Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Notes from an Innkeeper: The Transformation of Thomas' Room

Welcome to our new series, Notes from an Innkeeper, which will include a behind-the-scenes view of the inn, room by room with information you can use for your own home decorating projects. It will feature paint colors, furniture and decor sources, our favorite antique discoveries, project tips, and more. If there is anything you've ever wondered about our interiors - just let us know in the comments  or on Facebook. We look forward to journeying through the inn with you and reminiscing about its transformation over the last twenty years. Keep in mind that we are always making updates, so the photos below are from different time periods with decorating elements that have changed since they were originally shot. Please don't be surprised to see different looks in each room upon arrival, as part of the fun is keeping things fresh and interesting. First up...

Thomas' Room in the Main House 

If you've flipped through our photo books in the dining room you might recall that the Main House was built sometime in the 1830s by Willis Graves, a prominent political figure in county government at the time who served as county clerk during the new century's early decades. He built an attractive federal brick home that featured Flemish bond brickwork and federal style mantels. The backstory of our purchase is also published on our website: "For many years, Nancy and Bob routinely passed the home on their way to the Burlington Antique Show at the Boone County Fairgrounds. By then, the house was sporting dirty, white siding and a hip roof over the front porch. One day a 'For Sale' sign appeared in the yard and they took a closer look. In December of 1991, the Swartzels bought the property and began renovation under the direction of Master-carpenter Bob Brames. Brames and his wife Jean (who are also Nancy's parents) worked with Nancy and Bob as they all poured sweat and determination into the project." The two hard-working Bobs...

In August 1995, the inn opened for business. It was declared a National Register of Historic Places Home on June 19, 1979. Inside the Main House, Thomas' Room is just up a set of timeworn, original stairs and to the right.

Some details about this special room post-renovation:

  • Wall paint color - Porter Paint "Antique Lace" 
  • Trim - Williamsburg Gray was Pratt and Lambert - Martin Senour Paints W1090 Purdie House Gray Paint color, Porter Paint matched it. 
  • The Nightstand table was made by Spicer, it is a vintage reproduction piece, but the company is no longer in business. 
  • The queen bed frame is a reproduction by David T. Smith and is a tiger maple pencil post in style. 
  • The sewing was all done at the inn (a curtain tutorial is also on the blog). The fabric was found for the curtains and canopy at Tassle's in Louisville - quite a find at only $4.99/yard! - while on a shopping trip with Marsha, who is the innkeeper at Inn at Woodhaven. 
  • The needlepoint looking rug was found at TJMaxx, but is no longer in the room. 
  • Antique Mirror is a 19th century chippendale miniature from Bob's collection. 
  • The swivel lamps were from Pottery Barn, with new shades. 
  • The fresh flowers and cheese plate are an add-on option for overnight guests. 
  • The bed linen layering system is the same in all the inn's rooms: We begin with 100% cotton sheets, a down blanket, another sheet, covered with a quilt, down pillows (we have PrimaLoft for those with allergies) and then a plate of our homemade cookies is usually waiting on top. A helpful tip is to buy sheets that are 100% all cotton, always avoid poly blends. Our sheets are ironed and often line-dried, weather permitting (Nancy's tips for fresh sheets). The white quilt is a reproduction and covers the triple-sheeting mentioned previously. When sheets pill after washing then that is a sign of lower quality, the length of thread isn't long enough so when it spins it pills. One sheet brand to look for at Home Goods is Ralph Lauren, the thread count is 300 and on the package it says Dunham Sateen. These sheets come in a lot of colors, but we only use white. The inn has other brands too, but this set works well and can also be found at places like Marshalls and T.J. Maxx. 
  • The inn's pillows and down blankets are from a line sold to the hospitality trade from Downlite, you can order them through us if you enjoy them during your stay (details about the inn's pillows). 
  • The ice bucket holding the champagne was bought in California at the Domaine Chandon Winery, made in Europe. Guests are welcome to bring their own wine since the inn does not have an alcohol license. Glasses and a bottle opener are in each room. 
  • The base carpet was just a neutral short carpet, it has since been replaced. 
  • The chair has been reupholstered, a tip is to buy well-made pieces and then you can recover them as needed as you redecorate. This red chair is a Baker piece, and is now off-white. Several of our reupholstered pieces were recovered by a gentleman in Louisville, feel free to call Nancy directly at the inn if you would like his contact information. 
  • The nightstand contains books about Boone, Lewis and Clark, and John Adams. 
  • The work desk was one of the first antiques we ever bought at the Burlington Antique Show, and we walked it on down to the house. It was a great find, only $135, with nice old paint. 
  • The lamp was by Turtle Creek Pottery (division of David T. Smith) and the lampshade is from Pallet Studios in Cincinnati. Pallet Studios is like a lamp shade doctor, they adjust the harp underneath to the shade and give excellent advice on which shade to choose. 
  • We have since re-covered the lamp shades since this was photographed, and replaced them with new office white shades. 
  • Luggage stores are a good source for quality luggage racks.  
  • The painting above the work desk was purchased at auction, but part of it needed total restoration. It was restored by Old World Restoration in Cincinnati. Several guests ask if the painting depicts Willis Graves' son, Thomas, for whom the room is named after, but the portrait is of an unknown gentleman. 
  • On the tray, the china is from our collection including Johnson Bros. and Villeroy and Bach pieces, the tea pot is Spode.  
  • The Christmas ornament hanging from the canopy is a reproduction German ornament. 
  • The flat-screen television sits atop an antique green chest of drawers that is part of our private collection, the old paint finish has great character. 
  • Changing the fabric in curtains and canopy covers can change the whole look of a room, Nancy made both the versions in this post, with tan fabric (described previously) and before that the room was dressed in the red version, which was an old decorator fabric, more expensive and most likely from Calico Corners.  

  • The needlepoint stool was bought at an antique auction, probably 18 years ago, and the pole lamp (similar to current Circa Lighting offerings) was from a house auction. 
  • The chest of drawers (in a previous photo) was from the Burlington Antique Show, its unique with an alligator-like finish, but the mirror is no longer on it. 
  • The needlepoint pillows are no longer in the chair, styles have changed and we make updates.
  • The yellow print comforter at the bed's base in the older photographs was a Ralph Lauren bedspread.
  • The long brass antique bed warmer on the wall was used (before heat was commonplace) to warm a bed with coals in it. 
  • The wall print above the chair was a Courier and Ives print of the Summer House Homestead in Spring.
  • Also in the photo to the right: A very vintage computer laptop. :) 
  • The teapot on the tray is used often in the dining room for our guests' breakfast. It has an insulated interior and felt lining under the silver cover, from Williams-Sonoma online. 
  • The wooden antique chair is not currently in room; it was replaced with an upholstered chair.
  • You can see in the photo above to the right, the tricks of the trade... the work desk is a great antique with beautiful legs, but the traditional front side with a drawer had an upturned surface, so we just turned the table around to cover the "flaw" (which really is code for "character" - you can barely see it just behind the lamp). 
Thomas' Room Bathroom

  • Nancy and Bob's good friends used to own a stone and tile store, and you will notice beautiful tile and stone throughout the inn. In the Thomas' Room private bathroom, large porcelain tiles were laid on the floor at an interesting angle, and ceramic was used in the shower/tub enclosure with a rope trim. Brands and names unknown since the bathroom was re-done over 13 years ago and the store is no longer open.
  • Mirror is from Restoration Hardware or Pottery Barn.
  • The robe pictured is older, we now have slightly different robes from Robeworks that are branded with our logo and available for purchase through the inn. 
  • A variety of towel brands are used in the inn, one example is Ralph Lauren. We always use white towels to give a spa-feeling to all the bathrooms. 
  • The faucet is Delta, sink is Kohler and the large apron/lip of the surface is intentional - it makes it easy for guests to store toiletries on it or rest a hair appliance. 
  • Many bed and breakfasts, and residences too, use pedestal sinks. If you do, don't forget to look for one with an apron ledge on it, as this makes it much easier to get ready in the morning. 
  • Light fixtures are Restoration Hardware.
  • Paint colors in the bathroom are unknown, it was matched from a paint chip but the name did not transfer to the can. 
  • Information about the Airjet tub can be found in the guest room binders; the brand is Aquatic Serenity
  • Great smelling Hand Soap can be found at HomeGoods. 
  • An example of our continuous updates, this older photo of the bathroom was back when the bathroom had a different mirror, brass light fixture/make-up mirror, and tan shower curtain. 

Other bathroom tips are to have a magnifying make-up mirror for guests, and we put saran wrap on top of the glasses so they don't get dusty and guests know that they have not been used. All our glasses are washed in the downstairs dishwasher in between guests and are topped with saran wrap so you know they are clean. (Nothing like the scary undercover news story about what can happen at some Cincinnati hotel chains:

 Up Next: Catharine's Room across the hall...

The idea for these posts came after following a beautiful home renovation in New England on the For the Love of a House blog. Thanks, Joan, for the inspiration! 

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