The West has come East, stepping off the train in Williamsburg and heading right to the local lodge. Oh: the train isn’t a transcontinental, it’s the L-Train. And that’s not Williamsburg, Virginia, it’s Williamsburg, Brooklyn. And the lodge is actually a luxury townhouse converted into a Bed & Breakfast called Urban Cowboy. Created by Lyon Porter, this conspicuous B&B is an urban passion project that smuggles country hospitality and sensibility into the walls of Brooklyn’s concrete jungle.
The tone of Urban Cowboy taps more into an Eastern Adirondack feel than a Western Dallas one (although Austin inhabitants would definitely connect) and incorporates an industrial aesthetic appropriate to the Brooklyn location. This fusion is explored through five rooms (four in the townhouse and a freestanding cabin in the back), and so, if a typical townhouse might feature metal rafters, those in the rooms “Vision Quest” and “The Peace Pipe” are wooden and run right into the brick wall, which in turn becomes a feature simultaneously urban and rural in its architecture by virtue of the wood. The same feature appears in the “The Lion ‘Master’ Den” but is more pronounced–less rafters, wider width; and the bathroom in “Lion” also features a custom fabricated solid surface sink shaped not unlike a trough that could be found on a ranch in upstate New York. Urban Cowboy markets its modern luxury as a companion to the rural aesthetic, and that luxuriousness is truly located in the bathrooms, where porcelain and tiled surfaces communicate the homely and the heavenly, and space is in abundant supply.
The red brick walls also interact with the white plaster that partially overlays them, contributing to the incompleteness that is so crucial to the “rugged luxury” Urban Cowboy is going for. Pieces of furniture seem removed haphazardly from garage sales and country homes and relocated on a whim to inflect the rooms with a rustic capacity that is homely and inviting. Even the room with the most urban feel features an unadorned wall frame overlaying a red brick wall. Fireplaces are country essentials and Urban Cowboy has their own versions of them in full supply. “Dreamcatcher” places a pot belly stove in its fireplace, and the final white brick structure is a perfect centerpiece to a room bordered on one end by a fully operable garage door whose panels have been replaced by glass to allow for a view outside.
A hot tub and a shared parlor floor round out the features of the main house, but the hidden gem is truly the Kanoono Cabin lying in the garden out back, where the Western and Native American influences are much more fleshed out, its interior formed from three different wooden paneling schemes, one each for the floor, walls, and ceiling. An amazing antler chandelier is suspended over a wood frame king size bed. A private entrance offers seclusion while a floating claw foot tub invites guests to enjoy that seclusion to its fullest extent in comfort and privacy–especially since the cabin is a single room, bathroom and bedroom combined into Urban Cowboy’s version of a Brooklyn studio. The tub and sink sit in a corner that features the same white tiled walls that panel the bathrooms in the main house, which is a compellingly innovative way to compartmentalize the interior of the cabin without the tedium of walls.
The cabin isn’t so removed from the main house so as to discourage community: there’s easy access to the shared parlor floor, the hot tub, and of course the breakfast of the establishment’s namesake, which is comprehensive yet traditional cuisine, ranging from down home country cooking options like biscuits and gravy, healthier options like organic green juice, or the decadence of chocolate croissants.
Prices are affordable and guests pay for a homegrown nostalgia whose kitsch luxury is only matched by its trademark Americana. Urban Cowboy’s design hits close to home and heart while simultaneously broadening the horizons of what it means to be innovative in cities whose entertainment and opportunity are at times sabotaged by a repetitive dryness. “Full Cowboy,” which amounts to forking out two grand a night for the entire facility (bachelor party can be heard floating in the air) can easily be rephrased as “going full cowboy,” a challenge to uncover, discover, recover, or just invent this type of urban innovation.
Photography: Urban Cowboy