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Snow Queen of the Alps by Melanie Klusmeier | 9th February, 2015 | Prime Properties

In a league of its own in Austria, the design studio of Carsten Schulze is legendary in the world of interiors. It has established a clientele from Moscow to the Côte d’Azur, helping to create unique homes that reflect their personalities. The naturally gifted interior designer has just made his distinct mark on the queen of all chalets, one of the most exclusive addresses in the upmarket ski resort of Kitzbühel. He spoke to GG about the magic of history, Alpine materials and outlooks that become interiors …

Wrapped up snugly in thick winter coats, fluffy hats, woolen scarves and gloves, a couple huddle up to one another as they make their way along the snow-covered road. Everything today is enveloped in what looks like glistening white cotton wool. The pair looks up, enchanted, to the ‘Wilder Kaiser’ and Kitzbühel’s ‘own’ mountain. From here, at the foot of the ‘Hahnenkamm’ mountain, there are spectacular panoramas to be enjoyed over the Alpine peaks of the Tyrol region – taking in the ‘Kitzbüheler Horn’, ‘Bichlalm’ and ‘Auracher Grasberge’.

The snow-white massif shines out bright against the intense blue sky. Miniature skiers weave their way down the slopes at dizzying heights. Here, right on Kitzbühel’s doorstep, the famous ‘Hahnenkammrennen’ downhill race is taking place, the Wimbledon of winter sports, at which international ski stars compete for fame and glory on the ‘Streif’ and the ‘Ganslernhang’ race courses. The sun reflects in the windows, ice crystals forming bizarre shapes on the glass. It is cold, bitterly cold. Icicles hang from the eaves like chandelier crystal drops, and snowflakes swirl around in the air like inside a giant snow globe. In the midst of this fairytale winter wonderland is a traditional Tyrol farmhouse – the Queen of the Chalets.

„Cosiness, warmth, quiet, a relaxing bath, a crackling log fire, bread, cheese, wine – all that is ‘home’.“ Carsten Schulze

Located in the finest position in Kitzbühel, it is surrounded by some 160 kilometres of prepared ski slopes in winter, which transform into flower-filled meadows and orchards during the summertime high up here in the mountains. Not a neighbour far and wide. And yet it is just a few minutes’ walk into the Gothic centre of Kitzbühel with its cosy Tyrol-style eateries, first-class restaurants, the sweet-smelling pastries of the Christmas market and the façades of the historic buildings that tell the story of this settlement going back more than 1,000 years. As well as being a magnet for international high society, the jovial Kitzbühel locals simply love their town. And rightly so. The glamorous Tyrol ski resort is one of the most beautiful winter sport paradises in the Alps.

Carsten Schulze, born and brought up in the southern German town of Offenburg, has also been captivated by this special mix of secluded idyll and elegant social hotspot. Over 24 years ago, the then 29-year-old took over the store of the acclaimed Munich interior label ‘Beringer & Köttgen’. A stakeholder to begin with, the branch came under his sole ownership in 2002. Nowadays his design studio in the heart of Kitzbühel, operating under the new name ‘Carsten Schulze – Lebensräume’, is the talk of the town. “My clients are at home all around the world and vary as much from one another as the properties in which they live,” said the designer. From mountain chalets in the Austrian Alps, city palais in Vienna, and mansions in Munich, to loft apartments in Moscow and country villas on the Côte d’Azur – Carsten Schulze finds tailored solutions for every discerning taste. He spends time getting to know his clients, analysing their lifestyle and what they enjoy, what they identify with and what they associate with a genuinely personal home – the place to breathe a sigh of relief, the place to find inner peace, the place without rules … “We live out our individuality every day through clothing, cars, hairstyles, jewellery, our job, travel and hobbies. Our home is just as much a reflection of our lives,” said the father-of-three. He knows what he is talking about. As a qualified businessman and technical drawer, he has always viewed his dream job from two sides – the commercial and the creative angle. His success today is rooted in his standing as a fixed institution in the interiors world of the Tyrol Alps, where he designs custom compositions of exclusive interior decoration, light and colour with his team.

„Tradition is not a fast-paced trend. It acts instead as a mainstay in hectic times. It’s a good job we have it.“ Carsten Schulze

His latest success: the crowning glory of Kitzbühel. Spanning a total interior of around 676 m2, with six bedrooms and four bathrooms, the historic farmhouse is regarded as one of the most exclusive addresses in the entire region. “The fabric of the building is more than a century old, which proved immensely important,” said Schulze. Built in an architectural style synonymous with Kitzbühel, the property was painstakingly restored and modernised in 2012 by craftsmen with a deeply entrenched understanding for the local traditions being preserved. Materials, fabrics, colours and light were envisaged to come together to form a harmonious ensemble. The atmosphere within is forged by Alpine provenance and rustic elegance. “We have used authentic materials such as wood, alongside textures like lamb’s wool and deerskin. The living room is furnished, for example, with bright, modern sofa covers and wall hangings, as well as lamps made from driftwood. Our designs are intended to highlight the interplay between traditional, local references and light modernity.” This was also the thinking behind the small chrome pendant lights in the dining room – acting as a delicate, classic counterpart to the heavy dining room table made from grey stained solid wood. “Wood shouldn’t seem so heavy that it might literally fall on one’s head,” said the designer. The stool alongside is covered in rabbit fur, a black and white cowhide lies on the floor, whilst paintings by a German artist on the walls, depicting horns, also refer back to local traditions.
“Designing the right interior is like shopping for food – one must have a plan and buy ingredients with a particular intention in mind – otherwise one ends up with a full fridge and no finished meal to serve at the table,” said Schulze with a wry smile. The most interesting projects are those where the interior designer first has to “crack” the owner, he tells GG. “Only those who give you a little glimpse into their souls and, therefore, a telling look at their needs, can really be interpreted properly. After all: in the end we all make judgments about homes based on our gut feeling – either it fits, or it doesn’t.” MK


Kitzbuehel (A) Engel & Voelkers Kitzbuehel GmbH, Licence Partner of Engel & Voelkers Residential GmbH
Tel. +43 5356 716 15 E-Mail


IssueGG Magazine 01/15
City/CountryKitzbühel/ Österreich
PhotographyThomas Trinkl
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