When we were getting ready to open the Spruceton Inn, all of our design decisions were made to fall within that sweet spot where style and budget overlap. Sure, it all would have been a lot easier with a larger budget, but in the end I think that the process forced us to really focus the vision of the place in a way that was helpful for the entire operation.
Everything, from the website to the dishes to the window trim to the logo, had to reflect our guiding philosophy of a return to the simple pleasures in life.
Which is how we wound up hand making our original sign with leftover paint on barn wood that had been laying around. You can see the whole post on that process here but basically we did it the super old fashioned way with charcoal rubbings, and it came out great.
That said, over the past four years, some of our budget friendly choices have taken a literal beating. From the insane weather (hello NEGATIVE 35 with windchill last weekend!) to the constant wear and tear of strangers on vacation (you've never seen a bath mat so thoroughly murdered until you've washed hotel linens), it means some elements have required replacements and/or upgrades.
Which is where our new signs come in!
It was the weather that finally took the old ones down. Rain, wind, and snow were all doing their damndest to wear away the paint which you can see was starting to chip just under "catskills" on this one here:
I looked into a few local companies that make large signs but they all felt a little lifeless in comparison to what we'd had. Then Brett, our Managing Innkeeper, said he'd heard of a local-ish guy who was a real sign artisan. Hand carving, hand painting, all that good stuff. His name is Roger Baker.
Being an unsurprisingly old fashioned kind of guy, Roger has no website, just a phone number we got from a friend and so we called him up and he came by that day-- drove a whole hour just to check out the place! And luckily he fell in love. With the valley, with the view, with how we had touched so much of the place with our own hands. He was ALL about the little wabi-sabi imperfections of our signs in particular and was dead set on not eliminating that from the new ones which just warmed by heart.
He hung out with all three of us for probably an hour at the bar, talking about everything from illustration to hand-gliding to how the Catskills have changed over the thirty-ish years he's been here. The next day he drew us a rendering, we made a few adjustments, and then we waited.
He sent us a few updates along the way which was a great window into his process. Like this one emailed to us that said "cutting out letters on bandsaw w all the little imperfections in the right places".
And these that showed us the pegs going in the back of the letters so they are easily removable for touch-ups and the stands drying and everything all assembled waiting to be painted:
On New Year's Day (my first in probably fifteen years not hung over, haha!) he came to install them. It was barely ten degrees but oh so sunny and I was a certain kind of nervous/excited that I hadn't felt since our early renovation days.
Would I like them? We wouldn't exactly be able to return them...
Of course I'm happy to say I FREAKIN LOVE THEM.
They look simultaneously brand spankin' new and like they've been here from Day One. They look professionally made and perfectly imperfect. They are, in a way, my new guiding philosophy for the place. It's not that we're getting rid of our "simple pleasures in life" mantra. It's more that four years in, it's time to reinvest in this place while making sure that in our efforts to improve it we still hold onto the founding spirit of it all.
Our initial renovations were such a wild ride and everything was so completely new and exciting and a little bit terrifying. Now we know this place. We know our guests, we know our neighbors, we know people with whom to work, we know how we want to grow the business, we know we want to stay here longer than just a few years... It's all got me SUPER excited for our barn renovation. It's finally happening! For reals guys. I mean, we have 5 weddings booked for this summer SO IT HAS TO F*CKING HAPPEN. I'll do a separate post with progress pics soon, I promise. Just keep in mind that by "soon" I might mean like a month from now ;)