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Old 10.01.2016, 16:53
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I don't want an IKEA house!

We have a house on a mountain, built in the 1970’s. Tongue & groove timber everywhere. Real picture postcard type ski chalet. Previous owners had Swissified the bathrooms (big tiles cover every wall, granite counters and floors, very modern, but for our taste, also very cold). Redoing the bathrooms isn't a financial option, and decorating to marry the 2 styles is out of my skill set so I called in the specialists.

Gripe number one:


I cannot find an interior designer/decorator who “gets” the vision of wanting to keep the house more traditional. Every single one, has talked about installing white plaster walls in place of the T&G; or at least painting all the timber white; and changing the interiors to be open plan, and ripping up the wooden floors and installing under-floor heating for stone or tiled floors, so that everything becomes in keeping with the modern bathrooms! One decorator looked at all our Victorian and Edwardian era furniture and tutted about the costs of replacing all of what she described as “shabby chic” possessions!!

Secondly, we’re needing some carpentry work done for non structural wall changes, and are contemplating the enlargement of windows in the lounge, and reducing the mammoth master bathroom but enlarging the adjoining kitchen, all whilst keeping the original fixtures, appliances and cabinetry.

Putting aside the eye watering cost of such simple renovation work (40k in UK, maybe an extra zero in this country?), here is gripe number two:


I cannot find the equivalent of a one-stop builder/handy man anywhere.


I contacted a builder, but he steered me to the local window company. They are happy to undertake the work, but cannot give a quote because a builder is needed to help with the installation. I had the builder and window company meet together with me, but I still cannot get a quote because a plumber and separately a radiator specialist and kitchen specialist and electrician need to be consulted as well, plus a structural engineer must check the feasibility first. The local structural engineer couldn’t advise without knowing an architect’s plans. The local architect will happily have us pay for designing plans but it’s too small a project and they haven’t got the time/interest. I could bring in an architect from elsewhere but they won’t have the relationship with the local Germeinde so planning approval is a risk. The kitchen specialist and plumber don't understand why we'd want to keep the 5 year old fixtures and appliances and want us to throw them out and buy new if they're to work on the project. Aaaargh!

I don't want an IKEA house!
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Old 10.01.2016, 17:03
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Re: I don't want an IKEA house!

For a moment there I thought you were a refugee in Zürich who was worried about being burned alive in your sleep.
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Old 10.01.2016, 17:07
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Re: I don't want an IKEA house!

I think firstly you need to really sit down and decide exactly what you think you want. Clearly. Find pictures from somewhere else, Check out the neighbours houses or local houses that are of a similar style and see what solutions they have found...

It sounds like you want a 'one-stop' shop, but your job is too small or two diverse...

Maybe breaking down each separate part, then finding someone who specialises in that and seeing how they would approach it, might be a better option. Separating things you will need permissions for, from things that are just considered 'cosmetic' or don't need special approval.

I mean, if you say 'I don't like the bathrooms, but I can't afford to change them' and at the same time 'I want a look that fits together' - then you are stuck with the bathrooms style and extending that outwards to the rest of the house.

Victorian+Edwardian+Swiss Chalet+Marble and Stone sounds very eclectic to me...which one are you aiming for ?
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Old 10.01.2016, 17:11
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Re: I don't want an IKEA house!

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...and decorating to marry the 2 styles is out of my skill set so I called in the specialists.
It sounds to me like you need to begin with a storyboard. Just search Google images or homegate for the feel / look you're hoping to achieve. Save the images and print the most relevant ones off. Add to this any paint colours and fabric swatches, textures, etc...

Once you have the vision for each room on your storyboard, a good designer should be able to point you in the direction of a colleague with similar tastes to your own, and in an ideal World, that designer will have used particular architects and tradesmen in the past and have learned what is feasible.
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Old 10.01.2016, 17:12
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Re: I don't want an IKEA house!

I feel your pain...

We had the same issues when renovating 10+ years ago in SZ, and today I am again searching for a local kitchen maker who 'gets it', so that I can undo the compromises I had to make with the architect (who saw himself as an 'artiste', customer's wishes be damned*) in order to finish on time. So far, I haven't found anyone.

Do you have to use someone local?

I do, thanks to the politics of building permits in our Gemeinde. This is what is making my search so difficult.

But if you are not so restricted, you might want to contact EF member RTN. He has some beautiful designs in natural woods. IIRC, he has helped other EF members with renovations.




* The architect's 'artistic vision' amounted to nothing more than 'Swiss white', exactly as you see in every other house. Ikea quality, Swiss custom work prices.


Oops, just re-read and saw:

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I could bring in an architect from elsewhere but they won’t have the relationship with the local Germeinde so planning approval is a risk.
In that case... if you find someone in Schwyz (I'm assuming your location from your profile) who actually listens... could I ask that you pass on the name?
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Old 10.01.2016, 17:15
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Re: I don't want an IKEA house!

I am so with you on this! I really like the mix of traditional and modern, eg large tiles, stone with lots of wood. Find it very sad that most builders here just want to renovate into new and get rid of old features in the process- grrr.

And yes, getting someone to take over the whole job and organise other specialists- it just doesn't seem to be possible- at least not in our area. We added a big new Italian shower-room/WC - requiring walls to be knocked down and re-built, getting rid of old insulation and replace, + of course electrics, plumbing, tiling. We had to have an intitial meeting with builder, electrician, plumber and carpenter and they all provided their own quotes- to be agreed and signed individually, and we then had to coordinate each stage with each of the above- often having to leave several days or more between each, as the next in line was busy elsewhere. Frustrating, expensive, but great result in the end!
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Old 10.01.2016, 17:25
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Re: I don't want an IKEA house!

We know exactly the styles we do and do not like. The issue is bridging that with the stark Swiss look - and that's what I didn't have an answer to.


I did actually present each decorator with a "storey board" and a slate of photos of styles/rooms/colors/textures/etc that appeal to us. (FYI the HOUZZ website is brilliant for ideas and building up collections of ideas).


Each decorator bucked - they really just didn't get why we didn't want white and stone and modern.


By the way, Victorian & Edwardian furniture looks fabulous in a ski chalet house. Truly. Those styles are quite similar to traditional Swiss furniture too - lots of medium and deep colored woods with simple but elegant carvings and curves.
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Old 10.01.2016, 17:40
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Re: I don't want an IKEA house!

Absolutely I shall pass on details for anyone I found within Kanton Schwyz who can help. The decorating issue may be solved - had many international house guests over the Christmas break who happen to have interior design flair - bribed with wine and chocolates they've given me some great ideas. My Russian architect friend drew up plans for us as well, but of course he doesn't know the Swiss building regs nor does he have any sway with the local authorities, but at least they're something to show tradesmen, if we can ever get them sorted out!
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Old 10.01.2016, 17:47
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Re: I don't want an IKEA house!

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Each decorator bucked - they really just didn't get why we didn't want white and stone and modern.
When I asked our landlord why our building is being demolished when it's in such a great state of repair, he answered "It's the Swiss way." so I get you on that.

I wonder if an Austrian, particularly Tyrolean, designer would see things differently? Seem to remember being told that planning regulations are tighter in the Tyrol.
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Old 10.01.2016, 17:58
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Re: I don't want an IKEA house!

The irony of things. Our house had been on the market for 8 months before we bought it. Very unusual for this area with a shortfall of houses. The delay was not because the house was overpriced, but because it was too old in style (except for the bathrooms) for Swiss buyers!!!! Having come from the UK we thought our house was quite new!

As an ice breaker with my (then) new Swiss neighbours I asked each of them what one thing they would do if the house was theirs - each of them said they'd paint the wood walls and ceilings white! I am counting a little win though - three years of parties and good times with our local Swissys in our "old" home now has them telling me that they quite like the old fashioned timber look. Ha!
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Old 10.01.2016, 18:02
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Re: I don't want an IKEA house!

Have any of you noticed how many interior designer and home décor outlets exist here, and how many of your Swiss neighbours spend a fortune every season updating with new décor items into their homes?


I have a theory that because the modern Swiss style is so stark, they are forced to add all these fripperies to their homes to bring in some warmth!
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Old 10.01.2016, 18:26
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Re: I don't want an IKEA house!

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I cannot find an interior designer/decorator who “gets” the vision of wanting to keep the house more traditional. Every single one, has talked about installing white plaster walls in place of the T&G; or at least painting all the timber white; and changing the interiors to be open plan, and ripping up the wooden floors and installing under-floor heating for stone or tiled floors, so that everything becomes in keeping with the modern bathrooms!
Just some personal experience with that kind of makeover, or rather some of the long term effects. We live in the mountains (renting though), very old house but was really nicely modernised I think about 15 years ago. They opted for underfloor heating and stone floors. All I can say is I would NEVER do it now that we have lived here for two years. The stone floor is only ever warm on top of the pipes and all the other areas are (stone)cold. So when you walk across the floor it's basically hot cold cot cold hot, you get the idea. You have to crank up the heat heaps to make it feel warm and in summer when it gets hot the floor gets hot too. Plus the stone floors are easily damaged with any acidic liquid, for example if you spill a little apple juice and don't notice and clean it up straight away it eats into the stone. Or you drop a glass and it shatters literally into a millions pieces. Looks nice but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. But then, that's just my personal opinion.

BTW I have noticed the same with the tiled floor/underfloor heating combo at friends' houses.

Good luck!
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Old 10.01.2016, 19:25
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Re: I don't want an IKEA house!

We sold my wife's parents' house for 1.7m, and the new owner is putting at least another 1.5m into it.

All the windows were single pane glass (bye-bye), most of the walls 20mm pine with no insulation (bye-bye).

Meanwhile, all of our IKEA stuff has been replaced by centuries old antiques that we saved from the parents' house (17th century bed, for example)

Tom
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Old 10.01.2016, 20:11
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Re: I don't want an IKEA house!

Your shout for beers then if you have cash from the sale left over?


Glad to hear that someone is boycotting IKEA to "recycle" fabulous old furniture especially when it has family history. If you ever need to add to the collection there are some great finds to be had at brockis/brocantes - given the Swiss are so quick to chuck out old pieces!

Last edited by smileygreebins; 10.01.2016 at 20:12. Reason: correction
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Old 10.01.2016, 21:08
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Re: I don't want an IKEA house!



This is part of the livingroom, in our Swiss chalet. All floors and walls are of wood. A lot of this work I did myself. If I can help, let me know.
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Old 10.01.2016, 21:15
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Re: I don't want an IKEA house!

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Your shout for beers then if you have cash from the sale left over?


Glad to hear that someone is boycotting IKEA to "recycle" fabulous old furniture especially when it has family history. If you ever need to add to the collection there are some great finds to be had at brockis/brocantes - given the Swiss are so quick to chuck out old pieces!
Not in Zürich, they know the cost of antiques and retro here, unless you are into ugly clunky bavarian alpine furniture, of the sort you find in a Stübe that hasn't been modernised since the 70s. (IMO, wood working in Switzerland is a bit lame).

I agree the Swiss miss a trick with housing too, but as most people here rent, there is often not much point in making buildings anything other then boring white boxes. Generally this is reflected in the mentality. In Britain homeowners are often happy to restore original features, such as fireplaces or stained glass windows and other features in Victorian or Edwardian houses. In Switzerland if it isn't up to spec. on energy saving and functionality it gets torn down and re-built. Good luck finding somebody to do the job, and as you are lucky to be in the position to do-up a house as you would want it, I say you shouldn't compromise, after all its your house.
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Old 10.01.2016, 21:19
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Re: I don't want an IKEA house!

Tobias, I don't think you know the Swiss very well.
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Old 10.01.2016, 21:44
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Re: I don't want an IKEA house!

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Tobias, I don't think you know the Swiss very well.
You could be right (even though I know lots and I am married to one and have lived here for 8 years) I might still be guilty of stereotyping. But these are just my observations and I do know a lot of (lovely) Swiss who are happy to live in boring ole white boxes with modern designer boring furniture. I also know quite a few arty creative types who are exceptions to the rule.

You won't change my mind about clunky Bavarian woodwork though, I find it very very ugly.
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Old 10.01.2016, 21:49
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Re: I don't want an IKEA house!

We live here in an 1873 farmhouse, modernised to feel fresh but not cold (plenty of original wood with enough white and other features to balance the look) It was done bedore we bought it and I am very glad the decision making was not mine...the kitchen could use an update but they installed a lovely Zug stove with double oven, one steam, that makes cooking a pleasure. Otherwise I have my espresso machine and an amazing view - content. Given my allergy to IKEA or furniture shopping of any kind my OH should be glad I had a "dowery" of shabby chic nicely refurnished furniture that has followed us for the last 25 years, so most of it must be 50-60 years old now.

The contrast is in Sweden where renovation of old homes is taken so seriously the process of having something new is near suffocating, as everything must somehow be authentic. There are countless tv-series made about historical home renovation, magazines published, stores to source the products etc, on the one hand it is admirable, but for me a house is less important than the life I live day-to-day. We have spent the last 13 years planning an appropriate upgrade to the kitchen/bathroom etc of an early 1800's house, and I know why it has taken that long. Too many decisions! And too many opinions...
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Old 10.01.2016, 22:10
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Re: I don't want an IKEA house!

I love wooden floors myself - the older the better (obsessed with it in fact) so I wouldn't want to have them replaced with something else.

Would it be possible to show us some of your storyboard pictures? I'm very intrigued about what you have in mind for your home.

i-don-t-want-ikea-house-2310488_original.jpg i-don-t-want-ikea-house-2312333_original.jpg
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