We just returned from long-time customer, Carroll Villa Hotel in Cape May, New Jersey. Mark Kulkowitz and family have been running this local institution for over 30 years and they have recently made some bold changes and inventive updates. We wanted to share a particularly interesting before-and-after shot. Previously, the hotel had maintained a very Victorian theme, which was fitting–Cape May may be the most famous “Victoriana” destination in America.  While updating the room decor to a more contemporary style, they made the decision to paint over the dark-wood Victorian-era furniture with contemporary colors. The lines and style of the furnishing still reference the era and the Cape May’s Victorian heritage, but the paint really updates the look! The innkeepers use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to transform the old furniture. It’s a great product that requires very little prep such as priming or sanding. We also LOVE the green aspect to this approach: reuse and recycle (and save a few bucks while you’re at it!)

The innkeepers also made a few dramatic wallpaper changes. They removed the heavy floral wallpaper and replaced it with a subtle, textured, grasscloth-style wallpaper. The feel of the room takes a total 360–from busy, dense Victorian to restful and serene, with colors that seem to reference the Atlantic Ocean, just a block away.


Check out this dramatic before and after:

CarrollVilla Rooms 28 4 Edit XL Victorian to Stylish: Great Budget Makeover at Carroll Villa Hotel

AFTER: Room 28 with newly-painted Victorian furniture

Room%2028%20%283%29 XL Victorian to Stylish: Great Budget Makeover at Carroll Villa Hotel

BEFORE: Room 28, with no place “for the eye to rest”!

Another clever thing the innkeepers did was to convert the Victorian era-full size beds to king-size beds. They built a custom frame around the bed and modified the old small headboard with some simple carpentry to be a king-size bed–notice how they reused the old footboard to extend the headboard. The new extentions on the headboard also provide a handy narrow bedside shelf. One of our number one recommendations to innkeepers is to remove footboards on beds to make a room airier and less congested–and they solved this problem too!

Cool! Check it out:

CarrollVilla Rooms 11 1 XL Victorian to Stylish: Great Budget Makeover at Carroll Villa Hotel

Room 11 with modified full-sized headboard

Like this post?? You may also like this recent blog post on room redos and with great interior photography from yours truly.


  1. Barbara Hoepp says:

    Love that you have devoted time to the beautiful renovations done by Mark and Pam along with the incredible painting skills of Judy Wiestma of A Second Look Interior Design. It is not just the paint, but the way that Judy uses her brush.

  2. Kathy Eaton says:

    maybe we will see Judy on Hotel Impossible!

  3. denise heckel says:

    wow!!!! I love the new look!

  4. Judy Wietsma says:

    It was such an honor to be a part of the Carroll Villa Renovation Project. Painting over fifty pieces of furniture for this wonderful old hotel was truly a labor of love! Thanks to Mark, Pam and Marta for giving A Second Look Interior Design the pleasure of creating an unbelievable space with the use of creative color!

  5. As a 17 year innkeeper in a Colonial/Revolutionary War style inn, all I can say is kudos to the Innkeepers for taking that leap out of your comfort zone and into the OMG zone. This is simply beautiful.

    Terri Petrovits

  6. Stunning transformation. One of the best “before and afters” we’ve ever seen.

    Victoriana is beautiful, but the market for the newer, cleaner updated look is far, far greater.

    Great job!

    -from all of us at Napa’s Old World Inns