South American Soul

A home that tells her story
Jeremy Mistretta
August 19, 2022
5 min
Images by Dan Armstrong
Interior Design by Rainy Wagner
Building by 406 Construction

In a crowded design world of click and stick aesthetics, it isn’t often we come by a home that maintains a robust storyline and whose unique décor sets it apart from ALL others.  In 2020, we had the good fortune to meet Peruvian native Veronica Nelson, aka “Vero.”  We were quickly taken by her authentic demeanor, eclectic style, and overwhelming desire for her home to tell her story.

Raised in the heart of the South American Andes outside of Bariloche, Argentina, Vero’s upbringing was much different than most North American’s and her home beautifully reflects that. She grew up on a ranch managed by the Argentine park service surrounded by old growth trees, lush riverbeds, and clean air.  In 2003, she met her husband Mike, and moved north to The United States the following year.  The two started a family in 2006.  In 2017, they took a year and drove back down to South America buying a keepsake from every country they traveled through along the way.  These keepsakes would be the accents to their forever home.  A home they began construction on in 2019.

After inhabiting several houses around Gallatin Valley from 2008-2018, the family settled in Four Corners, MT.  The home was an original split level built in the 1980’s and had lots of “promise” according to Vero.  Surrounded by mature trees, it was close to their sons’ elementary school, and had a perfect creek flowing through the property.  It’s an exterior landscape so beautiful that its inherent beauty seamlessly flows and influences the home’s interior.

After ease of entry through any exterior door, visitors are immediately greeted with a harmonious blend of the family’s style, especially Vero’s.  With the expert help of Rainy Wagner and Tyson Van Dyken of 406 construction, the trio created a home of “practicality that’s aesthetically driven.”  Every detail was vetted to ensure it celebrated both form and function and told a story.  “Life shouldn’t be hidden!” she exclaimed.  The elemental details in the home are exposed for their functionality and accented beautifully with Andean décor amidst the backdrop of softly pigmented grey/green plaster.

“All of the plaster in South America is cementatious. I wanted a plaster that had the look and feel of cement, but also had more character” smiled Vero.  With explicit guidelines and passion driven design, New Age Artisans was able to hone the sampling process quickly and create a hewn look.  The hand troweled plaster is a perfect blend of aggregate and color that highlights a home full of jungle plants, antique doors, burlap blinds, dried flowers, concrete counters, rich lighting design, and carefully selected corral boards.  All of these time worn details that were purchased through South American experience now drive the home’s soul here in Montana.

The structure is adorned with 270 degrees of windows and doors, which the family can gaze out of any time and take in their surroundings.  An exterior setting flush with deer, bear, heron, river otter, and owls basking in the rich surroundings.  Vero notes that current architecture and design really isolate individual elements.  Her home is a harmonious blend of style and culture; each element is the sum of all parts, none more important than the other.

While we love the ability to enter some of the world’s nicest homes, it isn’t often that we are gifted the opportunity to be granted access to the home’s story.  This gift is twofold for us, as our plaster walls are now an integral component of the continued story that will be passed amongst the Nelson family for generations to come.