Decorating Tips From The Gastonian

Decorating Tips From The Gastonian

Are you thinking about re-freshing your home’s look?  Looking to jazz up your decor a bit?

We recently did just that at The Gastonian in historic Savannah, with the help of Pam Rody and Angela Groover of Interior Merchandising.   It was a big project that included new paint, upholstery, furniture, lighting, rugs, lamps and accent pieces in the Inn’s two 1868 Regency-Italianate-style mansions.  The pair described it as “renovating a whole house full of Master bedrooms!” and we couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome.  (View all of the new rooms here.)

We learned a lot about mixing the old with the new, sticking to a theme (in our case, the Inn’s historic era), and stepping outside the rules a bit to make it fun.  We love the results so much, we asked Angela to share some tips that will help if you’re redecorating your own home.

STEP 1:  Find the Focal Points
“The first thing we did at The Gastonian was to determine the focal points in each room,” Angela said.  “And you’d do that at home too.  Pick your focal point: a fireplace, a view or some architectural feature in the room, and play that up.”   Next, Angela and Pam decided what existing furniture, lighting and art-work worked well with that focal point.  At The Gastonian, a plan developed into a list of pieces that would stay:  antique furniture, some mirrors and art, and all of the Inn’s chandeliers and original hardwood floors.  Then, they were ready to select new fabrics and a general color theme for each room.

STEP 2:  Select Fabric & Paint
With focal points and staying-pieces in mind, the designers then took a look at each room’s lighting and window views to get a feel for how colors would look in each room.  Fabric came first, then paint colors were specified to work with the new upholstery, drapery, pillows and throws.  (Scroll down for a list of all the paint colors used at The Gastonian.)


“In the Juliette Gordon Low room, there is a very dark fireplace, and the room has a more masculine feel, so we did bright fabrics on upholstery and a lighter wall color,”  Angela said.

The Juliette Gordon Low Room
The Juliette Gordon Low Room


“In the Caracalla Suite, we loved the existing wallpaper that has a historic theme, so we did soft, subtle colors on the upholstery and sheer fabrics on the windows for a romantic feel,” she added.

The Caracalla (Honeymoon) Suite
The Caracalla (Honeymoon) Suite


About the Bedding:  Bedding for The Gastonian’s 17 guest rooms was selected to be clean, consistent and interchangeable from room to room.  Gorgeous accent pillows and textured throws unique to each room add personality and color.  In a home renovation, Angela says ready-made bedding, such as a quality matelasse coverlet, can be a classic and good choice, but like in this hotel re-design, be sure to spice things up with pillows and throws in fabrics that give a splash of color to neutral bedding.

Pillows add color and interest


In the Parlor:  In The Gastonian’s parlor, the upholstery’s fabric selection was extremely important.   “In the parlor, the fabrics needed to be comfortable, as well as beautiful,” Angela said.  “So we stayed away from silky, shiny fabric.  Our goal was to put in good quality, warm colors and inviting fabrics.”

The Gastonian’s Parlor

STEP 3:  Select the Rugs:
With an envelope full of fabric samples and paint chips for each room, the designers next step was to go to market for rugs.   “We took each room’s color and fabric samples with us to look through the rugs,” Angela said.  “The rug selection process was simple — we looked at very good quality rugs, and just held the fabrics up to each rug, to make sure it works with what we had planned for each room.”

Rug in the Sheftall-Sheftall Room


STEP 4:  The Final Touches – Lamps, Art and Details
The very final step to completing the Inns decor was to add lamps, mirrors and wall-art to pull everything together.  Every room at The Gastonian now has a chandelier and beautiful bedside lamps for reading.   Lots of mirrors were also chosen, including some with mercury glass with bits of antique-like fade-throughs to fit in well with the era of the inn.   “Of course, mirrors make the space feel larger, and are great to see when you walk in because it automatically makes the space feel big,” Angela said.


Details in the decor

Final words of advice from our designer:  Don’t be afraid to go eclectic!  The Gastonian now sports interesting details like a painted furniture piece or a mirror-covered table amid the antiques.  “Eclectic design is the most interesting design,” Angela said. “Pick one or two pieces that can be a conversation piece and give the room character. When you throw in a piece or two that you don’t expect, that little bit of eclectic can make it interesting.”


Angela Groover & Pam Rody own Interior Merchandising.  They specialize in commercial work, but have a residential background that made them perfect for The Gastonian’s renovation.


*Paints to be eggshell finish:

Parlor: Benjamin Moore 219 Coronado Cream
Dining Room: Benjamin Moore 495 Hillside Green
Sheftall Sheftall: Sherwin Williams SW6687 Lantern Light
Mary Hillyer: Benjamin Moore 523 Ivy Lane
Mary Telfair: Sherwin Williams SW6429 Baize Green
Casmir Pulaski: Benjamin Moore 170 Traditional Yellow
Julia Scarborough: Sherwin Williams SW6211 Rainwashed
Eli Whitney: Sherwin Williams SW6414 Rice Paddy
Flannery O’Connor: Benjamin Moore 834 Bright and Early
Andrew Bryan: Benjamin Moore 170 Traditional Yellow
John Wesley: Benjamin Moore 198 Cornsilk

Oglethorpe Penthouse: Benjamin Moore 198 Cornsilk
JP Layfayette: Benjamin Moore 198 Cornsilk **Ceiling: Ben Moore 1653 Glacier Blue (Flat)
Juliette Gordon Lowe: Sherwin Williams SW6211 Rainwashed
General Monk Hunter: Benjamin Moore 507 Grecian Green
Chief Tomochichi: Benjamin Moore 688 Seacliff Heights
Garden Room: Sherwin Williams SW6470 Waterscape

CARRIAGE HOUSE: Benjamin Moore 262 Golden Hills *Paint Bathroom Doors White