Here in Michigan, bed and breakfast innkeepers have taken on the task of debunking five misconceptions people have about B&Bs. The first myth is that B&B decor is cookie-cutter, limited to lace doilies, paisley wallpaper, antiques and patchwork quilts. It sounds lovely to me. But it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
You won’t find any doilies at The Kalamazoo House, whose owners Laurel and Terry Parrott have outfitted their Victorian-era home with all the modern amenities that today’s travelers demand. At this downtown Kalamazoo inn, all the guestrooms feature flat-screen HDTVs and DVDs. The decor is an eclectic mix of antiques and more modern furniture, all chosen with comfort and function in mind.
You will find lace doilies at Dewey Lake Manor in Brooklyn — two of them to be exact. You’ll also find gas-fired fireplaces in every room, private baths and free WiFi.
A young first-time B&B guest checked in last Friday, Innkeeper Barb Phillips recalled. She called her mother to say, “You would like this. It’s my kind of place.” A second first timer checking in about the same time exclaimed in surprise, “This is nice!”
Dewey Lake Manor is similar to The State Street Inn in Harbor Beach. As Innkeeper Janice Duerr says, “Sure, you can find a lace doily or two, antique furniture and handmade quilts. But you can also enjoy a guest room with a fireplace and flat screen TV, WiFi, 24-hour coffee, tea and microwave popcorn. A ‘bottomless’ cookie jar is conveniently located in the dining room and each guest room is stocked with bottled water and snacks.”
If two doilies are sufficient to deter you from a B&B stay, take a look at Prairieside Suites Luxury B&B in Grandville. Here, each room is decorated after a different part of the world. Innkeeper, owner and designer Cheri Antozak invites your to enjoy the Tuscan Villa, Southern Mansion, Spanish Hacienda, French Riviera and English Cottage suites. Each allergy-free spa room has a clean, sophisticated decor with modern furnishings, flat screen TVs with more than 100 cable channels and luxury amenities.
Still not convinced? At Crimson Cottage Inn the Woods, Kathy and Michael Henry built their home in Holland in 2005 as a B&B.
“We created a more contemporary environment that fits our lifestyle,” Kathy said, “using relaxed, comfortable and touchable furnishings. Lots of windows with unobstructed views of the surrounding trees and pond were part of our planning.”
Lou and Paula Meeuwenberg built The Sheridan House B&B in Fremont in 2001. While there are some family and Civil War pieces, there is no wallpaper or patchwork quilts. The decor has a southwestern flair with a number of original western paintings, a Saguaro Cactus lamp, large baths and a wet bar. Each room has pillow-top mattresses, 32″ flat-panel cable TV and individual heat controls. The entire inn is air conditioned.
When Cindy and Jay Ruzak designed the Grey Hare Inn B&B on Old Mission Point to be reminiscent of a rustic farmhouse in Tuscany or Provence, they purposely stayed away from lace doily-type decor.
“Sometimes, I’ve referred to our sense of style as Amish eclectic and casually elegant,” said Cindy. “Our decor is designed to be uncluttered, as many Victorian styles can be, with natural stone and wood elements throughout. We want guests to feel they can use the amenities without fear of breaking something and yet feel elegantly pampered at the same time.”
With tongue in cheek, Sandy White of Adventure Inn in North Lakeport said her decorating philosophy “is guided by the question, ‘How much am I willing to dust?’ since cleanliness is the most basic of guest expectations.” The result is a clutter-free environment that still has plenty of eye food.
In Lexington, Captain’s Quarters Inn owner Pat Cutler recognizes that B&Bs are all very different, whether it be decor, location or inn-keepers’ personalities and guests’ wants and desires.
“On the rare occasion when sometime comes to my B&B for a tour and I sense it isn’t just what they want, I tell them there are five other B&Bs in Lexington and suggest they go see them all. We give them a walking map with the other B&B’s marked and a Lake to Lake pamphlet so they can see there are not only different types of B&Bs, but different locations as well. ”
Well said, Pat. The fact is that no two B&Bs are alike. Each is unique. From antique to contemporary, from countryside to cityscape, from woods to water, you will find the only truly identical thread linking bed and breakfast inns is their hospitality, their cleanliness, their comfort and their attention to safety.