Does anyone remember the TV show Ruth Watson did a few years ago where she helped wannabe hoteliers do up their establishments? It was kind of The Hotel Inspector (which I love) meets Grand Designs (which I don’t).
Anyway, one of the stories she followed was that of The Reading Rooms in Margate, which the owners hoped to transform from a batch of scummy bedsits into a boutique hotel, drawing on the ‘rough luxe’ decorating concept. In fact, The Reading Rooms needed such extensive renovation that a lot of the rough had to be smoothed to stop the whole place falling down, although the finished result is very lovely all the same.
In principle, there’s something I really love about the rough luxe idea. There’s a certain sense of nostalgia in making a feature of the paint and wallpaper choices of residents that have gone before – wearing away the layers to show how materials and tastes have changed – adding your own influences here and there.
The question is, I suppose, is could you really live in a house that was decorated like this? The Rough Luxe Hotel in London is pretty well known now, but I think it’s still worth mentioning as an interesting test of the principle.
Yep, I love the faded wallpapers and peeling paints and my mind’s telling me I should be head-over-heels for this hotel. But there’s something about it that leaves me cold. Perhaps it’s because the website declares so proudly that the scheme was masterminded by designer Rabih Hage and knowing that, the whole thing suddenly feels a bit contrived. Like buying distressed French furniture from Argos or torn jeans from Topshop.
I don’t know. I just feel a bit weird about it.
Anyway, leaving my personal dilemmas aside, how about we revel in some gorgeous rough luxe interiors from Inspace Locations?
The beauty of location houses is that often they’re not lived in on a full-time basis, so every imaginable impractical decorating choice, from a gloss white hall floor at one end of the spectrum to a dangerously decrepit staircase at the other, is all fine and dandy. So long as you have a watertight liability insurance policy in your back pocket, of course.
So, what do you reckon?
Am I torturing myself because I’m slightly OCD and the thought of open lathe and plaster collecting dust and spiders strikes fear into my heart? Or am I being unfair on the likes of the Rough Luxe Hotel for ‘getting a man in’ to help them realise their vision?
Ultimately, is there a right time to start renovating and is there a right time to stop?