Elements of fabric and upholstery in interior design of a guest room

With hotels keeping housekeeping issues simplier, stocks easier to maintain, lesser cost in drycleaning, there has been a sea change in the ‘dressing’ of the hotel bed in four-star business hotels and some five-star hotels too. This means that there are no more bedcovers and lesser ‘decorative’ pillow covers. This leaves the designer with fewer fabric elements in the room. The decent of the carpet and the popularity of wooden floor (whether laminated, engineered wood or hard wood) leads to another soft element removal in the room. The soft element are any fabric , carpet or upholstery which act as a contra to hard surface elements (wood ,wall , floor surfaces) in terms of visual appeal and sound absorption. This removal of carpet therefore poses the challenges of soft elements to “soften “ the room . the challenges to the designer are follows :

The challenges faced by the designer are as follows:

Fabric/upholstery brings colour and warmth to the room.

However, this can still be achieved by choosing the soft elements carefully. The removal of the bedcover brought about a new trend of runners, these could be played with interesting colours, bright colours or an accent colour (a colour element that may not be in the family of colours in the room and therefore becomes a striking difference which is noticed and pleasing to the eye, if chosen cleverly).

Further, runners became elements of ethnic creativity: bringing in the ethnic or cultural feel of the city through the fabric in an otherwise modern/contemporary styled business hotel. Similarly, this ethnic element can be taken on the cushion cover or armchair/sofa upholstery in the room as a theme in the fabric (one has to be careful not to be overbearing if used in all the upholstery). Coming back to the runner, further innovation has been brought in by making the runner a second blanket. This works by folding it at the end of the bed which adds colour to the bed and which the guest can choose to fold out and cover as a blanket. This of course would work during the winter months and an extra blanket is needed.

Other designs of the runner have been left to the imagination of the designer and variety in widths has occurred. Some draping the bed entirely to the floor with tassels at the end (but should not drape the floor else the guest may trip) and others being in a double tone so that housekeeping could change the look of the room by flipping over the runner. This innovation could also be used in the decorative cushions on the bed. Since decorative pillow covers left with decorative bedcovers, two square cushions or two long cushions add colour to the white bed linen. The upholstery of the cushions add colour to the room and interesting fabric designs can be used again as a theme of the city /culture or simply to add the accent colours in the room. The number of cushions and colour combinations (not more than two) can be chosen according to the star category. A business hotel would have two cushions but a five-star deluxe hotel may even have four or five. This could then add to the creativity of the designer by having two large cushions, two small and one long bolster.

The duvet of the bed which is mostly white can be chosen with lovely self patterns. In fact in a project designed by TID, the duvet cover was specially commissioned to have two colours so that when the duvet folds at the top, a different colour shade is seen ,making the room live and adding colour.

Other soft elements in the room in absence of the carpet are rugs or runners. This again can vary in size depending on the room layout, the size of the room and the star category of the hotel. Five-star deluxe categories would still have a large carpet under the bed (on a wooden floor) so that the carpet comes out from three sides of the bed and the guest gets off onto the carpet.

A design feature would be to have the carpet at the end of the bed and coming out from under the bed to give a feel of softness and colour when the guest enters the room. The practical runner or rug is on either side of the bed where the guest gets off the bed. A resort will have at its minimum a rug at the end of the bed (but not under) to add some basic element of warmth. These would have to be chosen which are easily maintained as in sandy places constant washing would be required.

Of course where the room is carpeted, the colour and patterns would come out in the design of the carpet. Hereto the designer should choose carefully. If the pattern is too dark or busy in a small room, it would make the room look smaller. Light colours offset well with dark wood furniture but maintaining it will be a nightmare. A carpet that is too dark is overbearing and takes the attention away from other elements in the room.

A Case Study: TID was brought in to change the look of the room in a Greenfield project where all the woodwork was done but due to the change of operator and the overuse of the wood in the room, making it look heavy, the owner had to change the look of the room with certain guidelines. The following solutions were given by TID to soften the room and also follow the specifications of the operator: headboard lightened by adding an off-white leatherite back, colour of armchair chosen as a neutral off-white colour. Carpet changed from a dark, heavily patterned one to a line pattern with beige tones thus matching the family of earthy colours, yet being lighter than the wooden furniture and making the room look longer with the stripes running the length of the room. Curtain fabric colour changed again to neutral earthy tones but with touch of silk to add to the luxury feel of the room. Accent cushion given on the armchair since the operator specifications did not allow any runner or cushions on the bed, only white duvet and pillow covers.

Furniture was also lightened by adding off-white duco paint on some of the wood elements.

Finally, a long and bright coloured artwork over the bed to complete the picture!

Of course, lighting was improved for the overall ambience and to cater to the guest’s practical requirements

Other upholstery in the room is on the armchair/ottoman or sofa. While the study chair is most often an ergonomic office chair, at times a comfortable straight back chair is also used. In case of the armchair, the colour should match the overall family of upholstery colours in the room that is with the cushion, runner and the curtain or carpet, if any. Again the upholstery could be subtle as a background colour if the runner/cushions are brighter or more attention-seeking elements. Or the armchair could be the brighter / darker colour if the furniture woods (laminate/veneer) are lighter in shade. Mostly, the colour of the room is brought about by the fabric in these pieces of furniture as well as the curtain which is the maximum expanse of the room. The main curtain and sheer (if used) can be the deciding family colours and actually bring out the whole beauty of the room colour scheme. Or again, it could be a neutral ‘background’ colour for the main curtain and off-white or white for the sheer if there are other stronger elements in the room like decorative wallpaper, an accent colour paint on the wall, a larger headboard or patterned headboard which has the stonger dominating colour in the room.

The play with upholstery and fabric can be very interesting in the overall design in the room and can often be the deciding factor in the overall look and feel of the space.

It also becomes the easiest form of renovation to change only the upholstery to ‘spruce’ up the room or give it a fresh look in case where the room decor colour scheme is uplifted by the fabric. This becomes an inexpensive way to renovate the room in a few years and yet keep the guests happy that the hotel upkeep has taken place.

The author of the article is Ritu Bhatia Kler, MD, Total Integrated Design (India) Pvt Ltd. She can be reached at ritu@tidindia.com

Picture location: Radisson Resort Temple Bay Mamallapuram

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