A six-month race against the elements and the clock combined local Montana talent, style and materials to create the 2019 HGTV Dream Home atop Big Mountain in Whitefish.
Soon to be the most sought-after home in the nation, the 2019 Dream Home stands as the 23rd installment of one of the most popular television giveaways of the year.
Each year, the giveaway features a custom-built luxury home set in a scenic location somewhere in the United States. The promotion draws over 100 million entries every year, with one lucky winner claiming the grand prize package, according to Kristin Alm, the senior director of corporate communications for the Discovery network.
The giveaway began in 1997 in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and now returns to the Northwest to capture the beauty and excitement of mountain living in Montana.
“Dream is the word,” Alm said. “We want to be in a dream location, and I can’t think of a dreamier location than a Rocky Mountain resort town.”
The home, perched on the mountainside, presents its future owner with outdoor recreation opportunities year-round, from ski-in ski-out access to a private chair lift at Whitefish Mountain Resort in the winter to mountain biking and hiking trails right out the back door in the summer.
Plans for the house began years ago when HGTV began interviewing local builders and architects to work with renowned designer Brian Patrick Flynn.
Tyler Frank and Bear Barinowski with Malmquist Construction of Whitefish came out on top and got the exciting, yet daunting opportunity to build on a national stage.
“It was a mix of enthusiasm and sort of scared to death,” said Barinowski, co-project manager for Malmquist.
Despite the aggressive schedule set by the client and the national publicity the project would attract, Barinowski and Frank said they felt the process still allowed them to freely explore their own design concepts and building methods that would mold the house into the ultimate mountain escape.
“Even though this is a 23-year event, there’s still open eyes and ears to suggestions and design support from the builders,” Frank said. “They listen to our ideas and what we do up here in Montana and what really makes a good mountain-living home. We felt like we were allowed to implement a lot of our creativity into this home.”
The two-story, 3,900-square-foot home comprises three bedrooms, three and a half baths, a bonus room and wide-open kitchen and living spaces overlooking the Whitefish mountain range, Whitefish Lake and other scenic views.
Added features such as numerous large windows, accordion doors, statement chandeliers, expansive deck space, modern kitchen and laundry appliances, a hot tub and a luxury shower/bathtub combination turn the house into a true dream home.
“It’s a home that I think anybody would love and enjoy using. It’s just meant for outdoor recreation,” Barinowski said. “It makes you want to experience Montana.
“It takes you outside more than any other house we’ve ever been around,” he added.
Other unique features such as a doggy room under the stairs and huge walk-in closet personalize each space, giving the home a modern feel while integrating more classic rustic features like locally salvaged barn wood, antlers and snow- and forest-themed color schemes.
“Another thing that I enjoyed about this house is we have a lot of the local craftsmen implement their skill on this project,” Frank said.
Locally designed by architect Kevin Richardson of Timber Forge Design and landscaped by Bruce Boody of Whitefish, every piece of the design, from the stonework to the timber framing, returns to its Montana roots.
Building from start to finish in a six-month period while battling the unpredictable Montana weather, however, proved challenging for everyone involved, according to Barinowski.
Crews began moving snow the third week of February, excavating the site from at least 5 feet of snow before digging could begin.
Snow removal became almost a daily chore as the team continued to work toward completing the first stages, but by March they managed to finish framing and worked tirelessly to erect the rest of the house.
“It’s just that it’s a challenging environment weather-wise, and where you are on the mountain, you’re really exposed,” Barinowski said.
The crew ultimately met its deadline, furnishing the house with the final throw pillows and doormats in August.
HGTV film crews currently are shooting the television special set to run on New Year’s Day, during which host Alison Victoria will give the TV audience a tour of the 2019 Dream Home.
The sweepstakes to win the home begins Dec. 28 and goes through Feb. 18. Entry is free and each contestant can enter up to twice a day every day for the allotted time.
The grand-prize package, valued at $2.3 million, includes the fully furnished dream home, a new Honda Pilot and $250,000 in cash.
“This house is a big deal to our small little community of Whitefish,” Frank said.
With millions of people across the country entering to win this year’s coveted home, no one knows who will be moving in when the winner is announced in March.
Whoever it is will get a stunning view and a heaping helping of the best Whitefish has to offer.
“You just feel like you’re perched up on a hill, and it’s glorious. It’s really breathtaking,” Barinowski said. “It really embodies a lot of the reasons we live in Montana.”