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

Recruitment Genius: Service and Installation Engineer

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: SEO / Outreach Executive

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a global marketin...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Estimator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Negotiator - OTE £24,000

£22000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An enthusiastic individual is r...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?