sneak peek: heather chontos in montana


About this time last year, we peeked into the Brooklyn home that prop stylist, set designer and painter Heather Chontos shared with her two daughters. Since then, Heather has packed everyone up and moved to Missoula, Montana, to join boyfriend Herb Thornby. The drive from Brooklyn to Montana took three days and lots of ice cream and movies for the kids. In the six months since moving into this small farmhouse, she made the kitchen more functional by hiring local woodworkers to build an island and countertops, stained the floors gray and painted half of the walls in the house with chalkboard paint — a perfect spot for the girls’ to practice their alphabet. (See more of Heather’s home in the sneak peek extras on Facebook!) Thanks Heather, Herb, Kodie & Zana. — Amy A.

Image above: My bed, which has one of the bigger paintings as a headboard, and my favorite pink Jonathan Adler pillow. I wish I spent more time here — maybe one day!


Image above: This is my dining table/work table where most things happen, especially my daughter Zana’s practice of the ABCs on the chalkboard wall in the kitchen.


CLICK HERE for more of Heather’s Montana home!


Image above: This kitchen is one of my favorite parts of the house. We put in these new countertops and the kitchen island. When we ripped the backsplash off, we discovered multicolored old plaster and wallpaper underneath it, so I put a finish on it to keep it safe from the water and kept it raw. I love it. And on the counter are my famous pumpkin walnut-chocolate muffins. Yummy . . .


Image above: Another view of my table with one of my favorite light fixtures above it. The light here in this spot is just beautiful at all hours of the day.


Image above: Here is a partial view of my enormous cabinet. It is 6.5′ high and 6′ wide. It has a desk inside it and I just love it. I found it at Housing Works in New York, and I paid nothing for it. I repainted it and had it shipped to Montana. I am glad I did; I almost left it behind.


Image above: This little table and huge painting are in my bedroom. I love that in my room I have my bed, a chair and one dresser and huge artwork. This is my attempt at being a minimalist. (My boyfriend would laugh quite hard at that comment!)


Image above: This antique dresser has gone through the mill. I completely overhauled it by painting it and finishing it with these gorgeous white milk-glass knobs. When it was shipped, it was so scratched up I had to refinish it again, but I love the way it looks with the gray slate floors underneath it.


Image above: This is my bedroom window where I have my two fluorescent love-bird sculptures that I bought in Australia. This window has a lovely view of our new greenhouse, where we hope to start a small sustainable place to grow our herbs and veggies.


Image above: This is my bedroom corner where I keep a small collection of textiles and some new work. I found this white wooden letter U at an antique shop in a town called Butte. It is an old mining town on the way to Yellowstone. They have amazing antique shops.


Image above: This is my collection of glass and white porcelain. I found the brushes in San Francisco — they are old pinstriping brushes. I bought them in this great bundle tied in brown string.


Image above: This is the living room. I love the black and white in this room with the touch of my favorite yellow! I have done some great art trades with some amazing artists, and I have a lot of them together here on this wall. I hand-painted black stripes on the curtains in here; I think it looks pretty funky. I like how this room has an old farmhouse feeling, but it feels a little modern, too. And the gray floors were a labor of great love.


Image above: At some point, we’ll need to build an extension on the house, but for now the girls share a room. This is their mix-matched jungle room. My older daughter, Kodie, asked me to paint her a mural on her wall of a bird, and she was quite pleased with the way it came out. The room is very long and narrow, but it works for now.


Image above: This is their own chalkboard, which changes daily. Both of my girls are very creative in different ways, but they love to write and draw, so the chalkboard is a great part of their room.


Image above: Here are those painted curtains again and this yellow chair that I found in a parking garage in NYC. The little metal table was an excellent gift from my mother; it fits in perfectly in this house.


Image above: This my umbrella jar and the pink boot corner. If you notice, there is a lovely blue drawing on the wall by Zana that I think we will keep.


Image above: And here is our house at the base of the mountain, with the giant willow tree in the back and tons of land to grow things on and the kids can run free. It is a lovely place to have a home.

  1. :) This home made me smile. To me, nothing makes a house nicer than incorporating a chalkboard and a yellow chair!

  2. Cassie says:

    I’m so in love with these home tours and jump on them as soon as the are posted.

    For this tour the children’s room is amazing. Love the mix of patterns!

  3. sunny says:

    What a cute, personalized, homey home! Loving both bedrooms.

  4. Kitchen Boy says:

    Hmm, where you get an inspirations to design arrangement for overall stuff like picture above ?

  5. Maria Ochoa says:

    I thought I would take my first Peek at your tours, found you on Twitter and I absolutly love this.. I find myself taking breaks from my sewing to see your next tour, On this Home, I Love the painted curtains, very, very, Brave!!!

  6. Emily Henson says:

    I really love this home. It’s stylish, creative, real and imperfect in the best sort of way. As people say when they see pictures of our house – people live here.

  7. Suzanne says:

    I’d love to know what paint brand/colors were used throughout the house…so many wonderful shades of grey and white!

  8. The artwork throughout this home is spectacular! Such inspiration.

  9. I love how much texture there is in this house {like the non-backsplash backsplash}!! I’m also dying for the dark walls – my duplex is painted almost all white and I adore the idea of painting a room dark charcoal – it’s such a bold look, but feels so cozy!!

  10. I know what you mean when you call yourself a minimalist or at least aspires to minimalist aesthetic but love to decorate! It is difficult when you are a prop stylist to stick to it! I can tell you have a love-story with every single objects and i completely respond to your decor. Amazing job! thanks for sharing.

  11. Rachael says:

    The gray paint color and the umbrella jar are my favorite things about this space. This home is very simple, but creative and cozy. It looks very lived in and I love that!

  12. anne says:

    I love this house, I love the colours

  13. Jen M says:

    I love Missoula! I have family there and every time I visit it makes me want to find a home there and do something outdoorsy for a job. It must be a nice transition from the fast pace of NY. Beautiful home in a beautiful place. So jealous!

  14. Jen says:

    I adore this house–so warm and textured and interesting. Conductive to creativity and love.

  15. Karin says:

    Yaay Montana! I love seeing such a stylish, modern, cozy interpretation of a little country home.

  16. April says:

    As a former Missoula resident (Go, Griz!), I know there are lots of other places in that town (and state) who could be featured on here, too. Like Nici Cline (www.digthischickmt.com). There’s a whole university district, too, that I’m sure is rife with interior wonderlands.

  17. Amanda says:

    I LOVE this place and LOVE Montana. I grew up in Idaho and my family traveled a lot. Now I’m in Boston and still looking forward to the day I can move my family west. ANYhow, Heather – is there any chance you could be convinced to share that pumpkin-walnut-chocolate muffin recipe??!!

  18. taylor says:

    Beautiful paintings, I love all of the distressed & worn in things. It makes it so inviting & unique. True beauty!

  19. The art in this house is lovely. I like the worn and distressed look of the home. It makes it homey :)

  20. Hannah says:

    This is one of my favourite sneak peek’s in a while. I adore how it feels so lived in with details you’ve collected over time, with heaps of yours and your daughters’ personalities dotted throughout. The use of black and grey is great too, and seems to manage not looking too dark, just wonderful! x

  21. Michele says:

    beautiful home, heather! love the use of the dark smokey colors with accents of brighter colors. so much like your gorgeous artwork. xo

  22. Becky Parker says:

    Who is the artist who did the large scale paintings throughout the home? Love this artwork…

    1. amya says:

      Becky – That’s Heather work. This is her home. :) xoAmy

  23. I love Heather! I was lucky enough to recently meet her ad love to see that her house is as cool as she is.

  24. Girlie says:

    Another fan of the paint colours. Do tell!

  25. Love the kitchen and kids room ;)

  26. Wow, this home screams LIFE!

  27. Nat says:

    I am loving that unfinished window frame. Gorgeous!

  28. patience says:

    at first i wondered if she ever felt pressure as a set designer to have a perfect home… but as i looked through the pictures it seems the family has found a balance of now environment and decor that also expresses their personalities.

  29. starr says:

    I agree Art of Doing stuff, this really makes me smile…chalkboard, chalkboard, chalkboard :)

  30. josephine says:

    I don’t know why, but this sneak peek and her previous Brooklyn sneak peek really struck a chord with me. Apart from her homes being quietly lovely with lots of unique, handmade touches, I really like the attitude that comes out in her comments. She seems like she has a good perspective about her home and its belongings, especially when she wrote about how one of her cabinets got messed up during its move. She didn’t seem pissed off or distressed; she just says that she refinished and there it is.

  31. Margie says:

    Those grey floors are fantastic, and I’m empathising with the labour of love… I’m renovating an old cottage at the moment with my family (http://myveryowneyegoggles.blogspot.com/) but we’ve chosen matte black floors… They look great but boy howdy the work…

  32. Katherine Randazzo says:

    Yes, the house is lovely. But what I really want to know is who is the painter behind all those gorgeous paintings!!

  33. Katherine Randazzo says:

    Silly me, it’s her! I guess that’s what I get for watching Nip/Tuck while sneak peaking.

  34. Jesse Lu says:

    What beautiful paintings! What a charming house… I love that cozy living room. And Missoula is such a great city. I look forward to visiting again one day.

  35. sarah says:

    wow, really love this sneak. I love how you’ve not gone into overdrive on perfecting every little details and kept back a bit. its this that gives this space a lot of character.

  36. Stacie says:

    Awesome home! I’m from that town called Butte, and they do have awesome antique shops! Thanks for a Montana sneak peek!

  37. kelli says:

    Where did you get your bed cover? (the one with leaves in the first pic) Thx!

  38. I love the curtain – the design, the cloth, and its holder. A wooden wind chime is perfect for this setup.

    I love how the sun enters the living room and touches the sofa.

  39. kim says:

    Dazzling! Wishing you only the best…

  40. karen says:

    Yeah a real Montana home! I love this sneak peak, my favorite things are the bedrooms and the little table with the big artwork. Inspiring!

  41. Joanna says:

    I was wondering about the hinges etc on the kitchen cabinets. We live in a 1960s house that has external hinges and NO ONE in the neighborhood can find external hinges!!! Can you please let me know where I could find something like that? Thanks! Loved your place.

  42. Uncle Jim says:

    Heather, Nice to see the place. It looks great. I miss you guys. Kodie loved playing with the frogs in the pond last time I saw her. She will love the big sky and big hearts of the people of Montana. Keep the energy up and enjoy the adventure.

  43. Jill says:

    I love the duvet cover or quilt in your bedroom!!! Where is this from???

  44. Janelle says:

    I LOVE your hand painted curtains! Beautiful. What kind of paint did you use? I’d love to try it.

  45. Julian Hazlett says:

    I love this home. It is so inspiring.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.