Hotel Trundle's winning design a product of successful collaboration.

Anna Sveinbjornsdottir knew her company faced a challenge when it took on the interior design of Hotel Trundle, downtown Columbia's newest boutique hotel carved out of three unoccupied buildings.

Sveinbjornsdottir, manager of interior design and procurement for architecture, engineering, planning and construction firm Pond & Co., also had an idea how rewarding the work could be.

Turns out she was right about that.

Hotel Trundle, which opened on Taylor Street near its intersection with Sumter in April, won two awards at last month's Columbia American Institute of Architects design awards ceremony. The hotel took home the inaugural People's Choice honor and also received a Divine Detail award for its incorporation of light wells to bring a natural light element into its interior rooms.

Those rooms, sandwiched between the walls of the former Powell Furniture building at 1519 Sumer St. and the former sites of Rose-Talbert Paints and Western Auto at 1222 and 1224 Taylor St., presented a bit of a head-scratcher.

"In hotels, it's an absolute must. You have to have a window or light in a room," Sveinbjornsdottir said.

She credited The Boudreaux Group, the hotel architect and the anchor tenant on the second floor of the former Powell building, for the innovative solution of skylights that filter light down into first-floor interior spaces without natural lighting.

"It came out beautifully," Sveinbjornsdottir said.

So much so that Room 111, the beneficiary of that light, has rapidly become a favorite of Hotel Trundle co-owners Rita Patel and her husband, Marcus Munse.

"It's just a beautiful wash of light in the room and very unexpected," Patel said. "That's the room we stay in when we have to stay with our two boys."

Patel, a practicing architect before opening Hotel Trundle, and Sveinbjornsdottir had a long-standing working relationship that proved invaluable in the design process.

"It was very easy for me to communicate with them. Anna knew my design style before we even thought of Hotel Trundle being a possibility," Patel said. "It was a good partnership. While I really wanted to go wild and crazy everywhere, she would say, 'This would be more impactful if it was used just here,' and help me not overdo everything. I think it's a really good balance of going around the corner and seeing all those unexpected surprises."

Those include the hotel's signature white-and-gold unicorn mural, works by local artists and a find-a-word art feature above a...

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