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A chalet in the vernacular
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A chalet in the vernacular


This Swiss chalet in a setting of alpine fields is the second or third house I’ve done for Italian clients, who tend to have an appreciation of good design, enjoy buying well and want to be comfortable. Although the owners of this chalet entertain to a certain extent, they have two young children so the chalet is for the family and friends with children to ski in the winter and to relax in the summer. In Switzerland even the summers are not going to be boiling hot- there’s no swimming-pool life outside- and the chalet is built of wood, inside and outside, so I made the rooms rich and darkish to counterbalance the wood.

It is rare for me to work in as vernacular a style as I have done here- it’s all quite folkloric- but I think the Swiss style really works. What was good about this particular chalet was that it was built by a craftsman who had huge warehouses of traditional wooden doors and ceilings and carved things, so it is Swiss through and through. In these circumstances, you have to just go with the flow. There is no point trying to do modern.

When you arrive at the chalet, there is likely to be snow on the ground. However this house has an underground passage, so you can park under cover and then walk through the corridor and up in a lift to the front door. The entrance is quite small with a cupboard for all the snowy coats; nobody’s going to arrive without a coat in winter so you might as well make sure there’s somewhere to put them. For fun I included a traditional antler bench with striped wool upholstery which picks up all the colours I have used throughout the chalet. Red was always going to be very dominant in this house and I added a slate grey which reflects the colours of the winter sports posters my clients have collected.