Bold Patterns and Paint Combos Transformed These Historic Hotels

Two Gilded Age inns get new owners — and inventive new looks.


Updating a historic hotel is a bit of a catch-22: Bring it too close to today’s trends and you’ll alienate repeat guests who fell in love with the legacy look. But cling too tightly to the past and the property may fade into irrelevance, heirloom furnishings and all. Here’s how two groups of designers nailed the balance.

The Claremont in Southwest Harbor, Maine
Guest rooms at the Claremont showcase expert pattern mixing. Photographed by Erin Little.


When Kennebunkport hotelier Tim Harrington bought the 1884 inn last year, he asked his longtime design partner, Krista Stokes, for what she describes as a “sentimental glam” vibe that would be expressed everywhere, from elevator buttons to lampshades. She and Boston/Seal Harbor designer Laura Pierce worked with décor firm Sister Parish (named for the iconic decorator who summered on Islesboro) to customize a navy-on-white trellis wallpaper for the guest rooms, then layered in rattan and patterned textiles, including nostalgic chintz. For the property’s cottages, Stokes and Pierce brought in nautical and Americana themes (brass anchors, a red-white-and-seafoam palette) that harmonize with the Somes Sound views and their overall vision. “There are motifs like the trellis that we’ve carried through all the spaces — there’s a certain green ticking stripe you see almost everywhere,” Stokes says. “So you feel like you’re at the Claremont even though you’re in this quirky bungalow.”

The Claremont in Southwest Harbor, Maine
Cottages feature a riff on a patriotic palette. Photographed by Erin Little.

From $480/night. 22 Claremont Rd., Southwest Harbor. 207-244-5036. theclaremonthotel.com

Spruce Point Inn in Boothbay Harbor, Maine
In the Spruce Point Inn’s library, teal and gold pack a complementary punch. Photographed by Darren Setlow.


In 2019, the Texas-based buyers of this 1892 resort asked local design firm Knickerbocker Group for a quick update, rather than a total overhaul. Designer Chloe Kregling focused on paint, lighting, and furniture, aiming to honor the inn’s heritage while injecting some playfulness. In the library, for instance, nickel-gap paneling that had been stained was painted dark teal to allow the pine fireplace to pop. Existing 1950s wooden sofas received black paint and upholstery in a “funky mustard” color that coordinates with new armchairs in golden velvet. The room’s brass lamps are original too — part of a treasure trove of furnishings found around the property and spiffed up in the re-do. Reflecting on the project that wrapped last year, Kregling says, “I can’t stress enough how much fun we had.”

An office for guests is outfitted with repurposed furniture and art. Photographed by Darren Setlow.

From $245/night. 88 Grandview Ave., Boothbay Harbor. 207-633-4152. sprucepointinn.com