Swiss-style ski chalets dot the landscape around Blue Mountain near the coast of Georgian Bay, many built during the 1960s when the economy was good and the skiing even better. Known for their gabled roofs, wide eaves, balconies and exposed beams, these chalets can still be found super close to the slopes. In other words, if you can find one for sale, and you have the budget and the resolve to renovate – buy it.
That’s exactly what the owners of this totally transformed Swiss chalet did, purchasing the slope-side property on a wide court within walking distance of The Orchard in 2010.
They immediately brought in the firm of Patrick B. Coulter & Associates to handle the architecture and renovations. “I always felt there was good value in these older chalets because they were under replacement value,” Patrick explains. “Clients could buy them and we could recondition them into what would read as a current-period chalet.”
Patrick and his team, along with designer Jan Speziale and the design team at Barnard & Speziale, worked on two distinct renovations – the first in 2010 and a second phase beginning in 2014.
“You cannot tell now that this is not a new construction house inside or outside,” he says.
In phase one, the shape of the roof was reconfigured, the kitchen was updated, the staircase was changed and the master suite was reshaped. “We did all of the washrooms, built new fireplaces and refinished the outside of the building and then added the feature windows,” adds Patrick. The second phase in 2014 added a new master bedroom suite with a private balcony, a new guest en suite and powder room upstairs and a party room/theatre, bar and spa bathroom on the ground floor.
Patrick and the owners agree that buying the dusty old chalet was the right decision. He says compared to the cost of an empty lot at the base of the mountain, at the time, buying this property with a reusable building on it was great value. “If you just took the dollar replacement of it for the building, even though it was old and you were going to put new windows on it, you still had more value in the purchase than in the sale price,” Patrick says. “That made it a fairly simple decision to say to them as clients ‘if you purchase this and we spend x-amount of dollars on it to create this new image for it, it will still be undervalued relative to building a new one in a location like this.’ ”