An Artistic Adobe

Where Friends Are Like Family

Text by Heather Bode • Photography by Jim Wells

The arched exterior of the patio area is echoed by the window structure leading into the great room.

Love at first sight. That’s essentially what Kate and Don Bolia experienced upon an inaugural trip to Montana. They fell in love with the land, the sweeping vistas, and the big open sky. After a return trip in the winter to make sure they were equally enthralled, they took the leap and decided to build a second home.

The Bolias connected with James Klippel of James Klippel Design Studio to begin the preliminary sketching. “Kate, being an artist, saw it all in 3-D. Don put his full trust in her and I was simply the ‘pencil in her hand’ as we sketched,” says Klippel. A two year project from land purchase to completion, the  Bolia’s Sky Walker Ranch, with an unparalleled panoramic view, won the Great Falls Parade of Homes People’s Choice Award in 2016.

Upon entering the house through the handmade tessellated front door, you are greeted by the welcome bar in the foyer. Combining good old Southern hospitality and harkening back to the days when guests arrived after many days of dusty travel, this welcome bar is your first glimpse of the charm that is Sky Walker Ranch.

To add an updated feel to the rustic cabinets, Bolia chose a light colored granite from Cascade Granite & Marble. A copper farmhouse sink adds a bit of shine and melds the modern and rustic aesthetic.

Entering the kitchen, the flooring blends almost seamlessly with the cabinets. Both are constructed out of reclaimed wood from area barns. Kate Bolia says, “We had a wonderful contractor, Leski Whitmore, who helped us find a couple of barns that were over 100 years old and we were able to reuse the wood. It’s really nice for us to have that historic aspect to the house.”  That rustic feature mixes with a fresh subway tile backsplash and open shelving surrounding the gas range to provide smooth clean lines creating a modern feel. 

Texture galore: The rough look of shiplap is balanced by the soft white Pottery Barn stools and a leather couch topped with cozy throws.

Opening into the great room, the fire feature is a wood burning stove with shiplap surround. Adding the picturesque Highwood Mountains as a backdrop, this area provides a cozy, comfortable place for guests to gather in casual conversation. 

Another unique aspect of the Bolia home is the two master suites. Yes, two. Not wanting guests to feel slighted in any way, the Bolias asked Klippel to convert theoriginal master suite into the guest suite and transform two bedrooms on the opposite side of the main floor into their personal master. The result, Kate says, “Everyone hangs out in the great room and kitchen, but they still have plenty of their own 

private space.”

Kate, an artist specializing in Native American subjects, provided all the interior finishes. From the artwork gracing the walls, all her own original work, to the color palette and textures throughout, this house was built as a guest-friendly retreat. It will, eventually, also encompass an art studio complete with a Juliet balcony where Kate can gather inspiration for future projects.

Now that the main construction is complete, the Bolias welcome guests from all over. The Sky Walker Ranch can be booked for a stay through contacting the Ranches at Belt Creek or websites like and

Master Suite #1 boasts rustic shiplap and recycled floors whereas the master bath has a modern amenities such as marble countertop, white tile, and a seamless glass dual-head shower. An additional side entrance on the front exterior of Sky Walker Ranch provides guests of Master Suite #2 with a private entry if they desire and mudroom accessibility.

James Klippel concludes, “I’d call it a home for the ages, where the natural world and human art merge into an inspiring composition for all.”