When Carole Gurgol first took possession of the house that was to become the Black Walnut Manor, she looked at the decrepit living room, sat down and cried. You'd never know it judging from the current condition of the chic boutique B&B. Carole gutted the nearly 100-year-old home and transformed it into the classy inn that she runs with her husband, Mike, in Vineland, ON, in the heart of Niagara's Twenty Valley.
The house, built in 1911, received its complete renovation in 2002, in time for a June opening. The manor lures its guests with style and elegance. The aptly named Retreat king suite is the cream of the crop of the three designer suites. A spa-inspired sunlit space, the Retreat is an ideal place to unwind and refresh.
“The Retreat is my full concept; open, light and airy with a rooftop terrace,” explains Carole, who independently designed and styled the entire inn. Her fine art and retail background gave her the skill set to create soothing and modern spaces. Contrasting the cool blue walls and sheer bed canopy with rich brown leather club chairs and a pull-out day bed gives the room a pleasing and comfortable decor. The metal accents and black and white photos generate a contemporary feel while the colorful pillows, faux fur throw and area rug warm things up.
Stocked with plush white towels, the gleaming white ensuite, complete with jetted tub and shower, beckons you to indulge in a soak. Carole started there with the paint colour and the bathroom tiles, a white crevice-like tile, and worked in the rest around that foundation. She also considered maintenance issues, since she would be cleaning the suites.
Wanting to give each room its own character, Carole spent much time piecing together the elements. “There was a lot of back and forth,” she remembers. “It's a process, and it depends on what you find that you love. Once you have the bones, then you can go out and find the other stuff. Just be sure to take into account the scale of the room.”
The home's thoughtful juxtaposition of old and new creates a classic look with a modern edge. “It doesn't have to be all lace and doilies just because the house is old,” Carole affirms.
Paint defines the overall tone of a room. For a peaceful space, “it's important to choose paint colours that they have a gray undertone for a softness that's soothing to the eye,” says Carole. A cool blue can be found at Canadian Tire in Debbie Travis' Paints. Try Powder (ID: CM331) from the Calm collection.
To properly unwind, there must be appropriate seating to do so. Recline in style in a leather armchair that's big enough to swallow you up, but doesn't overtake the whole room. IKEA's EKTORP armchair offers a rich brown tone in a soft, yet durable dark grain leather. It's easy to care for, so you can go ahead and sip your tea or nibble on snacks without worrying.
|3. Bed canopy|
To create the Retreat's canopy, all you need are some sheer drapes and rods. “The bed treatment is very easy,” Carole says. “All I did was hang curtain rods from the ceiling to create my own interpretation of a reflective space.” Pottery Barn offers both drapes and rods that will do the trick. Pick up the Remy Sheer Drapes with subtle embroidery. Go with the white or try the ivory colour to warm things up. The Simple Drape Rod wraps on both ends, making it ideal for ceiling mounting.
Luxurious pillows make the bed inviting so you can put your feet up and let go. Try a mix of embroidered and solid-coloured pillows for aesthetic interest. Select nice-to-touch materials like silk or velour. Try Pottery Barn's Quilted Silk Pillow Cover. Available in multiple colours, it offers a classy touch to any retreat.