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10 Decorating Tips to Borrow from Hotels

We caught up with Sara Bliss, author of Hotel Chic at Home, to expand on hotels' interior design secrets featured in the January 2018 issue. With five additional tips and even more photos from which to draw inspiration, you'll see why incorporating hotel styles in your own home is the next big thing.

Enticing Textures

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To create a living space you want to linger in, upholster furniture in touchable fabrics. Comfort is key, so plush furniture, wrap-around sofas, upholstered headboards, and enticing fabrics like silk, leather, and velvet invite you to relax and stay awhile. Mohair and velvet are two examples of material that are incredibly resilient and long-wearing, making a chic choice a practical one to boot.


Dark Walls

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Against dark hues like navy, black, and charcoal—everything pops. Sara says paint is the most inexpensive way to transform a space, and she recommends playing with color in fun, clever ways:

Try colorblocking walls, with one color on the bottom third of the walls and another on the top ... Another idea I love is painting built-in bookshelves in a color rather than white. At the American Trade Hotel in Panama, bookshelves feature an orangey-red interior and a dark green exterior. It turns a practical piece into a focal point.


Mood Lighting

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Recessed lighting, reading lamps, and chandeliers help create ambience for a room. The Jerome in Aspen masters atmosphere in their Library Bar, where they couple eclectic light fixtures with a crackling fireplace. As important as lights are for setting the mood, think about how wall colors and furniture will look in different lighting. Sara offers advice on how you can achieve a similar warmth in your own home, saying:

Even if you don't have a roaring fire, you can re-create a similar cozy spirit in a living room with the dark walls, brightly patterned carpet, and lots of cozy sofas and chairs.

Lounge Seating

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We said it once, but we'll say it again: Comfort is key. Not only should the sofas and armchairs be plush, but the furniture should be arranged in such a way that promotes relaxation, such as in a reading nook, or encourages interaction, like in a living room. Along those lines, Sara gives us the scoop on one of her favorite hotels that inspired design in her own home:

JK Place Capri is one of the inspirations for my book and apartment. Designer Michele Bonan creates spaces that ooze glamour, but he never forgets about comfort—his lobbies feature overstuffed sofas, cozy wing chairs, plus cool photographs, sculptures, and books to keep you entertained.

Curated Look

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Don't be afraid to mix styles and materials. Rooms designed with everything new are stale and boring, but throw in a one-of-a-kind vintage find and you create intrigue. We asked Sara to weigh in on some of her favorite materials she likes to see mixed together:

A lot of hotels like the Kimpton Gray in Chicago and the Viceroy Central Park have incorporated wood floors in a herringbone pattern that I can't get enough of. The lobby of the Kimpton Gray features pale oak herringbone floors, brass lighting, and velvet navy curtains. The unexpected contrast of materials makes the room exciting.


Hometown Influence

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You don't have to look to the Big Apple or exotic places overseas to draw inspiration. There are lots of ways to incorporate design ideas from your own hometown. For some Midwest inspiration, Sara says the Graduate Hotel brand is having a moment; renovating hotels in college towns to reflect the same youthful spirit of the city. The best part? This hotel's look is relatively simple to replicate in your home. Sara says:

The Graduate Madison has red leather couches and plaid rugs in the lobby that have a retro college look that could be really fun to crib in a man cave, teen hangout space, or a playroom.

Appropriate Accessories

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Wall hangings, fixtures, and decor make all the difference between a room that feels bland and sterile and one that feels exciting and welcoming. Don't feel the need to collect everything all at once—gradually pull items from online and brick-and-mortar stores as well as treasures you've accumulated during your travels until you find the perfect blend. If you need a place to start, artwork makes a huge impact, particularly on those dark-colored walls mentioned earlier.


Personal Touches

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Even hotels that accommodate thousands of guests a year find ways to add some personal charm to a space, and photographs are a great way to create an intimate, homey setting. Sara describes how she drew inspiration from her favorite detail during her stay at Palihouse West Hollywood:

In each room they took Polaroids of the neighborhood and placed them in a grid and framed them. My 12-year-old son and I re-created it by taking pictures of our neighborhood and placing them in an inexpensive oversized frame from IKEA.

Even hotels that accommodate thousands of guests a year find ways to add some personal charm to a space, and photographs are a great way to create an intimate, homey setting. Sara describes how she drew inspiration from her favorite detail during her stay at Palihouse West Hollywood:

Cheerful Accents

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Bright, colorful accents energize a space and provide great contrast to inky-hued walls or dark-colored furniture. Sara has visited too many hotels to count, but we asked her which one she would choose if she had to live in one. Her response was Malliouhana in Anguilla, due in large part to the cheerful atmosphere:

The design by Todd Avery Lenahan is so cheery and fresh. From the yellow and white striped awnings to the orange ruffled umbrellas by the pool to the floral print curtains in the guest rooms—the whole space feels happy.


Color and Pattern

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All of the hotels featured in the January 2018 issue and in this guide have a couple things in common: fun colors and bold patterns. We asked Sara if she thinks neutrals and minimalism will make its way back into trendy hotel design anytime soon. Here's what she had to say:

The '80s were all about pattern and color—chintz; stripes; heavy, fancy fabrics like brocade. In the '90s, hip hotels were all about the all-white look and it felt really fresh and current compared to the previous trend ... I think the past two decades have really been more about color and pattern, almost as a reaction to the all-white look of the '90s. I am guessing there could be a fresh wave of neutrals and minimalism next, but it will be updated in a way we haven't seen yet.