I recently heard my hometown hotel, The historic Deer Path Inn, was being renovated— and not just new carpeting and thinner TVs, but renovated by Monica Pedersen, an HGTV Designer. I emailed her a few questions about how she would take on such an quaint hotel that people love for its charm and refusal to modernize.
The hotel opened in 1929 and quickly grew to become one of the most popular pastoral escapes for Chicagoans willing to make the 30-mile drive north. Modeled after the mid-15th-century Manor House, a half-timbered and stucco Tudor home in Chiddingstone, Kent, England, the inn features authentic detailing, including stone fireplaces, leaded windows, beamed ceilings and an extensive collection of antiques and artifacts that evoke the atmosphere of an English country estate. But to me and my family, it's all about heading downstairs to the White Hart Pub for a beer and burger.
LG: Have you done hotel design before?
MP: No, this is my first leap into hotel design.
LG: What is the plan for the hotel and why the renovation now?
MP: The plan is to update the hotel’s guest rooms, bathrooms and some of the public spaces not only through décor but also by offering guests updated services such as WiFi. We are doing it now for a couple of reasons. 1 – It’s long overdue – the décor is feeling a little tired. 2 – We need to stay competitive with the other hotels that have recently popped up in the area.
LG: Any modernities that are going to be added to the British Country decor/design? And if so, how do you walk that fine line of upgrading in style/technology without downgrading the classic integrity of such an old hotel?
MP: The design will still reflect the classic look of an English Country House. Given the architecture and history of the Deer Path Inn doing anything but that would be a crime.
LG: One of my favorite things to do when I’m in town visiting my parents is to go to the White Hart Pub in the basement of the Deer Path Inn, any changes in order down there? (Please say the cast-iron baked feta will still be there, it’s my favorite!)
MP: Yes, the cast iron baked feta will still be there. We also have sushi from the former sushi chef from the Peninsula Hotel. Next time you should try the Pub Burger, it’s the best burger on the North Shore. Nothing is changing about the White Hart Pub (did you know it has a sister property in England that it was modeled after?). But the Hunt Room next door has been completely redone – tufted leather seating, nailhead trim, lots of bar space, great energy – it’s getting great reviews.
LG: What items will you (the hotel) be splurging on and where can you cut corners on such a large project--and how can that be applied to any home renovation/remodel?
MP: We splurged on bedding from Anchini, natural stone in the bathrooms and durable grasscloth wall coverings. The bedding is extremely comfortable and luxurious, the tile work gives the bathroom instant luxury and everybody appreciates a great bathroom when they are traveling. Since the hotel is old, the weighty grasscloth wall covering hides some of the unwelcome signs of aging. You can always find a deal on art frames – if a frame is beautiful, the artwork inside will look more expensive. Also, you don’t have to have different art for every room. Once great piece can be digitally reproduced on the cheap. There is also this great website that I am working with, MasterCard Market Place, which is open to all MasterCard cardholders. The site offers deals and coupons from thousands of merchants I love like Home Depot and Target.
LG: Will you be adding any vintage/found/flea market sourced items to the hotel? If so, do you have any strategies when looking for those sorts of objects d’art, etc.?
MP: Yes, I have filled many of the bookshelves with old pewter pieces, serving trays, and antique books that I’ve found at these kinds of places. When I shop at thrift, flea market or garage sales, I keep three things in mind. Is the item something that I can cash and carry? Is it versatile? Meaning, can it be moved into different spaces? Is it priced right? You would be shocked at how many people walk off with property that belongs to the hotel like pewter jugs, plates and old books. If I don’t spend a lot, the loss isn’t as great.
LG: Do you have an absolute favorite possession in your home? What is it and why?
MP: My four poster California king Farmhouse Collection bed. The distressed finish takes the pretentious appearance out of a four poster bed and the fact that it is California king makes it comfy for me, my tall husband and cat Hal.