Travel tastes are changing and interior design firms are evolving to keep up with modern-day trends. As more guests seek the comforts of home on the road, hotels are incorporating aspects of residential design into both guestrooms and public spaces to create a sense of familiarity and warmth.
“We have a residential division, so we are in a very unique position to see how things bleed back and forth,” says Lisa Simeone, principal and owner of Simeone Deary Design Group. “Many of our hotel clients want a very residential feel. We’re seeing that across the board from the brands to the boutiques. It’s a great position for a designer because you start to think out of the box.”
Simeone says that designers looking to incorporate residential style into hotel projects need to focus on small details to pull off the look. “It can be a more graceful turn on the leg of a chair, or a welting of a fabric that’s different from the rest of the piece,” she says. “The smaller, little details from a residential client are also appreciated by a hotel guest.”
Christiane Kaalund, partner for HBA International Los Angeles, explains that when designing a hotel guestroom with a residential feel in mind, all built-in furniture pieces should be completely removed and replaced with free-standing items. Creating separate spaces, such as a cozy nook with a lounge chair and a floor lamp, also gives guests a home-y place to read and relax.
In public areas, explains Kaalund, choosing the right furniture is key to getting away from the big-box look. “Selecting the right type of furniture is a key element in getting a residential look and a variety of styles is necessary to create the desired effect,” she says. “For example, a sea of same-style chairs looks commercial, but creating smaller seating groups with intimate lighting will do the trick.”
Although the costs of residential design and furnishings are often higher than those associated with commercial projects, Simeone explains that technology is getting better and making it easier to create a more detailed residential look for less. She recommends that hotel design teams work directly with traditional residential suppliers to see if they can create similar products in a commercial grade.
“There’s such a concern about longevity when you have thousands of people going through hotel rooms,” she says. “But if you work a little harder with the vendors, to get that level of detail, I believe it can be done.”