Inn Consultants and Brokers Since 1993

Rick Wolf and Peter Scherman (that’s Rick on the left and Peter on the right) are both experienced speakers who have presented on a range of innkeeping related topics at the state, regional, and national level. They gather and analyze research for the Innkeeping industry and welcome the opportunity to share it with others. Contact Us

The B&B Team

Archive for the ‘Interior Design’ Category

Out of the Box Ideas

September 18th, 2014 by Janet Wolf

Out of the Box ideas

Pin your guests!


Out of the Box ideas

Hide TV and digital picture frame cords without cutting holes in your wall

One of The B&B Team’s Pinterest boards is called ‘Think Out of the Box Ideas’. Subtitled, ‘Unique Decorating Random Pins That May Inspire’. I have so much fun with this, discovering fun DIY projects that I believe could add some fun conversational interest for your guests and for you, the innkeeper. Some of the ideas are practical, some are just plain fun. See if any ideas that I feature here fit your Inn’s personality.

Like this fun and practical idea on how to hide your cable cords.

I hope some of these ideas add a smile to your face. And some inspiration.

Thanks for Viewing,

Janet Wolf


out of the box ideas


out of the box

Turn old postcards into a striking art display: Using bookbinder’s glue, affix postcards to a large canvas then hang it to your wall. #diy #art Vintage postcards of your area. Guests would love this!


out of the box ideas

Light up your entrance. No carving required!

Bed and Breakfast First Impressions Count

April 9th, 2014 by Janet Wolf

Sit, relax and connect

First Impression at The Inn at English Meadows. Sit, relax and connect.

“The lobby sets the tone for the overall guest experience, whether it is tone color, décor or ambience. It is the first impression that guests pick up upon entering a property.”From an article in Global Traveler, April 2014 entitled, ‘Form, Function and Finesse’.

Over the years The B&B Team has heard comments from innkeepers saying that not very many of their guests use their common living room/parlors.  Well…there may be a reason. Hotels have seen the same thing. Guests were not ‘hanging out’ in their lobbies. They were in the bars and lounges, but what if a guest wanted to just sit with friends or plug in their devices to ‘work ‘n play’, or have a casual business meeting without the bar buzz?  Many of the large successful hotel chains have been transforming their lobbies into spaces to relax, connect, meet, think, a place guests can make their own.


Westin Hotels & Resorts creates a modern day oasis in lobbies.

Westin Hotels & Resorts creates a modern day oasis in lobbies.

Bed and Breakfast successful design at The Inn at English Meadows

Entree… the Carriage House at The Inn at English Meadows

“Setting the tone for an overall experience” is also important for bed and breakfasts/Inns. Maybe even more important! Many small lodging properties are in historic buildings. They  have an advantage of a distinct sense of place. The aim is to emphasize the unique historical architectural details of the building, the entry and other common shared spaces. Create eye popping design while creating a comfortable and functional space.  It has been done very successfully in many bed and breakfasts. If you have been thinking about transforming your common areas and make your bed and breakfast first impressions a WOW then read on.

A great example is the Inn at English Meadows in Kennebunk Maine. Current innkeepers took a Victorian era farmhouse and transformed the exterior and interior with a contemporary design that is truly eye popping. The results were spectacular. This Inn was not only transformed but re-branded. Now not everyone has the need to tackle a total Inn transformation.  The Inn at English Meadows illustrates what can be done and the successful results. And their guests respond very positively. “It was lovely. The Inn is newly remodeled and tastefully appointed. The decor transfers seamlessly from the living room to the dining room and to the sleeping rooms.”

Traditional comfort at the Inn at Maury Place, Richmond Virginia

Traditional comfort at Maury Place at Monument, Richmond Virginia Bed & Breakfast

A more contemporary look may be trending but traditional is a style that is always in style.  And it may be your preferred style. The Maury Place at Monument, a Richmond Virginia Bed and Breakfast has created comfortable traditional style seating areas in their common rooms. The colors, contemporary hints blend well here and make the architectural details of the room pop.  “As soon as we stepped foot in the historic home, we understood why it had received an overwhelming amount of “excellent” reviews on Trip Advisor. The place is absolutely gorgeous, decorated in warm, masculine colors (chocolate, burgundy) with feminine touches of detail (crystal chandeliers, intricate ceiling medallions and crown molding).”

Beyond design there has to be function. Easy access to USB outlets is also a function guests are looking for in common rooms, not just their guest room. And good lighting everywhere, this should be your mantra! Creating multiple conversation areas is key if you have the space. This is both thoughtful and functional for guests.

Bed and Breakfast first impressions at the Birchwood Inn, Lenox, MA

Multiple seating areas. Room for more? Birchwood Inn Lenox, Massachusetts has an extended living room with enough space for three conversational areas.

Transform, re-brand, re-fresh or renew. Impress your guests with a bed and breakfast first impression. It counts.

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf



Common Rooms – Time for a Transformation?

July 12th, 2013 by Janet Wolf

How often are your common areas used and which ones? Do your guests use your dining room for anything other than breakfast? I believe these are some good questions that may start you thinking about how your public spaces can be transformed into “Spaces that are open to interpretation-places to relax, think, create, meet and make your own.” This may sound a bit esoteric but it is what Marriott is doing, transforming their lobbies and dining areas to areas that reflect “comfort and connectivity in every corner.” Marriott’s goal is to attract the Gen X and Y travelers. They believe, and I agree, that this generation of travelers have an interest in design and look for spaces that they feel comfortable occupying for work and play.

A recent Marriott property lobby transformation. Intimate?

A recent Marriott property lobby transformation.

Your public spaces are valuable. They should be used, not just passed through.

I like the thought of creating spaces that are ’open to interpretation’. Example would be to design your dining/breakfast room to be inviting any time of the day. Bright and cheery for the morning and cozy and inviting for the evening hours. Lighting is very important for practicality and ambiance.

The Living Room at The Swag  Photo by Jumping Rocks

The Living Room at The Swag
Photo by Jumping Rocks

This living room or great room at The Swag in North Carolina is a great example of a room that could go from breakfast to evening wine, a game of checkers or checking your emails.

Your guests may not be on a business trip but they will bring work with them or just prefer to be connected at all times, even on vacation. Providing a space with good WiFI, comfortable chairs and tables with good lighting and plugs galore is very important. All of us at The B&B Team travel a lot and we know how important good and connected work spaces are!

Here is an example of the living room at the Maine Stay Inn in Kennebunkport, before and after.

The Maine Stay Living Room...before

The Maine Stay Living Room…before                                      Photo by Christian Giannelli



They have gone from a very traditional formal setting to a more contemporary lounge look. There is no right or wrong, the original room setting was quite nice but innkeepers Judi, Walter and Johanna wanted to make the space brighter and more inviting and they say the space is used more often now. The new chairs have wheels for ease in rearranging if necessary.

The hotel chains like Marriott are working to create more intimate spaces within their large spaces. Our bed and breakfasts and country inns already have smaller spaces, creating intimacy is not the challenge. Our challenge is to make the smaller spaces into a blend of style and comfort designed for the way travelers young and ‘experienced’ work and play today.


The Maine Stay Living Room...after

The Maine Stay Living Room…after                                        Photo by Christian Giannelli

Oh and when you transform those spaces, show them off. Good photography on your website is the best invitation for your future guests to connect to you.

Thanks for Listening,

Janet Wolf

C is for Clear the Clutter

February 10th, 2012 by Janet Wolf

Sandy Soule, colleague, B & B travel writer and all around smart lady, has a mantra. “Vertical surfaces are for the innkeepers, horizontal surfaces are for the guests”. All of us at The B&B Team quote these wise words often.


A bit of an exageration...but

We have visited Bed and Breakfast Inns where we have found it necessary to clear the one and only horizontal surface in the guestroom of information booklets, decorative items and more in order to use this space for our personal items.

Clutter increases your stress level.

Think about it, guestrooms should promote rest and relaxation. We know how many guests arrive stressed out after a long drive or delayed flights or both!  You don’t want to create more agitation when your guests enter their room and the first thing they see is a crowd of stuff.

All you have to do is Google ‘clutter’ and you can find many articles titled; ‘10 ways to de-clutter your home’ or ‘De Clutter 101’. These articles can be very helpful for your office, kitchen and owner’s quarters which is also very important space for de cluttering but for this writing I want to focus on guestrooms and public rooms.

Here is a list of agitation inducing clutter you may want to consider clearing out:

  • Personal collections placed on dressers, tables, sofas, chairs. These items may be dear to you so you probably don’t want them moved to the floor or hidden in drawers. A guest may find it hard to feel comfortable when they see so much of the innkeeper’s personal items on display. Your common rooms can be great places for showcasing some of these items on a few strategically placed shelves or in designated cabinets.


  • Too many decorative pillows. They only end up on the floor and may be stepped on and kicked around. (Do you want your guests releasing their stress by kicking piles of pillows)?


  • Dried and artificial flower arrangements. Many times these become ignored decorations that fade and collect dust.  Dust is clutter too and also collects odors. Yuk!


  • Boxy, out of date TVs take up a lot of space. You may not be able to replace all of them at once but you can replace them a few rooms at a time. Finding wall space for a flat screen can free up much needed horizontal surfaces.


From HGTV 'Decorate with Floating Shelves'

  • Bathrooms really need to be free of clutter. This can be challenging when trying to create those places for your guest’s plethora of toiletries, especially in a small bathroom. Use your vertical surfaces (walls) for open shelves or cubbies. Corners are another place for space saving shelves. ‘Floating shelves’ have been around for a while and are great space savers. Use as bedside tables as well.

    Martha Stewart's Corner Unit


  • DO NOT DO THIS, DO NOT DO THAT signs. ‘No’ is a four letter word for innkeepers. These signs not only clutter the Inn but can clutter your guest’s heads with inhospitable rules. A real stress inducer.

Well, maybe some signs are necessary

There is a reason why spa spaces are simple, clean and free of clutter. Spas require an atmosphere that is relaxing and soothing, think of your guest rooms in that same vein. We have a massage therapist on our office floor and when I asked about her thoughts on de-cluttering she said: “If you want to bring more into your life you must free yourself of clutter.” Your guests may be escaping a cluttered work space and a cluttered mind to seek a much needed respite at your Inn. Your job as innkeepers is to provide the peaceful space where they can experience that much needed break.

Action: Take a good hard look at your guest rooms and public spaces and in your mind’s eye (or literally) clear everything out of the room including furniture. Then start putting back the large pieces that are necessary for the functionality of the room. Then return the decorative items that are the most ascetically pleasing to your vertical spaces and follow with your horizontal surfaces. After that you may find the room has a much more open and cleaner feel than before and many of the smaller decorative items you think you love can go away. Next step, yard sale!

Janet Wolf


B is for Fabulous Beds

October 14th, 2011 by Janet Wolf

Jasper Resting in His Nuzzle Bed


The focal point of a guest room is the bed.  I have always proposed that the bed should be the utmost enticement for a weary traveller’s eyes, for it most likely is the first thing they see when entering the room. A major part of the experience you provide for your guest is the sleep experience. What I call the Ahhh factor.  A sagging mattress, tired pillows, wrinkled linens and out of date fabric patterns are not contributing to A Better Way to Stay.

In a recent issue of Hotel Business there was an article about The Benjamin Hotel, a boutique hotel in New York City that recently completed a comprehensive renovation. The general manager said, “When it comes to the guestrooms, everything we do revolves around sleep and a good night’s sleep is all about comfort.”  We all want that and the best innkeepers out there go above and beyond to achieve that high level of comfort. Besides the 500 thread count Egyptian cotton linens and sateen down duvets, this property also offers a ‘Sleep Program’ that includes recommendations for pillows, a sleep-inducing massage and a night time snack. That sounds like an opportunity for a great package to me!

Like so many fashion trends, dressing a bed changes with the times. The mutible decorative pillow look with huge down comforters and lacy canopies was a wonderful look, the important word here is ‘was’. In its place a bed with crisp, clean lines, white or cream linens accented with a splash of color is a look that we see more and more of today.

Take a look at these two examples of beds I believe any guest would love to fall into.








So why should an innkeeper change their look and feel of their beds on a regular basis as well as the overall look and feel of their décor? Guests expectations are constantly changing, whether it is Gen Y or the over 60 crowd. We all like new and fresh. All of us at The B&B Team believes it is very important that innkeepers strive to meet today’s consumer’s needs. A new and fresh design can increase your guests’ intent to stay thus increase your bottom line. That’s reason enough.

By the way, those fabulous beds belong to the Inn at English Meadows and Captain Jefferds Inn. I’m not sure who the cat belongs too, just thought it was a great shot.

Janet Wolf

Guest Room Staging, The Innkeeper’s Art

July 27th, 2010 by Janet Wolf

by Janet Wolf of The B&B Team

We were very fortunate in our innkeeping career to have had wonderful housekeepers who always went above and beyond their job description. One in particular stands out. She once told me that she would stand at the doorway of a room after she was finished cleaning and ‘critique’ her work. If anything was off kilter, a dust ruffle, an area rug, a curtain, she would see it as she scanned the room with her eyes. As an innkeeper, you can also use this same technique to know when it is time to refresh a ‘tired’ room.

Refreshing is a process you can go through when you may not have the time or the funds to completely redecorate a guest or common room. Whether you are preparing an inn for sale or you are a new innkeeper ready to tackle your rooms for the first time, we suggest some helpful tips.

1. The Four Corners and In Between

In your mind’s eye remove all of the furniture from the room and look at the room with a fresh eye. Look at the ceiling, crown molding, fireplace mantel, built-ins, baseboards and floor. Let your eye focus on these architectural details. You may not be able to strip off years of paint but you can repair chipped paint and cracks. These flaws can be easily touched up without repainting an entire room. Paint colors are very easy to match these days. Old wood floors and baseboards take a lot of beating. Giving your wood surfaces a good polish and buffing can often make these surfaces look like they have been refinished. Clean up scuff marks from your painted surfaces with some baking soda or a mild abrasive cleanser. Finally, look at your wallpaper. Gently washing your papered surfaces will remove any dust and grime and brighten up the surfaces, but test a small area first. You will also want to repair any torn or pealing corners and seams.

2. Upholstered Furniture

This is the most difficult and usually most costly to refresh. Cleaning a piece that is dirty but is otherwise in good condition is an obvious solution. But what about those pieces that are simply tired, worn out, or out of date? Reupholstering is expensive and is only recommended for well made hardwood, jointed, and nailed pieces. Slip covers are another way to go, but it can be just as expensive to get good, custom made slipcovers as it is to reupholster the piece. Ready made slip covers are often ill-fitting and look messy after each sitting. Often your best alternative is to replace the piece. You can find inexpensive upholstered furniture that is both comfortable and durable. These pieces may not last a lifetime, but they will fit the bill. Whether you replace, reupholster, or slip cover, we recommend choosing solid and/or textured fabrics in a neutral palette for the larger pieces. Tip: “neutral” doesn’t necessarily mean beige! Your larger upholstered pieces are background pieces. Complicated patterns and bold colors can be utilized more effectively for smaller pieces, accent pillows, coverlets, drapes, and area rugs.

3. Non-upholstered Furniture

These pieces are the working surfaces of a room; end tables, sideboards, coffee tables. The placement of these pieces is important because they are both decorative and functional. Seating should never be more than arm’s length from any of these pieces. Because these items are functional they get a lot of abuse. Vacuum cleaners leave marks on the legs; lack of coaster use leaves rings, and moving furniture for cleaning loosens legs and tops. Simple handyman work can tighten screws, re-nail or re-glue arms and legs. Antique dealers will tell you not to refinish fine pieces because it diminishes their value, but there is a wonderful product that restores wood furniture without messy stripping. It is Restor-a-Finish and is recommended for antiques. This product will eliminate or minimize white rings, water marks, and scratches without removing the existing finish. Check out their website for more information,

4. Accessories

Often times you see your décor as filled with treasured mementos. A potential buyer or guest might simply see clutter. Do you want a buyer (or your guest) to see fifteen coffee table books stacked on top of your beautiful antique side table? Or do you want them to see the polished and glowing surface of this wonderful piece of furniture with a few well placed accessories? We all know the answer. Realtors call this the ‘staging of a home’. When the home is your inn and your business, the staging is even more important because the staging items, the furniture and accessories, most often will stay with the property. These items need to be properly presented along with all the other aspects of your property. You really need to be brutally honest with yourself when you are critiquing your collections and mementos. You want to focus on a few well placed pieces that add sparkle and interest. Avoid a table full or shelf full of dust gatherers. A helpful process to go through is to strip the room of all accessories, including pillows, wall prints and paintings. Start from scratch. Replace these items in groupings with an empathsis on color and scale. Avoid a lot of small items that cannot be seen from the threshold of the room.

5. Lighting

The lighting in a room is most important in creating mood but it also needs to be functional. There are three lighting areas in a room: above, mid-range and floor. Any light from above is best for spotlighting accent objects and special paintings. Mid-range lighting comes from table and floor lamps. Sit on your chairs and lie on your beds to make sure the lamps are the right size and the right bulb wattage for reading. Floor lighting can add dramatic effect placed behind furniture or plants. Take a good look at your lamp shades. Have they seen better days? You can replace worn out shades fairly inexpensively. For a final touch, add a new top finial. Dimmer switches can be wonderful. Dimmed lighting can add romance to your whirlpool bathrooms and to selected areas in your common rooms.

In closing, with a thoughtful view of the room, elbow grease, and ‘do-it-yourself’ spirit (which all innkeepers have!) your ‘refreshing’ projects will add life and sparkle to your rooms. The end result is an atmosphere that demonstrates to a buyer and to guests that yours is a loved and well maintained inn.

A Soothing Sanctuary: Room Design That Works

July 27th, 2010 by Janet Wolf

by Janet Wolf of The B&B Team

A warm and inviting, well appointed and soothing sanctuary. Isn’t that what every innkeeper wants to provide for their guests?  How do you achieve that?  Interior design can be a daunting task and choosing the right style for your inn is a very personal and individual journey.  I have come up with a few basic guidelines to consider when redecorating a guest room or when you start the process of making your newly purchased inn your own.

o   Clean Lines

o   Classic Style

o   Balance

o   Absence of Clutter

o   Gender Neutral

o   Thoughtful

To help define these terms I have chosen examples of guest rooms from two different inns.  The innkeepers of these two inns were graduates of our Aspiring Innkeepers Seminar and have created some exceptionally beautiful rooms as well as becoming very successful innkeepers.  We at The B&B Team are very proud that we could play a part in their success.

Maury Place at Monument is a newly opened urban bed and breakfast in Richmond Virginia.  Innkeepers Jeff Wells and Mac Pence have lovingly restored and decorated their urban inn in a style they describe as “both sophisticated and refreshingly modern, while still taking cues from the dramatic neo-classical architecture.” Go to their Rooms Page, and while viewing the rooms read the following comments.

·         Their window treatment choices enhance the classic lines of the window frames by not covering up the beautiful details of the woodwork.  The shutters, shades and fabric have either vertical or horizontal lines which give the windows a streamlined clean look.  The use of less instead of more fabric in the window treatments emphasizes the architectural elements and the views.

·         Many of their major pieces of furniture are classic traditional reproductions or antiques. The beds, dressers, desks and chairs are all timeless designs, not trendy.  This classic style creates a stately quietness and a visual balance to a room.  The beauty of these pieces will be enjoyed for a long time without going out of style.

·         A good example of the use of symmetrical balance is found in the Fontaine Suite with the elegant elongated mirrors placed behind the bedside lamps.  The bedside tables are not a matching pair which is an example of the use of ‘near’ symmetry.  The tables are the same height and wood tone which creates equal visual weight and complement each other.

·         The bedding in all their guest rooms provides a neutral background for a few well placed accent pillows.  This is another example of creating clean lines.  The classic style of the beds is a perfect silhouette for the clean, fresh, crisp linens.  Their beds make a guest want to slip into their comfortable depths!

·         Another good example of balance is the wall prints that are placed in harmonious groupings in all of their guest rooms.  Many of the groupings consist of lovely, classic old prints that create interest and color to the neutral background of the walls.  You will also notice that the colors in the prints and paintings compliment the pillows, window treatments and coverlets.  The eye picks up on these accessories and helps bring the rooms together.

·         There is clearly an absence of clutter in these rooms.  An uncluttered environment is very conducive to a good night’s rest.  Using a few well placed decorative items that do not take up a lot of room on the bedside tables and dressers is also thoughtful.  Guests need enough space for their stuff!

·         Providing a desk or table with comfortable seating is also a thoughtful addition that guests appreciate and may require, especially in an urban setting where the possibility of having business travelers is higher.  You can see in the floor plans they provide that three of the four suites have desks.

·         When viewing these rooms you can see very clearly that they would appeal to both men and women.  The clean lines, neutral colors, and absence of clutter and inclusion of well-appointed accessories would appeal to all, thus the term gender-neutral.

2.       Addison on Amelia is a beautiful inn in the historic district of Fernandina Beach, Florida (Amelia Island).  There are three separate antebellum style buildings that surround a fountain courtyard with many architectural details inside and out.  Innkeepers Bob and Shannon Tidball have decorated the guest rooms in a style they describe as “Old Florida elegance with understated hints of the tropics.”  Again, view their rooms on their website while reading the following comments.

·         The neutral and occasional bolder accent colors in their rooms reflect the inn’s tropical location.  Corals, leafy greens, sky and ocean blues, sunny yellows, and sandy beiges are used to create a clean, restful, and soothing environment.  The color scheme is repeated in each of their guest rooms as well as the common rooms, which provides a common harmonious link from room to room.

·         The bed treatments in their rooms are very ‘spa’ inspired.  Natural textured cotton or bamboo coverlets and luxurious and tailored linens are used to create a clean and inviting effect.  A guest can definitely see themselves slip between these cool , crisp, and clean lined linens.

·         The use of ceiling to floor drapes in many of their rooms enhances the 11 foot ceilings, delivers elegance and adds accent color that is artfully repeated in other areas of the rooms.  The use of the drapes and the wooden blinds produces the vertical and horizontal lines that create the clean streamlined look that is so pleasing to the eye, allowing the guest clear and unobstructed views.

·         Not having everything in the room match does not throw off the balance.  As an example many of their rooms have fanciful tropical style bedside lamps that do not match.  Yet they are of equal visual appeal and weight and attract your eye which achieves a balanced look.

·         Some of the rooms at the inn have more traditional classic four poster beds, armoires, and bedside tables that are timeless in their design.  These pieces help create the “Old Florida elegance.”  Other rooms have more modern rattan and woven wood pieces which reflect the “hints of the tropics.”  They have done a wonderful job of blending these two styles to create an easy, relaxed atmosphere.

·         There is a definite absence of clutter in these rooms.  Their guest rooms are accessorized with a light touch.  A well placed orchid plant and jardinière on a mantel piece is just enough.  A potential guest can view these rooms online and picture themselves in the calm uncluttered environment that has been created.

·         Besides providing desks and comfortable seating for your guests, another thoughtful and often times neglected necessity is providing enough lighting in a room.  As you can see in these rooms there are always two bedside lamps, a desk lamp, and a lamp beside a seating area, at least four sources of illumination.  The height and size of a bedside lamp is especially important.   The illumination from the lamp must cast enough light on the bedside so a guest can read comfortably.

·         The successful use of cool, soothing, and restful colors, natural textures, clean lines, and uncluttered environment that has been created in these guest rooms would be pleasing to all, definitely gender-neutral.

Interior design is the art of shaping the experience of interior space.  When you have created a warm, inviting, and well-appointed (thoughtful!) soothing sanctuary you have succeeded in creating an experience for your guests that they will remember in their hearts and minds and return for more! As seen from their guest comments, I believe Mac and Jeff, and Shannon and Bob have most assuredly succeeded in creating sanctuaries any guest would come back to experience again and again.