I was hired as the designer for the revamp of the Thompson Hotel, which is located at 340 Central Avenue in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The job called for working collaboratively with the architects, who also happen to be the owners and my former bosses, Anthony Taylor and Bob Kempkes of Taylor Kempkes Architects, PA. Robert Zunick is a third owner.
When working with different points of view and opinions, it helps to be somewhat flexible….while still being heard. In fact, The Waters, as it became, was aptly named. As the old Bruce Lee quote says:
“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.
Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
This is the perfect way to approach any group effort: Flow, don’t crash! Listen, yet be heard. Fortunately for me, we had a mostly unified vision for the hotel, and the end result was nothing short of fantastic. The only battles I lost here were my fight to the death for a lush velvet sofa and abstract artwork. You can’t win them all! Here is the entry and the lobby/foyer area:
The concept was to be understated and modern, yet elegant. We wanted to preserve the interior and highlight the natural beauty of this amazing, historic building while at the same time remaining mindful that we are in the present and want guests to think progressively. With white walls throughout and the original marble as the floor covering, we had a backdrop to add fun touches of color with the furnishings. The lighting added a modern edge, and the natural light from the windows brightened the entire area.
The guest rooms were especially fun to design. Here are some examples of the king rooms:
White bedding and comfortable pillows provide an inviting, comfortable place for guest to lay their heads. The white theme continues with the shades. We added a bench seating at the foot of the bed in gray, which plays off the tones in the flooring. Where it was feasible, we restored the original wood flooring in these particular rooms. It was cleaned, re-installed (as needed), re-finished, and re-stained. We chose carpet for the other rooms. It is from J+J Invision in Cameo/Atticus. The art and storage space remain simple.
We added a sliding barn door to the bathroom, in keeping with the low-key functionality of the room. The idea was to help guests transition from the restored corridors (which have all original molding, flooring, and stair railing) and lead them into the modern rooms. Adding to the yin-and-yang, while the rooms retained their original wood molding that was refinished and re-stained to its original color and the bathroom vanities have repurposed marble countertops from the building, we designed the furniture to have a modern feel with a natural maple finish, glass, floating elements, and an open wardrobe concept.
Here is an example of the queen room:
Along with the new, modern touches, we incorporated some original elements of the hotel:
While the lighting and other features are updated, the original flooring worked well with the new, so it stayed! Mixing the old with the new and unexpected is a great way to create something unique and visually interesting.
Working on The Waters was a fun experience. I encourage you to visit the hotel if you’re in town. Have dinner or a drink at The Avenue….better yet, enjoy a weekend getaway!