Magic mountain – space-saving design tips from a Swiss ski chalet | Interiors


PPerched 550 meters above sea level in the Swiss resort village of Arosa is a three-bedroom ski chalet that proves that a small space can feel expansive – and that sometimes a dated interior doesn’t does not need to be ripped off.

Built in the 1970s, the house was purchased by its owner, Zurich interior designer Claudia Silberschmidt, in 2016. It hadn’t changed at that time and was filled with accessories and furniture from the 1970s, including wall-to-wall beige rugs. , dark orange tiles in the living space and a striking paneled suspended ceiling. She and her husband have spent their visits this winter soaking up the old-fashioned feel of the chalet while deciding how they might transform it.

“We wanted to adopt its 70s spirit and not impose a woody ‘mountain chic’ look on it,” she explains. “To refresh him without erasing his identity, which attracted us in the first place. “

Owner Claudia Silberschmidt designed much of the furniture. Photography: Gaëlle Le Boulicaut

Silberschmidt has a long family relationship with Arosa: his great-grandfather was the architect of a prominent local hotel; his grandfather was a hotelier there; and his father was born and raised in the village. Silberschmidt visited the chalet as a child and remembers feeling at home there before. “It’s not a real beauty, but it’s the perfect size and location,” she says.

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A small American kitchen with black resin worktops was originally separated from the living room and the dining room by a wall; Silberschmidt removed it to create a common and open kitchen, living room and dining room. She designed a natural spruce top (inspired by a stack of freshly milled wood), which wraps around a support column and doubles as a kitchen worktop. Its end looks like a stack of Jenga bricks.

This, paired with an L-shaped built-in bench covered in pale orange / pink fabric – a nod to ’70s-style seating – separates the kitchen from the rest of the space. “I wanted a simple table ‘without design’, explains Silberschmidt. She built it from new, pale wood, which contrasts with the dark gray walls and ceiling.

The living room.
The living room with original decorative ceiling panel that delimits this space from the dining room. Photography: Gaëlle Le Boulicaut

She kept the decorative ceiling panel, painting it the same gray as the walls but adding blue highlights to create a retro-style element. This is suspended above the dining room and the living room, delimiting it from the kitchen area.

Gray, blue and red tones fill the living space: the sofa is covered with the same gray fabric (by Andrew Martin) as the curtains. An open fire with a mantel above and a large shelf in the front, along with the original decorative plaster frame, are painted the same color as the walls; and the previously orange tiles are painted gray.

A series of mismatched stools and chairs, including a plush blue loveseat (for and stools surround a coffee table by British artist Paul Kelley: it is made of copper cubes and looks like a Rubik’s Cube. the blanket was designed by Silberschmidt (from, and pops of color come from a 1960s ceramic vase and lamp made in the former West Germany.

A lot of people are afraid to use dark colors in a small space, says Silberschmidt, but if you combine them with “bright, cheerful details,” it can actually make the space bigger. “When you paint the walls the same color as the ceiling, the outlines disappear,” she says. “The darker these colors, the stronger this effect will be, and the ceiling and walls will“ fade ”. Painting all the elements (including the fireplace and built-in cupboards) the same colors and not having any sharp contrasts will make the space feel bigger. Keeping the color scheme neutral also means that if I want a change, I can just change out the decorative items, like the table lamp, rug, or cushions, and not have to repaint the whole house.

The kitchen.
The kitchen. Photography: Gaëlle Le Boulicaut

A wall of floor-to-ceiling black shelving spans the kitchen and living areas, displaying crockery, pots and books. The highest shelves under the gable eaves are accessible by a custom-made ladder. Copper elements everywhere, from a floor panel under the fire to stools in the living room, wall sconces in the kitchen, utensils and even an original milk churn on the landing.

Another important job was to replace obsolete 70s windows with more efficient ones. Silberschmidt retained its arched shape, but opted for darker frames to better showcase the exterior landscape.

“It’s a welcoming place,” says Silberschmidt. “I love the simple act of making a fire – the smell of it. It is perfect for recharging the batteries of life.

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