Fresh powder by day and roaring log fires by night is just far too irresistible – undoubtedly, the possibilities of snow-capped mountains are to winter what sandy beaches are to summer. And whilst a stay at a beachside villa might satisfy our vitamin C cravings, a beautiful chalet on the Alpine slopes is just the ticket for the winter season. “The Alps are the ideal winter setting with their snowy peaks, their charming picturesque villages and the abundance of fir trees sagging under the weight of the snow. It’s not hard to understand why they are viewed as the perfect winter getaway,” says Brigitta Spinocchia Freund of design studio Spinocchia Freund, “There is something so unique about being up in the mountains. The architecture in particular is so distinctive from that seen anywhere else in the world. A luxury chalet, nestled up amongst this gorgeous setting is the ideal getaway to allow you to enjoy the beauty of your surroundings comfortably from right in front of the fire.”
When Brigitta talks, it’s always wise to listen but when it comes to luxury chalet interior design, even more so. With three of her recent projects being chalets, the designer has certainly had her fair share of experience when it comes to these palaces in the mountains.
“We take a full brief to understand the client’s needs and requirements and how they envisage using the space,” says Brigitta, “As every client is unique, so are the spaces we create for them.” But creating practical spaces isn’t the only thing Brigitta specialises in – her decor schemes are also one of unique beauty. Extremely liveable but admirably striking for their inherent style.
The self-taught designer reveals that chalet projects tend to differ from the rest of her residential portfolio: “Being able to use diverse natural materials, chalets tend to be a different style to city living and enable us to use different colour palettes and textures that wouldn’t necessarily work in a bustling city project.”
The studio’s Design Director Lauren Wood has to agree, “The beauty of a chalet project is you can push the boundaries of your creativity in ways you wouldn’t usually be able to for a regular residential project. What would normally seem outrageous becomes acceptable which makes working on these chalets so fun.”
One project which represents this boundary-pushing mentality is the stunning Courchevel 1850 residence. Decorated in a complementary, refined lodge style, this particular property – completed in December 2013 as a family holiday home – has raised the bar for interior design on the celebrity-favoured resort.
From the chandelier of selenite specially sourced from a nearby quarry to an incredible (and seemingly gravity-defying) bar set crafted from glass, metal and leather, every room of the five floor home offers a masterclass in custom creations.
Take the previously mentioned chandelier, for example. Bringing the grey French oak living room alive, the design highlights the room’s wonderful double height vaulted ceiling by bringing the beauty of the surrounding landscape inside. “We were able to creating amazing lighting features made from selenite crystals that hung from brass branches, much like icicles would,” Lauren says of the show-stopping fixture, “Lighting plays an important part in our design. We like to create one-off chandeliers and lighting installations for our clients which always become talking points.” And a talking point it certainly is. Its delicate composition of shards catches the eye perfectly.
When asked of their inspirations for the project, the designers recall, “[We were inspired by] the landscape, views and nature.” Other nature-inspired pieces include the simple yet effective design of the chimney breast – a white textured plaster breast accented with horizontal brass detailing to mimic the black and white bark of the birch tree (common to the area). A Boca do Lobo table (itself a gold plated, casted brass cross section of a tree) adds a touch of glamour to the centre of the room whilst the bespoke-made, Corbusier-like sofas – influenced by French furniture designer Paul Dupré-Lafon (1900-1971) – provide more than ample seating for the family and their holiday guests. Overall, the aesthetic is one of wintery grandeur but the mood is surprisingly intimate.
Considering these unique additions, it shouldn’t come as a shock then that the rest of the house is equally as interesting with an ever-functional twist. Leather panels line its bathroom walls accompanied by the warm glow of backlit onyx sinks creating an aura which is perfect for welcoming you home from a day on the slopes. The dining room eating area is fairly simple making the square table (lined with rust coloured leather carver chairs and canopied with a secondary selenite chandelier) the centre of attention as it should be; the accompanying bronze, glass and brass bar is paired with unique stools which mimic a hybrid futuristic-cum-industrialist style (which will be available to purchase next year as part of the brand’s foray into furniture production). Bedrooms are either a haven of wooden touches and plush accents complete with a tonal colour palette of browns, creams and taupes for a more sophisticated look or a playful mix of Navajo prints on pure white linens, thick knits and bright pops of red leather panels.
“We use lots of different textures and materials,” says Brigitta of the studio’s ability to create these brilliantly inviting spaces, “The use of timber on the walls, ceiling and floors wrap the space in natural tones and textures.” Which is exactly how you’d describe the rooms of this home – beautifully wrapped in nature. And, of course, what’s a luxury ski home without a pool swing? One of Brigitta’s favourite bespoke elements of the home, the playful addition guarantees plenty of après-ski fun and proves that the undoubted mantra of chalet design is “as you wish”.
“We like to introduce personal touches and bring our clients personalities into the design,” the founder says. Head a few hours north to Gstaad to another of the studio’s projects and these personal touches are more than evident.
In a move away from the sleekness of the Courchevel 1850 project, the studio’s Gstaad counterpart embraces vintage and a more rustic aesthetic. “With Gstaad, the client wanted to echo the traditional craftsmanship of the area while still achieving a 21st century chalet,” explains Lauren, “We were able to incorporate the two design styles to encompass both and the end result was something truly unique.”
Naturally then, the studio’s customisation expertise took a different slant with this project. Instead of bespoke pieces made from scratch, bar stools have been crafted using antique horse saddles found in flea markets and antique stores in Paris and a chunky old sleeper beam was chosen as an unexpected tabletop for a unique console table. Even a beautiful natural bone, antler chandelier is given a beautiful upgrade. Finished in an antique silver leaf, the piece becomes a subtly glamorous addition.
This focus on traditional manufacturing methods, raw finishes and pieces with a past adds a lived in appeal to the chalet, making it a perfect home away from home. “The client wanted to honour the history of Gstaad throughout the interiors of the chalet,” Lauren says, “They love that we didn’t just bring in new pieces and try to make them look antique but rather we got to know the area and used local materials. That led our design focus and helped add a sense of understanding of the area to the whole chalet.”
So it seems that regardless of whether it’s slick and rustic or weathered and rustic, the trick to achieving a luxurious chalet look is all about making it your own. “Chalets are designed at the discretion of the owners and what their personal style is,” Brigitta explains, “There are no limits on what you can or can’t use!”