Softgoods design: The call for color

Softgoods in the hotel guestroom are still locked into a white-on-white color scheme in the majority of cases, but designers are looking forward to the day when color makes a comeback. Some designers are slowly working soft colors into the bed and other softgoods, but others are taking different approaches based on hotel flexibility.

Tanya Hendershot, senior project manager at hospitality bedding manufacturer Star Textile, said that consumers like the concept of all-white bed linens as they convey a clean, fresh feeling to the guest, and that first impression can be the main contributor to a guest returning to the property. However, she acknowledged that textured designs can add more depth to the bed. To that end, gray is becoming the new neutral color for softgoods in 2015, taking the place of tans and creams that were found in many rooms.

“Properties will be using the neutral gray tones as a base, then add touches of brilliant colors to accent pieces such as bed scarves or pillows,” Hendershot said.

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A-1 Textiles is experimenting with patterns on the top of guestroom bed sheets, and is offering a new line of sheets that draw inspiration from branch patterns found in nature. “We try to keep everything in classic colors and earth tones,” said Jennifer Jakelis, design consultant for A-1 Textiles. “What I would like to see, as a traveler, is for hotels to have a decorative top sheet rather than a plain top sheet. It presents more of a decorative element to the guestroom.”

According to Dale Miller, president and chief creative officer at Daring by Design, white still acts as the foundation of guestroom bed colors because it is easy to bleach in response to stains. 

Miller said that off-whites and low-color temperatures (such as creams) are gradually coming into play, but only in upscale segments.
One option available to designers, when hotels allow it, is the use of a blanket in a contrasting color, and having it peek out from beneath the top sheet when folded down.

“It’s a clever way of adding color without adding cost,” Miller said. “It’s tougher to add color the lower the segment you go. The lower segments are still stuck on white-on-white, though economy and midrange hotels are adding colors in window treatments and artwork.”

A hotel’s highest ambition for its guestrooms should be to avoid the appearance of being dated. Gail McCleese, principal at StudioDW, said patterns can be risky for this reason, and to make sure any graphics used on beds are easily replaceable if damaged or stolen.
“An accent pillow with a baseball stitch or monogram can be nice, but make sure it isn’t so bespoke that you can’t find another one,” McCleese said.