Looking for a cozy Alpine sanctuary away from frenetic city life, Zurich-based couple Patrick Schafftet and Werner Jahnel took a leap of faith with half of a 200-year-old chalet in Brienzviller, a Swiss village of fewer than 500 people. "We had to believe in the project and dare to engage in such an adventure—[taking on] substantial work without any guarantee that we could restore and keep the original structure," Schaffter tells Lonny Magazine, which profiled the home this month. But over the course of seven months, and with the guidance of building experts and conservationists, Schafftet and Jahnel have indeed managed to update the historic structure with modern comforts, without sacrificing too much authenticity.
One of the biggest changes made is replacing the "dark, synthetic paneling that covered every surface" of the dwelling withspruce and fir lining. Irked that the only way to access the second floor was a staircase bathroom, Schafftet and Jahnel also put in a new staircase in a hallway off the living room. They also strenuously scrubbed and sanded the walls blackened by centuries of coal and wood burning, and installed a heating system so modern that they can "turn on the heat before leaving Zurich." And of course, from the traditional cowbells at the entrance to the numerous antique farmer's chairs and hutches furnishing the interior, the couple evidently tried to sprinkle the place with objects as old as the chalet itself.