A Vintage Concept for a Hip Hotel


A Vintage Concept for a Hip Hotel

This project, for Curtis Hotel in Denver, CO, began with the concept of an iconic VW Bug. The designer summed his ideas up this way: A vintage camper, pulled by a VW Bug, inside a vestibule, inside a hotel!

The Project: Curtis Hotel, Denver: A Vintage Concept Brought to Vibrant, Three Dimensional Life

The Owners of the Curtis Hotel wanted the vestibule area to resemble the interior of a 50s-era camper, so when guests walked in, it would transport them back to the past. The designer, who has maintained a long-term working relationship with DH Schmidt, has given us plenty of challenging projects over the years. This time, he envisioned a space that would continue the vintage vacation theme with several custom pieces.

With a total of 8 different casework projects, this assignment was a big one! From a strict budget to multiple materials in the right size and color, we knew we needed an integrated plan. The must-have features included:

  • Fabricated VW Bug
  • Custom vestibule
  • Front desk
  • Custom canopy
  • Custom backdrop
  • Dive board counter
  • Fire pit table
  • Wall display

At DH Schmidt, we love these kinds of projects because we get to use our creativity to design innovative casework and really wow our clients with one-of-a-kind solutions.

The Challenges

  1. The Materials: Because there were so many custom parts to this project, our crew had to work overtime, coming up with creative solutions to tricky problems. Here’s an example: the architectural team envisioned metal lockers built into the casework. To make this happen, we bought new lockers, specifically to repurpose the doors. WE took the lockers apart and used the parts to make the casework fit to specific dimensions.
  2. Time Limitations: While we conceived of this project and imagined the details for months, approval was a long time coming. Once the client approved the project, however, they wanted it built fast. In fact, they wanted the order built and installed within 6 weeks! So we had to scramble to bring our design and engineering to life, even as we continued working on projects for other clients. Our entire crew jumped on board to make this happen.
  3. Measuring the Space: The hotel lobby featured a curved back wall that needed to be measured precisely so that our casework would fit just right, and we weren’t able to bring a bulky digital device. To measure the space and plan our casework to scale, we improvised using a tripod and a more portable laser scanner. This helped us get an accurate measurement of the wall’s curvature without disrupting the hotel’s normal business traffic.
  4. Loading, Shipping & Installing the Project: Another challenge we faced was getting the project shipped to the client and installed correctly. We thought of this as a backward puzzle project: We built it, then dismantled it piece by piece, writing out detailed instructions for the team at the Denver site. Once the pieces arrived, the on-site team reassembled them.

DH Schmidt’s Solutions: Three Dimensional Puzzle Pieces, Installed within 6 Weeks

Each part of this projected presented its own challenge. Here are the solutions our team created:

A Vintage RV Camper: We did our own research to bring this concept to life. All our material purchases had to be authentic, or at least look authentic, with classic colors that were just right. We quickly discovered that some things, like 50s-era RV windows, weren’t produced anymore. We’d have to fabricate them ourselves.

To make the space resemble a vintage trailer, we originally considered metal for this project. After further considering the weight, look, and durability of the project, we decided to make the entire camper out of wood instead and use specialized paints and laminates to make it more closely resemble metal.

Next, we custom-designed the profile: to get the look just right, we needed each slat to be slightly curved and to interlock with the next, tongue-in-groove style, so that the final surface was smooth. The interlocking materials, including frame design, primer, paint, and laminate, ended up being 11 feet tall, 12 feet deep, and 25 feet long. It would be laminated and added to the Bug design to make it look as though a vintage VW were pulling a vintage trailer to a camping destination.

A Diving Board Table: Our client wanted an entire seating area to resemble a pool, complete with tiki stools and a table designed to look like a diving board. The folks at Curtis Hotel specifically requested a quartz tabletop, which would require some pretty substantial support. WE made it happen by adding a steel post to the spring-shaped table leg we designed.

A Campfire Area: As part of their overall concept, the client requested a seating area that would resemble a campfire. This presented another material challenge for our crew. We purchased glass with a custom print on it that resembled fire embers. Then, we installed an orange light inside the table to five it a flickering glow. We even found a way to add remote control functionality. Our client was thrilled with the end result.

A Pegboard Display Area: Another custom piece we designed for Curtis Hotel was a display and shelving area. This needed to be designed in a curved space to display snowboards, skis, and other decorations. Every detail fit the campground theme we were going for.


The Final Product: A Blast from the Past that We Were Proud to Build

Once we “Tetrised” this project into the truck, with drawings and instructions for the crew, we breathed easier. We had photographed everything to keep our client updated in real time, and they were dazzled by each new design.

Through our years in business, we’ve discovered that great communication and a personal touch makes a world of difference, and we focus on both with every client we serve. WE were proud to work on this one-of-a-kind project.

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