Being very sensitive to spaces, we have long been big on tailoring hotel rooms to our own sensibility and personal feng shui. Photos of the newly renovated Hôtel Baume in Paris made us think of the many strategies we’ve developed over years of traveling to shift the feeling of not-quite-right, often OVER-decorated hotel rooms and make them more comfortable. Where many folks think they have to live with the dictates of the room they find themselves in, we are great believers in improvising on what’s there to make it more comfortable for our minimalist sensibilities. Here are our tricks and tips, with examples:
FIRST: when we arrive in the room, we assess it to see if it is really live-able…for us. We open the curtains and make sure we have a view. If not, we change the room right away. We HAVE to have light and something to look out on, NOT an office building. And we dislike being on a low floor. A simple phone call to the desk person will usually yield a better room.
NEXT, we survey the room to see if it there is something majorly irritating that we would not be able to change, like this busy wallpaper full of Japanses babes at the Hôtel du Pantheon in Paris. It would drive us crazy and be impossible to cover, making the room a complete NOT! Time to change rooms before we settle in.
Here are fixes we make in just about every room:
—collect all the advertising cards and magazines placed around the room and hide them in a drawer.
—hide the throw pillows in the closet
—remove the bedspread to reveal just the white sheet and make the room visually quieter and more neutral. The spread can go under the bed, in the closet, or in some cases, be turned inside-out and used as a cover for something else. We once covered a noisy mini fridge with one.
—hide chochke’s in the closet or a drawer
—take any disagreeable “art” off the walls and stash in the closet or under the bed
—change the placement of the furniture if necessary, shifting the chairs to see the view, moving an unneccesary table out-of-the-way…
—move table lamps to provide better lighting
—The one easy, light, multi-purpose, transformative item we travel with is a big silvery gray pashmina shawl. We can use it to keep ourselves warm when out-and-about OR to drape over a homely chair o headboard.
Now for some examples:
The bedroom, at top, is way too busy for our eye: full of dissonance. But it’s transformable into a rather serene space IF we take down the mirror over the bed head that looks like a bad feather hat. If we couldn’t take that mirror down, we’d cover it. Big white linen pillow shams can do wonders. Then we’d hide throw pillows, vase and spread. Whew! (If we had our druthers, we’d cover the mirrored storage units by the bed with sheets…)
The color palette in the room below is SO lethal, it won’t be easy to tame. We’d do the same thing with this difficult room as in the one at top, removing or covering the busy orange and black headboard, the spread, vase and throw pillows. And we might twirl the diamond-patterned curtains the lining faces out if it’s white or a decent color , or tie them to make them leaner. We’d also think about moving the placement of the chairs so that they form a sitting area, hopefully with a view by a window.
This first thing we’d do in the room below is take down the art. One of those hideous lamps is plenty for lighting. We’d try hiding the second one behind the heavy curtain, or wrapping it, a la Cristo, possibly with the bed spread turned inside out. Or, if there are other table lamps in the room, we’d move one to one of the sofa side tables and hide BOTH of the standing lamps.
This room at Hotel La Belle Juliette in Paris is easy: Remove the pillows and throw and see if we can rig a vase for the flowers. Perhaps take the pictures over the bed down and hide. Just those few changes calmes the room dramatically. It doesn’t look like the bathroom has many surfaces to put our stuff on. We might move on of the bed tables in, covered with a towel for our toiletries.
Our hotel room survival strategies don’t stop at redecorating. Stay-tuned for our tips on setting up a makeshift kitchen.
As resort owner Karin of Dungeness Bay Cottages reminded, the final principal: put everything back (which we always do)!
images via Desire to Inspire