The Menagerie: Fredericksburg’s Luxurious Lodging Offers Artistry in Design for an Unforgettable Stay
A conversation with Sarah Stacey Interior Design about the sumptuous maximalist style of this unique historic home turned alluring rental property
Five minutes from the wine-drenched, German food festival that is Fredericksburg’s Main Street, behind the walls of an old mayor’s house, a riot of texture, pattern, and color unfolds. Snakes slither up the wallpaper and pink-doused rooms glow like indoor sunsets.
The Queen Anne Victorian-style mansion at the center of Nicole and Ramzi al Rashid’s The Menagerie, a curious and sumptuous new lodging, is painted a quiet blush tone to reflect the time from which it emerged. Its exterior belies the maximalist style within. Next door and across the street, The Menagerie continues in a carriage house, converted garage, and three bungalows. Each room is its own unruly fairy tale of antiques and vintage style combined to luxurious effect. It’s not the type of lodging you check into and wonder what all the fuss was about.
“We’re calling it dopamine interiors,” said Sarah Stacey, owner of Sarah Stacey Interior Design, who led the charge in creating the look of The Menagerie. Each room is distinct, with no repeating rug, wallpaper, sofa, or dresser (Stacey calls them commodes, the French term). And if you’re sticky to Fredericksburg, returning over and over, as many do, this is not a hotel that you check into once and can say you’ve seen every room.
Motifs emerge, like snakes in the wallpaper, butterflies, and big cats. Colors from one room may be used in the next for a sprinkle of continuity, but a generally antique feeling ranges in tone from grandmother-chic to garden-of-Eden. For example, a stained glass window above a claw foot bathtub is surrounded by a huge illustrative mural of peacocks and trees in a pink atmosphere. It’s like entering a coral paradise. It’s a little Babylon of excess. Elsewhere floral wallpaper, tumbling cascades of shelled lanterns, and chandeliers, create the thousands of details worth snapping photos of.
The inspiration for it all was Nicole al Rashid, an herbalist who recently purchased Texas Medicinals from founder Ginger Webb.
“Nicole loves maximalism and eclectic things and things that make you feel,” said Stacey. An assertiveness about the curation at The Menagerie culminates in a sometimes dizzying, fascinating effect. Cavernous rooms are sometimes made intimate with deep, dark colors, and bed frames fit for a king, while others are light and airy, with a feeling of creeping undergrowth and verdure. Overall, the work subsumes the visitor.
Make It Happen at The Menagerie
At six weeks postpartum, Stacey came into the project during the height of the pandemic, in mid-2021. Aiming for high-impact spaces, she faced potential foils at every turn. Supply chain problems touched everyone, and sourcing was no small feat. Lead times were outrageous, said Stacey. Only antiques and vintage pieces were consistently available. Chairs for the project were sourced four or five times in rooms like Aurora. Ultimately, that room saw everything reselected except the sofa and rug. Even the antiques were re-selections of things that would have been new, we learned.
The project evolved as the space announced its character. The bungalows came first, and then the mansion side followed. Originally conceived as three separate rentals, the mansion became one unified space, to be rented as all three bedrooms together instead.
With Sarah Capps on board, Stacey had a partner in creating a balance of masculine and feminine elements across The Menagerie property. Originally, rooms La Hermosa and Serenity were to be called Kings and Queens, so the women worked to make each space feel male and womanly, respectively.
Through all of the upheaval in selecting work, Stacey was able to source from local and national suppliers, including a handful of treasure makers and curators nearby. She also supported some Ukrainian artists, and used pieces she had previously stowed away, too. Aside from gorgeous, richly pigmented Moroccan and boucherouite rugs, Stacey said she would recommend Etsy for fabulous deals on rugs.
What’s next? Stacey is working with Nicole and Ramzi al Rashid on a boutique hotel in Lockhart. It should be finished in the next month or two, said Stacey, when we spoke in November.
To follow her work, gather expert tips, and see sneak peeks of upcoming projects, visit her Instagram page at @sarahstaceyinteriordesign. To book a stay at The Menagerie, visit www.themenagerietx.com.
Antiques, artwork, accessories, rugs, and more
The following are favorite local spots of the Sarah Stacey Interior Design team to scout for treasures: