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.
“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.
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.
4. Give a nod to nautical.
5. Go eclectic (and regional) with art.
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.
7. Elevate a headboard.
8. Add a bright backsplash.
9. Have conviction (and a little patience).
Looking for more Southern charm? Get more inspiration via these can’t-miss design spots: