One look at DB Ranch and the words “downright breathtaking” are sure to come to mind. Situated on 150 acres of natural, untouched acreage in the Bitterroot Valley region of Montana, the sprawling log cabin home is both inviting and regal at the same time. And at 8,000 square feet, the home has the appearance of a bed and breakfast or lodge.

That’s exactly what the owners envisioned when they purchased the home and land back in 1990. The structure was much smaller at the time and took up just 1,000 square feet of the 150-acre plot. Built on a famous stretch of waterway called the Mitchell Slough, the small, alpine log cabin would serve as the cornerstone of a major, one-year undertaking by Rocky Mountain Log Homes of Hamilton, Montana.

The one-bedroom, one-bath home had a combined living room/dining room/kitchen and was not large enough to accommodate its new owners’ demands. Purchased by three families from San Francisco who planned to use their new abode as a shared home, DB Ranch would be transformed into a large, gorgeous log cabin. Over the coming years it would serve as a summer home for the three families, an entertainment hub for hundreds of guests, and a lodge for avid duck hunters. Getting there required some intensive planning, architecting, and building. Mark Moreland, vice president at Rocky Mountain Log Homes, says architect Howard Backen of Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects in San Francisco designed the expansive addition. John Bird of Hammerpower Corp., in Hamilton, Montana, handled the construction of the new home.
The project involved adding wings onto each side of the existing building. Three bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms were built onto the northern side of the structure and a master suite and another bathroom added to the southern side. Other additions included a large mudroom that accommodates a pool table and a wine collection, a screened-in “sleeping” porch, a barbecue deck, and a separate garage.
DB Ranch also includes a huge, professional kitchen and an expanded dining room with seating for 12 people. “One of the owners is a restaurateur,” Moreland explains, “so a gourmet, professional kitchen setup and huge dining room were ‘must haves’ for this particular addition.”

To build the existing structure into a five-bedroom/five-and-a-half-bath log cabin home, Bird used chink-style, handcrafted 12-inch Western White Wood logs (a mixture of pine and spruce) from Rocky Mountain Log Homes’ Pioneer Log Handcrafted Division. Several walls were removed to create a sense of space in the home’s interior, says Moreland, although the majority of the original home remained intact.  Matching the original home with its newly expanded self wasn’t an easy task, according to Moreland.

“It’s always difficult to marry an original structure with multiple new additions,” he says. With good, upfront planning and architectural ingenuity working in his favor, the log home producer and the builder tackled those issues and got the project completed within the allotted time frame.

One strategy they used to achieve that goal found the producer and contractor working together to ensure that the differences between “old and new” weren’t visible to the naked eye. “The addition should never look like it’s been cobbled onto the existing structure,” Moreland explains. “When completed, the entire home should look like it was constructed as one integrated structure. I think we achieved that with DB Ranch.”