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).
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