How to bring ho­tel chic home

Don’t be afraid of bold decor choices like dark walls, says de­sign writer

The Hamilton Spectator - - STYLE - KATHER­INE ROTH

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.


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