The Neon Hue to Use When You Want to Strike a Balance Between Old and New
A new Rhode Island hotel is inspiration overload.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 6:13 AM
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Tennis balls were a fitting starting point for Shannon Maldonado’s latest project: a shoppable hotel–slash–event space in the artsy neighborhood of Olneyville in Providence, Rhode Island, called Dye House. “Everyone we met there plays,” says the Philadelphia-based creative, who is best known as the founder and owner of retail shop Yowie but is quickly carving a path in interior design. Bringing in the neon hue—which is officially dubbed optic yellow by the International Table Tennis Federation—in the form of vanity cabinets and nightstand trays was Maldonado’s way of paying homage to the area, but with her own, er, spin on things. “I wanted to merge the old with a modern take on New England prep,” she explains. “Think: the guy who shops at Noah and just bought a coffee table from Lichen.”
Once upon a time, the warehouse-like building was the Weybosset Wool Mill, so the bones (brick floors, exposed pipes, sky-high ceilings) had character to spare. Fortunately, Maldonado and her partner, Deacon Hospitality Group, have previous experience together making quirky spaces livable (in 2019 they turned a church into a boutique hotel). “I’m trained in apparel design not interiors, so I don’t seek just one period or style,” explains Maldonado. “I look for things that go well together; a fun happenstance mix.” Ahead, sneak a peek inside Dye House and all the ideas we’re bookmarking for our own spaces. (Psst: It’s now taking reservations!)
Make Old Look New With Loads of Color
The cobalt blue Windsor chairs made by local studio O&G are perhaps the best example of what it means to put a contemporary twist on the traditional (the spindle style has been around for centuries). The same goes for the nearby plate wall that Maldonado dotted with handmade dishes by up-and-coming artists, from Nidal Fakhouri to Danielle Yukari.
“We’re challenging those expectations but keeping it fun,” she says of leaning into bolder colors. O&G also created some of the custom wood headboards in the bedrooms that are dyed in unexpected hues like beet, navy, and forest green.
In the kitchen, Maldonado opted for sleek cabinets by Copenhagen-based company Reform. The cream-colored cupboards and breezy open shelving immediately channel a warm apartment vibe, “as if your friend gave you their keys to their place for the weekend,” she explains.
Pair Painterly Scenes With Tons of Texture
Another nod to rural living: the Pierre Frey mural of an 18th-century French countryside scene, which, when the blinds are open, passersby can see from outside. To give it a 21st-century spin, Maldonado clad the bottom half of the wall in tambour wood—a ribbed treatment that makes the room feel less bed-and-breakfast and more sculptural.
Stay Ahead of the Curve
To combat the warehouse’s boxy shape (though Maldonado points out there aren’t really any perfectly straight angles), she leaned into archways. “It adds a softness,” she says, pointing out the threshold leading to the Loft Suite. While the exposed metal beams really drive home the industrial vibe, this new architectural detail exudes romance.
The bed in the space even furthers the coziness: The frame is swathed in shearling, which is fitting given the site’s history. “Our logo is even this goofy sheep character we’ve named Baba, so we wanted to bring that in in different ways,” she says.
Defy the Rules of Symmetry
Maldonado and co. can’t take credit for the assemblage of vibrant tiles in one of the showers—those were left behind by their predecessor, pottery studio J.Schatz. “We wanted to preserve some of their pieces,” she says of deciding not to fully gut the place. But the tennis ball–inspired vanity that kicked this whole vision off? That’s all her. “That green-yellow is unexpected, especially in a space you expect to be all white,” she says.
In addition to the neon cabinet, Maldonado made another out-of-the-box decision in the space: asymmetrical mirrors by Ben and Aja Blanc. “You always assume oval or square or rectangular,” she says of breaking the mold. Surrounding the piece are simple globe lights, like the ones you might see in a Broadway actor’s dressing room, except instead of the typical track, she floated the fixtures to make them look integrated into the wall. “We all want to take a cute selfie in the hotel bathroom,” she adds. This trick is Instagram gold.
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