In Category: ‘Styling and Decorating’

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At the AIHP conference in April, we presented “The Guest Room, Reborn: Minimal Investment for Maximum Impact”. In that presentation, (SRO, if I do say so myself), we shared some great ideas for redesigning and updating guest rooms on a budget. Many of these ideas we gathered over the last few years at the hundreds of properties we’ve photographed.

Last week, we had the pleasure of returning to Belinda Bowling’s property, Casa Escondida, in Chimayo, New Mexico. Belinda had attended our seminar and was inspired to make a few inexpensive changes to a number of her guest rooms. Belinda took notes, high-tailed it back to New Mexico and made these changes right away. Way to go, Belinda!

Here are a few selected points from our presentation that Belinda took to heart (“to heart” literally–the room she redecorated is actually called “Heart of the House”):

1. Kick up the Drama Factor

We find that most innkeepers decorate a guest room like they would decorate their homes. It is true that something you live with everyday tends to be more “tame”. But in a guest room, adding a bold color, scale, and drama in the decor makes the space interesting, memorable and more photogenic. And there’s no doubt about it: photogenic rooms SELL better! Belinda added a bold southwest hue of blue on a couple walls and the doors, making them a distinct feature. She also upgraded lamps, choosing a bold thematic design with larger, amber-colored shades. (The cowboy boots were Belinda’s brilliant idea for a photo prop; she’s apparently auditioning for Mark’s job after she retires from innkeeping…)

CasaEscondida Rooms Heart 1 XL An Awesome Low Cost Room ReDo: Tangible Takeaways from our AIHP Presentation

AFTER: Heart of the House room. Many smart changes make this smaller room far more appealing: color, artwork, footboard removal and better lamps

 

CasaEscondida Rooms Heart 01 XL An Awesome Low Cost Room ReDo: Tangible Takeaways from our AIHP Presentation

BEFORE: Heart of the House…a little drab?

 

2) Abolish Footboards!

Another suggestion in our presentation was to remove footboards from the beds in small or medium-sized rooms. Belinda really opened up this modest-sized room by removing the foot board–as in SAWING IT OFF! Doing this also gives guests an additional place to sit, is accommodating to taller guests, makes housekeepers happy (easier bed-making), saves square footage and makes the room far more photogenic. Again, photogenic rooms SELL better! Belinda at Casa Escondida got right on it–in fact, she’s working that saw on all of her beds as I write this post!

3) Artwork is Important

In Nashville, we discussed economical ways to acquire interesting artwork for your guest rooms. We mentioned Innkeeper Jessica Pfau at Shiloh Morning Inn in Ardmore, Oklahoma and her amazing thrift store artwork finds. She has embellished much of her inn with original artwork from thrift stores! Belinda took this tip and got some great new artwork for the room for pennies.

4) Beautiful Beds

Belinda beautified and updated the bedding by going from a ruffled (and very 80′s) bedskirt to a box-pleat-style skirt. Look how much better that skirt works WITHOUT the headboard! She also chose a bolder pillow and a nifty, thematic southwest blanket as a splash of color at the foot of the bed. Finally, in a room of this size, it’s best to tuck in the bedding to give it a more tailored look–and to increase the visual space of the room. Bravo!

5) Being Held Hostage by your Furniture

We recommend that inns remove large pieces of furniture–especially armoires–whenever possible. (We find almost all bed and breakfast guest rooms are over-furnished.) Just because you have a set that matches doesn’t mean you have to keep it together! Being an adobe building in the southwest, many rooms do not have closets at Casa Escondida, so an additional piece of furniture is necessary here. (For the picture, we removed the armoire to get a more open view of the room. Don’t be afraid to move furniture our of a room to get a better shot.)

CasaEscondida Rooms Heart 2 XL An Awesome Low Cost Room ReDo: Tangible Takeaways from our AIHP Presentation

AFTER: Note the other blue accents and the removal of the armoire.

CasaEscondida Rooms Heart 02 XL An Awesome Low Cost Room ReDo: Tangible Takeaways from our AIHP Presentation

BEFORE: We removed the armoire to get a cleaner, more open view of the room. 

 

IMG 1143 768x1024 An Awesome Low Cost Room ReDo: Tangible Takeaways from our AIHP Presentation

Mark, Belinda and Matthew at the end of a successful shoot. Belinda is one smart cookie!

Over the years, we have accumulated a stack of emails from customers touting the business increases they’ve received from their new photos. It seems like the folks that have the biggest “bumps” in occupancy and revenue from a photo investment are properties with views–that is, views which were previously not captured or poorly depicted. It is clear that if you are lucky enough to a have a property with views from a guest room, you simply must get great photos to sell those rooms. View shots from inside of a room really require the assistance of a professional, as they require a great deal of skill, lighting and know-how.

Over the past 12 years, we have become specialists in capturing views. It wasn’t a plan, but just happened over hundreds of shoots. It is not a “convenient” niche for a photographer; sometime we curse this speciality, to be totally honest! Why?? Because great view shots (especially interior shots featuring a view outside) require a multitude of conditions coming together perfectly, many of which are out of our control: weather, season, time of day, window/glass construction and lots of PATIENCE. It’s also less convenient for the property owner as rooms must be blocked-out longer to account for uncertainty of weather, etc. Windows need to be impeccably clean and maintained since they are really featured. But the pay-off is big with great photos!

We’ve just added  a new gallery in our portfolio featuring “Views”- check it out here

 

So, how do we get great view shots from a room interior? What are the secrets?

Photoshop or Lighting??

As with most photography questions, 95% of the time lighting is the answer. Using high-powered off-camera flashes is our preferred method. The reason interior view shots are so difficult for the amateur is that there is a great disparity/contrast between the interior light and the exterior light. Using interior artificial lighting can help balance that scene so that the contrast is reduced, mimicking how your eye sees the scene. We often use Photoshop to remove unwanted reflections (often from our flashes). High Dynamic Range (HDR) technique is another way to mitigate contrast and get a view shot. HDR is basically blending several images of different exposures in a post-production tool such as Photoshop to create an image with less contrast. Unfortunately, this technique tends to yield much less natural-looking images that do not “ring true” and can feel a bit flat. We also use high-powered lighting to get great porch shots; this really makes the porch view SING!

Holualoa Breakfast 02 X2 Sharing our Secrets: How to Get Those Amazing Inside Out View Photos

Without high-powered flashes, it would be impossible to light the rich, dark wood interior while keeping the contrast balanced in the bright Hawaiian light. This is from Holualoa Inn.

Lucilles Room6 02 X2 Sharing our Secrets: How to Get Those Amazing Inside Out View Photos

High-powered off-camera flash creates a natural-looking balance between the inside and outside at Lucille’s Mountaintop Inn in Georgia.

 

What is the best way to compose a view shot?

One of the inherent problems with photographing a room with a view is that the best picture of a room RARELY meshes with the best view out the windows. You need a descriptive, wide shot to show the room on your website or booking engine, but if the room has a great view you’ll need a shot that captures that view. These are typically very different shots. When we are trying to capture a killer view, we start with the view, and then work the room around it by adapting the angle or moving/arranging furniture. These less literally descriptive shots that are selling the view are typically shot with a much less wide lens. For example, for a descriptive wide shot of a room one might use a wide angle (i.e. 28mm focal length), while a view shot would be more successful at 50mm or higher, because this greater focal length visually helps to bring the view IN.   This is one of the most important elements of a great view shot: get tight, don’t use a wide angle lens!

LedgesDu0 1024x338 Sharing our Secrets: How to Get Those Amazing Inside Out View Photos

The best shot of the common space at Ledges Hotel shows the beautiful fireplace and grand high ceiling. But that shot will never showcase the all-important waterfall view. To do that, you need to build the shot around THE VIEW…NOT the room

i sp5HHSc X2 Sharing our Secrets: How to Get Those Amazing Inside Out View Photos

A guest room view of the Atlantic Ocean from Block Island Inn in Rhode Island. Composing the shot tight, along with a straight-on view accentuates the view.

 

What time of day, season and weather are best for view shots?

All of these elements greatly affect a view shot, in a big way! Waterfront properties usually require a clear day, since water is reflecting the sky and you want it to be BLUE. Typically you’ll want the sun behind the camera to capture a less washed-out look. Unlike water, mountains and greenery can be more forgiving with time of day and weather. Wooded scenes can be stunning on a cloudy day. Usually shooting at high noon is a big no-no, but the season and geographical location play a great role in this. For example, in November we can get great view shots at high-noon in some locations. One of our favorite times of day to shoot a view is at daybreak or sunset. The light is softer and more colorful and you can get moody shots that really conjure up emotion and a “moment in time”. Usually you’ll find that we try to provide some variety in what we deliver to our customers, often providing some daytime views and some sunset/sunrise views.

Blair Hill Common Restaurant 2 X2 Sharing our Secrets: How to Get Those Amazing Inside Out View Photos

A sunset view over Moosehead Lake was the perfect backdrop for the mood, colors and decor of the dining room at Blair Hill Inn, Maine

SeaRock R JRSuite17 3 X2 Sharing our Secrets: How to Get Those Amazing Inside Out View Photos

Sunset over the Pacific Ocean was a perfect time to shoot this guest room at Sea Rock Inn in Mendocino, California. The bright colors of the sunset are a great counterpoint to the red leather chairs.

What props are good for view shot?

Think bold silhouettes as you gather props for views, such as binoculars, wine bottles, botanicals with interesting shapes, a human figure or a coffee cup. Keep the props simple; the star of a view photo is THE VIEW

Sunrise X3 Sharing our Secrets: How to Get Those Amazing Inside Out View Photos

The strong silhouette of the calla lilies works well with the misty morning view from Lookout Point Lakeside Inn in Arkansas

 

 

Views: A Checklist for Getting Ready for the Photoshoot

  1. Be ready! Prepare a day early if you can. We may be able to change arrival date if weather is better a day earlier. Be ready early and be flexible.
  2. Clean windows well and remove screens. Photographers are expensive window washers…and we end up washing many windows!
  3. Blinds and window treatments should be in good condition as they are “framing” the view
  4. If you are lodging the photographer, put  them in your best “view” room. (I know this sounds like a ploy, but it’s really not!) Believe me, you will want them to have access at all times of day and night to get that “signature” view shot.
  5. In general, block your rooms with views for a longer period than you need to, in order to account for time of day and weather issues.
  6. Be prepared for 5:30am or 9:00pm shoots. Basically give photographer access to rooms and props on a 24-hour basis.
  7. Invite an attractive repeat guest (who has mid-week flexibility) to return to the inn for free during the shoot, in exchange for letting us photograph them on balconies with views. Make them aware it could be a very early or late photo shoot. We have had great success with this. People provide context and interest for view shots.

 

Port d Hiver Rooms Windward 11 X2 Sharing our Secrets: How to Get Those Amazing Inside Out View Photos

Port D’Hiver Inn in Florida brought in return guests for our shoot. They enjoyed a complimentary stay and we had great models at various times of day (which was key!)

 

 

 

 

For many years, we had heard Mercersburg Inn described as a super-special property. Located in a small town in central Pennsylvania, this Georgian Mansion is–for one thing–REALLY BIG! At over 20,oo0 square feet, with 15 grand guest rooms in the main inn and another two in the carriage house, this is one spectacular inn, with opulent common Mercersburg Exteriors Facade Dusk 1 M Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Innspaces, porches and a gorgeous restaurant. Unfortunately, when one looked at the inn’s website, very little of that grandness came through. Also (online, at least) the property was presented to the world as dated, cluttered and dark. We were assured by the Innkeepers and others “in the know” that none of this was accurate. Mercersburg Inn needed a “new image”–one that accurately depicted the grandeur and elegance of this outstanding property.

They called us to do their photography and we encouraged them to contact White Stone Marketing for a new website. The wheels began to turn.

The Photo shoot was a great success and the resulting photos are a shocking improvement over their previous images. In addition, White Stone Marketing is currently developing a new web site for Mercersburg Inn, and it should be ready in a few months.

As we reviewed the old website, it dawned on us that there has been a dramatic shift in the way images are used on “Rooms” pages. In the past, rooms were often represented by a “collage” of various shots (see “Before” shots below), each tiny image representing an aspect of the room, all together intended to tell the story of that room. More recently, website designers have replaced these collages with larger, more literally-descriptive photos, seen in a rotation. According to Liz Hamilton, Design Director at White Stone Marketing, there are a few of reasons for this shift:

1. Today’s savvy innkeepers tend to invest in professional photography (Yay!) and website designers now strive to create “photo-forward” websites, which are proven to be much more effective.

2. Online consumers (especially millennials) want to be able to see EXACTLY what they are getting, i.e. how the room is laid out, interrelationships of the various spaces, etc.. This is achieved much more effectively with a few large photos, rather than a group of smaller images.

3. Faster internet speeds have allowed larger photos to be used without pesky load time issues

4. Smaller images of intricate room details are poorly represented on mobile devices–and as we covered in our last blog , mobile is where it’s at!

 

So, let’s talk about this shoot…

 

1) Getting Prepared

We had a series of telephone meetings with owners Lisa and Jim, and made various decor and styling recommendations. Low-investemnt but high-impact suggestions included removing lace canopies over beds and reviewing bedding to be sure it felt current and fresh. Another suggestion was to update any accent or throw pillows–small details can say so very much. Lisa also made the move to replace some of the heavy, dated window treatments, replacing them with cleaner, fresher white sheers or lace–still appropriate for this historic mansion, but lighter and a little more current feeling. This also let a lot more light into the rooms.

Lisa and Jim were great sports and really listened to our suggestions; their tireless–and SPEEDY– efforts contributed greatly to the success of this project. As we often say, 75% of photographing a property is simply being PREPARED. So much of the important work actually happens before a shutter ever clicks. Remember–great photography of “tired” or outdated decor can only take you so far. Read our post on “Getting Ready for the Photographer” from a few years ago.

pic rooms 07 Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

Marie Claire (Before)

Mercersburg Rooms MarieClaire 5 M Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

Marie Claire (After)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mercersburg Rooms MarieClaire a 1 X2 Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

Marie Claire (After) – Note the removal of the canopy, new artwork (no dried flower wreaths!) and decorative pillow

 

2) Underselling 

Immediately upon arrival, we were astounded by the scale of most of the rooms and suites–they were huge! The pictures they had been using to sell their rooms for over a decade were woefully (tragically) underselling the spaciousness and grandness of the spaces, the high ceilings, and the amenities many of the rooms have–like porches with views and unique, mint-condition vintage bathrooms. So many of the aspects that make an inn truly special were not being touted!

pic rooms 01 Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

Prospect Suite (Before)

Mercersburg Rooms Prospect%20 7 M Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

Prospect Bath (After) – Check out this incredibly-maintained vintage bath

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mercersburg Rooms Prospect%20 3 X2 Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

Prospect (After) – Note how the room feels grand without resorting to “wide angle” tricks. The lack of canopy and new furniture arrangement also make the room feel bigger

Mercersburg Rooms Prospect Balcony 3 X2 Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

The balcony for Prospect Suite. The secret is now OUT!  This balcony has a GREAT VIEW of the surrounding mountains and lush gardens! Check out the balcony shot BEFORE…Where would you rather stay??

 

3) Its all about the View!

Who knew this place had views?? We captured views out of windows whenever we could. Mercersburg is a small, out-of-the-way town and we wanted the pictures to help tell the story of the setting. Views and enviromental shots really can do that!

pic rooms 02 Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

Dressing Room (Before)

Mercersburg Rooms DressingRoom 2 M Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

Dressing Room (After) – A big impact by removing some of the decor and composing a wider shot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mercersburg Rooms DressingRoom 1 X2 Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

In this room, the view and balcony are the true selling features, but these features were never photographed before! We waited until sunset to capture this photo, when the room and view were of equivalent brightness.

Mercersburg Rooms DressingRoom 5 X2 Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

More of Dressing Room’s view of the village and mountains, shot in the morning. Time of day is critical in view pictures like this. This one was at 6:45 am. The light on the mugs is artificial, but feels natural.

 

4) Celebrating Important Amenities

Guests care about bathrooms. Special bathrooms really, really can sell a room. Mercersburg Inn has some great modern baths in their carriage house rooms, but previously they were very poorly photographed or not shown at all. Not any more!! Also, the bed got a makeover, removing much of the floral bedding, thus making for a cleaner, simpler look.

pic rooms 18 Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

Carriage House Room (Before) – GLOOMY!

Mercersburg Rooms Carriage North 1 M Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

After – A new furniture arrangement makes the room feel less cluttered. Mark did his magic on the bed – repurposing the bedding in a new configuration and rejected the shams. We brought in this rug to add color and character.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mercersburg Rooms Carriage NorthBath 2 X2 Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

Carriage House Bathroom – One of the best bathrooms on the property now has a great photo!

 

5) Beyond Sleeping Rooms

Although the guest rooms are stunning at Mercersburg Inn, there is SO much more to the property in terms of common spaces. They are full of character, opulence and grandness. In eleven years of photographing inns, these are the most interesting we’ve ever photographed. Here are a few:

Mercersburg Common Foyer 2 X2 Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

This is how you enter the mansion. Can you say “WOW FACTOR”? 

 

Mercersburg Common Porch 2 Edit X2 Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

The side porch

 

Mercersburg Common Dining 1 X2 Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

The elegant dining room is a fitting setting for their opulent dinners

 

Mercersburg Common Bar 1 X2 Before and After: Small Changes = Big Impact At Mercersburg Inn

The bar- elegant yet comfortable.

We just returned from a photo shoot at Brass Lantern Inn on Nantucket, Massachusetts. We are thinking this might just be the most dramatic transformation we’ve ever seen in 11 years! Also, we picked up some innovative tips on creating a functional and beautiful pet-friendly guest room. Our hats are off to Innkeeper and Proprietor Michelle Langlois and designer Barbara Halsted.

You can see all the new pictures on the current Brass Lantern Website, but watch for a brand new White Stone Marketing website soon!

Here are some of our favorite Before and After shots from the shoot…

After….

BrassLantern Rooms Campanula 1 XL Most Dramatic Room Makeovers Yet: Pet Friendly with a FLAIR...and 10 Tips

Campanula Room: After

Before…

i srjHpFd XL Most Dramatic Room Makeovers Yet: Pet Friendly with a FLAIR...and 10 Tips

Campanula Room: Before

 

Same Room, Another After shot…

BrassLantern Rooms Campanula 4 XL Most Dramatic Room Makeovers Yet: Pet Friendly with a FLAIR...and 10 Tips

This After is from the same perspective as the Before shot

 

After shot of Wisteria Room….

BrassLantern Rooms Wisteria 1 XL Most Dramatic Room Makeovers Yet: Pet Friendly with a FLAIR...and 10 Tips

Wisteria Room: After

Before shot of Wisteria Room….

i QVd5mbk XL Most Dramatic Room Makeovers Yet: Pet Friendly with a FLAIR...and 10 Tips

Wisteria room: Before

 

After shot, Family Suite bedroom…

BrassLantern Rooms Family 4 XL Most Dramatic Room Makeovers Yet: Pet Friendly with a FLAIR...and 10 Tips

Family Suite Bedroom: After

Before shot, Family Suite bedroom….

i 99Nkgfx XL Most Dramatic Room Makeovers Yet: Pet Friendly with a FLAIR...and 10 Tips

Family Suite Bedroom: Before

 

 

BrassLantern Rooms Brant 2 300x300 Most Dramatic Room Makeovers Yet: Pet Friendly with a FLAIR...and 10 Tips 1.Synthetic, washable “outdoor” carpets have come a long way in the last few years. You can find great designs and colors and can hose them down if a red wine or pet accident occurs. The gorgeous wood floors are awesome for pet-friendly rooms; they add a beautiful warmth to the room and give it a contemporary flair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BrassLantern Rooms Family 4 300x300 Most Dramatic Room Makeovers Yet: Pet Friendly with a FLAIR...and 10 Tips 2. From an aesthetic, functional and sanitation point of view, the all-white triple-sheeted bedding is a perfect solution for a pet friendly room. We always recommend a bed saddle (AKA bed scarf) or quilt at the foot of the bed to protect the bedding from “foot of the bed” wear and to add color and interest to the otherwise white bed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BrassLantern Rooms Hydrangea 1 300x300 Most Dramatic Room Makeovers Yet: Pet Friendly with a FLAIR...and 10 Tips 3. This is not your grandmother’s wallpaper…We love they way they used fresh, new wallpaper to accent the wall behind the bed. It makes a boxy room warmer, softer and accents the “face” of the bedroom (the head of the bed).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BrassLantern Rooms Wisteria 3 300x300 Most Dramatic Room Makeovers Yet: Pet Friendly with a FLAIR...and 10 Tips

4. Another clever wallpaper application: using it in the dormers around the bed. It creates a subtle canopy effect with the pattern and color. It also visually softens those very hard angles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BrassLantern Rooms Jonquil 1 300x300 Most Dramatic Room Makeovers Yet: Pet Friendly with a FLAIR...and 10 Tips 5. Innkeeper and Proprietor Michelle Langlois looked to a local Nantucket photographer for fresh room decor. Just like the finest 5-star hotels in the world, the rooms feature original art from a local source!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BrassLantern Rooms SconsetRose 4 300x300 Most Dramatic Room Makeovers Yet: Pet Friendly with a FLAIR...and 10 Tips 6. Sunbrella fabric (the sun-proof, waterproof, “wears-like-iron” fabric) previously came in very limited patterns and colors that were more appropriate for your aunt’s 1980’s Florida sunporch than a upscale boutique inn. That’s all changed!! Here, the inn slipcovered the upholstered headboard in designer Sunbrella patterns and also had coordinating bedskirts and bolsters custom-made for each room. This is an amazing pet-friendly solution–just remove the soiled slipcover and wash. This material is perfect for innkeepers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BrassLantern Rooms Campanula 2 300x300 Most Dramatic Room Makeovers Yet: Pet Friendly with a FLAIR...and 10 Tips 7. Wall-mounted upholstered headboards are one of our very favorite solutions for any inn or hotel. Here’s why: They’re easy to clean if slipcovered, easy to redecorate (new slipcover!) as trends change, and comfortable for today’s traveler who does much more than just sleep in the bed. Also, they’re acoustically awesome—they add another level of sound absorption to a hard-edged space. More good news: they tend to be one of the most affordable options. Finally, they are foodboard-less, which means they save space and “open-up” the room!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BrassLantern Rooms SconsetRose 5 300x300 Most Dramatic Room Makeovers Yet: Pet Friendly with a FLAIR...and 10 Tips 8. A few coats of white paint on their old pine dressers completely freshened up the furniture and added a seaside feel to the space. This is also a very green idea,  giving these old pieces a new life. Lastly, it’s a great budget alternative to buying new furniture!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BrassLantern Rooms Wisteria 1 300x300 Most Dramatic Room Makeovers Yet: Pet Friendly with a FLAIR...and 10 Tips 9. Dormered rooms are notoriously difficult to decorate. Brass Lantern had the brilliant idea to add shelves in the nearly unusable space where the dormers meet the floor. It takes the space from “attic” to “room”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Untitled 1 Most Dramatic Room Makeovers Yet: Pet Friendly with a FLAIR...and 10 Tips 10. This innkeeper “knows what she doesn’t know”—a very unusual trait. She hired a professional to help her transform her inn. We see multi-million dollar inn construction projects culminate in the innkeeper doing the decorating, often making wrong, expensive turns. It’s fun to participate in the process, but we implore innkeepers to seek outside help. Innkeeper Michelle Langlois hired Barbara Halsted, ASID of Fenwick House Designs in Nantucket to assist. Designers add a cost to the project but can help you save money with clever repurposing ideas and GETTING IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME.

In preparing for our presentation, “Take Your Guest Rooms from Yesterday to Today and from Tired to Fresh—On a Budget!” at The Hospitality Marketing Summit in Denver next week, we stumbled upon some pretty interesting and inspirational room re-dos. We’ll be presenting these–and more great room decor ideas–gathered from our 10 years traveling North America, shooting over 150 inns, hotels and B&Bs.

 

Chanticleer Inn, Lookout Mountain, Georgia

Note all the changes that make this room feel much more updated!

1) A more tailored bedding approach. Note that the pleats are gone on the bedskirt and the pillow arrangement is cleaner, with a graphic-style decorative pillow and chic, white Euro-shams in the back. No more scalloped edges on the bedspread.

2) The top of the armoire has disappeared(!) and the flat-screen TV now sits directly on the fireplace, opening up the space and allowing a much improved TV-viewing experience. Clean, crisp upholstered chairs were added in slate gray, a great updated and versatile color choice–and now there are two chairs instead of just one (a major upgrade!) The toile curtains were replaced with a new elegant design. The bedside lamp was refitted with a sleeker drum shade.

3) The carpet was changed out for a wood floor. We are seeing this A LOT! Wood is much more sanitary and cleaning-friendly, especially in a room like this that steps right out to the garden. Also, wood makes the room potentially pet friendly, or at least MORE pet friendly.

4)  In a stroke of genius, the tiny pedestal sink was removed from the bathroom and a nice vanity sink was added in the bedroom. We love this change, as it allowed for a luxury shower to be added in the tiny bath–and justified a rate increase!

YOU GO Chanticleer Innkeeper-Designer Extraordinaire, Audrey! Amazing changes.

AFTER

Chanticleer Inn Rooms 3 1 XL Get Inspired with These Room Makeovers!

Room 3 at Chanticleer Inn – AFTER

Before AfterChant Get Inspired with These Room Makeovers!

Another view featuring the sink that was moved to the bedroom to make room for a luxury shower- AFTER

 BEFORE

Chanticleer Rooms 3 01 XL Get Inspired with These Room Makeovers!

Room 3 – BEFORE

Chanticleer Rooms 3 02 XL Get Inspired with These Room Makeovers!

Another “before” shot, showing the old bathroom sitting area configuration

 


 

Shiloh Morning Inn, Ardmore, Oklahoma

It’s been fun to keep flying back to Oklahoma to see all the changes Jessica and Dave have been making at Shiloh–and on a budget. One theme we have noticed in their renovations is adding a masculine twist to what was previously a pretty frilly and feminine inn. We’ve heard form many innkeepers that more masculine rooms are selling BETTER. That was also our experience as owners of The Woolverton Inn.

Adding reclaimed barn-wood to one wall and the interior of the turret transformed the space from a victorian fantasy (not Jessica’s thing) to more of a barn/silo theme. They did ALL of the work themselves. This was a budget job–you’ll notice they reused most of the furnishings, just adding the pendant light fixtures over the bar and new curtains. We suggested they paint the cabinetry (perhaps black or gray) to pull in the dark details of the barn wood and the fireplace surround. (Then again, maybe it was  just a ploy so they will invite us back again!!)

Kudos to Jessica–a very creative idea, indeed!

AFTER

Shiloh Rooms Cottage Bluebird 01 XL Get Inspired with These Room Makeovers!

Updated Bluebird Cottage–the reclaimed barn wood speaks nicely to the area’s rural landscape

BEFORE

Shiloh Rooms BluebirdCottage 03 XL Get Inspired with These Room Makeovers!

Bluebird Cottage – BEFORE

AFTER

Shiloh Rooms Bungalow 06 XL Get Inspired with These Room Makeovers!

AFTER – The Bungalow Cottage at Shiloh, reflecting a more masculine approach to color and decor

BEFORE

Shiloh Morning Cottage Bambi%20%284%29 XL Get Inspired with These Room Makeovers!

Bungalow Cottage – BEFORE. This color is a bit scary–how times have changed!

 


 

Rabbit Hill Inn, Vermont

Leslie and Brian at Rabbit Hill Inn in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom NEVER QUIT. We stumbled on this before and after of their Sterling Room and it almost knocked us off our chairs! They have added a contemporary twist to many of their new renovations and these changes have been very well received by their fiercely loyal  guests. It’s a bold move for America’s most venerable B&B market (and perhaps America’s most venerable inn).  We wrote a post a while back on another jaw-dropping room re-do at Rabbit Hill - read it here. 

AFTER

RabbitHill Rooms Sterling 03 XL Get Inspired with These Room Makeovers!

Sterling Room at Rabbit Hill after a dramatic redo

BEFORE

RabbitHill Rooms Victoria 01 XL Get Inspired with These Room Makeovers!

Yes, this is the same room! Sterling! The bed is the same…but not much else!

 

 

 

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