When I travel, if there is an opportunity to stay in a unique hotel I will jump at it.

As a designer, I am always curious to see how the designers have approached the hotel’s interior design. There are always lots of ideas to discover.

If I am working on a specific design project, I like to search out a boutique hotel that will inspire me.

One of my favorite types of hotel to stay at are ones that celebrate traditional mouldings and millwork.

Years ago, when I was designing and developing collections for a moulding manufacturer, I needed to find a place to conduct a 2 day design workshop with designers from around North America.

Chicago was chosen for it’s central location, and I discovered the perfect hotel to host the workshop.

The Public Hotel is where we stayed, and it’s interior design inspired the group to develop some fantastic moulding profiles and collections!

A few weeks ago, after attending the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Florida, I decided to search out a hotel to stay at so I could focus on putting the finishing touches on my FREE webinar: Integrating Mouldings & Millwork into Your Kitchen Design Business.

I found the perfect place to stay!

It was the Belleview Inn, established in 1897 and located in the town of Belleair, Florida.

While there I partook in a tour of the hotel, where the onsite historian gave us a great history of the building’s architecture, interior design and of course its storied history.

In this blog I will focus on the Inn’s interior design, but I did want to share one interesting historical tidbit.

While viewing photographs displayed in the built-ins of famous people who stayed at the hotel over the past century, one of them stood out.

It was of the musician Bob Dylan. We were told he visited often, using the Belleview Inn as his base to rehearse prior to going on the road for his Rolling Thunder Tour in the early 1970’s.

It was interesting to walk around the Belleview Inn and imagine both Victorian Debutants and Dylan & his band mates walking down the grand staircase to the central lobby.

The Lobby

The Belleview Inn was designed in the Queen Ann style and features a traditional interior, with the large open lobby a spectacular feature.

At the time, open span spaces like this were not common.

The architect achieved this space by specifying old growth, heart pine beams, and a special metal rod system that suspends the beams from the roof trusses.

On the top floor of the building we were able to see the internal structure still intact more than 120 years old.

The strength of these 300 to 500 year old heart pine beams, and their resistance to fire and insect damage, will probably ensured they will still be here for another 100 years!

The Inn recently went through a major restoration and renovation where it was moved across the property to a new foundation.

The fact that these structural elements are still intact was amazing.

A lot of the original millwork was also still intact, but the moulding contractor still needed to replicate many of the shapes to complete the restoration.

To do this, 40 new knives were cut to reproduce the original mouldings, and 28,000 lineal feet of trim was run.

It was difficult to spot the difference between the old and the new since most of the millwork was painted.

White painted millwork and trim is always a great choice for a classic look and is appropriate in any interior.

My discovery of the lobby reviled a lot of millwork details.

The support beams were clad in long wood boards and built up with custom crown mouldings.

All of the walls were clad in wainscoting, installed using classical proportions.

You can learn more about how classical proportions relate to modern millwork in my upcoming workshop, Integrating Moulding & Millwork into Your Kitchen Design Business.

The reception area included paneled columns in stained wood that echoed the cozy bar just off the lobby.

The Lobby Fireplaces

The gathering area of the lobby featured two identical fireplaces opposite each other.

To have them stand out from the white painted millwork they were painted in a soft blue/grey tone.

This color really embodied the coastal feel of the space and was appropriate for it’s ocean side location.

The fireplace surround included simple square side posts and a matching mantel with small crown trim top and bottom. The apron below the mantel was produced with a flat stock board and coordinating panel moulding.

This would be an easy mantel to reproduce with standard trim and would work well in a contemporary or traditional setting. Definitely an idea to file for a future project!

To provide more presence to these fireplaces, the surrounding walls were framed at different depths and then accented with a variety of trim mouldings.

The panels below the chair rail echoed the wainscot in the rest of the space with a double square below a rectangle design.

Symmetry of the fireplace walls was important to the overall look of this traditional space and should be a design direction to employ if you tackle a look like this.

The Grand Staircase

The focal point of the Belleview’s lobby was the grand staircase.

The wide steps featured original heartwood planks, stained in a rich brown tone.

This area was highly detailed with a variety of paneling techniques applied to the walls and posts.

I like how the main posts at the foot of the stair system were detailed to coordinate with the wall paneling but were not an exact match. A great look to copy!

The wainscot paneling at the landings and angled areas up the stairs, took the wainscot double square and rectangle look and added another rectangle at the top to gain some height.

When designing your own motifs for wall paneling, I suggest you sketch or CAD options straight and angled to determine the best look for your final installation.

You will find you can produce infinite designs with a few pieces of wood!

As you continue up the staircase to the 4th floor, the staircase becomes less grand, but does not loose its detail.

The newel posts on the top floors were interesting with their unique carved corner details, trim banding and crown moulding tops.

The thick bulbous hand rail felt great in your hand, but was a bit low to pass current building codes.

I talk a lot about the science of design in my upcoming moulding workshop, since these details are important for the designer not to miss.

The art is what is admired, but the science its what will make it function!

The Hallways

The hallways within the Belleview Inn were very grand.

These extra wide spaces featured multiple arches producing great site lines. (Another trick to steal!)

While the wall paneling was simple, it was set off beautifully by the pronounced base boards and door trim.

Paint was used effectively to highlight sections of the upper floors.

The first landing featured a light filled seating area accented by wall paneling painted in a deep navy.

All of the guest room doors were recessed and painted this same navy producing a private feeling to the room’s entrances.

The final two spaces I explored were the Dining Room and the Bar.

The Dining Room

The dining room space featured curved original Tiffany stained glass backlite panels, inset in trim and floated on the ceiling.

It was a great example of mixing materials to produce a focal point.

The same wainscot design as the lobby wrapped the walls intersected with columns at the ceiling breaks.

These columns were the perfect place to add the wall scones accent lighting for the room.

A great designer tip here is that you can add columns like this to existing rooms and have a chase to run electrical for the wall scones.

At the windowless end of the dining room, antique gilded mirrors accent two inset wall areas.

I though it was a great way to add a subtle but elegant detail.

The deep window sills really elevated the space and produced another grand element.

The Bar

The bar featured some of the best moulding and millwork in the entire inn.

The dark stained wood produced the cozy traditional bar you would expect to see in a 19th century hotel.

The fireplace wall is a focal point and features a fluted fireplace surround with simple mantel with dental like accent pieces.

On either side of the fireplace are built-ins with arched tops echoing arches seen throughout the rest of the hotel’s interiors.

I also liked how the built in base cabinets echo the wainscot treatment in the room.

The bar at the other end of the room continues the curved theme with arch topped built ins, a curved bar counter and a ceiling treatment with a unique radius detail.

You will notice the navy color used as accents on the guest floors was painted on the elaborate beamed ceiling in this room.

These little details are what makes a design go from nice to WOW!

Additional Details

At every turn I saw examples of how the designers of this iconic inn used mouldings and millwork to produce an experience for their guests.

Staying at the Belleview Inn definitely inspired me to complete my Integrating Moulding & Millwork into Your Kitchen Design Business workshop and ready it to share with my following.

It also reinforced with me how this category can differentiate the Kitchen Designer in today’s competitive landscape.

I encourage you to search out unique hotels like The Public and The Belleview Inn when you travel.

It is worth it, and will inspire you to incorporate some great interior design ideas into your own design business.

The Guest Experience

In closing I wanted to share with your something I looked forward to each morning outside of my room while staying at the Belleview Inn.

I’d love to hear about any iconic hotels you have stayed in that influenced your design business. Leave me a comment below.

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Jan Rutgers has been designing kitchens and products for over 25 years and is a recipient of Kitchen & Bath Design News’ Top Innovators in 2020 for the Kitchen & Bath Industry. She has designed more than 1000 kitchens learning valuable skills with each one! Her experience in Kitchen Design, Millwork Manufacturing and Product Development has led her to create VESTABUL SCHOOL OF DESIGN where she educates and mentors people passionate about the Kitchen Design Industry.

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