The way we live now: Chalet chic

Alpine chalets are tremendously filmic. And a bit suburban-sinister too. You think of all those bright saturated-colour Sixties and early Seventies films, you think of Roger Moore and Petula Clark types chaleted-up. And Julie Andrews. And then you think of Hitler.

Nazi gold in Swiss banks; Nazi-chasing films, and then Hitler's own house, Berghof. Berghof, to be fair, wasn't wooden and wasn't a chalet – more a hugely over-enlarged Bavarian master-race lodge. But it did have a chalet-ish setting, Obersaltzburg, literally "Over Saltzburg".

The whole Swiss-chalet look is compelling in a nutty kitschy way. The spectacular scenery. The Primula-cheese sweetness and banality of the valleys below. The cartoony exteriors of the chalets. It's almost too much. The joy of chalets for staying rather than living in is that combination of relative simplicity and fantastic expense. There's no room for fancy decoration, no time for it. The views are the decoration; the woody structures are the decoration. What else d'you need?

There is an Alpine look, of course. It comes from an emphasis on simple warmth and comfort and with a subtext of cleanliness and efficiency. But not the post-war, white-clinic look of urban Switzerland – something closer to Heidi. Switzerland is a rich country with the management of other people's private wealth as one of its key businesses. We think of the Swiss as rather selfish, careful people – and tremendously bourgeois – squirreling away their own and other people's money. And we think of expats there as tax exiles. So don't go expecting anything too idiosyncratic, eclectic or edgy in chalet interiors.

The fundamentals of the architecture itself are distinctive. There are gable roofs with wide eaves, balconies for bracing breakfasts set against Cinerama views, big windows with lovely light. And older chalets that stick to the original generic early-19th-century pattern have all sorts of decorative wood-carving ... (Am I grasping for that gorgeous German word gemütlich here?)

This particular Swiss-chalet interior isn't at all cosy-kitschy. It's rather elegant. The wood isn't varnished orange. It's a big double-height room rather than a wooden box. And the strong stone chimneypiece looks bold against all that wood. The decoration is civilised and comfortable without trying to score too many points. It's trad but not chichi. The trad reassurance comes from the faded colour of the old rug, and rather churchy candlesticks, but there's a more modern sensibility in the plain lampshade and the arrangement of pots.

Here's someone who's let the structure do the talking, played against all the cosy clichés of chalet style and even introduced a bit of low-key chic. You even wonder whether there might be a Gallic touch here.

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee