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Luxury Hotel Designers Spill Their Secrets for Creating Cozy Spaces

February 05, 2021

Looking for some inspiration to redesign a space in your home? These top hotel designers share their best tips.

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Photo: The Hoxton, Chicago

How to Create Hotel-Like Coziness in Your Own Home

You know that feeling when you walk into a really cozy, welcoming hotel? That atmosphere isn’t a mistake—it’s carefully curated by designers and art experts who are intentionally trying to create a space that makes you feel comfortable as soon as you walk in. And you don’t need a hotelier’s budget to recreate it at home. We asked four top experts how they create a sense of home in the hotels they’ve worked for, and how you can do it, too.
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Photo: The Dogfish Inn

Choose Materials That Age Gracefully

Leather, wood and brass can change their appearance pretty dramatically over time, but unlike other materials, they feel lived-in while also aging gracefully and gaining character, says Jou-Yie Chou, a partner at design firm Post Company. Post Company worked on the Dogfish Inn in Lewes, Delaware, started by Dogfish Head Brewery and has also worked on hotels like The Anvil in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Worn leather chairs, stools and couches, wooden accents and textured fabrics convey approachability and a lack of preciousness that can make people feel at ease immediately, Jou-Yie says. “Their guard’s more down, they know they have that permission to be themselves within the environment without fear of breaking something,” he says.

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Photo: The Dogfish Inn

Make Your Decor Make Sense

Jou-Yie suggests choosing decor that makes sense with your surroundings. If you live in the mountains of Wyoming, maybe don’t go for beach vibes, for example. But here at the Dogfish Inn, near the shores of Delaware, hanging a wooden canoe works. Your design “should come from a place that is honest and familiar,” he says. “Have a space that’s actually very functional, as well. There’s an importance to how you use a space versus just how it looks.” Permit your tastes to change and evolve over time, too, so you have a collection of personal artifacts that feels curated rather than purchased at a single moment. “One of the bigger things we try to instill in our projects is that they’re never really finished,” Jou-Yie says. “Over time, as our personal tastes change, as the industry’s tastes shift … that layer of eclecticism and artifacts can grow and evolve. That’s what it keeps it interesting.”

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Photo: The Atticus Hotel / Sionnie LaFollette

Organize Visual Interest

If you’re decorating a large bedroom, painting the walls with a medium tone can cozy it up, says designer Christina Tello, of Tello Interiors, who worked on The Atticus Hotel in McMinnville, Oregon. “The bed is the focal point of the room, so putting the emphasis on that area helps organize visual interest,” she says. “Think special nightstands, maybe a tall headboard or hanging pendant lights above nightstands.” Mix up your lighting between floor and table lamps rather than relying strictly on overheads, she says. Dimmer switches can help you create a warmer vibe.

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