Rustic European chalet, incredibly warm bear's cave
Winter in French Alps or Swiss mountains is not something you'd want to experience in a "usual" wooden house. It has to be built to stand extremely low temperatures and Europeans added one more requirement: It has to be beautiful. Chalets are uniquely designed winter homes that resemble bear's cave in every corner. With thick walls, huge stone fireplaces and a lot of wood, they offer protection from the cold while at the same look like a luxury hotel from the inside.
The concept of the bear's cave is visible in every room. Space is tight but not too small, windows are small to protect from cold but large enough to enjoy the view Alps offer. Furniture and old hardware is the final touch usually made of thick wood with great carvings made by skilled masters. Material is from nearby woods so it can't be more natural than it is. A lot of pillows and blankets is a must, and you get the space where you'd like to spend the whole year, not just a few weeks during the winter months.
One of the central rooms in the European chalet is the kitchen. Although there are fireplaces inside, a wooden stove makes the whole space, usually open, even more warm, not to mention beautiful flavor spreading all around. And forget the kitchen island: The stove must be big and bold, with enough space on it to make a lunch for the whole family and it doesn't matter if it's hundred years old, those old are the best. Beside that kitchen masterpiece you can find a lot of storage space and old utensils because new and modern are simply not working in this design.
Since tourists are coming to see the beauty of Alps, some chalets were redesigned to follow modern trends, but they didn't lost their soul. You'll find inside luxury furniture, state of the art kitchen and bathroom faucets, and all kinds of modern lightning. But if you step back and take a look you can see it's still a bear's cave, a luxurious one but still a cave. The form can't be ahead of function, locals learned that through time, and that's why chalets, even modern ones, have one foot frozen in time when things were more simpler and life easier. ■
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