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A Glimpse of What’s Currently Trending in the
Hospitality Interior Design and Décor-scape

By Elaine Williamson, July 2010
Interior design, like fashion, is as an ever-changing industry. Styles, materials, furnishings and décor similarly follow trends and seasons. Good hospitality interior design will provide flexibility and scalability, allowing an Inn, hotel or resort to remain current in its aesthetic in the years ahead. 

Interior design and décor trends change with every season, but with a strategic foundation of baseline elements like furniture and flooring, a property can easily keep up with the trends without sacrificing essential style elements of the space.

Here’s a glimpse of what’s currently trending in the hospitality design and décor-scape:

“Bone-dacious” Furnishings: For the past few decades, designers have purchased furniture that served one particular style purpose for a specific room. This meant that, as soon as the owner or property manager decided to redecorate a space, all new base furnishings had to be purchased. Lately, however, it’s become popular among hospitality interior designers to purchase a quality piece of furniture that has desirable, style transcendent “bones” with the intent to reupholster it as fashions change, rather than simply discarding it when it’s time to update the look of the lobby, hallways, guest rooms and suites, pool/patio area, restaurant, etc.. This trend has resulted in an increase in purchases from domestically-based manufacturers that make quality furnishings built to last. 

Dodge disposable décor. Designers are no longer purchasing one-time use “disposable” décor items, be it furniture, rugs, window treatments and decorative items. Instead, they consider a piece’s re-usability in another future design when considering a purchase. This is the most efficient and cost-effective way to make over a hotel space …now and later.

Color craze: C The world of color has undergone a makeover of late, too, with yellow and gray paving the way. Together, these colors add a level of calm to the feel of a guest room, while still adding eye-catching pops of color. The gray, a rather neutral color, works well as a base color on upholstered furniture, especially when coupled with another hot trend right now - espresso-stained wood. This stain color, which exudes an air of sleek sophistication, is an enduring classic that has realized a surge in popularity. The yellow, best utilized in small bursts, serves as an impactful infusion of excitement in the room. For instance, a yellow throw pillow on a gray sofa can make a stellar statement. 

See the Light:  Lighting is currently making a huge push in the hospitality space .  As the design of table lamps have waned and the marketplace has begun to embrace cleaner lines, pendant and other types of overhead lighting are popular choices for making a major design statement.  Beautiful materials, unique shapes and versatile sizes simply cannot be overlooked.  

Ground Control:   Natural wood floors are also making a major comeback, and as properties ‘go green’ other types of types of natural flooring such as travertine, limestone and honed marbles are in high demand.  Recyclable flooring, either in wood or carpet, is also in fashion.  Therefore, all things natural and recyclable are at the top of the hospitality style scene. I am seeing and using natural gemstones in flooring as well.  Tiger’s Eye, Sodalite, Malachite and Mother of Pearl are just a few of these fabulous new materials being put to creative flooring use at the high end.

Simple swaps = big impact. If you’re searching for a new look for a lobby or other common area, build on the baseline furnishings already installed and switch out accessories like ceiling fixtures, vases, statues,  hanging artwork and other portable items. This allows you to introduce fresh style elements as décor trends change without having to change the entire composition of the space.

Commercial interiors expert Elaine Williamson is the principal of Elaine Williamson Designs - a full service, award-winning firm specializing in high end custom interior design for luxury residences, high rise properties, and commercial establishments.  She may be reached online at

 Marsha Zorn


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