What’s been the biggest challenge of the project?
Not many of my colleagues would agree with me on this but the extended lead-in time when the project was delayed in planning, gave me a chance to really get to know the building and proved to be a bonus. By the time I was on site, I felt I’d really established a relationship the building, a friend I’d really got to know!
The King’s Arms is in such a prominent place with a formidable High Street presence, so there’s no hiding! It’s an iconic building and very highly regarded, so I feel we have a duty to respect and restore it to its former glory but at the same time breathe new life into it. My brief is always to create a welcoming and hospitable Stay Original venue that can be enjoyed by everyone.
“It’s a complex project but a very exciting one. We’re going to create something truly spectacular for Dorchester’s Town Centre.”
What’s your design philosophy?
To create a comfortable and appealing space that embodies the building’s personality. We’ve been lucky with The King’s Arms, so we’ve taken its beautiful period features, added a measure of classic English styling, mixed in the traditional and the Stay Original values of easy-going comfort and then, very importantly, added the unexpected.
What elements are you most excited about?
Working on The King’s Arms has been a fabulous journey. Post strip out stage was really exciting as it revealed a wealth of previously hidden architectural gems with interesting joinery and wall finishes. By removing recent additions such as false ceilings, contemporary flooring and box-work, we’ve rediscovered many of the original features which has given the rooms grander proportions. It’s great to be able to bring this lovely building back to life.
Describe the look that you’re creating at The King’s Arms
What we’re trying to achieve is a look and atmosphere that’s timeless and understated, with an unpretentious, laid-back vibe. Retaining and portraying the essence of the building’s heritage was the biggest influence in styling the interior. We have hopefully created a design scheme throughout the building that embodies its heritage and personality but also has that essential element of a little of the unpredictable… It will be a Stay Original take on the interiors but with its own King’s Arms personal identity, utilising a comforting, rich palette of warm earthy paint tones and soft velvets in marmalade and rust, layered with natural textures for a relaxed and welcoming ambience.
How do you get your inspiration?
As with previous Stay Original properties, we’ll be scouring local markets, antique dealers and emporiums for interesting finds and classic vintage pieces. We mix these with more contemporary finishes to create an eclectic, slightly quirky, unstructured look. I’m a big fan of upcycling and we’ll be reimagining pieces including the design of bespoke lighting installations and original furnishings to add interest and character to the space.
What are your essential design elements?
Consistency. It’s really important in a big space to keep a consistency of the design-thread. So, for example, across the ground floor social areas of The King’s Arms the thread enables the scheme to flow, connecting and uniting each of the rooms from different eras of the property.
With such a big space, flexibility of furnishings in the bar and restaurant areas is paramount. We will be providing a mix of dining and drinking spaces to suit an array of guests, be it a single friendly bar stall for individuals, a cosy spot for couples, relaxing space for small groups and family entertaining or larger areas to accommodate parties, private dining or groups events.
Whatever the occasion, the principle will remain… grab a chair, relax, enjoy some great food and drink and stay for as long as you like!