Ten Design Tips from Hotels

Ten Design Tips from Hotels
Source: Tierra Patagonia
Source: Tierra Patagonia

Hotels inspire us with romance and adventure, or quiet the mind with serenity and shelter from daily worries. They are places for travelers, lovers, and even longtime residents who live a simplified life.

Many hotels have specialized in maximizing one room to accommodate the needs of its guests to sleep, bathe, eat, work, entertain, and relax. We can learn from and apply hotel design to our own spaces, whether it’s one bedroom or an entire studio apartment. Here are ten (10) tips:

1. Face your bed towards a great view. Above, in a room from Tierra Patagonia, the designer broke a common practice of facing the bed at a TV to focus your attention on the gorgeous view of the mountain range and lake. If you similarly have a great view, or a nice window that looks on a garden or interesting urban features, turn your bed in that direction to take advantage of it. You’ll enjoy waking up more!

2. Use accent walls to draw the eye and frame a view. The wood paneling at Tierra Patagonia doesn’t use paint, but it does use a material different from the other walls to add attention-grabbing color and texture. (Hint: If you want to face your bed towards a TV, a colored accent wall or hanging textile behind the set will frame it nicely.)

Source: Kongres, Lone Hotel
Source: Kongres, Lone Hotel

3. Choose a focal point. When people enter your space, what is the first thing you want them to see? If you’re dealing with a small space, come to terms with it and you’ll be able to make the most out of it. In studio apartments, the bed will usually be the biggest piece of furniture, so why not make it the focal point of your room by adding an impressive headboard? (Riddle me this: When is a headboard not a headboard? When it’s a fabulous mirror, large work of art, along the bed, or anything else that says, “Hey, there–you with the stars in your eyes? LOOK HERE.”)

Source: Design Hunter, Design by Kit Kemp
Source: Design Hunter, Design by Kit Kemp

4. Mind your lighting and nightstands. Symmetry is a calming influence in a room, and you’ll notice that most hotels will have the same lamps and nightstands (or dressers) on each side of the bed. This is great for reading, and if you have a bedfellow, you can control your own lights. If you fly solo or have a smaller bed, you can skip the symmetry–but remember that it can help the room feel well composed and ordered.

5. Integrate your living area. We don’t all have the luxury of living rooms, but hotels have learned to give you the luxury of a living area. If you’re in a studio apartment, don’t try to cordon off everything. Instead, blend your areas and use gentle “boundaries” like a rug to delineate a space. You can play on that well-worn design element of placing a bench at the foot of your bed by replacing it with an appropriately sized sofa. Ta da! Instant lounging and living area for you and your guests.

Source: Za Interiora, San Giorgio, Mykonos: A Member of Design Hotels
Source: Za Interiora, San Giorgio, Mykonos: A Member of Design Hotels

6. Use a canopy or curtains to enclose your sleeping area. Not everybody likes a canopy (it might help if you pretend you’re in a tent or a fort), but they can help make your bed feel more intimate in a big, open room. If you’d like more breathing space, consider using curtains that allow you to create temporary walls when you feel like cocooning, or have house guests and need a little privacy.

Source: JAMESPLUMB
Source: JAMESPLUMB

7. Use beautiful bed linen. Again, the most prominent piece of furniture in a studio apartment is probably your bed, so dress it up! Invest in a good set and take care of it by following the cleaning instructions. The finer hotels are experts when it comes to bed linens, so much so that Macy’s created a collection called Hotel. Save up, wait for sales and clearances, or sign up for a department store card to get further discounts to rock your crib.

Source: Expedia.com, The Dylan, Kimono Room
Source: Expedia.com, The Dylan, Kimono Room

8. Integrate your work area. The foot of the bed, as seen from earlier examples, is not a no-man’s-land where you sit and watch TV in a hotel room (or your own room). You can set a bench to sit on when dressing, a sofa to create a living area–or a desk! Keeping your work area clutter-free, or at least tastefully organized, will make your desk a design asset and not a casualty shoved into a corner. Find a style that matches the rest of your decor and color palette. An alternative to this placement is to get a long desk (or countertop), and use it along a long wall; the length will help guide the eye and help your room feel longer, too.

Source: Ruby Press, Basecamp Hotel
Source: Ruby Press, Basecamp Hotel

9. Pick a theme. When you have one space to work with, it’s like having one canvas to paint on. So, pick a theme and design your room based on that theme. When you look for items to bring into your home, make sure it fits your theme, or it doesn’t get through the door. Above, the theme is luxury camping, and you can see how beautifully it ties everything together, from the headboard to the blanket to the nightstands that look like stacks of firewood. What’s particularly fun is that the designer took this camp theme a little further by the modern use of orange–on the elegantly rugged Emeco Navy Chair (also known as a 1006), no less!

Source: Le Palais Rhoul
Source: Le Palais Rhoul

10. Choose a design style and stick with it. If a theme is too thematic for you, consider picking an established style (such as Moroccan, above) to guide your design choices. Styles arose from years, if not centuries, of aesthetic cultivation within a culture, so they may resonate more if you like a sense of history, tradition, and maybe something different from your own upbringing. Picking one style to use in a small room can make the room feel like a cohesive whole rather than a fractured and crowded space. Eclecticism is possible, where you mix and match different styles, but if you’re just starting out, keep it simple and focus. If you’re not sure what style says “you,” do some research–check out magazines, websites, and Internet searches and pay attention to what makes you go Ah! You can also ask a design savvy friend who can put a name to your style or a professional who can clarify it for you. 

May these ten (10) tips help you with happy decorating and making the best use of your space! If you’d like some help creating your own luxury hotel room, please contact me.

Featured image source: Le Palais Rhoul



2 thoughts on “Ten Design Tips from Hotels”

  • Mmmmm, thanks for the eye candy and ideas. I especially love the Moroccan style room and the one with the big headboard behind the bed and the gorgeous little sofa at its foot! I tried to get a friend to do something like that in her own studio, but no go. If I had a studio again–without a loft bed–that would most likely be my choice, with maybe some mosquito netting or curtains to provide a gentle boundary, as you so aptly put it.

    • Hi Maria!

      Thanks for checking out the post and your comment. I thought you’d love that Moroccan style, and wasn’t that room with the big headboard and sofa at the foot lovely (that whole room was part of a larger exhibit on wool–even the “wallpaper” was woolen!).

      I think all of us designers at heart have tried to get a friend to do something design-y at one point or another (and met with resistance). I’ve found that designing is like psychotherapy–we can’t push too hard, and only as much as the client is willing and able, right?

      And yes–that mosquito netting/canopy is sweet!

      Take care,

      Ivan

If you talk about it, you'll feel better