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Architectural House Styles and B&Bs

February 20, 2004

by Kit Cassingham

Many people love Victorian architecture and decor with its red Victorian damask upholstery and drapery fabric. Cape May, New Jersey, and Branson, Missouri, Victorian inns are some of the most well known. But lots of people like other architectural house styles better. Spanish Missions architecture styles are well know in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and throughout California. Other B&Bs are modern architecture homes, reflecting early modern, late modern and postmodern architecture. This bed and breakfast style is scattered across the country and becoming a more prevalent style as B&Bs become more prevalent. Be sure to create a market niche and guest experience that will bring your guests back time and again to enjoy the B&B Style you choose.

Dispelling Myths:

B&B Styles: The Painted Lady vs The Modern Gal

Do you think that a B&B "must" be in a Victorian house? Does that attract you to the business or repel you? I have heard many people comment that they would love to be a B&B innkeeper, except they hate Victorian so just can't bring themselves to pursue their dream further. What a shame! I also have heard many B&B guests comment on the challenge of finding non-Victorian B&Bs to frequent. That sounds like an opportunity to me!

Yes, there are lots of B&Bs in the country based in Victorian houses, or "Painted Ladies". But there are also lots of B&Bs that are in non-Victorian houses, or "Modern Gals". My personal theory on why there are so many Victorian B&Bs is that this country was settled during the Victorian era. That means many of the houses built during our "great expansion" were Victorian. Because so many Victorian-style houses were built at the turn of the 20th century they comprise the biggest selection of homes aspiring innkeepers have for starting their B&B in. Though there are lots of Victorian B&Bs across the US, in some parts of the country they don't stand out as the predominant style as much.

On the other hand, the northeast was settled before the Victorian era and there are many non-Victorian B&Bs there. The southwest and west coast have a strong Spanish and Mexican influence so you find many B&Bs of those styles there. The southeast and midwest have distinctive styles too, and the B&Bs you find there reflect that. Think outside of the box and let your imagination run wild with the options available to you regarding the structure you house your B&B business in.

Then there are the "other" styles of B&Bs that don't really fit any of the above categories. Do you know B&Bs are found in jails, churches, boats, trains, firehouses, condominiums, schoolhouses, barns, and even under-ground homes? I had a client who dreamed of using tipis for some of his guestrooms and I know of yurts (Mongolian portable housing, their equivalent of the tipi) being used for lodging quarters.

Why couldn't a tri-plex, old motor-park/strip hotel, or even commercial space in a downtown area be used for a B&B? Lack of imagination? They certainly are available, and possibly for a better price than a Victorian. With creativity and imagination a very special world could be created in those types of buildings. The location of such a conversion could be well-suited for a perfect guest get-away and the stage for the guest experience you want to provide.

By first determining your market niche and brand, knowing what guest experience you want to offer, and who wants that experience, you can see opportunity in a wider range of properties. If you are going to create a statement of your hospitality, don't box yourself in by thinking your B&B has to be in a Painted Lady when you might well be Modern Gal.

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