Author Sara Bliss is nothing if not well-traveled. A writer who covers health, beauty, celebrities, inspiring women, travel and design, she is the creator and primary author of the weekly travel and design blog HotelChicBlog.com. Bliss recently took her experiences and worldwide eye for design and distilled them into “Hotel Chic at Home” (The Monacelli Press, 2016) a glossy, 300-page book filled with chic and colorful ideas based on real-life boutique hotels around the world.
The book was partly inspired by the explosion of well-designed hotel spaces around the world. “I think that in the past few years hotels have realized that design is a great way to get people through the door and get people to notice them,” Bliss says. “People don’t like that feeling that you’re in a hotel room that’s going to be the same in Moscow as it is in Miami. I don’t think people like that whole cookie-cutter experience. They like things that are unique.”
Bliss began combing through these well-designed spaces around the world and found that there were many design lessons that could be applied to any room of the house. “What I loved about this book is that they’re so many different designers from all over the world,” she says. “You’re getting such an incredible variety of looks. I think that, no matter what your style is, you’re going to find something that appeals to you in the book.”
Whether you like something that’s more exotic – there are spaces from Marrakesh or funky Boho Parisian spaces – the clean, crisp look of a white room in Mykonos, or even a Victorian hotel filled with vintage furniture pieces, the book certainly delivers on the promise of variety. Bliss organized her book both by room and by design trend, which makes it easy to flip through and find something to like.
“The fun thing was to call out the design ideas that were linked,” she says. “Spaces where they have a lot of patterns, that was one trend. Designing the ceiling was another that I found. There are so many themes that could connect hotels from around the world from a design perspective.”
But even though many of the hotel spaces look lush and luxurious, that doesn’t mean that they necessarily cost a lot of money – a definite plus if you’re looking to copy something for your own home or apartment. “People forget that, for a lot of these small boutique hotels, they’re doing things on a budget,” Bliss says. She points to the Hotel Henriette in Paris. Rather than install headboards, the owner found vintage ceiling tiles and attached groups of them to the wall behind the beds. “It’s a really inexpensive it’s just creative ways of reusing things,” Bliss says.
For people looking for a weekend project – a relatively quick task to tackle in a few days – “Hotel Chic at Home” can easily be used as a sourcebook for creative ideas. Here are a few things that Bliss suggests to bring a bit of luxury travel into your everyday surroundings:
Block Your Colors. “One of the ones that I loved that feels really fresh right now is the color blocking trend,” Bliss says. Color blocking combines two colors together on a single wall. Bliss points to the Chequit on Shelter Island as a great example of how to paint with dark colors. “The thing about dark colors, even though I like dark colors and feature them in the book, is that they can sometimes feel too intense,” she says. “Color blocking makes it feel more playful somehow and it’s a way to use a dark color without it being too intense.”
The Hoxtons painted the bottom portion of their walls elephant gray, and the top part of the wall pink. “If you just had the gray, the room would feel a little too dark, and if you just had the pink the room would feel too girly,” she says. “It’s the combination of a really masculine color with the really feminine color that really works.”
“It’s just paint, just elbow grease,” Bliss says, but it can completely transform the look of a room.
Make Oversized Artwork. The Grace Mykonos in Greece makes use of a single oversized photograph to add impact to an otherwise all-white bedroom. “If you have a decent camera, you can take a picture and get it blown up at Kinkos,” she says, or from an online service like Shutterfly. “There’s something really cool about that because it ends up looking like a window,” she says. “Especially if you’re in a dark space but don’t have a good view, it almost makes the room look like you have a cool view.”
Bring Back the Polaroid. At the Palihotel in West Hollywood, a giant framed collage of more than 400 Polaroid images creates a sense of place. “Basically, they took a Polaroid and took all these cool pictures of the neighborhood,” Bliss says. Some images are abstract and some are really close up. To recreate this look at home, you don’t necessarily need to use a Polaroid – just a home printer.
“I actually did this with my son,” Bliss says. “We walked around our neighborhood and he just took all the pictures. It’s this big piece of custom art that feels really personal. It’s this fun art project that you can do with your kids.”