With a brief that called for comfort rather than opulence, Brigitta Spinocchia Freund designed this handsome ski lodge with an earthy palette, tactile surfaces, and a few nods to the natural wonderland beyond.
When London-based interior designer Brigitta Spinocchia Freund was asked to work on this eight bedroom, ski-in, skiout, new-build chalet in smart Courchevel 1850, her role involved everything from planning the room layout and designing the bespoke furniture to cross-checking the tiniest of details. “The brief was to create a liveable, comfortable space that wasn’t too opulent in its design,” she says. The 1,000 sq m chalet project took two years to complete and is the second property she’s worked on for these owners, giving her a certain head-start when it came to knowing their tastes and ideas.
“The quality of the detailing and the materials we use are probably the common threads that run through all our projects, but I think what we’re best at doing is really looking into our clients’ lifestyles and DNA ,” says Spinocchia Freund, who set up her design studio in 2009 but has 16 years of experience in the industry.
Looking at the owners’ lifestyle in this case meant putting an emphasis on the art of entertaining. The prototype for the armchairs in the dining room was made three times to make sure that they were suitable for both the husband (6 ft 5in) and his wife. The weight of the cutlery was tested to see what felt right for each of them. And there were discussions with the in-house chef about the number of guests the couple usually have for dinner and how the food is served.
There’s also a basement bar and a wine-tasting room on the ground floor with a table made from half of a blackened cedar log, and bar stools in almond gold and brass that were inspired by French 20th-century furniture designer Paul Dupré-Lafon. “We mixed brass, bronze, almond gold and nickel finishes to create a beautiful, elegant palette,” says Spinocchia Freund. Because the natural, white light from outside is so bright it almost bleaches everything out, so you need warm tones.”
Other living spaces include a basement cinema, a steam room, and swimming pool with soft lighting that washes in horizontal lines over the ceiling, relaxation beds and a cast-stone wall where every piece of stone has been painted to create shading, so it looks like a textured surface. “It’s almost impossible to get large pieces of stone into a basement and you would never know it’s not the real thing,” explains Spinocchia Freund. “A lot of basement swimming pools can be dark and uninviting but we’ve used a combination of teak decking with neoprene inlay on the floor, frosted bronze mirror on the walls, and the cast stone to ‘earth’ the whole room.”
Materials have also been carefully considered in other areas, from the walls panelled in French oak to the honey onyx basin in the powder room. There’s an ombre-effect alpaca rug in the living room, and in the cinema, cream leather walls with shoelace stitching that help buffer the sound. Even the grey-stained, reclaimed oak stairs at the back of the house have been capped with brushed antique bronze on the edges, and cantilevered to let the light flow between them.
The most show-stopping pieces are the three dramatic selenite chandeliers hanging in the dining room and the double-height space in the living room, which were inspired by images of icicles, snow and branches. “Our first idea was to do something in Perspex that mimicked the dripping of ice, but it started to look incredibly naff,” says Spinocchia Freund. So she brought artists (and friends) Lee Craik and Catherine Thomas on board and the pair went to the small town of Midelt in Morocco’s Atlas mountains to source the selenite. “They had mint tea with two Bedouins who discussed whether they would let them go into the mountain to collect the selenite. They were finally given access to a very sheltered area,” she says.
The chandeliers, which are lit by LEDs and fibre optics, took nearly four months each to make in the workshop. “One of the challenges was trying to drill through the selenite, so that the LEDs would work all the way through. The light shines, but it had to be very subtle because it’s not the sort of light you can dim; it’s either on or off.” The theme of the chandelier is, of course, reflected in the mountain views from the windows and the wraparound terrace. “We’ve kept everything in the chalet quite simple, but beautifully detailed, so that nothing draws away from the stunning winter wonderland experience the owners have when they look outside.”