THIS FABULOUS SKI CHALET IS A NATIONAL AFFAIR WITH CLIENT, DESIGNER AND CONTENTS FROM THE ISLAND OF IRELAND …
There’s no defined roadmap for starting your own business in any industry but when it comes to interior design, there are multiple challenges. In 1998, when Collette Ward established her consultancy, she had a key advantage. As an apprentice to the late interior designer Peter Johnson, she had witnessed a master at work: “He was the best of the best, old-school in the best possible sense of the word. It was such an exciting time – we worked on great projects.”
Ward came to interior design latish, at the behest of her mother who felt she should get a proper job (at the time Ward was employed in the horsey world). She got her Rhodec qualification, set up a small operation in Dublin, later moving to Aughrim, Co Wicklow, where she and her husband bought a small farm. She built a design studio and created a comprehensive fabric and wallpaper library. “I knew investing in the fabric library would be the future of our business,” she says.
Over the years, Ward has built a diverse practice. Her clients travel to Aughrim from all over the country to get help with everything from selecting fabrics, wallpapers and paint colours and having furniture designed and made, to full-service interior design for a single room, restoration of a huge house, and everything in between. “It keeps our jobs interesting to work at all levels,” she says. A private appointment, time without distractions to focus on their project, and the fact that Ward is committed to using Irish trades and crafts where possible is a big draw. “It is now possible to get everything you once had to go to London or further afield for, here in Ireland,” she says. “We are starting to appreciate the rich talent on our doorstep, and clients are increasingly aware of the benefits in terms of the quality of workmanship, the reduced carbon impact and the opportunity to work closely with artisans and makers.”
A good example of this is Chalet Diana, a modern luxury ski chalet in the heart of the picturesque Savoyarde village of St Martin de Belleville. Ward’s ski-loving Irish clients (she also designed their principal residence) wanted generous living spaces so that they and their five children and extended family could relax and spend time together. The ski-in chalet is arranged over three floors: basement level with ski room and gym and sauna, ground level with double-height living and dining space and terrace with hot tub, library and well-stocked wine cellar, and bedrooms on the upper level. It’s decorated with a mix of Irish-designed and made pieces and upholstery – sofas, headboards, tables – and fabrics and wallpapers sourced from Ward’s library, King Koil beds, and accessories like McNutt of Donegal tweed and wool throws and blankets. “My clients wanted a relaxed vibe,” she says. “with the spectacular setting and views, the main objective was to create a comfortable and luxurious space to gather in after a day on the slopes.”
The ski-in chalet in the Haute Savoie region is arranged over three floors.
The magnificent master suite at Chalet Diana.
The suspended fireplace by Bordelet from Lamartine gives a warm and cosy feel to the double-height living space.
The outdoor terrace with firepit.
The master en-suite.
One of the chalet’s guest bedrooms.
The wine room.
Cocktail cabinet by Rhatigan and Hick.
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