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The Windrose: 9 Ideas to Steal from a Bright Apartment Hotel in Savannah

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The Windrose: 9 Ideas to Steal from a Bright Apartment Hotel in Savannah

March 4, 2019

Some might call it a rough start: When Kate and Ben Towill, the married design duo behind Basic Projects, bought the 1800s four-story building in Savannah’s historic market district three years ago, it smelled of stale beer from its days as a tired restaurant and nightclub. But Kate and Ben saw potential. “It was pretty rough looking,” says Kate. “But I remember how large it felt inside, with very tall ceilings and exposed brick walls.”

Kate and Ben set forth transforming the historic space into The Windrose, an airy, bright apartment hotel. (The couple has a talent for honoring old buildings, as seen in their work on The Ferry Boat Inn and Basic Kitchen.) Interestingly, they learned of the term “apartment hotel” when they were taking their plans through zoning. Turns out, the building is situated within in an old maritime zone where “back in the day, captains could stay while they were in port for months on end,” says Kate. “We loved this term, and this idea of a hotel without the fuss, where you could either stay for a weekend or six months.”

The apartment hotel concept inspired Kate and Ben to marry the “local living vibes and creature comforts of an apartment” with the amenities of a hotel. To tie it all together, they pulled more inspiration from Savannah’s rich port history by weaving in nautical details. Come join us for a look—and some clever ideas to steal.

Photography by Maggie Armstrong.

1. Mix old and new.

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Above: A view of the living room in one of the hotel’s one-bedroom, one-bath apartments. A CB2 gray sofa and rattan ottoman blend with vintage accessories, including the large Noguchi-esque globe pendant that Kate scored from a thrift shop for $15.

“I love the feeling of mixing new and old world materials and decor, which I suppose explains Savannah pretty well with its deep rooted history and progressive art scene with SCAD,” says Kate. The city “has a unique art scene and overall alternative energy, like nowhere else in the south.”

2. Make comfort paramount.

to accommodate both short and longterm guests, kate and ben made the main livin 10
Above: To accommodate both short and longterm guests, Kate and Ben made the main living amenities thoughtful, which include comfortable sofas (this one is from West Elm), full working kitchens (stocked with dishware and utensils), and ample seating. The leather-topped stools are by Industry West.

The Windrose hosted its first tenants, a small film crew, for six months while they shot a feature film in Savannah. “I always think it’s better to sway toward complete comfort, durability, and clean in all of our design,” says Kate.

3. Draw inspiration from nature.

a backsplash in one kitchen features glossy, bright, tabarka tiles in &#8\2 11
A backsplash in one kitchen features glossy, bright, Tabarka tiles in “dusty rose,” a hue that echoes natural clay.
&#8\2\20;the color inspiration was from natural materials, like deep clay 12
Above: “The color inspiration was from natural materials, like deep clay reds and ocean blues,” says Kate. White-washed brick, warm woods, and tons of natural light throughout complement the dashes of organic color.

4. Give a nod to nautical.

kate and ben wanted to honor the building&#8\2\17;s maritime heritage & 13
Above: Kate and Ben wanted to honor the building’s maritime heritage “without being too obviously nautical.” They decorated the spaces with old flags sourced both online and from the couple’s travels. And Kate says she scoured Savannah for “every old sailing or captain oil painting.”

5. Go eclectic (and regional) with art.

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Above: A varied mix of travel photography in white frames, antique oil paintings, a West Elm mirror, and custom sconces by LA-based Nino Shea.

Kate and Ben further embraced the South by partnering with local Charleston photographers,  including Lindsay Shorter and Elizabeth Ervin. “We framed a select few of their more adventurous themed prints around the hotel in clean white frames,” says Kate. “It creates such a wonderful texture paired with the old wooden framed oil paintings and quirky handprinted signage on the walls (an aesthetic nod to the The Ferryboat Inn).

6. Use (shower) curtains in unexpected ways.

The Windrose 9 Ideas to Steal from a Bright Apartment Hotel in Savannah portrait 4_19
Above: Custom shower curtains from Quiet Town add color and texture to a bedroom area.
a rust colored curtain by another bed. 16
Above: A rust-colored curtain by another bed.

7. Elevate a headboard.

The Windrose 9 Ideas to Steal from a Bright Apartment Hotel in Savannah portrait 4_29
Above: A print by fabric designer Caroline Z Hurley hangs above the bed, complementing the white-washed original brick and Anthropologie headboard. The striped pillow cover is by Serena & Lily.

8. Add a bright backsplash.

just a few bold tiles from etsy shop reeso tiles make a big impact in an ensuit 18
Above: Just a few bold tiles from Etsy shop Reeso Tiles make a big impact in an ensuite bathroom.

9. Have conviction (and a little patience).

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Above: Kate and Ben know the challenges of overhauling an old building, but Kate says this one had a particular obstacle. “Four floors and no elevator!” (A fun note: The stenciled reference to the bottom floor restaurant is a hint at what’s to come to The Windrose: The Fat Radish South, the sister restaurant to one of our longtime favorites.)

Looking for more Southern charm? Get more inspiration via these can’t-miss design spots:

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