A tranquil haven for globetrotters

The village of Seewis in the Prättigau Valley is idyllically situated at the foot of the Vilan mountain. Neighbouring municipalities include Maienfeld, Jenins and Malans – all famous for the local wine. Right at the top of the village, phenomenal views can be enjoyed out over the seven summits of the Kirchlispitzen. And here, nestling harmoniously in this picturesque landscape, stands a country house: the home of two globetrotters who have finally escaped to their very own tranquil haven.

They spent many years abroad, moving around from place to place, including a lengthy stay in the States and most recently in Bangkok. Georg Oetterli does the maths: «We’ve relocated 25 times and my wife often didn‘t find out about the move until a month or so before it happened.» But then they began to feel more and more homesick for the mountains and for somewhere they could truly call home. The Basel-born couple wanted to spend their twilight years in their native land. However, their apartment in Zurich was not suitable. They had looked everywhere from Aegeri in central Switzerland to Klosters in Graubünden.

There‘s no such thing as coincidence

While out and about one sunday in the Prättigau region, combining a trip to the mountains with the search for land on which to build, they came across the plot they now own in the municipality of Seewis, Graubünden. On which – unnoticed and off the beaten track – there was planted a sign: ‚building land for sale‘. The location was extremely sunny and offered a magnificent view of the valley. And so the decision was made almost instantly: this is where we will build. «However, the land was tied to an architect’s contract», Georg Oetterli recalls. «While the young architect drew up plans for a wonderful wooden house using feng shui concepts, he didn‘t stick to our specified budget.» So the couple began researching prices and floor plans on the internet, looking at the websites of other general contractors. And that is how they discovered Swisshaus They immediately liked the Hera house. It was love at first sight. They wanted to adapt the exterior to create a simple house that blends in with its surroundings and offers enough room for two people. «We built with only ourselves in mind, a decision we do not regret in any way whatsoever», they happily point out.

Certainly no novices

The Oetterlis had already built a house in Bichwil in 1970. And thanks to his job, Georg Oetterli was also involved in the planning and realisation of larger-scale buildings in Iceland. The former businessman, now a sprightly pensioner, was thus no novice when it came to building and planning. The collaboration with Swisshaus therefore proceeded clearly, in a spirit of mutual understanding. «Whenever we had any questions, we always received an immediate reply. That was something we really appreciated. There were never any communication problems, although it happens a lot in this industry. And the work was completed on schedule, enabling us to move into our house right on time», Georg Oetterli comments on the construction phase with great satisfaction. Although they were not present for the groundbreaking ceremony, they did visit the site once or twice while building work was underway. «It was impressive:» recalls Monica Oetterli, «it started out as a rock face, then became a hole, then a house.» «We followed tradition by inviting all the local craftsmen to the topping out ceremony. You have to introduce yourself, make yourself known», Georg Oetterli states emphatically. That was no different in Asia, America and the southern states, and is especially important when you are new to the area.

Building a dream house, wish by wish

They had clear ideas about what they wanted, which they explained to the draughtsmen and architects at Swisshaus. «A simple, no-nonsense house that fits in with ist surroundings, for just the two of us and without the need to fulfil any representative function for business purposes.» This enables you to plan quite differently, as the Oetterlis now know. For example, the couple wanted an open kitchen, like the ones they had grown used to in the States. A «family room» as the open, central meeting point, where everything takes place. A large bathroom in which you can move around unimpeded and large windows in all the rooms, to enjoy the superb views of the mountains. «The American style of living has left its mark on us», Monica Oetterli explains. Today, she especially enjoys gazing out at the evening light from the sofa, enjoying the panoramic view with the eyes of a painter.

«We built with only ourselves in mind, a decision we do not regret in any way whatsoever.»

Monica and Georg Oetterli