Hotel designer Kit Kemp on mastering a dream bedroom

Co-founder of Firmdale Hotels, Kit Kemp has designed swoon-worthy schemes for bedrooms

I love to have fabric-lined walls in my bedroom, mainly because they make the space feel tailored as well as cosy. There are several ways of doing this, but if you’re buying your fabric from a specialist, ask them to paper-back it so it’s easy to apply to a wall.

If you have a fabric you love – for me, it usually has a beautiful pattern or a strong weave – use it on the headboard behind the bed. You can then match it to your valance, so that it makes sense in the space. On a practical note, both headboards and valances can get marked easily so always look for a durable fabric.

Whitby Hotel Junior Terrace Suite, photography: Simon Brown.

Find our more about Kit Kemp.

I always choose crisp white for sheets and pillows, adding colour accents with an upholstered chair, cushions, a valance and a headboard. I’ve always liked a slightly higher bed, which is why all the beds in our hotels are almost 70cm high. Once you’ve slept on a high bed, low beds just don’t look or feel right.

If I have a guest chair in the bedroom, I sometimes upholster the top in a contrast leather, such as a really rich cherry pink or a bright vivid yellow. The leather not only adds an interesting accent, but also protects the chair from wear and tear. Another way to introduce colour into your bedroom subtly is by using contrast piping on pillows or cushions. Even if you’re frightened of colour, it makes all the difference.

The Soho Hotel Penthouse Suite, photography: Simon Brown.

I like to add an element of surprise to my bedroom – a mannequin, say – which I’ll upholster in a material that makes an appearance somewhere else in the room. It acts like a piece of sculpture as well as somewhere to hang your coat, your hat or even a piece of jewellery. A detail like this also lends additional character to the bedroom.

The colours you use very much depend on which way your bedroom faces. If it faces north, stick to warmer hues and avoid colours that increase the feeling of coldness. I prefer something neutral on walls. That way, I can add pictures and photographs that personalise my space.

The Knightsbridge Hotel, photography: Simon Brown.

Check out these statement headboards.

Armoires are lovely, but if you’re living on the first or second floor, they’re tricky to manoeuvre into a bedroom. Otherwise, I like built-in wardrobes, and, if you don’t like being surrounded by doors, you can fabric-line them (as well as your walls), so that only the handles are on show.

It’s essential to have a mirror for doing your make-up or drying your hair. Make sure you have a plug in the right place and think big when it comes to the mirror: a large one will help make your bedroom look and feel more spacious. In my experience, a mirror can never be too big!

I absolutely love wooden floors, but I like to add a rug so I feel warmth when my feet hit the floor first thing in the morning. If I do install a carpet, it’s always a loop weave because this looks more contemporary than a velvet.

Charlotte Street Hotel Deluxe Junior, photography: Simon Brown.

Kit Kemp’s latest book, Design Thread (Hardie Grant, £30), is out now.

Find more expert tips on designing the perfect bedroom.

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