SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Garden Street Inn, a historic Victorian Mansion located in downtown San Luis Obispo and the most recent hotel acquisition by Kirkwood Collection, had everything in place for a grand scale renovation this fall until the pandemic hit and changed everything. Kirkwood was challenged with figuring out a way to keep the property staff employed during the shutdown and the design department was tasked to reimagine the permit-intensive renovation ideas into equally impactful cosmetic improvements. The hotel staff volunteered to “pivot” from hotel clerks and housekeepers to an integrated renovation team and the property was able to make use of the three-and-a-half-month closure to complete a full reimagining of the property, keeping everyone employed amid total shutdown.
“When we first brought this idea to the team at Garden Street Inn, the entire staff enthusiastically agreed. What at first was a simple paint and flooring change turned into a labor of love full design refresh of the entire property’s interior, with COVID-specific modifications like plexiglass dividers at check-in, sanitizing stations, and socially distanced seating and dining areas in the lobby,” said Alex Kirkwood, president of Kirkwood Collection.
The property’s redesign was led by Michelle McClory, design director for Kirkwood Collection, who has worked alongside designers including Jeffrey Alan Marks and Michael Smith. The new design delivers a modern take on the classic Victorian aesthetic with inspiration from nature. The name itself, Garden Street Inn, provided literal inspiration in the redesign. In surveying the hotel’s current look, the design team took this opportunity to bring the verdant feel of the outdoors in. Combining these ideas for a spring renewal, an indoor garden, and a refreshed palette, the design direction took hold.
“We wanted the finished space to feel fresh, inspired, and hopeful. There is a certain comfort derived from being in nature and this renovation provided the perfect opportunity to create a sanctuary for people to experience the splendor of nature and its powers of renewal and revitalization. We hope it serves as a love letter to brighter days ahead,” said McClory.
Set against the backdrop of a Victorian Mansion, the renovations aimed to enhance the property’s design and history. In choosing wall colors, the objective was to select tones that would complement and highlight the existing wood millwork and furniture pieces. In the main public spaces, the goal was to create a bold, layered environment with areas to draw the eye. Inspiration was derived from old Victorian garden courtyards, which often incorporated elements of art, stone, metal, water, winding foliage, and dining all into one outdoor space. The design team added three large-scale arched windowpane mirrors to serve as a focal point and suggestion of the reflectivity that would be found in the water of Victorian birdbaths. The mirrors also help to reflect additional light to the room and balance the tall millwork detailing surrounding the interior spaces.
“I am extremely proud of what the team was able to accomplish in the middle of a pandemic, they kept true to the property’s history while enhancing safety of operations for guests and staff during these unprecedented times,” added Kirkwood. “As a historic bed and breakfast, we have found it challenging to provide the formal cooked-to-order breakfast service we are known for with the COVID guidelines changing so frequently. Our management team came up with the brilliant idea to deliver gourmet breakfast in a mason jar to each room every morning.”
The grand reopening of the hotel is slated to take place on September 4, 2020.