Decoration of a mountain chalet in old wood
Updated: Oct 10
The dark varnished panelling and the red checked curtains are too much! It's time to rethink the interior design of the chalet in a more contemporary and natural spirit.
For a truly cocooning chalet, wood is a must. Natural and warm, you will immediately immerse yourself in the mountain-chic atmosphere of Megève. We prefer natural wood, preferably old, and above all avoid shiny varnishes. There are matt treatments to preserve their raw beauty. Old cladding boards, originally used for the exterior of chalets, are increasingly difficult to find in the Alps and have become luxury products. Naturally sunburnt for several decades, they will just be brushed and treated to magnify your interior walls. It is best to choose split, pierced and knotted wood. The more they have been abused by time, the more beautiful they will be once installed. Suitable for a rented chalet, the wood will develop a patina and continue to look beautiful. Maintenance is very simple: there is nothing to do. Stains and dents, like little stories from everyday life, will give them even more personality.
But beware, too much old wood kills wood! Avoid a total look in the chalet, otherwise our rooms will look “boxy”. We will keep one or two walls in another material, a simple paint in neutral grey tones or natural stone will match perfectly. On the walls, limit the use of colours that are too strong and that will clash with the old wood.
Above all, do not neglect the lighting of the chalet
In addition to being extremely dull, old wood is dark and has a lot of black in the "hard veins. It literally sucks up light, so a word of advice, take care with your lighting and multiply the light sources. Use warm whites; a shade of 2700°K is ideal to bring the necessary warmth to the chalet spirit. Alternate ambient lighting with wide beams and spotlights with 8° bulbs. A narrow cone of light will highlight the most beautiful details of your interior decoration. Don't forget to leave a few darker areas to avoid uniformity and bring life through the play of constraint. Keep in mind that shadows are an integral part of a successful lighting scheme.
Plan the location of your lights in advance, so you can put your power supplies in exactly the right place. Now is the time to add new sockets and run network cables for a discrete high-tech chalet.
Listen to the talented Savoyard carpenters, who love their heritage and will give you good advice
For the installation, the direction of the boards will have a great impact on the final result. They should be laid vertically to accentuate the feeling of height and avoid the effect of crushing darker rooms. On the other hand, horizontal installation will bring a feeling of space and warmth to brighter rooms located on the first floor with high ceilings. It should be noted that the latter is more economical in terms of raw materials. Used in all their lengths, and only punctuated by a few vertical planks, there will be very little waste. Before covering the walls, the boards should be sorted by colour and density. All the talent of the installer will appear in the subtlety of the gradation obtained, homogeneity is essential.
Take advantage of this to add a few false pegs to give the impression that the chalet has survived the centuries. Don't overdo it, otherwise the result will be too fake. A successful decoration based on old wood must give the impression that many elements have been present in the chalet since its construction.
A balance of mix and match is essential
Once the walls are adorned with old wood, it is fun to mix and match. A chalet with only rustic decoration will become heavy and dated, while a chalet that is too contemporary will become cold and insipid. It's time to let go, hunt for old everyday objects. Filled with sweet nostalgia, they will bring back life and each one will tell a story, a gesture, a heritage, a forgotten trade. Don't hesitate to divert them from their original function, a cabinetmaker's workbench will become a superb console; an old sled will be transformed into a surprising coffee table.
Then counterbalance the ensemble with objects and furniture of more contemporary design. This is the time to display our works of art. Contemporary paintings will naturally find their place in a luxurious chalet. Lighting and seating are valuable allies; designers have always had a soft spot for both, and the range is almost limitless.
Go for raw materials
Nothing works better with old wood than leather and fur! The great trend of the moment, the unavoidable cowhide will naturally find its place in Savoie. You can also use it to bring a tired club chair up to date, which you will entrust to an upholsterer. Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand already used this material to cover their famous LC4 chaise longue or their LC1 armchair. Comfortable sheepskins will welcome you softly out of bed, or cover our armchairs. Plaids and cushions will be used and abused to bring warmth to your home.
How about giving a second life to fur coats inherited from a bygone era? Now out of fashion, unsellable and very much in disrepute, these coats sit pitifully at the back of wardrobes. Recycle them into cushions, what could be softer than real fur?
Rusty metal is the other great friend of old wood, it will fit in perfectly. If you use Corten steel, the rust will stay on the surface and not attack the core of the metal. Another advantage of this steel is that once stabilised, the rust becomes compact and does not stain. Another solution is to use hydrochloric acid to accelerate the ageing of ferrous metals.
Not only that, but linen, wool, stone, ceramics, feathers, reeds, etc. will fit in perfectly. Even of ethnic origin, natural materials perfectly complement a mountain decoration.
Pinterest, your “new best friend” decorator?
Thousands and thousands of images are present on this social network. Drowned among so many others, excellent ideas are just a click away. If you take a little time, you'll always find the “wow-image” that will thrill you and spark your creativity.
My little decorating tip: Simply create a folder by theme in which you save everything you like without asking too many questions. We'll wait a few days - the time to have a little distance - and we'll re-examine this batch of images to determine which common points have seduced us. Of course, it will not be enough to copy, but we will be able to reinterpret at leisure. Thus, we will have the starting point of a decoration to our image.