Modern Living: Chalet Style Book Review

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© Modern Living – Chalet Style by Claire Bingham, published by teNeues, $55, www.teneues.com.

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!

VIL_8507 Photo © Philip Vile, Design Nicky Dobree

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.

9783832734206_8 Photo © Philip Vile, Design Nicky Dobree

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).

9783832734206_2 Photo © Philip Vile, Design Nicky Dobree

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.

9783832734206_6 Photo © Fritz von der Schulenburg, Design Christina Seilern

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.

9783832734206_4 Photo © courtesy of Hild Home Design GmbH

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.

Elements of Modern Country

When designing homes for my clients, I see a common thread. They all want their spaces to be warm & inviting; casual, comfortable, unpretentious and where you can put your feet up without worry and judgement. Hence the surge of the modern farmhouse and enter modern country or new country. It’s rustic living without being too rustic, it’s simple, yet it’s filled with furnishings that screams a “passion for craftsmanship allowing the natural materials to shine through.” I came across this book that celebrates all of that and more; Modern Living | New Country by the amazing interiors journalist & design writer Claire Bingham {she was the Homes Editor for Elle Decoration UK and her work has been featured in international glossies, including Vogue Living and Architectural Digest}.

There are tons of eye-candy in this book; you’ll find a Moroccan villa, a French chalet, a Nordic log cabin — the book re-interprets what “country” is. But my best takeaways are the practical tips to achieve this look, here are my Top 10.

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Let’s examine what I mean by each one, shall we?

1/ Layers: The lived-in look is all about layering and mixing & matching. Love 2 rugs for your living room? Why not layer & use them both? Have so many textures going on & think it may be too much? The answer is “No.” Go ahead and have linen, velvets, kilims & sheepskin all in one space.

2/ Whitewash Walls: In the era of shiplap {thanks Joanna Gaines}, whitewash walls takes it to another level of rustic. Don’t think whitewashing can be done to wood only, essentially any surface can be whitewashed — sheetrock walls, brick, anything!

3/ Vintage Tub: I saw lots of them in this book & for good reason. They are just so adorable & gives a bathroom so much character. A simple refinishing is just what a vintage tub needs but if you find one, don’t get it refinished to where it’s too pristine; the wear & tear should still shine through.

4/ Ticking: That casual fabric made of cotton & textile used in the old days to cover mattresses & pillows is now used as upholstery,linens & napkins, cushion covers & even drapery. I’m rather partial to red ticking. See some of my fabric obsessions here & here.

5/ Functional Spaces: This seems like a no-brainer but how many of us have spaces in our homes that literally have no function? In a modern country home, each space is important. The stair landing may hold a cabinet storing extra linens or a wall niche may hold firewood logs.

6/ Natural Hues: The organic tones of wood, the crisp whiteness of clouds, the ashen gray & black hues of burnt firewood.

7/ Salvaged Rustic Pieces: What is country without rustic pieces right? A factory cart turned into a coffee table, lighting suspended on old pulleys, old barn doors turned into wall art, the list goes on.

8/ Wood Beams: Of course, right? Get some reclaimed ones while you’re at it. It will be perfect!

9/ Rethink Wood Floors: Real wood floors — it’s timeless, it’s classic. But give it a modern twist — mix it with other materials. By now, you’ve probably seen a lot of the tile-wood combo where the tile bleeds on the wooden floors {or is it the other way around?}; you would need a geometric tile & at Fireclay tile, the possibilities are endless.

10/ Linens + Slipcovers: Dress your seating in this type of fabric — they just spell comfort.

More eye candy ….
modern-country-bedrooms new country living room

denim chair and ticking

From top left: 1. A white bedroom with canopy makes for a New Country bedroom dream 2. A rustic French chalet makes way for a Rococo bed 3. A very Scandinavian Living room 4. A glorious nook

The verdict for the book? Two thumbs up & five stars — you will not be disappointed with a whole slew of inspiration & heaps of practical tips — to making the most of small spaces to lessons in layering. Go get it at Teneues or it’s here on Amazon too! It’s a must have for every design enthusiast & a perfect coffee table book.

Modern Living New Country Book