There’s a certain feeling you get when you check into a cool hotel and walk into your room for the first time. It’s that “run-and-jump-on-the-bed” sensation that makes you feel like a kid again. Like relaxation and excitement all at the same time. That something about hotel rooms evokes this weirdly awesome emotion out of people, so it’s not surprising that so many people would want to capture the same feeling in their own boudoirs. I can’t tell you the amount of folks that have asked me for advice on decorating their bedroom and when I ask how they want it to feel, 9/10 they’ll say “I want it to feel like a nice hotel.” Well, guess what? I TOO, would like my space to feel like a luxury hotel and I want to feel the urge to run and jump on my bed every time I walk through the door. So today we’re going to explore how to take your bedroom from lackluster to hotel status (yes, even if it’s a rental).
You may remember my studio apartment: a cool 500 square feet that truly mimics a hotel in layout, but there’s one MAJOR difference between my apartment (and many rentals in general) and hotel rooms: rental apartments and some newer homes can easily feel like a stark, white box. Once you have a case of the white box it’s hard to get rid of it..and I caught a bad case of the white box pox.
The Problem: The White Box Rental
Here’s what we’ve been working with for reference (and if you want more photos of the space “before” click here).
Curtains | Rug | Bed (similar) | Bedding | Nightstands | Lamps | Loveseat
My goal is to get out of this white box feeling, but HOW? How are these hotels doing this magic luxury trick?? Sure art above the bed would help, but it wouldn’t change the boxy white vibe. Paint is another great option but I have a real fear about going dark (or even too colorful) on the walls because I want to keep it light and bright and I don’t want to make the space feel ANY smaller. So how do we make it less stark and more homey without having to paint or wallpaper the whole space??? I asked Emily what we should do to make it feel more comfortable and hotel-like and less white box rental-like and we came up with a big list of things that make hotels so special (and some of them are VERY EASY to add to your bedroom/studio apartment). Let’s begin this case study.
Add a Statement Bed
The NUMBER ONE thing we noticed that hotels have that regular bedrooms often don’t are statement beds. They INSTANTLY give your eye somewhere to go and help the room feel less boxy. Having a shape other than a square helps so much when you’re trying to make your nightstand, bedside lighting, and headboard all work together and not be boring. They add a flow and a “designed” element that most standard bedrooms often skip over (which is important when you have nothing but a small, white and boxy space to work with). It also makes perfect sense to have your bed be the main focus of the room because it’s the biggest piece that will always take up the most space.
How good is this statement bed from one of our favorite design firms Chzon???? Every hotel they touch turns to gold. No joke. Now if you don’t believe me about the statement bed, let’s show you some more…shall we??
Okay confirmed, lots of hotels have statement beds, but a lot of them ALSO have statement walls in addition. So step one: have an interesting bed (here is a post we did on shoppable options), then step two (which is optional) add a cool feature wall that draws your eye to the bed wall for even more high impact. Here’s an example:
We love a wood slat wall over here (who doesn’t?!) and white water cambria does it WELL. It works perfectly with their scandi-minimalist vibe and overall gives your eye somewhere to go without adding too much contrast. A lot of hotels also use wallpaper to achieve the statement wall look, but you have to be careful that it doesn’t have TOO much contrast from the rest of the walls if you’re choosing to only wallpaper one wall. Let me show you what I mean:
See how this hotel above only wallpapered one wall but used a dark complementary color on the other walls so the transition was visually smooth? This is also a great hack if you want a wallpaper that’s more expensive so financially you can only swing one wall.
Then for this hotel, they have a beautiful bed against a trimmed-out wallpaper wall moment. So cool and honestly extremely DIYable.
So many hotels make the bed wall the main focus by adding in a texture, an architectural moment, or wallpaper. Accent walls are HARD to nail but I love how all of these hotels achieved theirs. The key is having some contrast, but not too much contrast to the room doesn’t feel smaller.
Symmetry Is Key
Another tip in hotel room design is that hotels keep the symmetry in the nightstands and lighting. It’s pleasing to the eye and the design lends itself to being comfortable because there are fewer visual surprises (but that doesn’t mean it’s boring!). Not to mention, it keeps the vibe feeling super high-end. Now let’s look at some photos that are nice to look at that prove my point:
That’s a VERY good, symmetrical room if I do say so myself. Also that’s House of Hackney fabric! See what I mean about not being boring. This room is colorful and textured, yet because of the clear symmetry of the bed, nightstands, and lamps, it’s not overwhelming to look at. Your eyes know what to expect.
The Ace hotel does such a good job at feeling lived in and cozy. Plus, look at this headboard that wraps around into a bench. Commune Design, guys….insane.
Design For Comfort
While the thought of wall-to-wall carpet might send shivers down your spine, I couldn’t write a post about hotel design without mentioning SO MANY OF THEM HAVE IT. It’s just proof that carpet can be done and can be done WELL. If you don’t have carpet (like me!) or if you don’t want carpet in your bedroom (totally understandable), then I’d HIGHLY recommend adding in a comfy rug under your bed to get that cozy hotel vibe and feel. Also, consider getting a bold or patterned rug because this will add pattern without being in your eye-line so it won’t feel overwhelming (this is Emily’s rule for the Farm House btw).
It’s important to make the space COMFORTABLE and here are the three things you should splurge on if you’re looking for the hotel feel. 1. bedding and SHEETS (mine are from Annie Selke and I could not recommend them enough) 2. Have comfortable, upholstered seating around that people will enjoy sitting in 3. A GOOD MATTRESS. I don’t know about you but if you’ve ever experienced a great mattress at a hotel it’s like you’ve been transported into another heavenly dimension. So if it’s time for you to get a new mattress, it will likely change the way you feel about your room and SLEEP. We are big fans of Tuft & Needle if you need somewhere to start.
Have More Than One Window Treatment
Hotels almost always have options for their window treatments. Either they’ll have two sets of curtains (one sheer and one blackout) or they’ll have one set of shades and blackout curtains. It gives you multiple options for letting light in but also having privacy. Also, the importance of blackout curtains for sleeping CANNOT be understated. I have a very large and awkwardly sized window for curtains and I was always confused and scared on how to get custom curtains until I found Wovn Home, which makes the process SO EASY. If you’re looking for awesome window treatments that ship directly to you (without having someone come to your house) check out Wovn Home. We LOVE ours so much.
There’s No Such Thing As Too Many Lighting Options
Hotels are known for having multiple lamps, sconces, and overhead lighting. It’s not uncommon to have BOTH a lamp and a reading light by your bed…and this is something I want to incorporate in my space FOR SURE. We don’t have recessed lighting in our apartment (and most hotels don’t either), so finding lots of different lighting options around the space are critical for everyday life and comfort.
Also, the lighting that’s used in hotels is usually statement lighting, like a double-armed sconce or something that’s sculptural and gives off a warm, soft glow. Don’t forget how important it is to find interesting lighting that you like in order to make a room really stand out and feel designed. It’s a great place to add personality especially when you’re working with a small space.
When it comes to having multiple lighting sources (especially when you have no recessed lighting) it helps to think about lighting sources by zones. For example if you live in a studio, you could have a reading light and lamps on your nightstands in your bed zone, then have a floor lamp by a chair/seating area, an overhead pendant near a dining area, and a sconce or desk lamp on your desk or work area. Go by zone, and no, it won’t feel like too much.
Don’t Shy Away From Pattern
Pattern is a hard thing to nail, but having some pattern in a small space is critical in order to make it feel cozy and interesting. The San Francisco Proper hotel (below) is one of the BEST examples of this:
So good, right? Kelly Wearstler always kills it. The reason this works so well is because the patterns vary significantly in style and scale, while all staying within a very simple black, white and great color palette. The white box completely disappears with the walls covered in multiple wallpapers, so this is a great tip if you’re looking to make the space feel more homey AND very designed.
I love the way Martyn Lawrence Bullard uses pattern. His style is heavily inspired by Moroccan tile and patterns, and he brings that in perfectly in the hotels he’s designed. The above photo is his design at the Hotel Californian in Santa Barbara and the photo below is his work at the Sands Hotel in Palm Springs (one of my favorites). In these designs, Bullard uses just a touch of pattern in the main furniture pieces, on the walls and in the window treatments, while still leaving the majority of the space light, bright and airy (and I’m all ears).
Add a Small Seating Area
Hotel designers know that guests are fully LIVING in these hotels for a few days at a time, and will need somewhere to sit to put on shoes, or if the guests have a guest over, there needs to be a place for them to sit so they can all comfortably have a conversation (to the best of their ability in a small amount of space of course). Having a seating moment is highly important in a bedroom, don’t skip this 🙂 Plus it’s another opportunity or pattern and/or texture.
So there you have it –– the 7 things you should consider when you’re trying to give your space that real classy, high-end hotel feel. I hope this was helpful and that we can all achieve that jump-on-the-bed feeling in your own space. Thanks for reading and best of luck!! Xx
Opening Image Credit: Design by Pauline d’Hoop, Michel Delloye, and Delphine Sauvaget | Photo by Eve Campestrini | via Hotel Monte Cristo
Am I the only one who doesn’t like blackout curtains? I find it so much easier to wake up when the sun shines through my window and onto my face.
Completely agreed! Blackout curtains have never appealed to me- I would never wake up. I love easing into morning as it gradually gets light out, as opposed to a harsh alarm clock in the dark!
Unless you live in a situation with bright lights out your window-then it would make more sense I guess.
A light-filled bedroom WILL keep you awake. If that light is the morning sun when you want to be awake, then no need for blackout curtains. If that light is there at 3 am because of the bright lights outside your window, then you will reach for blackout curtains. I’d strongly prefer to live in an area without bright lights at night, so my bedroom could be naturally dark. Since that’s not where I live, blackout curtains are a godsend.
I totally agree -when at home. But when you have two jet-lagged toddlers from the East Coast who think 4 am is a great time to be awake the morning after you arrive in California, blackout curtains are a must.
I would have agreed 100% until we moved into a new house and the street light/neighbor’s light shine directly into my bedroom window. Suddenly blackout curtains are a lifesaver!
Same here. My neighbor has a flood light in their driveway that shines directly into our bedroom window. She refuses to move it or even direct it down more towards the ground. Of course she does make sure to regularly inform us how we can improve as neighbors. Ugh.
I felt the same way until I moved to Alaska where the sun literally never sets over the summer. The midnight sun blazes directly into our bedroom and it can reach upwards of 120 degrees in there (we don’t have AC in Alaska) if we don’t keep our blackout thermal curtains closed from about 3 PM on…not my aesthetic, but one needs to sleep :-p
I also prefer to wake with the sun, but I also wake with the slightest light, so much so that I have blackout shades and wear an eye mask due to light seeping in from a nearby skylight. My sleep has improved so much, so it’s worth giving up that natural waking.
I only need them in the summer, when I don’t want to be awake at 4:30 am! lol
Interesting! I live around so many city lights it was so hard to sleep without them. They changed my life!
Honestly, I would pick your room, right now-as is, over all these others (except the Nina Freudenberger and Kelly Wearstler rooms).
I agree. A nice landscape over the bed and it’s done.
Agree. A lot of these are just too too. Just needs some art and nice styling ala Emily Henderson or Emily Bowser.
AW thank you KJ!
I actually don’t ‘like’ any of those hotel rooms.
But then, I’m not a hotel person. I much prefer a forest cabin or cozy cottage any day.
Your own bedroom is much nicer than any of those and simply needs some pattern, somewhere, and a BIG piece of art above the bed OR some wallpaper that’s not too dark or OTT.
I agree. I really like your bedroom much better than the examples. But I’m not drawn to lots of pattern or color. An amazing large piece of artwork/sculpture or statement curtains will finish your room off nicely.
These are so fun! The Kelly Wearstler Santa Monica Proper is my dream space, the entire hotel. I have been trying to convince my husband that we need hotel style, floor-to-ceiling, curtains. Did a whole presentation and priced it out. It’s a no-go from him still as my emergency-move-in-temporary-in-my-book curtains are “just fine”. UGH!
Isn’t a bedroom all about the energy anyway??
You have great foundation with lovely pieces. While I love some of the statement walls, some great art and a long lumbar pillow with a print would do a lot for the space. Also, I think I remember from an original inspiration post that you liked plants, so you could add a plant on the nightstand or even hanging. I keep wanting the walls to have more blue or aqua undertones (muted, of course), since it acts as a great compliment to the rust loveseat. I can’t wait to see the next iteration.
I just realized that the loveseat is tan leather, not rust. Here is a pillow with some color that might be fun.
Also, I love Annie Selke’s linen decorative pillows. A splurge, but really nice, especially if you can find one on sale.
Or maybe something from Block Shop:
these are all so great!
Thank you Suzanne!!
I’m happy to help, Mallory. It’s so fun to shop for home decor, especially when I’m not spending the money. I can’t wait to see what you find.
That’s funny, not only have I never wanted my bedroom to feel like a hotel but I’ve only every heard anyone say the opposite “I don’t want it feel like a hotle!” i.e. impersonal. But I do love these pictures so thank you for the inspiration. I am currently impatiently waiting for my big pattern moments (curtains) to get finished and installed.
omg I can’t spell, sorry.
HA! It’s different for everyone I guess!
These all look like very nice hotels, which are all out of my budget sadly (would love to stay at Palm Springs one!). The things I like about staying in your own bedroom is personalization, such as art that you chose, your favorite books, family photos. Although I love staying in a nice cozy hotel bed with luxurious sheets. I remember looking up what they used for bedding after staying at a nice Westin once.
I’ve never stayed in any of these either but BOY it sounds fun!
I considered buying the Westin bedding, too. They sold it for awhile at Nordstrom years ago.
I think people also like hotel rooms is they didn’t have to wash the sheets, make the bed and the floor isn’t strewn with dirty clothes. Also, they’re probably on holidays – which makes everything seem better!
Oh my!! I love most of these rooms. Thank you for the inspiration.
I’d love to see a whole post on wall-to-wall carpet done well and how to choose it. We recently bought a townhouse that only allows a certain percentage of hard flooring, I’m sure I am not the only one in this boat!
If you’re willing to dig through the site, Emily did one a looong time ago when they moved into the house in LA that had no backyard (the one before the Tudor they are currently selling). I can’t remember if it was for that house, or a client house she was working on at the same time.
Also, Sarah Richardson is a true believer when it comes to carpet in bedrooms. She always does some kind of tight knit, low pile carpet in her homes. (Berber maybe?) She’s done a number of posts on her blogs over the years, as well as episodes on her various tv shows about why she always put in bedroom carpeting.
Why would I want a seating area in my bedroom? I cannot imagine it being useful. Who’s going to come in and sit in my room and converse with me? No thanks, my room is for sleeping. We can keep the conversation outside in the living areas!
Well, like they say, it’s a great place to put on or take off shoes too. (Except for those of us who don’t want shoes all through the house!) I do think it can be useful as long as there is enough space. There are people who enjoy a cozy chat with their significant other at the beginning or end of the day, but who don’t want to be in bed while having it. Plenty of those people have found that a seating place in the bedroom pleases them more than chatting in the the living room. Others, in relationships or not, find that they like to withdraw in the evening from the public/communal spaces of their home but not go to bed. Having a seating space in the bedroom allows you to do that and read, listen to music, or watch tv without being in bed. Many quieter, introverted people find it relaxing to stay in a “private” room of their home for a few hours before bedtime so that they can unwind and sleep better. Sadly, there often is *not* enough space for a cozy settee or truly comfy chairs, and people are told they can just throw… Read more »
If I had the space, I would absolutely put a reading nook in my bedroom! Since my “home office” is also my living room, it would be so nice to have a space to withdraw to in the evening to do my calming evening routine and read for a while with a cup of tea. I don’t find sitting up in bed to be very comfortable (always fussing with the pillows) and if I read laying down I fall asleep pretty much immediately.
Great post Mallory! And perfect timing for me. I’m working on two bedrooms in my house right now, and for the guest room, I absolutely do want the luxurious, but ultimately, let’s face it, a little impersonal, symmetric, vibe of a hotel. In fact my son just said, looking at it, that it “looks like the cover of the catalogs you get”. I told him that was the desired effect. You want your guests to feel like they scored a free weekend at an awesome boutique hotel when they come and stay with you. BUT, I am also working on our own master bedroom and would LOVE to get away from the formula of: Impressive King Bed+bench+matching nightables+cute rug+symmetric lights=bedroom. Sooooo repetitive and impersonal. My husband argues that you need nightstands, and rooms are set up like that everywhere because it works, but it is just not me–there seems to be so much more freedom in designing other rooms (OK maybe not dining rooms)–why does the bedroom have to be so formulaic? So, a request–would you consider doing a complimentary post/contrasting post on bedrooms that do not resemble hotel rooms–let’s get weird! A little assymetry, rooms that are unique and… Read more »
Oh my goodness, I love this idea!
I also loved all of the rooms in this post SO MUCH but yeah, I’d love to see some weird and asymmetrical design as well!
awesome point. It makes me think about how much the purpose of the bedroom changes as you grow older. I’ll never feel as “at home” as I did in my teenage bedroom. But your totally right — as an adult, the bedroom is the least personal room in the house.
We’ve done matching nightstands, mismatched nightstands, a dresser as a nightstand, and no nightstand (on one side bc my husband didn’t want one for a while). They all worked for us because they were tailored to us: what we wanted or needed at the time. I have never had matching lights, just because I’ve bought them slowly over time so there’s a mix that has a throughline, and that’s been fine as well. I think your husband might benefit from some exposure therapy! Can you show him some amazing bedrooms without super symmetry and matching elements? They are easy to find on instagram these days – some people specialize in the old world collected look or the uber-modern eclectic look. He just needs time to get it as anchored in his mind as the look he is used to already is. Of course, if you get the go ahead, you’ll have to make sure to do it successfully so make sure you understand why the good bedrooms work so you can apply the principles to your room.
Thank you, Mallory. This post is pure gold, very good advice, very practical too.
On blackout curtains: I find them one of the most important things in a hotel room. I cannot sleep if there is light, specially in summertime. Usually boutique hotels or small independent hotels do not care enough for this.
This issueis one of the reasons I prefer chain hotels because you know what to expect at night: darkness. Also, when the sun gets in the bedroom in the evening, (someplaces in Spain there will be sun until 10PM in late june) I need curtains. West facing rooms in summer are horrible if you cannot keep sunlight out.