Berkeley Drawing Ink and watercolor wash Life in general People Places Sketchbook Pages

Sketchcrawl at Shattuck Plaza Hotel

Shattuck Plaza Hotel details, ink & watercolor
Shattuck Plaza Hotel, ink & watercolor

(Updated) We met at the newly remodeled Shattuck Plaza Hotel in Berkeley to sketch on Tuesday night. The lobby of the historic building has been transformed from an old-fashioned residential hotel with good”bones” to something entirely different.  The walls are covered in a variety of black and white patterned wall paper from florals to paisley to stripes that seems to vibrate. The floors are a patchwork of checkerboard marble in between sections of rug the designer describes as “red and mauve 1960s flower-power pattern”. There are two huge crystal chandeliers, a red one that was newly created and the other, an original, that is 100-years old.

I was going to try drawing all of the different patterns on the walls, floors and furniture, but couldn’t stand looking at them, as reminded me of watching the patterns behind my eyelids during my migraine of only a few days prior. So I sketched a few of the lamps, sconces and furniture I could see from where I sat. Then we headed out into the cold for our next stop.

Monks at Peets Coffee, ink & watercolor
Monks at Peets Coffee, ink & watercolor

We went to Peets Coffee across the street and relaxed to the classical music while we sketched people. The monk knew we were drawing him and when they were leaving, came over and asked to see our sketches. I told him he had a beautiful smile.

He looked a bit embarrassed by my comment, but said thank you, and told us he doesn’t usually get out much, that he was here visiting  with his grandmother and brother after living the past ten years in Thailand.  He seemed so genuinely happy and at peace and made me want to return to my long-neglected Zen meditation practice

9 replies on “Sketchcrawl at Shattuck Plaza Hotel”

Well, I am glad you didn’t draw the makeover.Sounds like they got the 60s flower pattern from somewhere down Haight-Ashbury!


Thanks Lilly. After I received a comment from another reader who showed me a different way of looking at the design and corrected a couple of points I’d made, I went back and changed my post. I generally try to follow the “golden rule” and say nothing if I can’t say something nice. So now my post is more temperate and perhaps Katie was right, and the design is meant to be playful and tease the viewer.



You need to take another look when you’ve had enough zen and want some interesting visuals! While I usually like your assessments of places you visit I have to disagree with you here. I think the lobby is vibrant and full of visual teasing and fun. You have a few facts wrong too – The owner is from India (not Mumbai), the architect and designer are a local SF firm, and the red chandelier in the lobby is new with the redesign but I believe the one in the restaurant is original from 1910. I love the hotel and the restaurant FIVE but its more of an oil painting than watercolor. The only thing subtle about this place is the service. 🙂


Thanks for providing a different point of view Katie and now that I’ve simmered down a bit, I think I will revise my post since I usually try to folllow the golden rule and not say anything negative but we were just so overwhelmed on Tuesday night. I think my feelings (and those of my friends in my sketching group) about the design elements may have been different than someone just passing through since we were having to really look at things in order to draw them. When so closely examined, there was a feeling of discord and chaos that could certainly be viewed as fun and teasing visuals as you described them on a more casual glance.

I checked my sources and I guess I conflated the two chandielers — it makes sense that the one in the lobby was new. Also, I got the info about the architecture firm from a newspaper article that says they’re based in Mumbai, or at least one of them, Arris Architects.

I appreciate your calm and polite response and the reminder to mind my manners. I did notice that the staff was extremely polite, the scents wafting over from the restaurant smelled wonderful and the diners all looked happy.

Thanks again! Jana


It’s so interesting and so much fun to read what effects a place has on different persons.
But I think “a vibrant and visual teasing” a few days after a migraine might be a little too much teasing for me. Patterns can make me very dizzy at any time, so I would need to sketch something a little more zen, perhaps. Meditation is a great help (okay, for the 3 minutes I am able to zone in, that is ) and, in certain calmer locations, sketching itself works like a meditation for me (even better than meditation).


Comments are closed.