Historic Hospitality - Design Bureau


To carry out K2 Design’s chic new look, the owner of the Chestnut Hill Hotel recommended James Van Etten Furniture by Design, which created the custom furniture for the hotel. “We used drawings, pictures, samples, and had many conversations to pinpoint their vision,” says master craftsman and designer Van Etten.

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Historic Hospitality

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

By Margot Brody
Photos by Mateusz Krzesiczan

In a small suburb outside of Philadelphia stands a charming 19th century hotel that has been a fixture of Chestnut Hill’s historic downtown for nearly 120 years. Arizona-based design firm K2 Design and principal designers Sharon Kindred and Zahra Karimi were tasked with transforming the property, built in 1894, into a chic boutique hotel. The design duo knew they wanted to create a style that would pay homage the building’s past while giving it a distinctive, modern spin. “We wanted to reflect that era in our furnishings and finishes yet still give it a place in the 21st century,” Kindred says.

Since the hotel is located within the historically intact hub of the community (originally settled as a retreat from industrial-era Philadelphia), the designers avoided modifying the building’s exterior. Instead, they opted for a dramatic fusion of old and new within the interior spaces, combining Victorian fashions with contemporary accents and up-to-date accommodations.

The designers used two half poufs with 8-inch fringe to break up the long, narrow lobby. “The furnishings were inspired by various 19th century styles,” Karimi says. “We used a lot of deep reds and gold, velvets for the upholstery fabric, elegant tapestries for the throw pillows, and even added antique reproduction buffets in many of the rooms.” For a more modern touch, Kindred and Karimi commissioned Philadelphia fiber sculptor Leslie Pontz to turn her art into attention-grabbing light fixtures that are displayed prominently in the lobby and dotted throughout the hotel. “Boutique hotels need to offer a distinctive guest experience, and there is no better way to do that than with quirky details,” explains Kindred. “These unique touches carry into every one of the rooms.”

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