Interior designer Russell Jones on updating a chalet property in the Alps
After a day on the slopes, it is important that you take your tired legs – and those of your guests – back to a comfortable, inviting chalet. If you have bought a chalet in France – or would like to – and want to find out how to transform it into a stunning mountain retreat, Russell Jones, of Design Forum Interiors, can help! Having recently won the contract to refurbish Aspen Lodge, a luxury apartment hotel in Val d’Is�re, we spoke to him about the challenging project to glean some interiors tips for our own properties.
What was the Aspen Lodge’s brief?
The owners wanted to update the existing interior with soft furnishings – curtains, upholstery and dressing items – while retaining all structural, built-in or joinery items. They wanted an injection of life, colour and fun.
Was there a clear plan from the start, or did the design evolve?
There is always a starting point; this naturally is the brief from the client. Each scheme had its own identity, and essentially its own starting point – whether it’s a piece of art, a cushion or a particular fabric. However, design is never a closed book, and always evolves during the time of the project. This particular interior was no exception, and evolved at every stage of design, be that colour, shape or texture in wallpapers, art or bespoke furniture.
Tell us more about the individual designs in each bedroom suite.
Each suite has its own identity, shaped by colour and art. We had the original furniture and carpets to work with, so wanted to do something that would really lift these.We have one neutral/blue scheme, a dark brown/red, a fuscia/teal/neutral scheme, a vivid red/lime green, and a lime green/orange. These all were tied together with the style in which they created – a fun and contemporary feel, up to date, fresh and inviting. The artwork was chosen within each scheme to complement the colours – rooms with lots of colour have relatively subtle pieces of art, whereas rooms that are more subdued in their coloration are uplifted by the artwork.
What materials did you use?
We mainly used a variety of linens and wools. These are heavy natural materials that always give a feeling of warmth in an Alpine property. They are inviting, unlike many manmade fabrics that can look a little too manufactured. The textiles were chosen from a wide library of thousands of alternative options. What works best is, instead of choosing one specific fabric, you use a group of specific fabrics that all complement one another.
What ambience did you want to create?
A sophisticated, yet bright, fun space with interest and intrigue around every corner. We wanted to leave people questioning the wallpaper on ceilings, the positioning of frogs on beams, the drawing of a cow in a suspended shed, lit by one solitary spotlight. I love it when a client is absolutely delighted with an interior, but can’t quite pin down why they are delighted!
How long did the work take?
The whole project ran for four or five months. We installed the soft furnishings in two weeks with a team of 10.
What is your favourite aspect or part of Aspen Lodge’s design?
The entrance area – we put a heavily textured wallpaper up here and altered the style of wall lights, repainted the curved ceiling a dark grey, and replaced the old coir matting with a new black coir matting. This worked incredibly well, and gave the small unassuming space a real sense of mood and drama.
Did you draw from traditional Alpine styles?
We have found over the years that our clients tend to stray away from the ‘typical Alpine interior’ (they could get this from any interiors shop near the resort). What they want is luxury, comfort and interest in their property. There is no taking away from an Alpine interior – the large windows all tend to open up onto mountain views, bringing the outside inside naturally. Not only this, but the natural architecture of any chalet exudes the Alpine aesthetic. Our interiors are created with this in mind, but we try not to emphasise the Alpine style.
Russell’s top design tips for your Alpine property
Think outside the box Don’t just think about the interior, think about the surroundings, the resort/town/village, the people and, most importantly, how you would like to feel while in each individual space.
Application of materials Experiment with textures, materials and their application; intelligent lighting of these different textures can create a very strong ambience.
Colour Test out different colours in different rooms, but don’t forget about continuity throughout. Don’t be afraid to paint ceilings in an alternative colour to the normal white – if you don’t like it, or it doesn’t work, you can always paint over it!
Comfort You could have the most stunning sofa or chair, but it could be the most uncomfortable thing in the world – after sitting on it for a couple of weeks, the once stunning sofa can become very unattractive! If you can, test out your furniture before you buy it, or test out something similar by the same supplier.
Pattern Don’t be afraid of mixing patterns – it is a good way of tying in colours in a room into one fabric. Small snippets of pattern as art, cushions or bed throws can be a fantastic way to liven up a room.
Have fun Designing an interior should be an enjoyable experience. Get your partner or children involved, pass your ideas around as many friends or colleagues as possible, and get their feedback – they may have some great ideas too!
Design Forum Interiors
Tel: 01233 732 466