A family skiing trip to Megève in the French Alps, in 1981, was such a success it led to numerous repeat visits, and ultimately inspired the homeowners to buy a small flat in the resort. However, the beloved flat quickly became too small for the family of four, they decided to buy a house instead.
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The owners said: ‘We were very excited about looking in Megève but there was nothing large enough available, so we extended our search to Combloux, a resort in its own right, just three miles away. It is smaller and quieter than Megève, but it is very sweet and just as nice, and is known as ‘La perle du Mont Blanc’ because it has such incredible views of the mountain.
‘Our property is an old farmhouse and has a really generous main living area and five bedrooms, each with adjoining shower rooms. There is also a garden, which we wanted for the children. The views of the mountain are spectacular, and although it feels quite isolated it is just a five-minute walk to the shop to buy our croissants in the morning. We also liked the fact that it is a proper, nineteenth-century Haute-Savoie farmhouse rather than a purpose-built chalet.’
The farmhouse had been renovated by a property developer. All that remained to do was to hang the curtains, put in some extra lighting and to furnish and decorate it, making it the perfect project. The owner said: 'Many chalets these days are very modern and sleek, which was not what I wanted; nor do I like the gingham look. I wanted something more quirky, with plenty of colour, pattern, texture, and a few antiques. It had to be a real home with lots of character.'
The couple got interior designer Tor Vivian on board to help with the decor. The owner said: 'Tor and I have been friends for many years. When we bought our first house together, she helped us with the refurbishment. Since then, she has worked on all our home projects, including the restoration of our estate in East Sussex.'
The owners consider the home more than a winter retereat, saying: 'We come here in winter, of course, but it is a wonderful place to be during the summer months. The air is so invigorating. I love going on walks and stopping at mountain restaurants; in fact, I think I almost prefer it to skiing.
Striking art work by Richard Hoey brings personality to the main living space of the farmhouse. ‘I spotted this piece in a gallery on London’s King’s Road,’ says interior designer Tor Vivian. ‘The chimney breast is the perfect spot for it.’
The large elaborate mirror was the starting point for this scheme, with its opulence balanced by the clean lines of the red leather dining chairs.
Warming notes of the colour red appear in various forms throughout the farmhouse. ‘It looks so good and is immediately comforting against the wood,’ says Tor.
The compact but efficient kitchen, with a small bar at the front, is set to one side beneath the roof of the main living area. Tor put in new lighting and a utensil rack to supplement the traditional pine cabinetry and a hardwearing but smart-looking hammered black granite worktop and splashback.
To give new life to the shelving unit, which was inherited from the previous owner, it was lined with a cowhide-effect wallpaper.
Although the existing bathrooms were new and in good order, ‘we added freestanding wooden vanity units with simple basinsfor a slightly more traditional look’, says Tor.
An elegant bureau, with a view of the first-floor terrace, provides the owners with a pleasant spot to work when at the chalet. To make the room feel cosy yet tranquil, Tor has chosen wool curtains, plenty of faux fur and a luxurious rug with an extra thick wave-patterned pile.