Drummond and her husband Ladd spent nine months renovating a building constructed in 1920 that was once a J.C. Penney department store.
The smallest room is The Photograph Room at 468 square feet. The largest is The Drugstore Room at 814 square feet.
“As we discussed the layout of the rooms, Ladd and I knew that we wanted each room to feel spacious and not give the vibe that we wanted to squeeze as many rooms out of the space as possible,” Ree Drummond said in an email. “When Ladd sketched out the possible layouts for the rooms, we realized that eight to 10 rooms was the maximum we wanted to push it. We settled on eight.”
The hotel is located in Osage County in the Tulsa metropolitan area, where the Drummonds have a ranch. Pawhuska’s population peaked at almost 6,500 in the 1920s during the oil boom. But as the boom went bust and the recession set in, Pawhuska’s population steadily declined to about half what it was.
Drummond has been instrumental in the recent revitalization of Pawhuska. She has already opened The Pioneer Woman Mercantile–a restaurant, bakery, and store. She also has a pizzeria called P-Town Pizza. And a steakhouse is in the works.
“Ladd and I love Pawhuska,” she says. “Our ranch is here, and it’s our home. It wouldn’t have felt right for us to put The Mercantile in a larger city, and what I love about it is that The Mercantile gives people a reason to come to Pawhuska—but they wind up visiting the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, the Osage Nation Museum, and seeing all of what Pawhuska is about.”
Each room in the Boarding House has its own personality and style. The husband and wife team each took four rooms to decorate.
The suites include The Emerald Room with bright green accents; The Butterfly with pictures of, yes, butterflies; The Boudoir with burgundy velvet furniture, sparkly chandeliers and glossy black paneled walls; and The Ranch, Prairie, and Tack Rooms that all have heavy cowboy themes.
Drummond describes her husband’s style as “very rustic, practical and utilitarian.” His rooms have durable wood, concrete surfaces and black or bronze fixtures.
“He would be happy if he never saw a crystal chandelier,” she says. “I appreciate some aspects of his ‘elevated ranch’ style, but my soul goes to sleep without color and glamour. I have to have curves, scrolls, and sparkles. Often, we meet in the middle, but since we both had four rooms, neither of us had to hold back.”
Drummond says it was her husband’s idea to open the hotel, but she was quickly convinced to do it.
“Pawhuska doesn’t have much hotel space, and it was a way to extend the experience of visitors to The Mercantile,” she says. “I got to come in mid-way and have fun with the design side of things.”
Although she had a few sleepless nights prior to the hotel’s opening, she is now enjoying being a hotelier.
“We have an incredible–albeit small–staff that is so committed to making our guests feel welcome,” she says. “Once we opened, the staff has given me very little to lose sleep over.”
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