Many people have had that experience of moving into a new, empty room and thinking, “it’s going to take a heck of a long time to turn this depressingly blank space into a comfortable room that I can call home…
For my wife and I, we can’t help but feel something similar when we stay at hotels and guest houses around the country. Hotels are supposed to be places of optimum relaxation, right? Surely, they should be places that strive to make you feel as comfortable as you do at home. Yet, the vast majority are kept bland and neutral so as to accommodate all different types of people with different tastes and backgrounds. All of this often means that, for us anyway, the place where you want a relaxing night’s sleep is eerily under decorated.
Sure, you aren’t going to be living there, and you will most likely spend a week there at most. Still, if you’ve been there once for work or leisure, chances are you could be there again.
We at Harington’s Hotel in Bath decided we wanted to provide something different from your ordinary hotel and set out to make rooms not blank and characterless but rather a home away from home.
It may look like it takes years to turn a room into a comfortable and homely space but we’ve got tips and tricks to show you how it can be done expediently and at low cost…
Step One: Wallpapering One Wall Well (That’s A Tongue Twister For You!)
The first thing to address in your open space are those nasty big blank walls. However, before you go painting the entire room with a very carefully chosen colour to brighten the space up, you have to consider the magic that wallpaper can produce. When used correctly, wallpaper can really work wonders. The trick is to decorate one wall without windows or doors with a patterned wallpaper of the appropriate strength.
It is important not to go overboard with this. Colours which are too bright or patterns which are too elaborate can be overwhelming, but neutral tones are easier to warm to. With the right colours and pattern, having one of your walls wallpapered takes away the enclosing feel of four big blank walls but isn’t so lively as to overstimulate the eyes. Instead, it provides a wonderful injection of character and class.
Step 2: Books, Books, and More Books.
There is something very magical about books. They are ancient, they are beautiful, and they are also fantastic for decorating. We strongly believe you can never have too many. Not only do they add character, colour, and pattern, but they make a room feel like it’s full of opportunity and variety, with each book offering a different adventure.
A bookshelf possessing a mixture books, plants, and other ornamental decorations is a real winner. Yet books are just as effective in small stacks on a bedside table or desk. The opportunities are endless; they can be organised by colour, size, or author. They can be placed on walls, floors, or furniture. They can be stacked, leaned, or larger, more beautifully designed books can be placed individually. Regardless of how you use books to decorate, they are always magical and meaningful.
They also happen to be one of the cheapest forms of decoration. Books aren’t expensive, old books look just as (if not more!) interesting and characterful as new books and can be bought from charity shops and markets for next to nothing!
Step Three: Let Nature Reign.
If you want to make a room cheerful and accommodating, then you’ve got no choice but to incorporate nature’s finest creations. Plants and flowers are cheap, healthy — and let’s be frank about it — is there anything more beautiful?
They provide a natural fragrance as well as natural beauty but they can also purify the air, de-stress you, and help you sleep. Indoor greenery spices up a room just as effectively as any piece of art. Plants and flowers make a room feel fresh and clean, bringing the room to life wherever they are placed.
Empty corners make for excellent places to put aesthetically pleasing plants, while flowers should take centre stage on tables and stools to flatter furniture and create a presence in empty rooms.
Step Four: Everything in Moderation, Except Cushions.
You’re just never going to turn down another cushion are you? They are not just comfort in a nutshell, but they’re also absolutely great for decorating! Don’t shy away from patterns or colours, lots of cushions of different shades creates a more personal and homely feel to any room.
Step Five: Open The Windows or Bring In The Mirrors
Make sure when organising your room that you’ve considered what’s best for your windows and how to let them flood the room with light to full effect. It’s best to leave a clear path and limit anything cluttering a window. One of the most important things for your room is natural light. Windows work wonders in making rooms feel more open and accommodating, they enlarge any space and open it up to the outside world.
If you don’t have so much window to play with mirrors can be an excellent addition. Reflecting any light while also dominating a wall, mirrors do a great job of lending the impression that there is more space than there is and, with the right one, they are fantastic and majestic decorative items in themselves.
Peter O’Sullivan is the owner of Harington’s Hotel, a vibrant city centre boutique hotel in Bath. Peter and his wife Melissa have lovingly restored this building to create a warm, inviting hotel, complete with a number of personal and historic touches. This boutique hotel in Bath offers both hotel rooms and facilities as well as self-catering apartments.