Rip it out … or be brave and restore it?
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.
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.
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.