The first task, however? As with most renovations, it’s all about essential de-cluttering. When you’re staying in someone else’s place rather than a hotel, you may not want to feel surrounded by the owner’s personal items. Purge Wilson may have done, but the key to keeping a home more akin to a hotel is to create much storage, of course.
In the study, for example, customized sliding doors now cover a bevy of bookcases (Wilson — who studied with Julia Child in California and at La Varenne in Paris — would likely find it impossible to part with her library of cookbooks), as well as a shoe cabinet now doubling as storage for her grandchildren’s toys and a lockable wine-cooling unit now tucked away into a utility cupboard. (Quirkily, wine used to be stored in a wine rack being utilized as a bedside cabinet.)Throughout the reinvigorated space is an underlying hint of Tiffany or robin’s egg blue, neutral taupe and white hues. Previously dark walls are replaced with Benjamin Moore’s Oxford White and in place of static doors are frosted sliding ones to provide privacy, yet simultaneously brighten the space.
Ingeniously, the walls by the dining and study areas were decorated with Benjamin Moore’s chalkboard paint in Willow to allow an easy flow of scribbles, which can easily be wiped away, between Wilson and any guests.In the bedroom, dated blinds are brightened by a plump of the must-have hotel accessory: an entire wall covered in drapery (for the budget-friendly, Scout Modern chose Ikea sheer curtains). All the trimmings to turn it into an overnight sensation are included: crisp towels, white linens and an upholstered bed frame again from Ikea. A clever use of carpet tiles solves the solution of having guests – potentially – spilling anything on your floor.
“They’re a great carpet option with durability – you can keep extra tiles on hand and simply pop one in to replace it, without having to buy an entire new carpet,” Zinc Renovation and Design says.Out went the dated mirror backsplash in the bathroom next door; in came a bevelled mirror, as well as an old free-standing ladder doubling as a unique towel from local artist and retailer Heather Ross. To help tie in other parts of the space, bathroom lotions and potions (in the de rigueur robin’s egg hue) are served on a piece of slate matching coasters in the dining room.
With a firm eye on money-saving tactics, modernizing the kitchen (mainly untouched since 1994 when Wilson moved in) focused on a few creative flourishes. The rounded countertop was replaced with a clean-lined island with spaces for four people to sit. (“The idea was to create a bar-top entertaining option for guests and a more usable space with seating that connects the living room and kitchen,” Judd says). The reason for using quartz was obvious: “It’s so important not to be worried about the durability of materials – or anything, really — when you’re renting out your space,” she adds.
“It’s as much about living a more simple life as it is about having a hotel-friendly feel, I believe.”Zinc Renovation and Design also added marble-looking ceramic tiles in the kitchen – another clever tip – as well as a new faucet and recessed sink. The latter not only brought the space up to date, but without the old ledge around the former sink made it all easier to clean – a key component when renting your space.
Keeping the old white laminate cupboards, the designer brought in clean, simple lines, by removing its glass fronts and touching up any discoloured frames with white paint. Now the exposed shelves allow for a minimal display of crockery – such as Wilson’s Sophie Conran Portmeirion set.If the word “hotel” implies “impersonal” for you, have no fear. Wilson’s own travel mementoes ensure the space marries her own exhaustive and intimate relationship to travel: rugs and throws from a recent trip to Ukraine and the Carpathian Mountains, badge artwork from different food and wine events including Expo 86 displayed and cookbooks and a French wire basket to carry a chicken home from the market from Paris.
Her “comfy” brown 90s’ sofa simply was made over with cushions to add in a few new punches of colour. “If budget doesn’t allow for a new sofa, it can easily be updated with a few toss cushions or a nice throw,” Judd from Scout Modern says. Free-standing Eames-style chairs and pouffes in the sitting room help keep the rest of the space more adjustable. As the designer continues, it’s great for offering “flexibility in your space because different people might like to live differently in your home, so it’s nice to have individual seats which can be rearranged,” she adds.Throughout the condo, Wilson plumped for a softer, grey-hued wide-planked laminate.
“I took a glass out of the cupboard and it bounced four times and didn’t break – first time in 20 years,” she laughs, with a nod to the terracotta tiles she used to have in the kitchen and hallway. “When you go with a design-build team,” Wilson concludes, “they just see things differently.
Ali from Zinc Renovation and Design knew right away what would work – and that’s it’s not all about spending the money; it’s about being creative.” Great tips, no doubt – and all learned without even needing to travel very far. How to get the look: