I get so many questions about the collection of wooden hearts displayed year round on our family room mantel. With Valentines Day just around the corner I thought it would be a good time to tell you more about them!
I started collecting the hearts when we lived in Zurich; over twenty years ago. I discovered the Swiss, Germans and Austrians used hearts in their decor, especially in the Alps. The shops and Christmas markets had the most unique hearts, some simple and some intricate–made from wood, metal, leather, and felted wool. Each was a hand made, precious little piece of art, I couldn’t resist them! We have spent many ski holidays in the Alps and one of our favorite places to go is Kitzbuhel, Austria. It was there I found most of the hearts in my collection and became inspired to use them in my own home.
Much of the Alpine “Volk Kunst” (folk art) uses the heart motif. It is a such a strong design icon, think about it- what other graphic element could you show to anyone across the globe that would instantly communicate love?
There is no better place to spend winter than the Alps. The inns and restaurants have a certain coziness about them that is like no where else. The food, with their Goulash Suppe, Kaiserschmarrn and Tiroler Grostl, have become our winter favorites. Enjoying these great dishes after a day of skiing and always being treated so warmly by the local folk is a truly memorable experience!
In German they say “Herzlich Willkommen” which means “Heartfelt Welcome” and they mean it. One evening we went to dinner at a small Gasthaus in Kitzbuhel. The atmosphere was perfect as we entered the candlelit room with corner benches covered in sheepskins. We were greeted with warm smiles from the staff and the other guests and I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful wooden hearts, hung with ribbons, from the chandeliers as they slowly twirled under the warm light. We were seated and realized they didn’t take credit cards. The owner came out and simply said “No problem–Please, relax and enjoy!” A few minutes later she came back with some wine and discreetly told us she had arranged for our bill to be paid through our hotel. This is the feeling of “gemütlichkeit” (friendliness) that is common in the region. It made us feel welcome and comfortable, there are no strangers in this place.
(Kaiserschmarrn, a delicious pancake-like dish served with warm applesauce or cooked plums) click here for recipe:
Alpine Style has been a huge design influence for me. It is the ultimate mix of
cozy rustic styling with a fresh and modern edge. From hotels to shops and
restaurants, historic buildings are retro-fitted with walls of cool, vanishing
windows and ultra-modern steel finishes contrasted by raw wood and
stone; sleek Italian sofas and chairs next to primitive benches; coarse
linen mixed with lush velvets. And right there, in this unexpected mix
of materials, a simple wood heart hanging on a hook. Genius. This rustic elegance resonated with me-Alpine Style is the Alps’ answer to American Modern Farmhouse!
One of my favorite Alpine guest houses is the Bichlalm in Kitzbuhel. The traditional exterior fits right in with the other mountain houses in the area.
However, once inside, an unpredictable mix of primitive and modern materials are perfectly comfortable together and so inviting after a day of skiing or hiking.
The barstools at the Bichlalm mimic the shape of the town’s logo, the stylized “Kitz”, (a baby fawn) and is prevalent everywhere in Kitzbuhel. The Kitz is incorporated into the chandeliers, as well.(see below)
Heart motifs carved in the backs of the traditional style chairs.
A single rustic twig heart hangs on the wall.
Heart chalkboards are used for marking reserved tables.
Here are a few other beautiful mountain houses/hotels we visited and loved during summer and winter! Go and look at their websites and be inspired!
My mom’s birthday was Valentine’s Day. As a kid I would always try to find a beautiful heart for her as her birthday gift, which gives this collection even more importance in our home. If you look close at my collection of hearts, you will always notice a red velvet ribbon holding one heart. This is a nod to my mom, who would sing “Scarlet Ribbons” to me as a child which would always make me cry.
My heart collection reminds me of places where we have always felt
welcomed and at home. Want to start collecting your own hearts?
Just in time for Valentines Day, I have added some links here to get you started!
Click on item to go to site:
Start the tradition of giving a heart to someone you love for Valentine’s day creating a collection for them!
(Be sure to post yours and use #oldsilvershedloveshearts and tag me on instagram to share your collections with me!!)