Mountain Views Keep a Colorful and Contemporary Chalet Grounded
By Joanna Simmons, Houzz
“‘James Bond meets Austin Powers’ was the challenge the owner set!” says Davina Merola, who created the interior of this fresh and fun three-story chalet in the Swiss Alps. “He wanted color everywhere. This was to be a vibrant second home that made the most of the views but felt funky and contemporary too.”
So rather than sporting traditional ski chalet style — think lots of beige tones and wood furniture — the house sings with color, from striped rugs and cushions to an art-installation-style dining table that positively glows. “The owner had an aversion to neutrals,” Merola says, “so I was able to have lots of fun with soft furnishings. The design boards looked quite crazy at first, with all the Kenzo and Missoni colors, but when spread throughout the house, they work really well.”
Houzz at a Glance
Who lives here: An entrepreneurial businessman, along with visiting family and friends
Location: The Swiss Alps
Size: Five bedrooms, five bathrooms
Interior designer: Davina Merola of Space Alchemy Interior Design
A priority for the interior design of this home was that it make the most of the wonderful mountain views. On the central living floor, two Bond-esque armchairs provide the perfect spot from which to take in the vistas.
The owner of the chalet bought the land and then employed a team of builders and architects to create his home. “I was involved from the start,” says interior designer Davina Merola, “which meant I could contribute to the spatial arrangements, lighting and AV specifications.”
The owner wanted to install quality sound and vision technology and Lutron lighting, all on Crestron intelligent-control systems. “He brought a team over from the U.K. to rig up the house,” Merola says. “It was a very complex installation…. Now he has remote access and monitoring of the heating, lighting and security systems over a secure Web link, so he can adjust any of them from anywhere in the world.”
The owner loves to cook and wanted a crisp, white kitchen. “He wanted to install something very modern, pared-back and quite architectural,” Merola says. “He had trained as a chef, so there are stainless steel worktops too, which are a nice professional touch.”
The dining table incorporates a light installation by artists Rob and Nick Carter. “The owner came across them on [TV program] The Apprentice,” Merola says. “They were working with a contestant. He loved their work and got in touch, asking them to design something. At first they thought he meant an artwork for the walls, but no, it was a table!”
The lights go through different color themes, pre-programmed by the artists. “I had to amalgamate it with the table structure, which we had made from steel,” Merola says. “The cabling runs out through the legs, and it had to be positioned just under the sculptural pendant light.”
“We had fun with the fireplace,” Merola says. “It’s designed to look like a mini mountain. When you come up the stairs from the ground floor, your eyes are in line with the fire and then there are the mountains behind it. It seems to add to the run of mountains outside.”
Designing the fireplace was an interesting challenge. “I didn’t want a flue carving up the space, but we wanted it in a central position,” Merola says. The solution was a system that draws the smoke down and then out through a flue running up the stairwell. “So now it looks like a floating mountain,” she says. “The lid hinges up to add logs. We had it made by a French steelworking company.”
The interior of the living floor is deliberately pared-down to create a space in which visitors can easily move around. “The owner entertains a lot and has parties, so he wanted the rooms to feel sociable,” Merola says. “Most of the middle floor is open-plan living space.”
“Tech is the owner’s passion,” Merola says. “He really enjoyed working all that in.” The TV is flanked by three speakers with subdued LED lighting behind each. Henry the chow chow seems oblivious though.
“The owner wanted to make sure the views were not compromised in any way,” Merola says, “but he also wanted very big screens in all the bedrooms.” The solution was a media screen that drops down from the ceiling. The master bedroom also features mirrored wardrobes that reflect the view.
This beautifully lit sauna is on the bottom floor of the house, where the master bath and bedroom, two guest rooms and a home theater are also situated. There’s also a specially ventilated equipment room on this floor. “The owner has a massive sound and DVD collection, which is stored on a big server down here,” Merola says.
The chalet’s exterior, which is beautifully lit, features a hot tub and speakers. “When the dining table is doing its light show, it makes for a wonderful view from out here,” Merola says. “It changes color like a UFO.”