Lindsey Kurowski vividly remembers her 13th birthday dinner at Springs Restaurant in New Ashford. The tin cups, the bright carpet and the wallpaper bring one word to mind: “funky”.
Nearly two decades later, Kurowski says walking through the Springs Motel as a new owner is like “walking through a time capsule”.
“I loved it,” she said of the property at 94 New Ashford Road. “The visual form of the building is amazing, nothing has changed since it was built in 1950. I love the outside…I didn’t like the inside but fortunately that’s my job. I’m in love.”
Kurowski, a native of Cheshire, is the owner and CEO of Knotty Pine, an activation, design and build studio in Los Angeles. Her company creates installations for pop-up events for brands like Nike, White Claw, Burton, Live Nation, Spotify, Adidas and more.
Their purchase of the Springs Motel in July 2021 is their second commercial acquisition after the first Oak Knoll Lodge in Big Bear Lake, California. Both renovation projects have been documented and featured on Kurowski’s show,”In the manufacture‘ streaming now on the Magnolia Network and Discovery+. The show’s second season premiered on October 29, 2021 and has eight episodes.
Magnolia Network is a collection of original series curated by Chip and Joanna Gaines that fans may remember Fixer Upper by HGTV.
The Eagle recently spoke to Kurowski about her show and her inspiration for the motel’s renovation.
FROM THE EAST COAST TO THE WEST COAST
After high school, Kurowski worked as a bartender in Boston for a few years and lived in Rhode Island. The house she rented in Newport was confiscated by the bank, meaning she had 60 days to find a new home. As a consolation, she received a check for $4,000, which she used to pay for an overland trip to California in her ’89 Jeep Cherokee Laredo named Loretta.
10 years later, Kurowski is the owner and CEO of Knotty Pine.
“I ended up with a decent eye for physique,” she said. “I have never done any restoration or interior design projects before. But Knotty grew quickly.” She said the company would bring in a few million dollars in about three years, meaning Kurowski and her team will thrive and stay busy.
“I was on a plane almost five times a month,” Kurowski said. “Brands fly me in to do acquisitions and open venues. But I thought, ‘I have to come up with something else. I want children and a husband in long term plan. What can I do that combines the skills of designing, building and interacting with people?’ and I had this crazy idea to buy an old rundown hotel and host events there.”
Enter the Oak Knoll Lodge at Big Bear Lake.
Looking back at how the project began in 2019, Kurowski confidently says she didn’t know what she was doing when she bought Oak Knoll Lodge, but she learned by doing it. The property was originally built in 1919 and has 12 cabins. “I went in with a group of construction workers from Knotty Pine,” she says. “It was a stunning Reno on a tight budget.”
The restoration journey is the focus of Inn the Works season one, but the project was underway for almost a year before the Magnolia Network found Kurowski.
And it’s all because of an adamant friend who insisted Kurowski had to share her story.
“My boyfriend is a TV developer and he wanted to do a role about me,” she said. “I was a chick driving a forklift in an airplane hangar. He said, ‘That’s so cool!’” She recalled working with some big brands at the time and had just made the decision to buy Oak Knoll Lodge and her friend felt that as a young, successful woman, her story had to be shared to inspire others.
“I said, ‘Fine, I’ll give you 30 minutes and you do a roll.’ It was funny, this friend followed me with an iPhone and my first weekend working there. [Those clips] are the opening scenes in the intro. Where it shows me withdrawing all my money from the bank, that’s real.”
RESTORATION OF THE SPRINGS INN
From the Archives: A look at the Springs Inn’s history through 2007.
The original Springs Restaurant and Springs Motel were built in 1930 and 1959, respectively. Since then, the buildings along Route 7 have changed hands several times, but ultimately retained the original mid-century modern design.
The Springs Inn, also known as The Springs Motel, has 20 motel rooms, four cabins and 24 rooms at the back of the property. There is also a pool and a newly created outdoor beer garden and lounge area. The rooms at the back of the motel are next on the renovation list, as these rooms suffered more damage from the roof collapse. Starting this summer, guests can officially stay at the motel.
When Kurowski thinks back to her first tour when she acquired the property in 2021, she remembers the bright neon colors and the cold cement block walls. The carpet and furniture looked like they hadn’t changed in about 20 years. The bathrooms still had the original tiles, which they felt were nice enough to leave as they were.
The 1950s, she said, happened to be her favorite design era.
The colors, the lighting and the devices were based on the appearance of the 50s and 60s. “I wanted there to be fun wallpapers. The devices are all vintage-inspired. I wanted to remind you of the past but enjoy the comfort of modern times. As a designer, I firmly believe in not tearing down and starting over; You lean in and work with what’s there. They got it right in 1950.”
Although she was still finishing work on her first property, she was confident she had made the decision to purchase the second, even if it was a pandemic.
“COVID has transformed travel for everyone,” she said, noting that she thinks motels and individual accommodations are becoming more popular as fewer people want to vacation in a shared space.
“I think it’s going to stay that way for a while. Domestic travel continues, the old American road trip is back!”
On average, each episode of the show lasts about five days, during which time Kurowski says her team actually needs to complete that mission within the time frame and make corrections or fixes at a later date. The network provides a film crew to document the work, but the rest of the team is put together by Kurowski.
For this season, she enlisted the help of her family, who currently live in Cheshire, California and Texas. She says she is grateful to have the support of her family.
“They don’t sign up for these projects, I do,” she says. “The shooting is tough and the work is tough, but most of all it was fun.”
ADVICE FOR POTENTIAL RENOVATORS
If you’re a couple, Kurowski recommends having a salary-based couples counselor. However, seriously expect that most do-it-yourself projects will cost more and likely take longer than you think. For larger projects, consider moving elsewhere during construction.
“It will be worth it in the end because it’s yours,” she says. But don’t worry about imperfection and just have fun.
“You’re the only one who will see that this little tile is crooked. It will be worth the drive to see the vision come to life in the end. Don’t be super serious. Have fun and watch YouTube. You will not be hired as a contractor, so it will appear as if you are not a contractor. But you’ll do better every time. And again, I’m serious about this couples counselor.”
All episodes of Inn the Works now stream on TV via the Magnolia Network, the Magnolia app, Discovery+, and your cable or satellite provider.