How To Successfully Decorate Your Inn
Appeared in our Spring 2000 issue
Fred and Sharon Lucas, principles of Lucas Design Associates, lnc. have spent the last twenty years specializing in Interior Design and marketing of model home communities for builders and developers throughout the United States.
An invitation to speak at the Seminar for Aspiring .Innkeepers resulted in a lively discussion of questions and answers based on how to professionally decorate an Inn to satisfy the needs of a wide diverse clientele. Emphasis was placed upon the importance of using the following outline to achieve a successful, budget conscious design and marketing theme. The following are excerpts from the November, 1999 "Seminar in St. Augustine, Florida arranged for The B&B and Country Inn Marketplace.
"The rules for creating excitement and impact in a Bed and Breakfast or Country Inn are the same really as for a model home development." Sharon Lucas said. "You must create sensational looking rooms in an environment that people will remember long after they have gone home -- rooms that appeal to their sense of comfort, beauty and romance."
There are many ways to create this ambiance including providing comfortable furniture and lighting, cozy sitting area, friendly hospitality, as well as colorful, inviting rooms. Yet, if you're not a decorator, you may wonder: Where do I start in creating the total look that will set my Inn apart from the mediocre?
Like a Builder in a model home community, your Inn may well be the costliest single investment you will ever make. Everything you do to your Inn from painting and landscaping, to purchasing the smallest decorative detail, will have an overall effect on the success of that investment. You will want to create a 'TOTAL PACKAGE' which professionally targets the wants and needs of your guests, while developing a theme they will long remember.
"Some of the basic tools to successfully decorate you Inn are 'trade secrets' that we would like to share." Sharon said. "Begin by setting up a room planner & budget using one of the most valuable tools of the Designer, a worksheet for every room. This worksheet becomes a permanent record of every item bought from the paint color to the smallest accessory. More importantly, it provides a record of your decorating costs. "
"From experience I can say that my budget has put many a shopping spree into the proper perspective when looking for that final accessory or fabric!" said Sharon. "Yet by attaching the paint color and fabric swatches to our work
sheet we can confidently keep the overall picture in mind even if it means finding a less expensive item for the room. A worksheet enables us to look back years later and have a vivid visual record of everything about that room, including where we bought things and what they cost."
"The second most important thing to remember in decorating a room," said Fred, "is the floor plan. Although I head our architectural Cad program where the computer moves furniture around for us in a room, the bed and breakfast owner can have the same accuracy by using a simple ruler and sheet of grid paper. This floor plan should show where windows and doors are located and can be taken with you when selecting items that will be bought to fit in the room."
Third, you will need to pick a 'theme' for your Inn and its individual room settings. This will determine what type of fabrics, furniture and accessories you look for. Will your theme be based on a different time and place?
Possibly it will emphasize the history of the home or area that you live in. Or will you set up your theme based on the things that people will want to do when visiting - from walking through the woods to a mountain stream, or taking a picnic down to the seashore.
Your theme will 'set the mood' and encourage your guests to avail themselves of your area - so books, pictures and accessories even with a touch of whimsy will become important assets to adding personality and comfort at your Inn.
Finally, since you may be decorating and even re-decorating rooms for years to come, become an expert on the single, most important element of design: COLOR! Experts say that between 80% & 90% of a persons' first impression as to whether they like a room or not is based on color alone! Take time to learn how your guests will respond physically, psychologically and emotionally to color in a room and you will have found the most powerful tool in the decorators' toolbox! It will give you the ability to create environments that bring the utmost comfort and contentment to your guests.
"As an example of the power of color, yellow has become on of the most important color trends in the past five years, "Sharon said. "Why? Because yellow warms and cheers the spirit while it expands spaces in a room. Experts say it welcomes and draw attention. It creates anticipation," she added. A professional innkeeper would want to consider using a cheery yellow as a great
'welcoming color' in the lobby or entry of a house. In guest quarters, however, yellow might be used in a soft, creamy shade.
When you are ready to decorate your country Inn, we hope you will be confident in using some of the suggestions