Delving deeper than decor to explore the power of home as a path to wellbeing #happyinside

February 16, 2021

Interior Design Masters: Lesson 5

Episode Three: Hotel bedrooms

The brief: an old English Manor house hotel in the Sussex countryside is in need of a complete makeover. Its new owners want it to become a high-end wedding venue for couples looking to spend £15-25,000 on their nuptials. Key is that the rooms appeal not only to the couple and their friends, but also to parents and grandparents. Specifically, they want the revamped bedrooms “to be turned into spaces that people want to post on Instagram”.

A hotel bedroom can be a dream brief. Here is a chance to let fantasy fly and create something truly exotic. When you stay in a hotel you absolutely do not want to be thinking that your bedroom at home is better. Hotels should be about escapism from the mundane. And a wedding hotel especially so. It should be romantic, and a bit unexpected. You should be transporting the guests to a world away from normality. Caveat: never forget the practicalities of maintenance and durability essential for a busy commercial business.

IDM2 Episode 3 Behind the scenes, the tools behind the trades who make it all happen

IDM2 Episode 3 Making hotels. Inadvertent still lives. The tools behind the trades.

The designers worked in two teams of four. One team was given, by the client, the brief “subtle glamour/refined elegance” and the other team had “decadent maximalist”. And yet, although I’d expect them to be open to borrowing ideas from each other, coordination is not the name of the game here. Each bedroom could be an entirely different interpretation of the brief. In fact, I think it’d be a big selling point in a hotel if every room was completely different. The given themes are pretty broad too, so almost anything goes. Except kitsch.

But regardless of aesthetic, I’d expect to see an absolutely show-stoppingly well-dressed and surround-soundesque-decorated bed. By this I mean, literally the dressing of the bed itself — eiderdowns, throw pillows, bolsters or coverlets (being mindful of practicality. This is a hotel not a home) — as well as the immediate area around the bed. Perhaps there could also be a fantastically painted, or even wallpapered ceiling! This could be the element of the unexpected. It’s also the sort of big statement that a hotel room needs, to grab the attention, because sometimes it’s really not about the details first.

IDM2 EPisode 3 Deciding who’s going to be on the sofa.

Interior Design Masters Episode 3: I think I look a bit tense! Always so hard when I have to send someone home.

IDM2 Episode 3 When I said a ‘big’ statement…

Lesson Five: sometimes it’s not about the details

A hotel bedroom is always first seen, loved or loathed, from a singular vantage point, the door. The designers need to stand there and think wow factor. What’s my big ticket move to draw someone in. It’s the equivalent of the little gasp a person makes when they first see their partner all dolled up at the end of the aisle. This is what the designers have to replicate in physical form. Next step, work up and out from here, guiding the eye to slowly take in the rest of the room.

This is why the client request for Instagrammable spaces carries some weight here. (Ordinarily, I’d despair of this ever being given as part of a brief, precisely because spaces are always experienced in constant random motion. The Instagrammation of design can therefore be ridiculously reductive.)

Interior Design Masters Season 1: Frank Newbold’s hotel bedroom. @franknewbold

Interior Design Masters Season 1: Frank Newbold’s hotel bedroom. @franknewbold

Interior Design Masters Season 1: Nicki Bamford-Bowes’ hotel bedroom. @andthentheywentwild

The point is that you use the bed as the inspirational lead, then follow up with consistent attention to detailing across the rest of the room. But here, such smaller details can play second fiddle to that first impression.

However, let me be crystal clear. This is not an excuse to let the details slip! Rather it’s a reminder that if a successful first impact is not made, no-one is going to bother marvelling at the glorious fringing around the lamp-stand.

Interior Design Masters Season 2: designer Charlotte Beevor hard at work creating wall art

Interior Design Masters Season 2: designer Micaela Sharp getting busy with a little trademark upholstery

The other important view the designers need to remain acutely aware of though, is what you see when you wake up. The reverse viewpoint of the bed (this holds true for domestic bedrooms too). The actual placement of the bed is therefore crucial.

The possibly tricky bit is aligning these two potentially competing aims. But then that’s where decoration comes in. Perhaps that amazing wallpaper on the ceiling comes cascading down the wall in front of the bed (the bed’s view), whereas behind the bed, a bold coordinating colour is picked out as a framing backdrop, thus tying it all together.

In short: determine the focus, continue the impact, and wrap the bed like a present. And as always, take your decorative lead both from the given brief, and the context.

IDM2 Episdoe 3 Guest Judge Kit Kemp

This week’s Guest Judge

Kit Kemp is renowned as the founder and creative director of the Firmdale Group of hotels, a group that stretches from London to New York. Exemplifying a look she defines as “English Eccentric”, her hotels have come to epitomise a kind of super up-market eclecticism, rich with her “handwritten and distinctive style”. Whether you like it or not aesthetically, it has to be admired for its panache and especially the incredible quality of every material and detail.

As Kit puts it, “I like my Interiors to capture the imagination. When you leave a room, something should stay with you, making you want to return, if only to recapture the magical spell over again. But most of all, I want a room to last. If it’s lovingly created and beautifully detailed, it will forever be a joy.  Happy moments and treasured memories are integral to our comfort and surroundings.” Hear hear!

IDM2 Episode 3 Guest judge Kit Kemp and Michelle Ogundehin

And finally… Wardrobe notes

Briefing: Alice + Olivia turquoise silk shirt; La Wren Scott silk jacket; See By Chloe blue wool trousers; silver jewelled Jimmy Choo flats (below)

Viewing: Mame Kurogouchi navy wrap jacket; S’ Max Mara navy silk tee; Paige jeans; wedges (above)

Judging: Oscar la Renta vivid pink top; Stella McCartney navy silk trousers, Jimmy Choo pink patent heels.

IDM2 Episode 3 Alan seriously out-jackets me despite pulling out my best vintage La Wren Scott!

IDM2 Episode 3 The director’s eye view

IDM2 Episode 3 Bright pink patent Jimmy Choos, I knew they’d come in useful one day.

Interior Design Masters

IDM2 Episode 3 Channeling Meghan messy bun hair… I was SO happy with this look!

PS If you missed Series One of Interior Design Masters, you can watch it now on Netflix or BBCiPlayer.

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8 replies »

  1. Another fantastic episode, Michelle. Thank you for brightening our greyest lockdown days with such compelling design viewing! I haven’t commented before but was surprised last night that none of the designers looked to Shelly’s writings or travels as starting points for their designs. I wondered if this is something they had been asked not to do off-camera – it seemed like too good a trick to miss!
    Looking forward to next week!
    Best wishes

    • The client specifically posed the two themes of maximalism vs elegant, so I figure they ran with that. Shelly was not writ large over the hotel if you’re alluding to some link there?

  2. Really enjoying the show and as an interior designer, it is great to see a platform that gives a instructive critique, but they’re still not thinking about the client – or the end user! And Michelle, part of the problem is that there is no emphasis on translating their design to the physical space – they prepare the design ahead of seeing the room, but then don’t at all consider what they might need to tweak or adjust. This is a hugely important part of the design process, you mention it every week, but none of them seem to have grasped the value of being able to adapt their initial ideas to what they see before them. Perhaps there should be time built into the pre-recording phases for this lesson to filter through?

    • I think this is Lesson NUmber Six! And yes. Obvious to some, not to many. I think it comes with experience. the experience to stop and stand back long enough to re-asess. To be fair to them though, they’re working unders pressure, with a camera crew, and in this season, also the impact of a pandemic slowing deliveries. That said, this is a 4-month long schedule as it is, so much MUCH longer than many other well-known interiors programmes.

  3. Love your work and latest interior design programme. I look forward to Tuesday evening and reading your write up on Wednesday morning. Thank you!

  4. I love the show and the variety of locations the designers are tackling. Some great ideas being brought to life, some of which I will shamelessly steal for future projects!

    Where there are less successful schemes installed does the production company cover the cost of restoring the room/shop etc to an acceptable state, or is that a risk the owners take in exchange for publicizing their business?

    • I’m afraid I don’t with 100% accuracy know the answer to that question. But my understanding is that the trades stay on for any snagging requested, but if they hate it, I think that’s the risk they take! I don;t think the production company are obliged to put it all back as before. Quite aside from which most of the spaces are in a bit of a state to begin with anyway!

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Writer, Author, Brand Consultant & TV Presenter

Michelle Ogundehin is internationally renowned as an authority on interiors, trends and style. She is an influencer with expertise and the multi award-winning former Editor-in-Chief of ELLE Decoration UK.