Fairmont Miramar Suites Get a New Look

Residential Designer Combines Beach Setting with New York City Architecture

Lynda Murray, owner LMID, Inc., is renovating 24 suites at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica, a 302-unit property where the clientele includes A-list celebs and suite rates start at $699.

The hotel itself started as the residence of John P. Jones, who founded Santa Monica. The former senator built the mansion in 1889 along the bluffs of Santa Monica Beach and named it Miramar — Spanish for "view of the sea." It began as a hotel in 1921 and has been seen additions and renovations many times hence.

Murray dug into her heart for inspiration and her mind for a practical approach to the historic project. Her assignment, the 24 suites, is in the six-story, Palisades Tower. The suites, which range in size from 445 to 785 square feet are two rooms with a bathroom. The living area includes a full wet-bar with a marble countertop.

With mostly full occupancy, it was nearly impossible to take all the suites out of commission at the same time. So Murray is working on them in three groups of eight. Work is scheduled carefully, to minimize noise and confusion and maximize time. The first set of eight will be finished this year, with 16 to follow in 2013.

This is the first lodging project for Murray, who’s based in LA, but does high-end residential design in New York, Miami and California. The difference in this new venue is shifting from a guestroom with a personal touch to guestrooms with mass appeal.

“This wasn’t for one family who sometimes has guests over,” says Murray. “These suites have to function for a wide variety of people — CEO, family, European guests. I had to think about what I was going to do to accommodate all those different types of people.”

“I tried to come up with a design that, in my heart, felt like it would appeal to a really broad audience. It was challenging to come up with a palette that I felt would appeal to the masses.”

General Manager Wolfgang Jonas is pleased that Murray met the needs of the hotel’s upscale clientele. “One of the challenges faced by the designer was how to address a 1920s New York-inspired building,” he says. “And connect it to the beach in a way that captures the historical roots of Santa Monica, but yet appeals to the tastemakers and start-up entrepreneurs of ‘Silicon Beach.’”

The challenge is significant because the hotel’s beach setting and New York City architecture offer quite a conundrum. To marry the two, Murray relied on finishes such as hickory hardwood floors, textured sisal wallpaper, a contemporary candelabra chandelier, a velvet wingback headboard, distressed zinc-metal night stands and other features that evoke a simple, yet sophisticated modern experience.

“I’ve done a lot of beach houses. I thought of this as one of my clients I was designing for the beach. I brought the outside in a little bit,” she says. Driftwood sculptures with lightly colored moss and plant life that doesn’t need water are part of the effect.

“I would call it classic contemporary using earth tones and a splash of color,” describes Murray. “I would have to say I feel really good about how I planned this.”

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