Full Immersion In Luxury
Elzy Kolb -- Interior Design, 10/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
Visiting the Mayflower Inn & Spa in Washington, Connecticut, is like dropping in on dear old friends whose only interest is your comfort and relaxation. That is, of course, if your dear old friends are lucky enough to have a Willem de Kooning canvas hanging above the sofa.
Meet Adriana and Robert Mnuchin, who bought the Mayflower in 1992. Recently, they hired Halper Owens Architects and Randall A. Ridless to design a freestanding 20,000-square-foot spa on the 58-acre property. "One concern was how to make the spa clean, open, and fresh but also classically New England," recalls spa president and creative director Lisa Hedley, the Mnuchins' daughter.
Halper Owens built the cedar-shingled structure as well as handling the interior's woodwork, case goods, and detailing. "Traditional architecture dictates certain weights and proportions for moldings and other trim. We reduced them to the absolute lower limits for a lighter feel," principal Reese Owens explains.
Randy Ridless took on the challenge of giving the spa a residential feel in harmony with the main inn building—minus the chintz slipcovers and English or American antiques. "We decided on traditional silhouettes for the spa's furnishings, but serenity would be our keyword," he says. The cream-and-beige palette and inviting textures of the polished-plaster walls, bleached-oak flooring, wool rugs, and silk curtains create a pretty, airy look with no hint of fussiness.
Blues blend with the neutrals. Various shades pop up on the walls in the dining loggia, garden room, and changing rooms. The whirlpool room features sky-blue window shades and glass mosaic tile that's almost peacock blue. Depending on the time of day, the glass mosaic tile lining the swimming pool can shimmer with a particularly iridescent teal.
Unifying the design, nature motifs take their cue from the surrounding wooded grounds and nearby pond, framed by runs of windows. (The landscaping was conceptualized by Robert Mnuchin, who, in addition to being the owner of New York gallery L&M Arts, is an arborist.) Contemporary landscape photography, botanical-print curtains, and rugs patterned with abstract leaves and flowers reinforce the theme.
Ridless made sure to choose materials that would stand up to daily wear and tear. He also tested samples of fabric, stone, and tile to see how they'd react to the oils from spa treatments.
As expected in a spa, the Mayflower offers abundant opportunities for relaxation. The eight treatment rooms, including one room for couples, feature overstuffed chairs for post-massage lounging. In reception, guests can plan their day in a plump tête-à-tête. A cushioned banquette occupies a corner of the dining loggia.
In the calming garden room, the De Kooning overlooks groups of comfy armchairs, chaise longues, and sofas, all covered in vanilla-colored chenille. "The forms here are classics," Ridless says. "But it's almost like they're wearing loose bathrobes."