A Happy Camper


With her sophisticated yet approachable aesthetic and trademark color palette of cool blues and warm sands, Rachel Reider was more than qualified to transform Martha’s Vineyard’s outdated Wesley Hotel, which reopened as the 95-room Summercamp in May. But the Boston interior designer had another edge in taking the oceanfront property from drab to fab.

“I was a third-generation summer camper in Maine, so camp is a special place for me. Last year I attended the 100th anniversary [of Camp Walden], and a bunch of my bunkmates got together with our kids,” Reider says. “I have so many fond memories, so I was really able to embrace the concept about nostalgia and capturing the glory days of summer.”

The largest property of booming Amesbury-based boutique chain Lark Hotels, Summercamp lives up to its name with a huge Connect Four game in the lobby, a canteen serving classic snacks like Cracker Jacks and a rec room whose Astroturf floor boasts a built-in Twister board. The concept nods to the history of the town of Oak Bluffs, the site of the country’s first summer religious camp, which began in 1835 with cramped tents in an oak grove and grew into a compound of now-famous gingerbread cottages.

The Wesley Hotel was around for nearly as long, having welcomed guests in various incarnations since 1879. For Reider, who has prior experience redesigning Victorian properties, including her own late-1800s West Roxbury farmhouse, the grande dame and its many different-sized rooms presented a fun challenge. “We looked at [each room] from the perspective of whether it was a king, a queen or dog-friendly, and started custom-ordering from there,” says Reider, who updated dark wood paneling and flooring with bright-white paint, incorporated cheery geometric-printed fabrics from the Boston Design Center and looked to local artists when selecting decor.

“Rachel has always had the most unique approach to combining textures, patterns and colors,” says Lark Hotels CEO Rob Blood, who’s tapped Reider for 10 hotel projects. (Next up, the secluded Blue, Inn on the Beach, reopens on Plum Island off the coast of Newburyport on June 22.) “The transformation of the property from a very dark and traditional place to this bright, vibrant, retro feel-good place registers immediately with our guests.”

That whimsical vision includes some rooms with beds that appear to be hanging from a rope swing; others, apropos of the concept, feature twin bunk beds. Out of all of the unique spaces, however, Reider envisions herself in just one: “I love the hanging chairs in the curved window looking out over the harbor. I can just picture sitting there after a great day at the beach, having a cocktail and looking out at the water.”

Pro Tips from Rachel

For bigger improvements: “Have a starting point. It can be a favorite piece of artwork or a rug, but it gives you an anchor to start building a room. Oftentimes, you can even pull a color palette from there.”

For smaller updates: “I always suggest updating accessories—pillows, vases, art. Although they’re small, they go a long way to giving a room an identity. It can be a really cost-effective way to update a space.”

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