Mountain Chalet Home Style Guide

Tara Dickinson
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How To Decorate a Winter Style Chalet Home: History & Tips

The wintery mountain chalet-style house, also known as an Alpine Chalet or Swiss Chalet, conjures images of charming rustic wood cabins in rural environments. Evoking pictures of homes that dot the hills of the Swiss Alps. Houses with gentle sloping roofs, log exteriors, and wood rafters. Today, chalets describe resort-like homes near beaches and lakes rather than only houses in the mountains, although this style still evokes the same sense of wilderness and adventure wherever it's located. These European-inspired homes of simplistic construction are common sights at ski resorts, around woodsy lakeside communities, and vacation spots where the main attraction is the wonder of great outdoors. The beautiful chalet style can become your quiet retreat with a few pertinent decor touches and furnishing updates.

History the of Chalet-Style House

Historical documentation of the word “chalet” describes a simple, rudimentary log cabin built by farmers in the Canton de Vaud in Switzerland. For most of history, the term “chalet” referred to any small house found in the mountains. Here in the countryside, cattle were taken to high pastures in the summer. This practice is known as “l’alpage”. Thus the meaning of “alp” in Switzerland: mountainside pasture. Here the chalet was born as humble summer buildings described in the 14th century as log cabins occupied by farmers during l’apage during the summer.


The chalet designs that are seen in today’s world emerged in the middle of the 19th century and were built by French and English visitors to Switzerland who were inspired by the local architecture. After returning to their native countries with romanticized ideals of Swiss chalets, the new chalet construction became more ornate versions of the houses found back in the Alps.

Popular Styles

The wood-decorated facade and steeped roof of the mountain chalet became popular in the Alps of Germany and Switzerland in the 18th century which led to the style’s common name of the Swiss chalet. Further developing during the Romantic era when noble landowners liked the idea of the “simple life” of people who lived in the mountains. With their growing popularity, Swiss companies began offering chalet blueprints in catalogs, allowing people all over the world to build a chalet of their own. These basic designs could be customized with numerous details and flourishes, resulting in the highly ornamented gingerbread-style houses that many now associate with the chalet style.  


The late 19th century in New England saw the first installations of the chalet homes here in the US. The cold, snowy weather of this area made for perfect chalet additions. The earliest chalet home pattern books appeared in the United States in the 1820s. The style was popularized by waves of tourism of the rich from North and West Europe and later other parts of Europe and North America. By the mid-1800s, the style truly gained fame in the United States, showing up in residential hotels, tourist ski resorts, and mansions.


Mountain chalets became associated with catered ski vacations by a British skier named Erna Low in 1932. These all-inclusive ski vacations evolved into house parties and eventually packaged vacations in the 1960s that included airfare and the modern iterations of the full-service lodging spots. These get-aways gradually began popping up all over the country, particularly in the mountainous regions of California and Colorado.

Defining Chalet-Style


  • Exposed natural wood
  • Exposed wood beams with large brackets
  • Large balconies with an open floor plan
  • Low-pitched, gabled roof
  • Mostly wood construction
  • Stone or concrete foundation
  • Timber framing
  • Two or more stories tall
  • Wide, overhanging eaves

The dramatic triangular profile with pitched roofs all covered in wooden shingles is the first images brought to mind when visualizing a chalet. The sloping roofs are ideal for cold climates as they prevent snow from accumulating on top of the house.

  • Alpine heritage
  • Almost always two-stories tall
  • Built with natural unadulterated materials
  • Primarily built of unfinished (treated) wood
  • Foundations of stone or cement
  • Most chalets follow the old European design traditions
  • Feature plenty of windows, taking advantage of natural light
  • Traditional chalets have a small, compact footprint
  • Windows provide a unification of the indoors with the outdoors

Chalets usually have exposed architecture with detailed artwork, carved rafters, ornamental shingles, and more such features that you can alter to make the home in your preference of detailed style.

Mountain Chalet Decor & Interior Design

The interior of a chalet-style house is open-concept, creating a cozy communal atmosphere. The main room most always features a fireplace. Though chalets usually have a small footprint, their high vaulted ceilings make the house feel expansive and roomy. Many chalets have loft spaces that are converted into bedrooms, home offices, or a cozy semi-private spaces for relaxation.


  • Cathedral ceiling
  • Decorative moldings and wood carvings
  • Fireplace
  • Large picture windows
  • Open concept living space

Chalets were designed for mountainous regions and have become synonymous with vacation and lakeside homes in many regions of the world.


Chalet style goals are all about making you feel luxurious, cozy, and relaxed. Many of us associate a chalet with a vacation, thus bringing those relaxing and decadent vibes into your home with the chalet design style is easy with some of the following decor mountain style magic ideas.

  • Boho vibes.
  • Colorful touches.
  • Faux fur- pillows throws, chair covers, rugs.
  • Fireplace.
  • Furniture-rustic with modern touches.
  • Nature prints or art pieces of animals- horse, deer, elk, bears, buffalo, moose.
  • Neutral color pallet- browns, grays, tans, whites, blacks.
  • Rustic lighting (lighting elements made from found antlers give off the perfect mountain vibe).
  • Statement pieces (antique wood skis are a good example).
  • Textures- exposed wood beams, stone, wood anything.

Living Room

Think winter fabrics:

  • Fleece
  • Tartan
  • Wool

Use these luxurious and warm fabrics to decorate your living room. Throw pillows, sofa coverings, warm lap blankets- any and all these will help you achieve a cosy look and feel, plus an overall atmosphere of warmth.

Cozy Reading Nooks

It’s in the blueprints, every chalet must come equipped with at least one reading nook if not two or three spaced throughout the home for maxim reading and relaxing comfort days. The nook guide here will give you the lowdown and everything you need to craft and furnish one in your home.

Rustic Dining Room

The homey and durable textures of tartan and wool can work very nicely in your chalet dining area as part of a woodsy rustic look.

  • Vintage furnishings.
  • Weathered wood.
  • Blending comfort and elegance.

Chalet Decor Accents

This decor theme plays on the rustic look of old farmhouse and shabby chic styles. You’re going to see lots of metal accents, wrought iron, pendant lights, and vintage decor touches.

  • A balance of old and new.
  • Elegant and polished, not too much kitsch.
  • Pops of color so as to not feel too outdated or cliche.
  • Statement pieces.
  • Nature works of art.


Each chalet style home is unique and ultimately defined by its location. A chalet in the suburbs is going to feel a bit different than one in the woods or on a mountainside. Let the location ground your home and your chalet look. Take in the materials from your surroundings, everything from building needs to house decor using local artisans and their crafts. This gives your home a sense of location to the area you’re living in. To make it feel like a true chalet, you really must include a fireplace! These days the options are many if your home doesn't come with a built-in model. This welcoming feature brings life, warmth, and character to your chalet style home. Remember, embrace the natural landscape and enjoy your cabin style refuge.


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