How to Design a Modern Ski Chalet-Style Home

A modern mountain chalet in Oregon puts a playful yet practical spin on the alpine sensibility

By Melissa Goldstein, Sunset 


Make Sensible Cool

Portland’s Oliver and Sara Fritsch had big dreams when, with architect Blane Skowhede and contractor Ethan Beck, they broke ground on the weekend home near Mt. Hood that would be their vision of a contemporary ski chalet.

A recent three-year stint abroad in Amsterdam with
 their children—Penelope, 9; and Winter, 10—gave the
 couple the varied cultural influences that inspired the
 home’s design. Key to the aesthetic were three words: 
alpine, gezellig—a Dutch term that roughly translates to “cozy”—and funk. The starting point was a structure
 with a sloping roof that could shoulder snow load, 
much like ski chalets sited above the treeline. 
 “The shape of the house looks very contemporary—and it is—but it’s also very functional,” says Sara.


Don't Settle

To deliver on the gezellig factor, Portland designer Casey Keasler of Casework assembled a high-contrast palette anchored by a custom black she mixed herself. “True black felt too stark,” Keasler explains. “I wanted a color that had an approachable softness to it.”

The couple also layered texture—like Moroccan rugs and sheepskin throws—and doubled down on playful statements, including a poster displaying lyrics from the 1979 Sugarhill Gang hit “Rapper’s Delight” mounted over the black brick fireplace.

Bringing it all together, the reverse floor plan maximizes natural light in the spaces where the family spends most of their time. “We went with high ceilings and big windows [upstairs],” says Sara, “so it feels like you’re in this snow globe when it’s snowing—bright and amazing.”


Inspiration Point

And for bringing the funk? The Fritsches turned to an unexpected decor moment: the living room’s Ikea sectional. Its heavyweight cotton canvas was custom-printed with a floral pattern Sara and Oliver picked out from a painting, Still Life with Flowers, by Baroque painter Jan Davidszoon de Heem (above). The original is on display at the Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands, explains, Sara. "The museum offers people free access to all digital files of their collection. I knew I wanted to take this painting and make it into a couch, so we had to manipulate the file and take the vase out of the image. At the end of the day, it’s the world’s most fabulous Ikea couch!”


Create Double-Duty Storage

“Function is the name of the game in the entry, which is why we have a rubber-tile floor,” says Sara. “This area is mission critical.” Designer Casey Keasler used a perforated metal bench with sliding bins to accommodate the family’s ski equipment.


Go for Close Quarters

“We purposely only have two bedrooms in the house because we go up here on the weekends to connect as a family,” says Sara. Keasler designed the bunk beds from alder wood, adding storage at the base.


Add Maximum Impact

The high-contrast scheme is composed of two simple elements: white tile and glossy black trim. “It’s common in the Netherlands to have high-gloss paint for your trim,” says Sara. “We were fresh from Holland, so we did it in black, which was our take.” Adds Keasler: “The glossy trim adds a gorgeous depth, especially with white walls.”



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U.S. Daily News: How to Design a Modern Ski Chalet-Style Home
How to Design a Modern Ski Chalet-Style Home
U.S. Daily News
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