We can all agree it’s been one crazy year. Never has the home been so important. It presents a safe haven (although I am aware that sadly this is not the case for everyone) in which we can relax and be ourselves. Living in quarantine / isolation – or simply being at home more – has meant taking stock of where we live, and while there are some who are thrilled with where they live, there are others that will no doubt thinking about making some life changes in the near future!
For Swedish interior designer Bettina Kapare, her husband and two year old son, it wasn’t the pandemic that led to a move abroad – but a search for a more meaningful way of life. In 2019, Bettina and her family left their home in Luxembourg after ten years and moved to a small village in the foothills of the French Alps, just outside Chamonix. Today, they enjoy a slower pace surrounded by nature. I caught up with Bettina to find out how they chose their new location, some of the challenges involved with moving, and how she created a home which merges her Scandinavian heritage with traditional Alpine style. Her story is truly inspiring!
When did you move to the Alps?
We moved here from Luxembourg in December last year. I guess you can say we made a complete life change. We left Luxembourg after 10 years. At the same time, I quit my job as a business developer in private banking and started working as an interior designer. It’s something I’d been dreaming about and had been studying on the side for some years.
How did you choose the French Alps?
We owned a small ski apartment in the Chamonix valley and had been spending countless weekends on vacation here skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer. When our son was born, we decided to spend part of our parental leave here and it was during that period we started talking about the possibility of moving here.
How did you make your move happen?
At first, it all felt like a farfetched dream. Leaving an organised life and a career in Luxembourg, to go and live in the French Alps. But the more we talked about it, the more we realised that it was what we wanted; for our son grow up in the mountains and change to, what we felt would be, a more meaningful lifestyle, with more family time, more skiing and closer to nature. As the saying goes “create a life you don’t need a vacation from”.
With that in mind, we started thinking about everything that needed to be put in place. We had to find a house, organise work etc. We thought it was going to be a 5-year plan, but once we’d set our minds to it, the move took less than a year. Somehow everything just fell into place.
What was one of the biggest challenges with moving to the French Alps?
One of the most difficult things turned out to be finding a house. There weren’t a lot of options that were within budget. I had dreamt of a renovation project involving an old farmhouse with a huge garden. Instead, we bought a traditional style chalet built in 2008. It has an open-plan living room and kitchen on the ground floor and three bedrooms upstairs. It also has a large basement which we use as a home office and studio.
How did you approach the chalet interior?
I faced a challenge merging our furniture and my style into the traditional chalet style. For me, interior design is not about following trends and constantly buying new stuff, it’s about creating a space for the people who live there. Incorporating functional aspects with a personal style and a homely feel.
Since we’re living here all year round, I didn’t want our home to have a traditional ‘ski holiday’ chalet feel. I wanted to turn it into a home where we would feel at home every day of the year.
How have you merged your Scandinavian design heritage with the Alpine style?
Being Swedish, I believe the Scandinavian style is in my nature. When we moved, I felt that I wanted to incorporate the Scandinavian style. Both the Scandinavian and traditional Alpine style use furniture with simple but elegant craftsmanship – something I always feel inspired by. But the Scandinavian style has a lighter feel than the traditional Alpine style. In our home, I’ve brought in a lot of solid wood furniture, but with a light white finish instead of the traditional darker one. My Norrgavel coffee table is a fine example of this.
Where did you source your furniture?
We actually brought most of it with us from Luxembourg – including many Scandinavian design pieces. It’s a blend of items we have inherited and second-hand treasures that I have been collecting over the years. I’m happy that we brought them with us, because it made us feel instantly at home. And with everything that has been happening in the world lately and the past few months of lockdown and isolation – our house has turned into our comfort zone.
What do you love most about your new home?
Almost every evening I have been cuddling up on the sofa or on the bed, and looking up at the mountains outside the windows feeling grateful for our new home. I love the closeness to nature and I’m so happy we dared to make the life change. We haven’t regretted moving one single day, on the contrary, our life choice feels more meaningful than ever. I have never felt happier.
Thank you so much for telling us about your move and your beautiful home in the Alps Bettina – your story is truly inspiring!
I’d love to hear about how you feel about your home – is it somewhere you can always imagine living, or has your perspective changed this year?
If you’ve always dreamed of moving abroad, I hope Bettina’s story has inspired you. Your big move might be more tangible than you first thought!
You can see more picture of her beautiful home over at @chez_kapare and find out more about her interior design service Kapare Interiors.
Fancy taking a peek at other Scandi homes abroad?
Ahhhh, I love seeing the Scandinavian design heritage merged with other cultures / styles, how about you?
Ha det så fint!
Photography courtesy of Bettina Kapare / @chez_kapare with kind permission.