Home Makeover Tips From Hospitality Designer Nancy Paolino

From La Concha to the Plaza, Paolino excels in making the old new again

Photo by Jim K. Decker

Photo by Jim K. Decker

If you’ve dined at Oscar’s Steakhouse, visited the remodeled Plaza Hotel & Casino or explored the Neon Boneyard, you’ve experienced environments created by hospitality designer Nancy Paolino. A 25-year veteran of the construction industry and current project design executive at Innovativo Design, Paolino personally led the careful dismantling, relocation and reassembly of the Neon Museum’s La Concha structure as well as the Plaza’s recent restoration.

Paolino’s unique vision is evident in her creative repurposing of found materials and her use of thoughtful, subtle details. “The chandeliers that we used in Oscar’s came from the Plaza’s casino floor,” she says. “We had to build a special structure in the dome to support them. They’re beautiful and historic—but most importantly set the tone of the overall dining experience. And they hang directly above Oscar’s private table.”

The Plaza was refurbished in large part with materials that were slated for the scrapped Fontainebleau project; Paolino is proud of the move, calling it “a very green win-win.” She is now working on two projects in Reno—the Grand Sierra Resort and the Whitney Peak Hotel—and looking forward to the day she can watch visitors enjoy the spaces she’s designed. “It’s a great feeling to see the expressions of employees and patrons at an opening,” she says. “A compliment paid by an employee provides a special sense of satisfaction.”

The Home Makeover According to Nancy Paolino

While few of us will ever command a multimillion-dollar budget for our own renovations or home makeover projects, Paolino has a few tips we can all bear in mind for adding pizazz to our everyday spaces.

Let the who, what and why be your compass.

First, when approaching any design project, consider “the space’s personality and who it will ultimately entertain.”

Mix high and low.

Think, “a Chanel handbag and jacket with a $20 T-shirt. Good fashion sense is a lot like good design; invest in areas/pieces that will deliver the right amount of impact. Too much ‘wow’ factor inevitably looks like you’re trying too hard.”

Bring the hotel room to the bedroom.

“Select a soothing color palette, a bed you absolutely love and treat yourself to fine linens.”

Know when to say when.

Prevent yourself from overthinking and overdoing. “When that one thing ties the design all together, I think, ‘That’s it!’ I stick with my first instinct when approaching a project; my gut tends to be my most authentic guide.” Trust yours as well.

Cast an eye toward lasting style.

Consider how the space will look five years from now. Will it feel dated? “Thematic, trendy design is taking a back seat to timeless style, which is always an astute investment.

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