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Character Builder

(March 2017) posted on Thu Mar 16, 2017

Designer Hilary Lancaster does her history homework and shops locally to give a former office building near Amsterdam a homey new soul.


By Christina Green

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“For this project, we were also working within a tight budget, so we needed to be very creative with the materials,” adds Lancaster. That meant cladding existing columns with what the designer describes as “incredibly inexpensive” reclaimed wood, which was also used in the entry’s ceiling and the elevator lobbies, to produce a chevron pattern. To add drama, ceiling planks were designed to be fitted together diagonally, leading the eye to the reception area and creating a contrast with the hotel’s boxy brick exterior.

The city/country statement starts at the reception desk, which showcases black iodized metal panels and a white tile top. A fireplace acts as the hearth of the lobby lounge, where bookshelves display an eclectic mix of vintage pieces—such as radios, bowls, cowbells, wooden bowling pins and glass medicine bottles—which the designer handpicked from local vendors to add character.

Lancaster used various flooring materials to layer references to the past and present throughout the hotel’s public spaces. For the lobby, she chose low-cost and highly durable tile with a wood look in lieu of the real deal. That surface transitions in the dining area to patterned blue and white tiles inspired by the Netherlands’ Delftware pottery, a regional reference that’s woven throughout the lodge. Toward the bar, concrete resin floors nod to the location’s industrial past while adding a contemporary edge.



Urban Lodge Hotel
Industrial details such as black hanging pendants and gunmetal-gray barstools juxtaposed with the wood ceiling's natural texture reinforce the narrative of agricultural past meets mechanized present.

A bold contrast from the residential warmth of the lounge’s neutral palette, the adjacent royal-blue, tile-clad bar’s mono-tonal, mono-textural look adds urban impact to the corner of the communal public area while tying it into the dining area’s Delftware-inspired details.

Though the theme of two eras remains cohesive throughout the hotel, each space has its own distinctive look. Behind the bar, for example, the breakfast area and restaurant dining room are divided by a storage counter topped with a partition of shelves that showcase a mix of locally sourced toasters dating to the 1920s and ‘30s. “I fell in love with them, so I found a place to put them,” Lancaster says, noting their decorative details and morning-meal relevance.


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