November 25, 2013

Gerald Hotel design mindful of elders’ needs

The interior designer of the historic Gerald Hotel’s renovation says authenticity can clash with practical needs of seniors.

By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

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Restoration: One of the restored paintings on the ceiling in “The Great Room” which is part of one of the community rooms inside the Gerald hotel in Fairfield.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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OLD AND NEW: Intricate wood detail fills the walls and ceiling inside the “Great Room” in the Gerald Hotel in Fairfield. The room will be furnished with contemporary items to be both functional and historical. Workers removed several layers of paint to reveal the original tangerine color.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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It’s a strange color, LaRochelle said, and that’s coming from someone who does colors professionally.

“Usually there’s words for these in-between colors, but this one, it’s very difficult to describe,” she said. “It’s between a pink and an orange. It leans on the orange side. I’ve never used it on a wall before.”

And so, the great room has been restored to its original odd hue.

Murals on the ceiling have been preserved, as has some of the woodwork on the staircases and along the hallway. Some of the original stained-glass panels have been moved from the third floor to the second-floor landings. The lights in the great room were chosen by the historical society to approximate the originals.

“They kept the best of the old, and a touch of the new to make it work,” LaRochelle said.

There is one piece in particular that sums up LaRochelle’s approach to the design.

The columns that provide interior structural support to the building were originally ringed by circular steel radiators. LaRochelle has preserved one of the radiators, stripped off the paint, repainted it in its original bronze color, and asked a glass company to cut a custom piece of glass to serve as a tabletop in a room off the main lobby.

It’s a real piece of the Gerald, but it won’t work exactly as it once did. Instead, it has been changed into something different, something that is interesting and unique, but that also serves a practical function for the needs of the Gerald’s modern-day residents.

Unique but practical is a description that applies to many of the features inside the Gerald, from the picture frames that once held old artwork, to a peculiar shade of pinkish orange on the walls.

And now that the renovation has breathed new life into the building, it’s a description that applies to the Gerald itself.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287 Twitter: @hh_matt

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Additional Photos

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NEW LOOK: Interior designer Lori Larochelle stands in the new entrance to the Gerald Hotel in Fairfield holding examples of carpet and fabric that will be used in the entry.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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HISTORIC: Contractor Randy Woodworth works inside a room where original tin ceiling panels were restored and replaced inside the Gerald Hotel in Fairfield.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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SOCIAL HISTORY: Interior designer Lori Larochelle is designing the ornate “Great Room” into a functioning community room with contemporary furnishings inside the Gerald Hotel in Fairfield.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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