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

Posts Tagged ‘Guest Room Design’

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.