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Rip it out … or be brave and restore it?

February 9, 2011

The last decade has seen an explosion of interest in interiors and home renovation, initially driven by the desire to make money on property and now, in the recession, the desire to improve your nest as it is more difficult to move.  This has invariably resulted in a trend to ‘just rip it out’ when maybe all that’s needed is some sympathetic restoration?

I found myself thinking about restoration rather than replacement last weekend when I stayed at The Westminster hotel in Le Touquet, France.  The hotel opened in 1928 and in its 1930’s heyday was the place to stay in Le Touquet.  The town was at the time one of the smartest resorts in the world, the playground for the smart set from England and wealthy Parisians, it is not known as Paris-Plage for nothing.  The walls of the hotel are littered with pictures of well know former guests including Edward & Mrs Simpson, Marlène Dietrich and Sir Winston Churchill.

Over the years,  however, the lack of ongoing maintenance had started to show and the hotel became shabby.  The ownership passed through several families and in 2002 The Westminster was bought by the Open Golf Club Group who have started to return the hotel to its former glory.

This process has been gradual and thankfully it appears that they aren’t taking the ‘rip it out’ approach but are using the quality fixtures and fittings already there and restoring them.  The mosaic work in our bathroom was amazing, it was so detailed and perfectly laid.  The style and colour of the wall tiles is probably not on 2011 trend but they have bags of character and offer way more interest than yet another bathroom in light cream limestone.

Bathroom floor

The wardrobe fittings are obviously original and provided excellent storage to allow you to unpack your bags and make you feel like you had really arrived.  So much nicer than the open shelving and a rail that is so prevalent in hotel’s now.

Original bedroom fittings

The hotel has retained much of the original entrance hall fixtures and fittings, including the wonderful brass lifts up to the four floors.  The bar area still has the English club look and feel with wood panelling, and the fantastic murals around the swimming pool have been restored.

So next time you decide to do some work to your home, stop and take a look at what you already have.  By restoring some of the original features and updating other areas you will be able to achieve a stunning unique look and enjoy the historic elements of your home.

Lobby with original brass lifts

Restored swimming pool

6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 10, 2011 5:46 pm

    Make do and mend – looks so much better for it too. It easier to restore things that are made properly in the first place. All too often places are done on the cheap, and so sadly ripping out is the best, if not the only choice. I hope people start realising how invaluable good craftspeople and artisans are. Good post Andrew.

    • February 10, 2011 6:15 pm

      The key is they have to be made properly in the first place! The mosaic work in our bathroom was amazing, too often it would’ve been ripped out as it’s not in vogue – a simple restoration should mean it will now last for years.

  2. February 10, 2011 6:53 pm

    greetings, fine website, and an amazing understand! one for my favorites.

  3. February 11, 2011 9:50 pm

    I think as a designer it is our responsibility to restore where appropriate, keep our history. After all we don’t all want our homes to mirror images of each other. Best homes and unique and individual.

  4. February 12, 2011 2:11 pm

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  5. February 15, 2011 1:54 am

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    Oh, this is a really quality post. In theory I’d like to write like this too – taking time and real effort to make a good article… but what can I say… I loiter alot and never seem to get something done.

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