Country house chalet – history and traditions

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If you have ever traveled to Europe, then you probably remember the low country houses, similar to a revived picture of a hut from a children’s fairy tale: creamy chocolate walls, candy roof and pretzel shutters. This is a typical rural house in the Alpine mountains. On the slopes of its sloping roof lies a huge cap of snow, the combination of stone and darkened wood breathes with reliability and homeliness, and a gray trickle of smoke is drawn from the chimney – all this is a chalet. The chalet house is beautiful not only in winter, but also in summer. Lost among the lush greenery of the forest, he slyly allows himself to be contemplated in all its splendor. And how it breathes … the purest mountain air and the resinous aroma of wood, and all around is silence, comfort and bliss.

The prosaic history of unusual country houses

Translated from French “chalet” (French – chalet) means – “shepherd’s hut.” Such buildings are traditional for most European suburbs, located in the highlands. Otherwise they are also called “Swiss houses”.

Chalet architectural style

The architectural style of the chalet originated in the Alps. It is believed that such buildings first appeared in Austria in the 16th-17th centuries. Many years ago, the peasant family was subordinated to the patriarchal way of life, and the family clan consisted of up to 30 people for 2-3 generations. All lived under one roof and kept a household, livestock. Therefore, a solid house was required, capable of sheltering from bad weather in the mountains, and still durable and for centuries. The estate, by the way, was inherited. These traditions have survived to this day. House-chalet – a family heritage that has its own unique look, keeping the history of long gone generations.

The inhabitants of European villages in the Alpine area built their huts from what they could find in the mountains. These were stones and wood, and limestone was used for wall decoration. The basement of the rural chalet house was completely made of stone, which required the harsh natural conditions of the mountainous area – cold, wind, snow, rain. The first and attic floors were built mainly of massive pine or larch beams. Over time, the wood darkened, which gave the building an even more majestic look. The sloping roof, hanging strongly over the walls of the house, reliably protected its interior, protecting it from bad weather. For the roof, they took shingles or shingles, be sure to roll them with small stones so that it would not be blown away by the wind. The main and only building tool was an ax, but the ancient secrets of construction have made it possible to preserve these chopped buildings to this day..

Chalet architecture

In the middle of the XIX century. much has changed, the village has been abandoned. The industrial revolution has provided new opportunities, including for the construction industry. The slightly forgotten chalet style experienced a “rebirth” during this period. Dilapidated houses have become a tasty morsel for entrepreneurs, and the proximity to ski resorts has made them a real “gold mine”.

Classics of the genre – architecture of a chalet house

Returning to the architecture of the chalet house, in almost four centuries, little has changed in its canons. For the construction of Swiss houses today, still, according to tradition, wood and stone are used – this is the basis. A classic alpine chalet is necessarily built on a solid rocky plinth, and the upper floors are erected from massive pine beams. Instead of natural stone, brick can be used, but the brickwork must be plastered, or modern foam concrete. An interesting design solution for a chalet house will be decorative lining of corners with natural stone and wall cladding with textured plaster of light colors.

Chalet house materials

For the first and attic floors, only valuable coniferous wood is suitable – pine, larch, spruce, fir. With the help of special paints and varnishes or wax, you can easily imitate its artificial aging – patina, or use a stain.

Chalet house roof

The roof of the chalet house is two or four-pitched, sloping, the overhang has an indicator of 1.5 to 3 m. It looks pretty heavy, but at the same time does not make the building heavier at all. For its construction, modern roofing materials are used – larch shingles, flexible tiles, ceramic tiles or composite tiles imitating shingles. The windows in the house are small, but there are quite a few of them, so there is no lack of light inside. The last floor is an attic, always with a sloped ceiling.

In the exterior of the chalet house, one cannot fail to note the closed long balconies and terraces, right under the overhanging roof, located along the entire perimeter of the building. They are important not only from the aesthetic point of view, but also designed to increase the useful footage. In summer, they can be used to equip an additional outdoor recreation area.

Alpine house

In general, the rural alpine house does not have any special external decor, everything is simple and laconic. The facade of the house is made without excessive pomp, but not devoid of dignity. In the past, mottos or witty sayings were often written on them, like Russian folk proverbs – “Red hut is not with corners, but with pies”, “A family is then strong when there is only one roof over it”, “It is not so much the owner needs the good as the owner of the good.”.

Chalet house interior

Perhaps, the interior of the chalet house is more picturesque than its external appearance. The interior layout is quite traditional for country houses: the ground floor is reserved for non-residential utility rooms, or it can be used for a swimming pool or a Finnish sauna. On the ground floor there are living quarters – this is, as a rule, a combined kitchen and living room, a recreation room, there may also be an office, a library, and also a patio and a bar. The attic floor with one or more balconies is mainly reserved for bedrooms and rooms for children. Despite the richness of the interior furnishings, the main principle of the interior of a chalet house is practicality. In the interior decoration, the priority is given to wood: – stairs, walls, floor, ceiling, windows, – everything should be wooden. Amazing combinations of not only different types of wood, but also the variety of its shades can emphasize the ethnic notes of the rural style. The walls of the rooms can be painted in light colors, and to give the effect of antiquity – covered with wax. The wooden ceiling, together with the decorative beams, gives the rooms a weighty and precise accent. They are also covered with wax, as if to return to the past..

Fireplace in the interior of a chalet house

The central place in the interior of the house is the fireplace. This is the main decorative element in the house, the center of the hearth, where the whole family usually gathers. It is located on the ground floor in the living room or lounge. The light of the fire emanating from the fireplace in the interior echoes the many lamps arranged in the house.

Chalet house interior

The traditional style in which the interior of the chalet house is decorated is country. Almost all the furniture echoes it, it is made of wood in a classic style, Provence or Art Deco, with leather or fabric trim, glass, forging or painting decoration. The presence of textiles should reflect the ethnic traditions of life in the village, unity with nature. The history of the home, family, clan lies in the details, so accessories are the main attributes of the interior. Regarding modern chalet houses, their interiors can be anything from country style with a Swiss, Italian, Austrian or French accent to art deco. The rural hut may well claim to be the “Alpine glamor” invented by the Swiss designer Rudolf Haene. Perhaps there is a deep meaning in the ability to combine tradition with modernity..

Newfangled architectural trend from the “chest”

In Russia, the chalet style is rather a well-forgotten old one. For the first time such a Swiss country house was built here during the time of Paul I at the end of the 19th century. Empress Maria Feodorovna in Pavlovsk. Since then, interest in chalet houses has subsided a bit to revive again. Many architects argue that for the construction of country houses, the chalet style has become a newfangled trend today..

Architectural trends

Swiss reliability, Austrian utilitarianism, Italian temperament and French sophistication – their combination has always been to the liking of the Russian people. Genuine simplicity, comfort and practicality, without them a chalet is unthinkable – a house that keeps family traditions and traditions.

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