How to bring hotel chic home
Don’t be afraid of bold decor choices like dark walls, says design writer
Inspired by the interiors of boutique hotels around the world, author Sara Bliss wanted to share easy and affordable tips on how to bring that style home.
In “Hotel Chic at Home” (The Monacelli Press), she tries to capture the transformative power of travel, and that moment in a stylish hotel when you say to yourself, “Why can’t my life be more like this every day?”
Bliss, author of seven books including “Exotic Style” and “The Thoroughly Modern Married Girl,” gathers design ideas from innovative small hotels, from Marrakech, Morocco to Palm Springs, Calif., and talks with some of the designers. She has chapters on subjects including foyers, lighting, dramatic walls and floors, and setting the scene with art.
“Even the chicest hotels have the same issues as most homeowners — awkward spaces, cookie-cutter architecture, lacklustre views or dark rooms,” Bliss writes. “The difference is that hoteliers have figured out how to use design to solve those dilemmas — after all, they have to book every room, every night.”
Here are highlights from an interview with Bliss:
Q: What is it about these hotels that caught your imagination?
A: Boutique hotels have become incubators for new interior design trends that not only transport visitors to Thailand or Tuscany, but solve familiar design challenges on a budget, while setting an unforgettable mood. It’s a magical mix of feeling both transported and at home, and there are plenty of ideas that can easily be adapted at home. One of the things I love about these hotels is that they are pretty fearless in their design choices. We could all get more comfortable with the idea of having confidence in our design choices.
Q: Is it important to stick to a single theme throughout when planning a design redo at home?
A: Mixing up inspiration from Africa and France and Morocco is perfectly OK. It’s coolest when it’s organic and reflects things you love. Big, crazy design ideas are sometimes too fun to talk yourself out of — and they’ll always be memorable and meaningful.
Q: Can you suggest some quick and affordable ways to add glamour to a room?
A: Cubes painted shiny gold would glam up any room as side tables. And for walls, I love dark colours. So many of the hotels I visited feature a beautiful dark space lit by candlelight in the evenings. If painting an entire room is too much, employing stencils or graphics, even on a single surface, like a wall or ceiling, can have big impact.
Q: Any suggestions for making garden spaces more inviting?
A: Consider colourful blankets or poufs, and also eye-catching cabanas to create an inviting seating area. And lining up lanterns with tiny candles inside makes everything look magical, especially at night. A row of lanterns along walkways or at entrances, or even along tables as a centrepiece, really sets the mood.
Q: What about jazzing up powder rooms?
A: For bathrooms, you always want to have fresh flowers and maybe a votive or two, and fragrant little soaps. A fabulous and unexpected light fixture can instantly transform a bathroom into a memorable space. Consider a crystal chandelier, framed art or velvet curtains. Be brave. Don’t be afraid to go for that extra dash of glamour.
Right: An outdoor dining space at the Viceroy Santa Monica, in Santa Monica, Calif.
Above: A bathroom in the Unicorno Garden Suite at the Borgo Santo Pietro hotel in Tuscany, Italy.
Left: The Casas Del XVI in the Dominican Republic is a great example of how to make a bold colour statement work for real life.
Above: The Hotel Henriette in Paris features dark graphic wallpaper from Arte in the dining space.