I’ve written about a handful of small hotels and b&bs in the last year (including the most recent stunner Mohave Sands) that have been painstakingly built by hand by the owners–from elaborate renovations and custom woodwork to every single piece of furniture in the place. Before Honor & Folly became Honor & Folly (which is opening NEXT WEEK, fingers crossed), my brother-in-law, Phil, lived there. When our family bought the row of decrepit buildings eight years ago, you could stand in the basement and see the sky through broken floorboards and a deteriorating roof. They were that bad. Since then, Phil has done an enormous amount of hard, gritty work to various all-but-abandoned buildings in Detroit, but his personal space–the first place he transformed–is pretty special. He worked on it as an ongoing creative, self-taught experiment, slowly and patiently and on a shoestring budget, adding interesting details along the way (like the woven-wood staircase railing, mirrored stairs and mismatched panes of salvaged colored glass in the arched windows). All this to say that I have a proper solid gold appreciation for hand-built spaces and the stories behind their transformation. Here, some of my favorites.
From the top: 1. Phil’s amazing staircase railing at the almost-complete Honor & Folly. Print by Don Kilpatrick/Signal Return; beautiful woven bench by the Brush Factory. 2. Chicago’s Longman & Eagle, built out by two of the four owners–furniture included. 3. Mohave Sands: Owner Blake Simpson’s nine-year-in-the-making desert project. 4. Casa Talia: An owner-renovated series of rooms built into the landscape of a Sicilian town that’s part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Yeah, they made most of the furniture, too. 5. Berge is German furniture designer Nils Holger Moorman’s 13-room mountain hotel that he renovated and kitted out himself, after not being able to turn it into the warehouse he originally intended it to be.