Christa and Del Dobson had planned their alpine chalet project for nearly 20 years and now it has come to fruition.
Although Christa Dobson grew up in England, her mother’s family hail from the German/Austrian border and the alpine influence has been prevalent throughout her life.
When she met Del, he shared her passion and the couple opened two alpine shops in Bath, one specialising in interiors and the other in clothing.
“It was always our plan to do what we’re doing now,” says Christa. “We wanted to have a really small bed and breakfast, a small shop and a beautiful chalet.
"About eight years ago, we were made an offer on the shops that was really too good to turn down, but then the buyer pulled out.
"However, by that point we’d already started the ball rolling to move on. We didn’t know where we wanted to go, we just knew what we were looking for.
"We looked all over the country and then about a year and a half after we started our search we found Singdean in the Scottish Borders.”
Originally owned by Jedburgh Abbey, Singdean was a small steading on a sheep farm until the 1950s.
When Christa and Del bought it six years ago they changed the main house into a bed and breakfast and the small barn into an alpine shop.
Last year they realised the final part of their dream, creating a standalone alpine chalet in the former paddock.
“It took a year to build and we finished it in May this year,” says Christa. “We’re very happy with it. When you’ve been dreaming about something for so long, it’s quite nerve-wracking when you come to do it, in case it doesn’t live up to expectations.
“I suppose what we’ve created is a luxury bothy. We’d worked with the architect before, so he knew us and knew what our passions were.
"I sent him a rough sketch of what we wanted, and he sent a really quick sketch back of Alpnhaus – he’d totally understood us.”
The layout was relatively simple and designed for couples who want to escape – one bedroom, a large bathroom, a cosy seating area and a kitchen – but it still took a year to get through planning.
“We then had a builder do the important, difficult bits and then we realised our budget wasn’t going to go very far. Del and I rolled up our sleeves and did what we could, when we could.
"It’s a difficult way to do a project, but it’s a lovely thing to do as well. With each piece of larch, we’ve burnt it and scraped it back to raise the grain.
"Every piece of wood you touch, you can feel the grain much more than you would normally. Every bit of this building we’ve made beautiful.”
Christa and Del have been collecting for the chalet for nearly ten years and every room, accessory and detail has been carefully considered.
“The chalet has been in our heads for so long. We knew exactly how the bathroom would look and I’m thrilled with it.
"I love all the little details like the antler towel rails and the river stone sink. It has a huge walk-in shower and a massive bath, it looks rustic but it’s also very luxurious.
"The whole chalet oozes luxury but the kind where you don’t have to take your shoes off. We don’t do egos here.”Guests can also take some of that luxury home with them as the chalet has many pieces that the couple stock in their shop.
“The shop is alpine lifestyle, it has lots of things for the home but also clothing, jewellery and essential oils from Vienna. There’s a diffuser that Del makes and sells and it’s in the chalet for guests to use as well.”
There are also many pieces that aren’t for sale, things that Christa grew up with or sourced on a visit to see her family.
“There are old sledges that I had when I was a child and that we’ve reused as a bedside table and there’s been a lot of instances when we were ordering for the shop that an extra piece was added for the chalet.”
Christa and Del like to provide all their guests with an alpine breakfast and the wood-fired hot tub is perfect for relaxing under the stars.
The building has also been designed so it can be enjoyed whatever the weather. “Singdean is completely off grid and the chalet has its own set of solar panels and is heated by a biomass boiler. However, the insulation is so good, we’ve hardly had the heating on.
"What I especially love is the balcony. It’s huge and has a massive overhang, which means it’s incredibly sheltered but still has an amazing view.
"This is a building that can withstand all weathers and we get all weathers here. It had to be strong and protective and it’s a big strong, hug of a place.”
Surprisingly, Christa and Del haven’t used the chalet just yet. “My parents were the first people to stay in it, but we haven’t.
"We’re putting it off because I think if we did we’d just move in and I don’t think we’d come out again. It just feels very protective and calm, it’s exactly how we imagined it.”
Words: Nichola Hunter