Decorating a mountain chalet in old wood, how to sublimate your interior?
The varnished pine panelling and the red checkered curtains, we can't take it anymore! It’s time to rethink the interior design of the chalet in a more contemporary and natural spirit.
A unique custom-made ceiling for the Les Cerises chalet. In the bathroom of the Warens suite, the light fittings were integrated directly into the logs.
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 the beauty of the raw wood. Old cladding boards, originally used for the exterior of chalets, are increasingly difficult to find in the Alps and have become luxury products. And what about the logs, beams, posts, rafters and logs, they are even more difficult to find. Naturally sunburnt for several decades, they will just be brushed and treated to magnify your interior walls. They should preferably be split, drilled and knotted. 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 blemishes, like little stories from everyday life, will give them even more personality.
The roof of the Aravis suite is a mixture of century-old and contemporary aged wood...
Can you recognise them?
No mercy for timber frame construction!
For the ceiling of a wooden chalet without charm, the solution is to “age” the exposed beams of your frame. The technique is quite simple, but tedious to implement. You start by breaking the corners of each beam with a plane and imitating the way the ancients cut wood with rudimentary tools. An axe is used to add defects, a plane will also do the trick... And you don't hesitate to be really frank! Then, brush or sand the wood without mercy, solid wood will support it very well. The wood grain should appear very deep during this process. Be careful, wood dust is abrasive, so protect yourself. All that remains to be done is to imitate the dark brown tones caused by the sun’s fiery rays. Use a torch to char the light beige surface of the natural wood to darken the hollows between the veins. Then use a copper brush to remove the soot and finish the stain with walnut stain. All that remains to be done is to add the old siding and rafters between the structural planks that you have just aged. In this way, the interior of a modern chalet will resemble that of a Savoyard farmhouse found in the middle of nature. Fir, larch, spruce, Douglas fir, each species reacts a little differently, but in general, softwoods will work well together. Avoid hardwoods such as oak, as the more compact wood grain will not give the same effect as softwoods. This technique will also work well with existing frames or joinery.
But beware, too much old wood kills wood! We should avoid a total chalet look, otherwise our rooms will have a “boxy” appearance. Keep one or two walls in another material, and a simple paint job in slate, neutral grey or natural stone tones will work perfectly. On the walls, we will limit the use of colours that are too strong and that will clash with the old wood to keep a warm atmosphere.
Antique furniture and decorative objects are the basis of this cosy setting in the heart of the French Alps.
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 cocooning spirit of a luxury chalet. This warm light is reminiscent of the softness of a welcoming fireplace. It is a good idea to 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 design. Don't forget to leave a few darker areas to avoid uniformity and bring life through contrast. Keep in mind that shadows are an integral part of the lighting of your cosy nest.
Candles should be lit to further warm the atmosphere of the chalet and a wood-burning stove installed if you don't have a fireplace. There is nothing better than a fireplace to enhance the cosy atmosphere of a chalet. In addition to heating us, the soft light of the flames will comfort us by the fire. Finally, we install a mirror, much more than a simple decorative object, there is nothing better to enlarge our homes and reflect the light.
Plan the location of your lighting in advance, so you can take out your power supplies in exactly the right place. Now is the time to add new sockets, install new hanging lights and run network cables for a low-tech cottage.
Resolutely contemporary, these “deer” wall lamps are a nod to traditional hunting trophies. Design Chen Bikovski.
Listen to the talented Savoyard carpenters who love their heritage, they will give you good advice
The direction of the boards will have a great impact on the final result. They should be vertical 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 their full length, and only punctuated by a few vertical planks, there will be very little waste. This post-and-beam aspect is particularly interesting to give rhythm to the space of a large chalet. 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.
You can take the opportunity to add a few fake pegs to give the impression that the cottage has been around for centuries. Don't overdo it or the result will be too fake. A successful mountain style decoration based on old wood should give the impression that many elements have been present in the chalet since its construction.
At the Chalet les Cerises, the kitchen plays the traditional card with the doors of the old wooden furniture.
Indispensable mix and match balance
Once the walls have been decorated with old wood, it is a pleasure to mix genres. An Alpine chalet decorated in a purely rustic style will become heavy and dated, while a chalet that is too contemporary will become cold and insipid. This is the time to let go and 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. We will not hesitate to divert the objects from their original function, a cabinetmaker's workbench will become a superb console; an old sledge will be transformed into a surprising coffee table. Round logs cut to different heights make perfect bedside tables. But don't hang a pair of old alpine skis on the wall of the dining room; instead, place them carelessly near the entrance to a ski room next to old wooden snowshoes. The decorative effect will be much more interesting.
Then we’ll balance it out with more contemporary design objects and furniture. 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 precious allies, designers have always had a soft spot for these two disciplines, the offer is almost unlimited.
In this chalet overlooking the village of Cordon, in Haute-Savoie. Natural materials are used to furnish the spectacular balcony.
Give preference to 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 our interior.
How about giving a second life to fur coats from a bygone era? Now out of fashion, unsaleable and much maligned, these coats sit pitifully at the back of wardrobes. Recycle them into cushions, what could be softer than real fur?
Rusted metal is the other great friend of old wood and will blend in perfectly. If you use Corten steel, the rust will remain on the surface and will 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. For your windows or radiators, many manufacturers have rust-coloured finishes in their catalogue that will blend in perfectly with old wood.
Not only that, but linen, wool, stone, ceramics, feathers, reeds... will fit perfectly with the whole. Even of ethnic origin, natural materials are a perfect complement to a mountain decoration. Invite linen into the bedroom, a thick bed linen set, slightly crumpled towels or curtains will accentuate the simple and pure side of your interior decoration. Note that Arpin still works with wool in the old fashioned way. The feel of a plaid or a cushion made of Bonneval cloth will not leave you indifferent. This century-old spinning mill also offers thick wall tiles in “mule” wool, fixed in the manner of “tavaillons”, they will compose a warm and cosy headboard.
The Mont Blanc suite with its beaver cushions and aged wood French doors. The false framework above the door frames has been grooved to conceal an LED strip that highlights the ceiling.