One of the chicest rental houses we've come across? Villa Solaire, an 1826 farmhouse in the ski town of Morzine, in Haute Savoie, converted by French architecture studio Jeremie Koempgen Architecture (JKA) and designers FUGA into a glamorous—and clean-lined— alpine chalet, available by the week. Set in the historic district of Pied de La Plagne, the wood farmhouse had traditional carved wood cladding in need of replacement, and an expansive but gloomy interior. The design team responded to local building restrictions by recreating the traditional construction techniques used for the exterior—a local carpenter spent months carving the spruce planks. The resulting openings in the slats, however, aren't merely decorative: they're artfully designed to draw light into the building, and each side of the house has openings that are widest where the sun falls (to figure this out, the architects studied, among other things, the path of shadows cast by surrounding farm buildings onto the house.)
Designed to sleep 16 people, the interior is divided into four blocks, each with its own bedrooms and baths around a multi-level central living space with lofty beamed ceilings, charcoal gray walls, and a chic assemblage of modern rustic furniture. Oh, and there's a small indoor pool and billiard room, too. See below for retail details.
Photographs by Julien Lanoo via Jeremie Koempgen Architecture.
Above: The spruce exterior of the house is all new but made using traditional local construction techniques. The slats, which were attached to the frame and then carved, are reminiscent of barn openwork used to keep hay ventilated.
Above: The barn-like skeleton of the farmhouse was carefully preserved—the design team say that its charms are what made the structure worth reinventing. Shown here, the central living area, designed in a unifying palette of exposed wood against black and charcoal gray.
Above: Mesa-style small square window cutouts in the plaster walls draw light into what had originally been a very dark interior.
Above: The common rooms are linked by a series of wide wood stairs that architect Jeremie Koempgen notes were "designed as living spaces." Here, a step is used as a shelf for a pair of Arne Jacobsen AJ Lamps.
Above: Next to the kitchen, black curtains run across a windowed eating porch.
Above: A combination of rough and refined—a post and beam kitchen counter.
Above: The living room is set up as a series of hangouts with floor cushions at one end, and a sofa nestled next to steps that face a fireplace.
Above: Low windows light the halls via the exterior's openwork cladding. The design team say that the shifting levels in the interior reference the mountain terrain of the surrounding Rhones-Alpes region.
Above: Throughout the house, bright white tiled bathrooms are punctuated with Vola HV1 red faucets. See our Design Sleuth on the faucet (but note that the Danish Design Store no longer carries the design; see Vola for a source near you).
Ready to move in? Villa Solaire has seven bedrooms (some are sleeping alcoves) and holds 14 people; it's available to rent by the week; rates range from €3,500- €11,000 depending on time of year. (During the low season, it can be rented for weekends and shorter stays.) The house is located in the Haute Savoie, France, town of Morzine; it's 2.7 km from the town center and close to skiing—a ski bus stops near the house. The nearest international airport is in Geneva, an hour and 15 minutes by car.
For more mountain house inspiration, see An Alpine Retreat for Rent, A Swiss Chalet Reborn (with Rooms to Rent), and A Wabi Sabi Ski Chalet in Aspen. And if you're as enchanted by cozy winter bedrooms as we are, don't miss: 10 Space-Saving Ski Cabin Bunks.