Design consultancy +tongtong has revamped a Victorian foundry on the shore of Lake Ontario into a boutique hotel.
Architect: ERA Architects
Client: Drake Hotel Properties
Size: 1,010 sq m
Cost: Not disclosed
Duration: Two years
Words by Emily Martin
Images by Nikolas Koenig
The Drake Devonshire inn was previously a tired B&B until hotelier Jeff Stober enlisted design firm +tongtong to undertake a dramatic transformation. To the east of Toronto in the lakeside town of Wellington the now 11-room, and two-suite, boutique hotel uses the surrounding landscape to help radiate a back-to-nature ambience inside.
The dining space sits in a Douglas fir frame
Perched over a meandering creek and a private waterfront, the hotel has spectacular and sweeping views of Lake Ontario. With the help of ERA Architects, a specialist in heritage conservation, the inn, a former 1880s' foundry, includes new architectural additions such as a barn-like pavilion, a dining hall in a Douglas fir frame, and the 'glass box' events space that overlooks a secluded patio at the edge of the creek with forest views. A new outdoors bar with glass roof, masonry chimney and double-sided fireplace, includes picnic tables and café-style furniture on a cedar-plank floor, with all spaces designed to 'enjoy the outdoors' year round and draw to the inside the breathtaking scenery.
+tongtong designed dining tables that incorporate strips of floorboard and Corian panel insets
The dining room space is of a cantilevered construction, jutting out over water to 'create a special moment over the mouth of the creek,' says Philips Evans, principal at ERA Architects.
'From this point, guests can appreciate the movement of the creek throughout the seasons against the striking views of Lake Ontario.' Inside, the ribbon of large windows frame the outside scenery, with +tongtong designing the tables that follow a theme of 'old and new', using floorboards and Corian insets on a painted steel frame for a utilitarian feel.
Throughout the design scheme, +tongtong has used a number of aesthetic cues taken from typical features found in farmhouses and cottages in south Ontario - including practical ad-hoc renovations using readily available building materials and mismatched furnishings.
'One of our goals was to balance the rational aspects of the architecture with contrasting colours and textures throughout the interior spaces,' says John Tong, creative director and designer, +tongtong. 'The outcome is a seemingly ad-hoc collection of controlled compositions and dynamic collisions.'
A large mural by Brooklyn art collective Faile sits in the newly built pavilion
Furniture, fixtures and accessories are sourced from both local and international antique markets and vintage fairs, refurbished to sit with bespoke furniture, hand-turned lamps, virgin-wool blankets and accessories. The lobby features a heavy oak and black slate desk, a mix of custom and found display cabinetry and a vibrant mix of patterns and textures. Ornate decorative wall and floor tiles, floral wallpaper and exposed brick create a patchwork that is repeated throughout the design scheme.
Warmed by a working fireplace, the Living Room space, in the heart of the original building, is an intimate hub linking the restaurant and reception area to the Glass Box - which serves as a light-filled games room when not hosting events - and the guest rooms and suites upstairs.
Guest rooms fuse old and new by featuring mix of whitewashed floors, vintage and custom contemporary furniture with boldly patterned carpets, upholstery and schoolhouse lamps.
Custom-designed headboards, desks, armoires, farmhouse vanities, and articulating mirrors were designed by +tongtong to create a homely feel, with the so-called Owner's Suite on the second floor offering guests a panoramic lake view and a private outdoor deck.
Guest rooms are a mix of whitewash floors, vintage and bespoke contemporary furniture, and patterned carpets and upholstery
Contemporary art installations are throughout the property, both indoors and out, featuring the work of a number of local artists including Don Maynard and Jeremy Jansen. +tongtong says that the biggest challenge was creating a storytelling space to be embraced by both the local community and visitors from further afield.
'We didn't want to create an artificial space that took a film-set approach, imitating the rural vernacular,' says Tong. 'Local artists, performers, cooks, crafts people, service staff and residents needed to feel that this place reflects something of themselves, their values, while also being open to new ideas and perspectives of the larger international community.'
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