Top 5 Features of Modern Mountain Design

Get design ideas for adding modern mountain features to your home with inspiration and tips from the visionaries of DIY Network's Blog Cabin 2015.
By: Peter Walsh
Modern Covered Patio With Landscaping and Hardscape

Modern Covered Patio With Landscaping and Hardscape

Strong lines give this home's entry and front patio a modern look. Wood tones and large planters add a rustic appeal in the landscape.

© 2011, HGTV

2011, HGTV

The features of todays’ modern mountain architecture take their cues from design elements established long ago. Open floor plans, the use of local materials, exposed craftsmanship,  a pleasing color palette and low maintenance landscaping, are timeless features that make for easy living in the mountains.

1. The unique shape of the structure

DIY Network's Blog Cabin 2015 is a simple ranch style structure, perfect for this years modern take on mountain architecture. It’s 1970’s boxy design has a single ridge, low-pitched roof made of standing seam metal that is both a nod to traditional Idaho farm house style and yet adapted into much of today’s modern architectural features. Large windows abound letting in lots of natural light and stunning views of the beautiful 25-mile long Lake Coeur d’Alene in which it overlooks.

Examples of Modern Mountain Design

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Modern Alaskan Home

A prime example of modern mountain architecture, this home combines clean, angled lines and sleek light wood to create a modern cabin. Natural wood paneling provides visual emphasis on horizontal and vertical lines while the angled single pitch roof exudes mod design.

Secluded Georgia Compound

Part of an expansive three building compound, the main house takes the modern minimalist attitude and displays a series of expansive open spaces separated by floating walls. Modern industry produced materials like cement and steel combine with natural river rock and redwood.

Washington Mountainside Mansion

Built into the steep slopes of Buck Mountain, this modern home rests on two slim concrete fins like a stately modern treehouse.  The cantilevered rectangular steel frame projects 28 feet outward in both directions and glass walls provide commanding mountain and lake views.

Modern Colorado Mountain View

This midcentury-modern residence offers spectacular mountain views from nearly every room with large floor to ceiling windows. The simple design combined with traditional materials allows the home to integrate seamlessly with surrounding rugged scenery.

Modern Covered Patio

Although decidedly prairie style, this Frank Lloyd Wright inspired home unites harmoniously with nature with its wood tones and rustic appeal while strong lines give a modern look.

Salt Lake City Mountain-View Masterpiece

This open and airy mountainside retreat oozes modern mountain characteristics with its combination of flat and double pitched gable roof with large windows that take advantage of the Zen-like atmosphere.

Modern Mountain Home

A single pitch roof combines with two toned wood siding and a series of concrete balconies for taking in sweeping mountain views. Stone Henge-inspired landscaping and circular flagstone patio complete this modern mountain home.

Beverly Hills Residence

Texture in the natural stone and wood exterior elements provide relief from hard angled edges in this midcentury modern mansion surrounded by lush gardens, trickling fountains and serene ponds.  

Modern Rustic Retreat

A steeply-pitched roofline, cedar siding and ample stonework give the home classic rustic charm, while large windows, exposed structural beams and minimalist landscaping make it thoroughly modern.

Photo By: Eric Perry © 2013, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Inside, the home offers an open floor plan. “The furniture layout will define the living spaces,” says Dylan Eastman, the build/design manager on the project. The open living/dining and kitchen share the main floor with the master bedroom. On the lower level built into the berm are the guest rooms, kids bunk room and game room. An open central staircase connects to the two levels.

2. Local materials

It's about letting the natural materials be what they are. The perception is that a mountain house has to be like a lodge but the opposite is to find simplicity by pairing things in their humbler forms.
Laurie March, design coordinator

Modern mountain architecture, like it’s fore bearers, will typically incorporate local materials like native cut timber and locally quarried stone left in their natural states, in it's finishes.

At Blog Cabin 2015, Douglas fir and oak is left untreated to bring out it’s natural characteristics and beauty. Exposed steel hardware holding up the trusses on the main level and concrete walls and floors on the lower level of the structure all lend a utilitarian aspect to the home. “In modern architecture the tradespersons work shows through,” says Laurie.

3.  Oversized windows and doors

To take advantage of the magnificent lake and mountain views, large glass windows punctuate the walls. Inside, flat slab wood doors void of panels that would clutter the clean lines of the modern feel and date the structure allow for privacy in the bedrooms and baths.

On the lower level, a mill finished aluminum frame multi-windowed garage door can be rolled up to allow easy indoor/outdoor living from the game room to the patio overlooking the lake. “It’s like a car dealership door,” says Dylan. “It has a modern flair.”

4. Neutral color choices

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"To compliment the natural wood and stone materials and steel accents, modern mountain design tends to opt for neutral color palettes of whites, grays and blues rather than bolder reds, yellows and greens," says Dylan. “With wood cladding on the walls, you want to bridge the homeyness and softness with the clean lines.”But as in past Blog Cabin projects, the vote is up to the fans as to what the final colors will be.

Laurie stresses that rich, saturated neutral colors like grays, taupes browns and creams, are strong and interesting for the main living areas while the bolder colors like mustard, plum, teal and green would liven up the play spaces of the house. “There’s a really different light from summer to winter here so the neutrals would work,” says Laurie. “But no pastels, they’re too wimpy.”

5. Low maintenance landscaping

As a second home or vacation retreat, no owner wants to spend all their time maintaining a yard when they could be out boating on the lake. Native trees, grasses and shrubs will thrive with little attention and provide a natural feel to the yard. "Ponderosa pines, Douglas firs, white pines and oaks make up the canopy of the surrounding forest at Lake Coeur d’Alene," says Dylan.

Mixing in natural grasses, native boulders and rocks with the flagstone patio, the landscape will all blend together. “It will blur the lines between natural and man-made,” says Dylan. To keep maintenance chores at a minimum, water wise plants will be selected. “We’re not putting in plants that need a lot of water,” says Laurie. “You don’t want to be a captive to watering. The plants will be natural to Idaho.”

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