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.
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.
Should bed scarves stay or go?
It can sometimes be a challenge for designers to innovate on the guestroom bed, but the general consensus among designers is that bed scarves have run their course.
“We are still using bed scarves, but we want them to go,” said Dale Miller, president and chief creative officer at Daring by Design. “The first thing most guests do when it’s time for them to go to sleep is throw the bed scarf and extra pillows either on the floor, a chair or in a closet. There is usually nowhere else to put them, unless there is a bench at the foot of the bed.”
Gail McCleese, principal at StudioDW, said that while bed scarves are standard in chains, she is hoping higher-tier properties will move away from them due to the constraint their requirement put on designers. McCleese cited the guestrooms in the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City, N.J., as one example where digital prints were used on the top sheet to take the place of a bed scarf.
“Embroidered or digital prints can easily replace a throw or scarf,” McCleese said. “If they are necessary, bed scarves can be positioned at an angle or vertically to give the top sheet some variety.”
McCleese said that consumer tastes will need to change before bed scarves or white bedding officially begin to change in the hotel industry. “We want the bed to still show that it is a clean space and has no pattern, but we want to see lighter tones and more of them,” McCleese said.
Pillows and headboards provide pops of color for the room
Hotels are keeping guestroom beds white as a neutral base for the room, while pillows and headboards provide pops of color.
Gail McCleese, principal at StudioDW, said two-tone fabric pillows are growing in popularity. These pillows often segment one-third of their space into a single color, while the rest of the material is in a different tone. Designs like these are easily achievable now thanks to digital printing.
“Designers can digitize anything, and continuity of design is much more effective using digital printing. It allows designers to be more creative, and has affected every aspect of design,” McCleese said. “Non-upholstered headboards and suede materials are also growing in popularity. There are a lot of germophobe travelers out there, and they like bedding to look clean while a graphic on the wall speaks for the guestroom.”
For pillow designs, Dale Miller, president and chief creative officer at Daring by Design, said that her wish list for 2015 would include more king-size pillows in luxury hotels, as opposed to standard hospitality sizes.
“Most travelers have those pillows at home, and when they meet standard pillows on the road, they are not accustomed to it,” Miller said.
Jennifer Jakelis, design consultant at A-1 Textiles, said that round bolster pillows are not as popular in hospitality as they once were, and hotels are using more square shams, or square pillows with inserts. In fact, A-1 Textiles’ most popular pillow right now is a rectangular pillow that measures 24 inches by 10 inches.
Bed skirts are also getting more design attention in 2015, and hotels are experimenting with bed skirts that wrap around the outside of a bedspring. This lifts the skirt off the ground and protects it from guests’ feet and housekeeping vacuums. Miller also suggested zip-off mattress and pillowcases as an option for hotels that want to accessorize their beds without replacing the entire product.
“Pillowcases in particular are very effective for redecorating, as it is the pillow top that deteriorates over time, not the inside,” Miller said. “That’s a great alternative, and introduces a clever economy of scale to bed design.”