Boutique Design - May 2018 - 41
IIG | Interior Image Group turns a small-town
dream into a real-world reality with a destination
boutique hotel where each room is tailor made to
reflect Southwest Virginia's outdoor lifestyle and a
sense of Appalachian pride.
BY CHRISTINA GREEN
DAVID ROBINSON PHOTOGR APHY
If You BuIld IT, they will come. Boosting fly-over territory from camping
country for nature enthusiasts to a hospitality haven for trend-conscious travelers not only requires a homegrown look, but vision, hope and buy-in from the
local community. That's why every square inch of the Western Front Hotel in
Southwest Virginia isn't just handcrafted, it's the result of a literal labor of love.
Creative Boutique Hotels, a Virginia-based partnership between Cornerstone
Hospitality, Architectural Partners and MB Contractors, was working on another
project with IIG | Interior Image Group (IIG) when its backers mentioned they
needed help converting a deteriorating retail-apartment complex into a boutique
hotel in a boom-gone-bust coal mining town with less than 1,000 residents.
"When we first arrived at the site, the property had been gutted and its
foundation was in the process of being shored up due to extensive structural
damage," says IIG's vice president of design Leslie Schultz. "Everything had to
be rebuilt and, working with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources,
restored in a manner that was true to the Vernacular-Commercial style of the
As with most historic adaptive-reuse projects, the design team was tasked
with salvaging as much from the original structure as possible despite its disrepair. That included refurbishing many of the pressed-tin ceilings in the former
retail space on the first floor.
The foundation was so damaged that the original hardwood surfaces
underfoot had to be reconstructed entirely. "Working with the salvaged wood
and other materials definitely made the project more labor intensive," says
Schultz. "But in the end, they gave the property such a special look and created
an authenticity that can't be duplicated any other way."
Surfaces aren't the only things within the hotel that can't be copied.
Schultz notes that a vast majority of the FF&E is comprised of one-offs. "At a
meeting early in the construction phase, we decided what could be custom
made by locals and which pieces we'd need to buy from traditional suppliers,"
recalls Schultz. "With this being such a community-driven project, the ownership and general contractor already had people in mind who could build most
of the items we'd designed."
may 2018 boutiquedesign.com