Elements of Style

Après-Ski Chic

Après-Ski Chic
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Not everyone likes to ski. But even those of us who don’t enjoy speeding down a snowy mountain on a pair of glorified planks can appreciate après-ski: wrapped up in a throw by a crackling fire, cocktail or hot chocolate in hand, savoring fondue while playing rummy with friends, occasionally looking up from the cards to admire the glistening white terrain outside or the ceiling beams of the chalet in which you’re staying.

Fortunately you don’t need to head to a ski resort or even live in a chalet to savor that après-ski ease. Surround yourself with the ideal mix of the rustic and the luxurious, and the rest will follow.

The faux-fur throw and the hide rug are considered glamorous today, but originally they were nothing more than  practical ways of staying warm.

The faux-fur throw and the hide rug are considered glamorous today, but originally they were nothing more than  practical ways of staying warm.

Texture, not color, is the star of après-ski chic. The plush rug (find a similar one here), for instance, is a warm contrast to the cold marble fireplace surround.

Texture, not color, is the star of après-ski chic. The plush rug (find a similar one here), for instance, is a warm contrast to the cold marble fireplace surround.

Begin with the Basics

Hunters, farmers, and soldiers relied on skis to go about their daily business for centuries before the beautiful people turned skiing into recreation. Which explains après-ski chic: rough-hewn, rustic fundamentals with dashes of glamour layered on top.

The building blocks of the style are earthy basics, such as weathered wood tables, wrought-iron bed frames, leather seating, and lantern lighting pendants. In the original Alpine and Nordic cabins, furniture was handcrafted, which is why silhouettes are simple, with few embellishments. Furnishings were made of whatever was accessible, including pine and fir, antlers, wool, and pelts. So while hide rugs, sheepskins, and fur (or faux-fur) throws might seem luxurious today, they were born out of necessity.

This emphasis on the practical and making the most of what was at hand also resulted in the largely organic palette of creams, ivories, and browns. These neutrals have the advantage of creating a serene ambience, just what you want to return to after a day on the piste (or at work).

The neutral palette ensures that the cornucopia of textures and patterns never overwhelms. Room by Thom Filicia; photo by Lesley Unruh.

The neutral palette ensures that the cornucopia of textures and patterns never overwhelms. Room by Thom Filicia; photo by Lesley Unruh.

Layer on the Luxuries

What sets apart après-ski chic from cabin charm are the luxe touches introduced by the social set once they discovered the delights of schussing down the slopes of Klosters, Aspen, and Courcheval. Plush velvet pillows and cashmere throws were tossed on worn couches; crystal glassware sat atop planked tables; gilt-frame mirrors hung on paneled walls across from the ubiquitous stag heads. These grace notes take the look from functional to pampering.

It’s this juxtaposition that makes après-ski style so easy to adopt (and adapt). Someone who is a Curator by nature could introduce an antler-style side table with a silver-leaf finish into an otherwise modern-minimalism space. Replacing a natural-fiber rug with one made of pieces of hide stitched together to form a geometric motif brings sophistication to a Naturalist room. By finding your ideal balance of rustic and glamorous, you’ll truly make the look your own.

Hallmarks of Après-Ski Chic

Hide rugs—traditional, modern, or enhanced with flecks of gold or silver
Sheepskins, tossed atop rugs or chairs for added coziness
Faux-fur, alpaca, and cashmere throws and pillows
Deer or antler motifs
Candles, either unscented or with a woodsy fragrance
Down-filled comforters and flannel sheets
Leather, suede, and velvet upholstery
Wrought-iron bed frames and lighting
Stoneware dishes alongside crystal drinkware
Slim Aarons’s ski-resort photography
• A fondue pot, of course

 

 Shop après-ski chic >

Room by Thom Filicia; photo by Lesley Unruh.

Room by Thom Filicia; photo by Lesley Unruh.

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