The Motel Makeover is a new series that was released in 2021 and features April Brown and Sarah Sklash, who redo the entire site that belonged to the Knights Inn, which started in the 1970s. Both April Brown and Sarah Sklash have no prior experience in motel management or renovation. In 2016, they quit their jobs in Toronto and bought a dingy roadside motel in Prince Edward County, using everything they had. They reimagined and redefined the whole experience and converted the gloomy motel into a must-visit destination, the June Motel. The June Motel is the getaway spot for friends, girls’ weekends, couples, families, and small gatherings. April Brown and Sarah Sklash have a straightforward process which they have followed through with the help of Courtney, the project renovation manager.

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Sarah Sklashand April Brown _ ©ontvtoday.com/motel-makeover-netflix

After their huge success in the Prince Edward County branch, they invested every cent they had and risked everything to buy and redo the Knights Inn in Sauble Beach, which included 24 rooms, an outdoor pool, a restaurant with a patio, an A-frame display house and a residence. This entire area survives during the summer season as the winter is very harsh and the entire area is mostly deserted during that time. In this series, Netflix has documented the renovation process over the five-month deadline, which then got pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which had a ripple effect on the entire project. Despite all the hurdles they faced, April and Sarah still managed to pull through and create another successful June motel.

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The June Motel _ ©www.tripadvisor.in/Hotel_Review-g1131571-d23684521-Reviews-The_June_Motel_Sauble_Beach-Sauble_Beach_Bruce_County_Ontario.html

The series has six episodes, and each episode is approximately half an hour long and covers the entire renovation and first-day opening. Even though they give us only glimpses of the process through the June video diaries and video documentation by Netflix, we can understand how they’ve undertaken the process, the decision-making, sample testing, construction, and the final touches to the finished June motel. The series, “Motel Makeover,” starts with the brand’s introduction by April and Sarah and then quickly dives into the context of the project. They have specific values which they incorporate into their design, which include

  • Growth and adventure
  • Pleasure & Celebration
  • Authenticity
  • Beauty and
  • Accountability

With all this in mind, they have a tight budget and a schedule and based on their priorities, they strategise and prioritise which part of the motel they want to renovate first. In the early years, people used to stay in the residential part of the motel and manage the entire family business. This residence is where April, Courtney, and Sarah will be staying and handling any meetings, so they renovated this part first and laid the colour palette for the entire design. The colours were inspired by the 1970s retro theme and the Sauble beach. By completing the residence, they finalised the theme they wanted to go with and the materials that go along with it. After this, they focused on the rooms, which were divided into two categories. They were smart in the design process by creating a prototype room for each category and then testing it out with members of their trusted circle. But as each room is being explored, they hit various hurdles due to the existing old structure and services, which puts them at a setback in terms of budget and design. The Motel Makeover Series captures how they overcome these and provide solutions to them. By providing digital sketches of the original design iteration and final iteration throughout the series, you can understand the process. After each space is done, they show the before and after images, which always brings out the excitement in us. They even have their own “junify tips” for the viewers.

Every design has a unique style. The June motel has a unique style where the design focuses on combining multiple Instagram moments. By using lots of faux plants for easy maintenance and to bring colour and life to a space, nature-inspired wallpapers, neon sign boards, statement lighting, beach and retro theme-inspired colour palettes and materials, they’ve created their unique style.

Working with the local contractors, vintage store owners, and chefs, has brought in the Sauble beach’s unique style, which can only be got from the localities. While they were renovating the motel rooms, the pandemic hit, which put a pause on the entire project. This inadvertently affected their schedule and delayed their opening, which made a huge dent in their budget. There was a shortage of materials like plexiglass and lumbar as they were in high demand as construction was on a halt all over the country and the new lifestyle needed a few extra elements for safety from COVID-19. Because of this, they had to change their plans and design.

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The A-frame _ ©www.article.com/blog/june-motel-interview/
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The outdoor pool _ ©fashionmagazine.com/flare/celebrity/sauble-beach-ontario-travel/
The restaurant _ ©saublebeach.com/stay/motel/115-chamber-members-hm/272-the-june-motel.html

The A-frame was intended to be a display home for investors to look into and buy the Sauble Beach property. This was repurposed into a lobby/gift shop/bar. Initially, they had planned a statement bar from which they could serve rosè, which was part of the unique experience at the June motel. This design had to be revised due to budget constraints. Yet, it turned out to be a cool space for people to hang out and take pictures. They consider each other’s opinions and ideas for every decision they take, which is essential for a project to run smoothly. The most inspiring part is that they are not afraid to take risks and face head-on any obstacle they face. They had to compromise on the indoor dining for the restaurant, and the outdoor pool was a huge obstacle for them. In the end, you’ll be on the edge of your seat as they ran into a series of issues and began to wonder if they’d be able to open on Labor Day as planned and whether they’d have to return the deposits on which they were so reliant. The most inspiring part of the series is their perseverance to never give up and find alternate options without compromising their design intent.

Season 1 comes to an end by showing a few shots of the opening day and the previous day’s celebrations with everyone who helped them. In the series, “Motel Makeover”, we get to witness the entire development of the June motel at Sauble Beach and share its glory along with April, Courtney, and Sarah, which is truly extraordinary for anyone who is inspired to do something creative even with no background in the field of design. It proves that anyone can create special spaces when you have a true desire to learn and understand the field of design. In terms of a successful motel business, two best friends, where one is creative and logical and the other is creative and carefree, can be the perfect combo.

Reference:

  1. Netflix (August 25, 2021). Series title: Motel makeover. Available at: https://www.netflix.com/in/title/81175716. Accessed date: 08/07/2022
Author

A creative enthusiast with keen interests in photography, art and travelling, focusing on redefining the architectural design by combining social and environmental sustainability while creating spaces that exhilarate people. A very dedicated and hard-working individual, with a strong belief, that a true understanding of architectural design cannot be achieved without critically analyzing and researching, which can be achieved through reading, writing and visual depictions.

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