|By Audra D.S. Burch, The Miami
HeraldMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Sep. 7, 2008 -- For years, the hotel-at-home trend was the domain of hipsters who blurred the lines between destinations and domicile.
But now the swell of accessible, stylish hotels -- dazzling palaces built upon the commodity of cool -- has demystified the design world for homeowners. Those with an appreciation for design are flocking to hotels for cues. And more: modern Wenge furniture, luxury bedding, candles, even the mood music can now be taken home.
"Hotels are one of the best places to see the work of many top contemporary designers," says Jennifer Rubell, co-owner of the Albion Hotel in Miami Beach, who remembers countless guests stopping her to ask where they could purchase the bedding and furnishings. "Hotels are so inspiring because they are finished and you can actually live in them. You can actually see why the nightstand on one side of the bed and desk on the other side works."
The places where we used to pay to stay have evolved into pop cultural rock stars. They represent a particular pedigreed lifestyle with sophisticated rooms and sexy lobbies that explode with beautiful people and furnishings. Such hotels are inspiring homes, serving as the template for how to blend clean lines, color and often a bit of wit.
And hotels, by design, can be test driven. Now, martinis or Cosmos in the swank lobby bar or a night's stay at one your favorite hotels goes a long way toward designing your interior.
Truth is, some of the greatest home trends over the decade are rooted in hotels, most notably the white, ethereal chic movement ushered in by the Delano in the mid-1990s.
This sleek temple, Ian Schrager-owned, Philippe Starck-blessed, was awash in endless billowing white curtains, larger-than-life, mismatched furnishings and an endless stream of stars, starmakers and stargazers.
When it famously opened in the summer of 1995, The New York Times asked, " . . . what's all that weird furniture doing together -- chairs by Charles Eames, Tom Dixon, Salvador Dali and Antoni Gaudi; African stools, and good old Chippendale -- standing cheek by jowl like new friends checking each other out?"
Two years later, InStyle mag called the Delano the coolest hotel in America.
Headlines aside, Schrager and Starck's genius captured a moment in design, influencing a generation of hotels and hotel-goers, and by extension, homes.
Fast forward nearly 20 years and Missoni's vibrant signature zigzag pattern will take center stage in the Italian designer's first boutique hotels set to open in Kuwait later this year. Already the famous look can be had at home goods stores.
Today, homeowners are reinterpreting the urban sophistication of the Hotel Gansevoort, the soothing Asian aesthetic of the Setai and the muted earth hues of the W Hotel, among the most copied (a location on Collins Avenue opens next year).
"Today's boutique hotels are quite special," says interior designer Susan Stockton, owner of London By Design in Thiensville, Wis. "They offer a wonderful mood, an almost Zenlike feel. When we come home at the end of a busy day, it would be nice to come home to something like that."
Because designers understand the power, the magic of good design, delivering spaces that allow visitors to rest and re-charge in luxury.
Hotels and homes are inextricably linked: the best lodges are looking to offer the feel-good spirit of a residence; guests are looking to bottle the sense of luxe and escapism.
Among the enduring elements of modern hotel style in the bedroom: contrasting dark wood paired with white or light neutral bedding; sharp-angled furniture lines mixed with soft pillows; metal accent lamps paired with organic art; oversized headboards and, if space permits, a sitting area.
"It's a simple formula," interior designer Erinn Valencich of Omniarte Design in Los Angeles says. "It's the contrast that provides the pop."
Valencich also offers do-it-yourselfers a don't list: floral prints, bright colors, window dressings that match the bedding or complete sets of anything.
"When everything matches, that's too boring," she says. "You need the contrasts."
Clutter, too, is a no-no.
"We all have collected so much stuff in our lives. Everywhere you turn, there's more of it," Stockton says. "But the clean, almost spare look that is associated with hotel style provides a relief from all of that. It's quite soothing to be free of it."
Hotel chains, for their part, have facilitated the short path to the home, forging a cottage industry selling just about anything in a room not nailed down.
In 2000, the W Hotel franchise launched a home catalog and website (www.whotelsthestore.com) that features a range of home furnishings, including a $170 cashmere pillow set, $90 silver bark vases and $380 cork stools. The Kimpton Hotel Group, which boasts "Every hotel tells a story," sells its wares online (www.kimptonstyle.com.) The Westin chain, famous for its Heavenly Beds, sells the ensembles, including a pillow-top mattress and 230-count sheets starting at $2,570 on its website (www.westin-hotelsathome.com).
Another website, Hotel Down Pillows (hoteldownpillows.com), sells plump pillows found at major hotels, including Ritz-Carltons, Marriotts and Hiltons.
On the retail side, shelves are stocked with plenty of hotel-inspired bedding. Macy's offers Hotel Collection and Bloomingdale's has the Hudson Park bedding series. Some specialty linen stores offer sheets with thread counts up to 1,000.
"Practically speaking, high-quality sheets can help you get a better night's sleep because they are softer and more comfortable," says Michele Casper, spokeswoman for Lands' End, a national retailer. "But we also are seeing the bedroom as a place to splurge, and what better way than in a set of sheets that envelop you all night long?"
The layers and layers of sumptuous linens that promise blissful sleep are de rigueur in fine hotels. Designers describe the luxury bedding as sexy, dramatic and a bit indulgent.
Says Valencich: "It's about the whole experience."
And we didn't even have to travel to get there.
Miami Herald wire services supplemented this report.
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