The crisp chill of Alpine air conjures the desire for a big, cozy fireplace–perhaps if you’ve been skiing or hiking around in the mountains, you know this sensation. Comfort, warmth, and shelter are the natural human response to high altitudes, concepts which author and journalist Claire Bingham explores in her book Modern Living: Chalet Style by Teneues. Oriented around design principles that deliver an authentic Alpine chalet experience, Bingham highlights the most important elements of these homes and resorts and how they can be implemented, regardless of location. So here are some tips!
Broken down into segments discussing each space (kitchen, dining, bath, etc.), Modern Living gives both design details specific to each area, while also tying them together with broader ideas that can be integrated throughout a home.
1/ One of the biggest concepts for a proper chalet is its feeling of a “nest”, or “cocoon”. Bingham uses these terms many times throughout, emphasizing the importance of the chalet as a relaxing, inviting space which practically swaddles its inhabitants with warmth and comfort. These vibes are expressed through the use of both rustic and contemporary elements throughout the home, intermingling earthy textures and palettes with minimalism and stainless steel.
2/ Wood, leather, and furs are the three big buzzwords for the chalet living space. Bingham recommends layering these different textures to create an inviting social space (with a fireplace, of course!). She also labeled the kitchen as a social “extension of the living area”, utilizing wood but keeping the textures minimal and the features dark. The brilliance of this design is that the kitchen is both a warm and welcoming space, but can also fade into the background as the living or dining becomes the main focus of a gathering.
3/ Speaking of the dining room, Bingham lays down the law regarding proper chalet style: Table. Is. Everything. Well, maybe not EVERYTHING, but having a massive wooden table as a centerpiece to your Alpine dining experience is crucial. The focus remains the same in this space, emphasizing comfort (big upholstered chairs) while also being mindful of style (rustic mix-matching or a fusion of styles).
4/ Extending towards the inner sanctum of the chalet, Modern Living offers us many examples and ideas for the most comfortable room of the home: the almighty bedroom. Leave behind any notions of rigidity or hardness, and think SOFT. Spacious soft bed, luxurious soft furs and blankets layered one upon the other, fluffy rugs, and furniture you can just sink into…these are the staple comforts of the bedroom. Bingham even offers us tips for how to make your own (cruelty-free) fur throws, a little DIY that will be specific to your taste. Style-wise, she advises to either go homely or minimal, depending on your aesthetic; both work.
5/ I love the way she describes the bathroom as a “dark, enchanted cave”. It makes the space sound more like an ethereal experience than a real place, and perhaps being in the bathroom should be an experience! Similar to the other spaces, Bingham suggests a focus on texture and tactility, using combinations of stone, wood, and ceramics. As exciting as designing a bathroom is, we are instructed to consider ergonomics before details, which may be difficult for the impatient of us…but in the end, a functional bathroom is crucial to maintaining that feeling of comfort and relaxation.
Having guided us through a vision of the Alpine chalet, Bingham tantalizes us with images of indoor pools, home gyms, and other design elements such as “crazy paving” and decorating with rosy quartz. These extra elements contribute to the function of the chalet as a rustic palace of well-being, a place to unwind and escape the outdoor elements. The feeling of being wrapped up in a snug, earthy environment is exactly what this type of home promises, and Bingham helps us get there both verbally and visually. Modern Home: Chalet Style is an absolute must on the reading list of both designers and those looking to create their own palace of relaxation.
Written by Sophie Gilliam.