"Shit, what an old ugly house filled with stinking leftovers" was the response from Thomas Schacht, Co-owner of Vals newest boutique B&B The Brücke 49, when we asked him what his thoughts were when he first set his eyes on the hotel building. To be honest, when he showed us the “before” images of the ramshackle old structure we couldn’t help but agree. It only took Schacht and his wife Ruth six months to scrap nearly 3,000 cubic feet of "rubbish," strip it down to its original form, and re-design the space. Thomas admitted that it was Ruth who kept spirits high with her positive attitude during the massive redevelopment project of the charming B&B.
The Brücke 49 just opened its doors last month and has a fantastic group of people backing the B&B. Iain Ainsworth, founder of the White Line Hotel Group, is one of their fans, and he and his team represent the Brücke 49. Ainsworth discovered the gem that is Brücke 49 while his colleagues were in the area spelunking for cool hotels. He noted, "There are some fabulous examples of Swiss design in Vals." And quicker than you could make a cup of instant Swiss Miss, a local directed them to the newest B&B in town where they ended up at wooden door of the Brücke 49.
We have to admit, the Schacht’s story makes us just a tad jealous. The pair ditched their full time jobs working for huge corporations and moved to Vals, a quaint, utopian ski town in Switzerland, to run a cozy bed and breakfast. Thomas explained that in Vals, "Everything is working perfectly, combined with nature and everything else Switzerland has to offer. Here everything, even though the village has no more than 1000 inhabitants. From kindergarten, schools, pubic transport, the community. You have the best water coming out of the mountain for free. You have waterpower so energy doesn't cost much. You have ‘World Heritage’ nature all around you. You have world-class design (the Therme by Peter Zumthor). You have honest, hardworking people you can trust and whom we couldn't have re-made the house in six months without"
Once the house was stripped bare, the two began to formulate their design. They created a storyboard and a room plan, with a description of each, and a precise collage of how they envisioned the final look and feel of the hotel. This became their road map through the design process. "Ruth and I discussed every little detail and researched it on exhibitions, factory visits and trips to Milan, London, and Copenhagen," Thomas explained. They wanted the Brücke 49 to feel like a home away from home. The pair have always been fascinated with the simple things in life and wanted that to be manifested within the space.
Both the interior and exterior needed quite a makeover. The outside of the home was revamped from a cream color to a deep grey blue color with white shutters. The door was refurbished, sconces were added, and white Brücke 49 graphics were painted onto the facade.
The interiors began to fill with solid wood flooring, white paneled walls, handmade furniture, potted plants, and unique artwork scattered throughout the hotel.
Each piece of furniture is handmade (yes, you read that right), and nothing you will find at the Brücke 49 is mass produced. Every item in view echoes with a lasting quality and are all made from solid materials. Even the porcelain on the shelves is hand-painted. Thomas and Ruth wanted furniture that would last for years without "looking sad or getting sick of them."
The two are constantly searching for new pieces as they have a habit of selling the hotel furniture to inquiring guests. It makes he B&B a bit of a novelty, constantly evolving at the whim of both it’s curators and guests. "That means Brücke 49 is also a showroom. We give advice. We help people if they want to buy a piece of furniture or whatever we have in the house. In principle everything can be bought." Thomas explained.
For the time being we can all live vicariously through Ruth and Thomas, but there’s always the option to join them! If you plan to venture to Vals make sure you visit our friends at the Brücke 49. And don’t forget to bring us back a cool furniture piece! (Obvs)
Photography: Brucke 49