Step into Newcastle’s Rosebery Hotel, where the unique, carefully designed interiors will not only give you the feeling of arriving in lavish and cosy wonderland, with quirky embellishments adorning every surface, but give you the inspiration to transform your own home into something special. All the furniture is bespoke: upcycled or restored from past pieces picked up from second-hand shops, salvage yards, sites like Gumtree, and vintage fairs across the region.
Each bedroom is decorated individually, so you’ll long to return just to see the glamorous décor the other rooms. Feature pieces run throughout the hotel, with little touches to add that air of boutique wonder; these include vintage French beds, roll top baths, shimmering chandeliers and ornate gilt mirrors. Here we will discuss some of these pieces and offer easy tips on how to create some of the Rosebery styles in your home, for a reasonable price.
Creating your own luxurious-looking pieces can be simple if you know what to look for; all that’s needed is a bit of spare time and some extra vision. To get you started, the Rosebery is going to share some of theirs with you, and tell you the stories behind some of the best features in the hotel. It took around three years to transform the hotel into the chic, eclectic space that it is now; after it was passed to Janet from her parents. All of the restoration of both the building itself and the hand sourced treasures inside has been performed by local craftspeople, from the original wooden staircase to the reupholstered beds.
Bed, Bath and Beyond…
Whilst the Rosebery is an unusual and individual establishment, ones of the main focal points of every room are a hotel staple: the bed. Each bed here has been lovingly repaired and given special attention to create an enticing statement piece that adds a sense of occasion to our guests visit. There’s no reason why you can’t recreate that magic at home. French in origin, the majority of bed frames were sourced from vintage fairs. The magnificent hand carvings were in desperate need of restoration due to the neglected state they had been left in, but at the Rosebery, we can always see potential, and these pieces were no different. The poor state they were purchased in meant that the actual beds were able to be picked up relatively cheaply, at £20.00-£90.00 each.
If you stay in the Rosebery, the most striking aspect of your bed will be the unique fabrics that have been chosen to match each room and draw the eye to its stature. As so many different fabrics were needed, we searched independent outlets and found Absolutely Fabrics (www.absolutelyfabricsuk.com) at Benton Trading Estate, Newcastle, which stock a fabulous range of designer materials at discounted price, some being up to 80% off. Talented local upholsterers Kraftwork based in Wallsend (http://wallsend.cylex-uk.co.uk/company/kraftwork-re-upholstery-14033864.html) then completed the restoration, the result being our gloriously sophisticated one of a kind guest beds.
The next renovation task within the hotel was to re-do the bathrooms- we couldn’t just have plain, functional, standard bathrooms alongside our sumptuous, bespoke bedrooms. We wanted to create a luxurious bathing experience for all of our guests and envisioned beautifully unique fixtures at the very best price. To attain this look in your own home you need to be prepared to spend some time finding the fittings you’ve envisioned for the best deal possible. High quality, solid cast iron baths shower trays will also keep your costs down. If you’re looking for a boutique appearance for your bathroom, specialist online traders and auctions can be used to source items in good condition, which have previously been in actual hotels that are being refurbished or redecorated. One of the best sites to browse for pieces like these is Hotel Luxury Furniture (www.hotelluxuryfurniture.com/Superior-Suite.php). These finds can save you thousands of pounds and bring sumptuous and interesting features into your bathroom.
The Rosebery managed to obtain a number of pairs of stunning, triple lined silk curtains and an amazing vintage shower system from one of these sites, which had previously been part of The Savoy’s décor before it was last refurbished. Gumtree and Ebay are also great places to discover bathroom items at a fraction of the retail price; many of our cast iron, stand alone roll top baths were sourced from Gumtree, with two being purchased for £40.00 on one particularly lucky occasion. (Gumtree can be the best place to look if you’re sourcing in the North East.)
The pieces you pick up don’t have to be in the best condition to begin with: a little care and some help from some skilled local craftspeople and they will come up looking fantastic. The second-hand baths in the Rosebery were shot blasted, painted and lacquered by local firm Elite Powder Coating, before being re-enamelled right here in the hotel to achieve the sophisticated look we desired. The finishing touches were a pair of sleek, polished chrome taps that came from ex-display. In total, our classically chic roll top baths cost us only £150.00 each (much less than any regulatory high street bathtub!)
The rest of the room was made over with some sensational, handmade tiles from Fired Earth. These showrooms can be notoriously expensive, but one of our secret finds is a sale show in Oxfordshire, with up to 70% off a large selection of products (http://www.firedearth.com/stores/index/index/store2). The striking statement monochrome flooring comes from a local end of line furniture store in Wallsend. Independent stores can often guarantee you a better price and better quality of service, whatever room you’re shopping for.
Stairway to Style
One of the major accomplishments while redecorating the Rosebery was the restoration of the staircase. This can be a hugely daunting task for home improvement and often seems to be forgotten about in favour of a lick of paint in the hallway, without attempting to tackle the staircase itself. Throughout the Rosebery we have two staircases; one created an impressive impact with a statement fluted Newel post. This is most often the central supporting pillar of spiral staircases, although can also refer to the post that holds up the handrail of the bannister, or the main post at the foot of the stairs. The second staircase wasn’t quite so remarkable. The original metal balustrades had been removed during World War II to be used in ammunition. This piece may have had history, but it was no longer the focal feature it once was. To reinstate the grand appearance of the past, we set about restoring it.
Sourcing materials to achieve the original look of the staircase at the right price point was a lengthy process, but one definitely worth the effort. We scoured vintage fairs (http://www.iacf.co.uk/), auction sites like Gumtree and Ebay, as well as local and online salvage companies. Some of the best places we found were O’Brians in South Shields, Old Worlde Fireplaces on Blenheim Street, Newcastle and Salvo (www.salvoweb.com). However, you need to be aware that some salvage firms such as Salvo can be more expensive; it’s best to contact the dealer directly with a phone call to negotiate. A personal touch can work a charm! Smaller salvage firms can be easier to do a deal with to stay within budget, as they may be able to contact other dealers on your behalf.
The balustrades we ended up with were not the amazing cast metal pieces we set out to find, but a collection of mismatched pieces of different heights, in desperate need of renovation. They were sent by Elite Powder Coatings in Wallsend (www.elitepowdercoatings.co.uk), where they were shot blasted and given a coating of powder paint. Three days later, the Rosebery had stunning balustrades recreating the original pieces, with a high-quality look. These were easily set in place by the joiner, transforming the worn out staircase into a fantastic, upcycled focal feature. All this for around £1000.00, opposed to the £2000.00-£4000.00 cost of fitting a new staircase to a three story Edwardian house. Our second hand, upcycled, vintage style staircase is a continuous talking point that engages our guests.
Our guest book has always been important to us and we love seeing what you think, so we needed an exquisite writing desk incorporating a display area for the porch to match our interiors. Rather than buying a nondescript, flat pack table from the high-street we took an old piano that had seen better days and redesigned it, resulting in a one of a kind piece for guests to use to contribute to our comment book upon checkout. After picking up the seventy year old piano on Freecycle we took it to our local artisan joiner, based in Ouseburn (www.raskal.co.uk) to be transformed. The soundboard and weight of the piano were removed from the inside, while the front was remodelled; creating a stylish shelving unit we could use to display hotel information, leaflets on the surrounding area and chic ornaments from around the building. The new piano desk was sanded and finished with a coat of Old White from Farrow and Ball and a piece of toughened glass to add character and functionality for our guests.
Another of our unique design projects used vintage Bakelite phones from Gateshead Antique Fair (http://www.antiques-atlas.com/antique_fair/gateshead_antique_vintage_retro_collectors_fai/af319), which had seen better days. These fairs are held throughout the year at Gateshead Stadium and are great for sourcing unusual items at affordable prices. Instead of using as phones, we had the inner mechanisms removed and asked a local electrician to install low voltage and halogen bulbs in the mouth and ear pieces of the handset in order to create an impressively unique wall light display. We spent an entire day eagerly cleaning and buffing our new retro lamps with soft butter and a dust cloth to achieve a smooth, high-quality finish before the electrician performed the final step and chased the cables into the wall. Our Bakelite creations bring a charming sense of humour and style into the hotel and now resemble a bespoke contemporary art installation, right here in the Rosebery.
Years of searching and scavenging through antique fairs, car boot sales and flea markets mean the Rosebery has amassed a fantastic collection of items, including a wonderful variety of oversized vintage keys, steeped in character from years gone by. As you know, at the Rosebery we make our own artwork, and these keys have helped to create customised wall signs both internally and externally, which you can easily use as inspiration for your own home. Each of the keys has been painted in the quirky sounding Farrow and Ball colour, Elephant’s Breath, mounted onto stiff card and hand framed. The sign in reception spells out ‘Welcome’, while others throughout the hotel read ‘Laughter’ and ‘Fun’, mottos of the Rosebery. We’re thrilled with the results, which add an enjoyable and personal touch for guests to admire. This idea can be adapted to suit your home and personality, using vintage cutlery for the kitchen and never ending possibilities of words, names or phrases at your disposal.
Let there be Light
Lighting creates a sensuous ambience, perfect for a romantic night in or a sophisticated party with friends. Fairy lights add a little magic and can be used both inside and out. Whilst these are particular favourites over the Christmas season, they are available cheaply all year round; Lights 4 Fun (www.lights4fun.co.uk) has a brilliant selection, in a variety of colours. The Rosebery has exquisite fairy lights draped throughout the hotel: across reception, along the staircase, and in the garden. The soft, twinkling lights make guests feel welcome (they’re also very economical to run). Dimmer switches, table lamps or beautiful shades can all create different lighting effects that can be changed from day to night, altering the mood and atmosphere of a space. We use candles in vintage crystal ice buckets and pretty tea lights in delicate china cups in the Rosebery, enhancing the enchanting feel of the hotel upon entering. You can now find realistic looking electric candle on the market to minimise fire hazards in homes with children or pets; these are battery powered and even give off a relaxing vanilla scent, perfect for the end of a long day at work (www.lights4fun.co.uk/i/q/MWAX101/3-battery-operated-wax-led-candles–vanilla-scented?gclid=CPum8P6JzMMCFU7KtAodBjgAHQ).
The cosy layout of the hotel allows us to use some beautiful pieces to increase light and space, which can easily be used in the home. Mirrors are a great love of the Rosebery, with different shapes and sizes adorning the walls in the rooms and on the staircases. If you don’t have the budget for a large high-street mirror, invest in a number of different pieces from second-hand shops, car boot sales and vintage fairs. Bankrupt or slightly damaged stock from larger retailers can be brilliant for oversized Venetian mirrors that are good bargains and act as beautiful artwork for your walls. Any visible damage can be fixed by your local glazier for next to nothing, however, minor chips are rarely noticeable and we have to confess, many of the mirrors in the hotel have very discreet, minute damage to them in places.
At the Rosebery, the mirrors make a statement, whether they are large or arranged eclectically together. To make these pieces stand out we’ve spray painted these all one colour, making them look brand new and achieving a cohesive and polished finish; all that’s left is to grab a spirit level and hang each mirror in the perfect spot. Another idea we’re excited to try is the wall of mirrors, using sheets of mirror floor to ceiling for a sleek finish. (It’s best to get a local glazier to do this- a small, independent firm will be cheaper and provide a better service.) Make sure your chosen wall is relatively straight to ensure the glass sits flush to the wall; period properties may find this difficult because of slight variations.
A Final Flourish
After restoring the staircase and redecorating the guest bedrooms and bathrooms, we wanted to add extra flourishes to the hotel, with individual, quirky finishing touches and eclectic pieces designed to show off the wonderful personality of the building. Whilst some small pieces could be found in shops, we decided to craft our own unusual and stylish accents using everyday objects; we’re going to reveal to you some of our imaginative ideas that anyone can do cheaply with a little patience and creativity.
Final touches are equally important to ensure the chic, sumptuous feel of your home; at the Rosebery, we’ve used small accents such as fabrics, cushions, lighting and carpets to add warmth to our boutique style. Scatter personal possessions and objects throughout the room to turn a house into a home; all of the quirky decorative pieces in the hotel create a warmth that separates us from other, stark and faceless, chain hotels. It is the extra added details that inject personality and glamour into a room, so indulge in the process of dressing your home and make this one of the most enjoyable aspects of any design process. It’s quick and easy to find fabulous decorative pieces to suit your style online, with recommended boutiques including Graham and Green (www.grahamandgreen.co.uk) and Rockett St George (George www.rockettstgeorge.co.uk) offering a range of contemporary homewares.
Comfort is just as important in your home as to how it looks; experiment with layering different fabrics to accentuate the allure and beauty of your space. Mix assorted textures, such as glamorous satin, cosy wool blankets, feather-down cushions, Egyptian cotton sheets and luxurious velvet and brocade to help your take pleasure from the time you spend in your home. Add soft rugs and carpets to ensure comfort underfoot and pull together the look of your room.
Whatever your tastes there are inexpensive, creative ways to make your home stand out from the crowd. The furniture you buy doesn’t always have to look that way in your home; with a little patience and help from some skilled professionals, any piece- whether old or new- can be transformed into a bespoke, stylish feature item that will enhance the look and feel of your room. If you’re willing to put in a little effort and imagination, we can help guide you through the process of redesigning your home. We have plenty of practice in restoring and renovating furnishings and hope to inspire you with the beautiful, individual pieces that grace the rooms of the Rosebery.