When Bobbi Brown left her namesake cosmetics company last year there was much talk about what she would do next. More makeup? A foray into fashion? Not quite. Instead Bobbi sought something entirely different than anything she’d done before, and she found it in The George Inn. A 32-room boutique hotel located in Bobbi’s hometown of Montclair, NJ, The George is the latest labor of love for Bobbi and husband Steven Plofker. A key player in the launch of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, Steven brought the listing to Bobbi’s attention on the very day she stepped down from her company.
Though the property had been well known in the area since the turn of the 20th century, when it was built as a grand residence, “it was in need of a major facelift,” Bobbi says. It was in that disrepair that she and Steven saw an opportunity to create something great. Taking on the role of creative director, Bobbi tore through magazines, scrolled through Instagram, and visited home trade shows for renovation inspiration.
To help turn her vision into reality, Bobbi called on The Studio at One Kings Lane. Our team worked with the couple to design the property’s lobby and library, rooms that “set the tone for the entire hotel,” Bobbi says. “We wanted to create a comfy and relaxed yet cool and hip spot,” while at the same time maintaining the historical integrity of the building. To pull off this feat, the Studio team accentuated the hotel’s original architectural features, such as handsome paneling and dentil molding, with a mix of classic and industrial-style elements. A striking cast side table sits beside a leather chesterfield sofa; an antique oil portrait hangs above a sleek, modern console.
When asked how she imagines guests using the hotel’s revamped public space, Bobbi alludes to lounging with iPhones—but hopes people won’t shy away from curling up with a good book. “Or better yet, writing one.”
3 Ways to Get the Look
Try a twist on traditional. The Studio team worked with Bobbi and Steven to select a variety of updated classics both large and small. In the library, a requisite chesterfield sofa reads anything but clunky with a contemporary set of tapered legs, while a foursome of track-arm chairs exude old-school charm in navy plaid. Pieces like these not only feel as comfortable as they look but will also stay in style for years to come.
Accent with vintage. Treasures scored at flea markets, antiques shops, and online sales can lend one-of-a-kind character to any space—and help give newer finds a sense of history. Try an antique trunk in lieu of a side table or a set of color-coordinated vintage books as your token splash of wow.
Play with portraiture. Painted portraits add instant charisma to a room. Beside a bar, above a chair, or all alone, there’s no place these classic pieces don’t work. Of course Bobbi and Steven had to start with the original George—but any anonymous visage can keep watch with equally regal effect.
I hope The George will be a place people can't wait to return to.