows.

Alyson Dorr's Montana homestead kitchen
In the kitchen, we installed simple pine floors, like those found in the original Montana homestead house cabin. We painted them gray in a porch and floor enamel.

We poured a lot of sweat equity into the kitchen, which needed a complete overhaul. To create a vintage look, we added painted Shaker style cabinets and quartz countertops. We let the 1950s range, which I found on Facebook Marketplace for only $200, take center stage in the design.

Montana homestead home stove and oven hood
A working 1950s range with a custom vent hood is the show stopper in this vintage-inspired kitchen.

This project allowed us to play up my love of vintage décor and historic charm. I own a home décor and antiques shop in Columbia Falls, Montana. I had so much fun incorporating antique pieces into the design.

Alyson Dorr Montana homestead pantry
To maximize storage space, we added an antique cabinet to function as a pantry in the hallway off the kitchen.

Vintage Vibes

Vintage pieces have their own story, so incorporating them into a space like the Montana homestead house can recreate the history of the home. For example, as an easy solution to a pantry, we tucked a small antique cabinet into the back porch hallway.

Alyson Dorr homestead vessel sink
For a bespoke touch in the powder room, we repurposed a 1860s drysink and enamel bowl for a new vanity.

In the powder room, I created a vanity with a dry sink cabinet rescued from of an old barn. It dates to about the same era as the cabin construction, and I imagine it came out West on a covered wagon.

Alyson Dorr homestead mantle with mounted goat head and framed art
A curated collection of treasures tops the wood mantel Casey built from rough cut boards. We had them stained to match the exposed logs in the primary bedroom. The brick fireplace has new paint (Sherwin Williams Worldly Gray), as does the wood paneling (Farrow & Ball All White).

As a tribute to the home’s location, a favorite estate find—a vintage, taxidermied Mountain Goat, which happens to be the mascot of Glacier National Park—hangs over the cozy, updated fireplace.

Montana homestead TV room
A primitive cabinet from at the Shops at Station 8 serves as TV stand, while large windows give way to stunning mountain views.

Head shot of Alyson Dorr

Alyson Dorr lives on a family farm nestled in the beautiful mountains of Montana, just minutes from Glacier National Park. She finds joy in the simplicity and hard work of the farm and raising a family.  She and her husband are chronic DIYers who are currently renovating the homestead cabin on their farm. You can visit her at Farm Kid & Co.

Dreaming of homes on wide open spaces? Keep reading for 4 Dream Ranch Homes. And find more of Alyson Dorr's handiwork in How to Install Wallpaper Yourself. Of course, don’t forget to follow us on InstagramFacebook and Pinterest to get your daily dose of farmhouse inspiration!

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll To Top