American West Vs. the Alps: Who Does Design Better?

 

America Rules!

Das is Wünderbar

 
 
Ralph Lauren's Telluride Ranch bedroom

Ralph Lauren's Telluride Ranch bedroom

Some fall leaves in Germany

Some fall leaves in Germany

 

Of the many aspects that set Aspen apart, the unique blend of architecture is high on the list. While its 19th-century Victorian roots can be found in towns across American, less common are the Swiss/Alpine style chalets that were popular among Aspen’s postwar settlers. Many of them direct from the Alps, Paepcke-era residents wanted Aspen to look like their homeland.  

Nowadays, there is a healthy mix of both Alpine and American Western styles, sprinkled with international modernism. How exactly are they different? How are they the same? And most importantly: Which is better? 

 

Similarities

 
Quintessential "Swiss Chalet Style"  (Photo: Wiki) 

Quintessential "Swiss Chalet Style"  (Photo: Wiki) 

Typical American log home with green trim

Typical American log home with green trim

 

Both styles have wide sloping roofs to acommodate large amounts of snowfall. Both are clad in wood, often with a stone base.  

Ornament

 
Massive logs and soaring windows define this Western home

Massive logs and soaring windows define this Western home

Flower boxes, murals, and wood carvings decorate this Bavarian house. 

Flower boxes, murals, and wood carvings decorate this Bavarian house. 

 

When it comes to ornamentation, American style goes for big windows, and lots of them. Our nation’s fondness for size is reflected in the scale of the rooms and materials, with giant beams and columns, multiple roof lines and meandering floor plans. In the Alps, they like to keep the buildings symmetrical and simple, and use painted murals, lots of flowers and ornate wood carvings to add a sense of grandeur.

 

Logs vs. Panels

 
A log-lovers paradise in Arizona

A log-lovers paradise in Arizona

A bedroom in Switzerland(Photo: AD)

A bedroom in Switzerland(Photo: AD)

 

American western homes are all about logs, both inside and out, whereas in the Alps, they prefer either wood paneling or stucco. The paneling can be rustic or more ornate like the bedroom pictured above.  

 

Influences

 
Classic American West by Ralph Lauren Photo: AD

Classic American West by Ralph Lauren Photo: AD

Traditional Alpine Chalet living roomPhoto: AD

Traditional Alpine Chalet living roomPhoto: AD

 

Of course each style is informed by its environment, culture and history. The American West reflects hard-scrabble pioneers making the best with limited resources, bringing with them what East Coast artifacts they could manage. The Alps have been settled by more or less the same peoples for millennia and speak to centuries of decorating traditions. 

 

A Summit

 
A Kristin Dittmar designed home in Aspen

A Kristin Dittmar designed home in Aspen

View of the Matterhorn from Switzerland 

View of the Matterhorn from Switzerland 

 

Let's all agree that you can’t go wrong with clean modern, bright design whether you prefer the old world of the Alps, or the champagne powder in Aspen.  

 
David MeyerComment