Hotel Online  Special Report

Designers Provide Tips on Historic Integrity and Ambiance; Designing for the Ages, National Trust Historic
Hotels of America® 
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 3, 2003 -Today, more than ever, homeowners across America are expressing their creativity and personality through their living spaces. Whether it is a full-scale renovation of a historic home or simply adding a splash of color to a white-walled room, Americans are embracing the concept of interior design like never before. Once the domain of pricey interior design professionals, a multitude of tools and resources now exist to help today's homeowners tackle the task themselves.

One terrific resource for design ideas can be found at some of America's grand hotels. If you are looking to achieve a period feel or just exude a sense of quiet elegance, you'll find inspiration inside the doors of Historic Hotels of America. Lessons in style abound at these properties-take your cues from some of the world's most famous designers, including Dorothy Draper, Carlton Varney and Todd Oldham. Consider these tips from some of America's leading design professionals.

Color Your World

Carlton Varney, one of America's most respected designers, has breathed life into some of the country's greatest hotels, including The Plaza in New York City, Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island, Mich., The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., and, most recently, the Mount Washington Hotel and Resort in Bretton Woods, N.H. For his vibrant color choices, Varney advises "not to be afraid of color" and to avoid "the oatmeal approach."

Deborah Lloyd Forrest (FASID) of ForrestPerkins, an interior and architectural design firm that worked on the recent room renovation at The Pfister in Milwaukee and the restoration of the Renaissance Grand Hotel in St. Louis, reiterates that "paint is an inexpensive design material and can easily be changed." She also reminds us that our ancestors loved bold color-strong reds or corals, golds, greens and blues-which can dramatically set off antique or period furnishings and collections.

The Pfister
424 East Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The Grande Colonial Hotel
910 Prospect Street
La Jolla, California
For period inspiration, Forrest recommends visiting historic house museums from the era you wish to replicate. Inspiration can be found at the National Trust for Historic Preservation's collection of 23 sites. Examples include: Brucemore (1885) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for English Tudor style; Filoli (1916) in Woodside, Calif., for Beaux Arts style or Montpelier (c. 1760) in Orange, Va., for Georgian style.

For a historic palette of uniquely American paint colors, homeowners can look to Valspar Corporation's American Tradition Paints. Valspar worked with the National Trust to authenticate a historic paint colors. Color samples taken from National Trust historic sites and Historic Hotels of America member hotels were scientifically analyzed and documented. The wide spectrum of more than 600 American historic hues includes La Fonda Fiesta Blue, Del Coronado Amber, Woodrow Wilson Presidential White and Woodlawn Marmalade.

Simple and Utilitarian

Arts and Crafts style is simple and utilitarian. Tracie McCloskey of TLM Interior Designers, the designer for the Hotel Pattee in Perry, Iowa, offers secrets to create this look at home. The style is exemplified in strong furniture and simple clean lines. Oak has been associated with Arts and Crafts, but even mesquite and natural tree limbs woven into chairs and other pieces qualify. Leather and damask-like covering are very much in this design genre. Persian carpets, terra cotta floors and colored tiles are considered Arts and Crafts. Fireplaces are often faced in tiles. Stenciling is another detail related to the style. It is frequently used for borders where walls meet ceilings. Accessories include clay pottery in matte or rough finishes, hammered metal (tin and copper) containers and trays and wool covered pillows with simple needlework motifs. Arts and Crafts colors are deep jewel tones ranging from green, gold and copper to blue, purple and mahogany. Perhaps the most practical tip offered by McCloskey is to scour antique stores and flea markets for furniture and decorative accessories to fit the style.

Mother Nature Knows Best

Nothing can transform a setting more than to bring a touch of nature indoors. At the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., floral arrangements play a major role in creating an elegant welcome for guests. Courtney Zellmer, head floral designer, says homeowners can recreate that feeling on a smaller scale by using their creativity. Use branches pruned from a flowering bush or tree and display them in tall vases to bring in seasonal color. Or, create an Art Nouveau look, popular when the hotel opened in the 1920s, by gathering a large bunch of one type of flower such as calla lilies. Heirlooms such as silver and cut glass vases, bowl and pitchers are a wonderful way to showcase family treasures in a new manner.

Do Your Homework

Maureen Stanton, room division manager at Mohonk Mountain House, a 251-room Victorian castle 90 minutes north of New York City, stresses the importance of research. If you are seeking to replicate the look of a particular period such as the Arts and Crafts movement or the Victorian era, there are a number of periodicals and Web sites for guidance. Her favorites include Style 1900 magazine which features Arts and Crafts design elements and Bradbury & Bradbury which specializes in historic wallpapers.

Patterns with a Purpose

Barbara Kenney, the interior designer for Wentworth-by-the-Sea in New Castle, N.H., advises the use of designs to overcome surface irregularities, such as laying carpet with an oriental or all-over pattern to disguise uneven flooring.

Stylish Storage Solutions

The resplendent Delta Queen Steamboat, based in New Orleans, is known for its Victorian elegance. However, even period rooms need to take into account practical matters such as storage. Design consultant Lorraine Tolegdano added wooden shelves to the ship's bathrooms so passengers would have additional space for toiletries. The simple design also incorporated a rod across the front and spindles on each corner so items won't fall off while the Delta Queen travels down river.

Let There Be Light

Lighting plays an integral role in setting the mood of a room. It can also take years off your face- if you know the secrets. Stephanie Parisi, founder of Parisi Design and the creative force behind the interiors at the Grande Colonial Hotel in La Jolla, Calif., says the right lighting makes all the difference. Down lighting creates drama on tabletops but creates shadows under the eyes and accentuates wrinkles in the skin. Lighting from the side or two feet above the head casts a soft glow that is much more flattering.

Historic Holiday Décor

Take a break from the hectic holiday season by simplifying your décor. The legendary Victorian Hotel del Coronado in Coronado, Calif., reminds us that decorations can be unpretentious yet still make a statement, from fragrant gingerbread men to candy and nut-filled cornucopias. Tree decorations need not be store-bought to be eye-catching. Try simple paper fans or chains and strings of popcorn and cranberry and simple household items hung from branches to add a homey touch. Lastly, the Victorians loved greenery and used it abundantly on every surface.

Historic Hotels of America is a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Historic Hotels has identified 203 hotels that have faithfully maintained their historic integrity, architecture and ambiance. 

Historic Hotels of America
Also See: Former Castles, a Fire Station and Local Landmarks Added to National Trust Historic Hotels of America; 15 New Members / October 2003
Nine Hotels Added to National Trust Historic Hotels of America / April 2003

To search Hotel Online data base of News and Trends Go to Hotel.Online Search

Home | Welcome! | Hospitality News | Classifieds | Catalogs & Pricing | Viewpoint Forum | Ideas/Trends
Please contact Hotel.Onlinewith your comments and suggestions.