Crafted as a second home that's made for all seasons, Inside Outside Designs creates a contemporary penthouse within a historic building located in the French Alps

When Inside Outside Designs was commissioned to transform this penthouse in Chamonix Mont Blanc, France, into an all-season dream home, they had their work cut out for them. The two-storey apartment is one of six in a 120-year-old building, which used to be a hotel until it was converted into private apartments 45 years ago.

However, the building had not been renovated since the conversion. On top of that, this was the firm’s first time designing a project as far afield as the French Alps, which required navigating differences in culture, working styles and building codes. The firm proved they were more than capable of rising to the occasion, giving the space a comprehensive overhaul.

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Rather than a typical rustic mountain retreat, the clients envisioned a home that balanced timeless design with modern style. “The client wanted an interior that reflects life in the mountains, but with contemporary furnishings and lighting pieces,” says Jeanette Maria Zmijewski, founder of Inside Outside Designs. “The home should also reflect their love of travel and incorporate their specific art collections, and use technology to promote sustainable living.”

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The clients also requested the preservation of specific historical details in the interior, such as old wooden beams, and for the home to be designed for year-round use. The firm thus created an interior with a neutral palette and monochromatic bathrooms, while accentuating these spaces with pops of colour through statement-making sofas and large-scale artworks.

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The brief called for a much greater breadth of materials and furnishings than what was available in the vicinity, so the firm acquired the necessary items from across the globe, making sourcing trips and placing orders as far afield as Australia, Indonesia and South Africa.

They filled the home with furnishings by Roche Bobois, Poliform, Visionnaire, Tom Dixon, Versace and Toto. Due to the building’s narrow elevator and staircases, the supplies and furniture had to be transported by crane through the windows—sometimes even in the rain and snowstorms, since construction began in the winter.

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The kitchen was one of the most challenging spaces to design in this home. The firm opened up what was originally a cramped, dark and low-ceilinged space by removing the walls and installing steel beams. Then came the state-of-the-art appliances, such as an oven with a built-in air fryer and a tap that converts regular water into sparkling water.

Inside Outside Designs even managed to locate a specific type of kitchen tile the client coveted but couldn’t recall the brand of. These were used to create a unique backsplash and accent wall, for the perfect finishing touch.

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