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Creating Personal Retreats At Home & Away: A Surprising Trend In Hospitality Design

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about a “trend” that’s been happening in hospitality design for about the last 10-15 years (is it really a trend if it’s been going on for that long?!). This trend is all about capturing the sense of a residence in a commercial setting, or more specifically making boutique hotels, resorts, and other luxury vacation rental properties feel comfortable and inviting like a beautiful home.


What’s really ironic is that for that same period of time, homeowners have been asking residential interior designers like me to give them homes that feel just like the amazing resort where they just stayed!

Artisanal elements and bespoke furnishings make this luxury resort seating area feel personal instead of commercial and mass-produced.
Hacienda AltaGracia in Costa Rica has a design that effectively reflects the beauty of the natural environment outside while feeling like a well-appointed, warm, inviting personal home.

I’ve noticed these two design trends converging very closely of late. Just look at all the images in this post.

If you didn’t know they were all commercial properties, you’d probably think most (if not all) of them were residential spaces, wouldn’t you? That’s how blurred the lines between commercial hospitality design and residential design have become.


But I love this, in part because when I travel, these are exactly the kinds of accommodations I want to stay in, and also because I recognize that this trend comes from people craving spaces both at home and away that comfort and rejuvenate them.


The comforts of home

In the past, luxury design in commercial hospitality environments often meant a spare, minimal, formal aesthetic (think lots of sleek surfaces and sharp silhouettes). But the truth is neither I nor my clients would ever feel comfortable–let alone relaxed!–in an environment like that. We want layers of texture; artisanal elements; comfortable, bespoke furnishings; and books on the coffee table and bookshelves to make us feel at ease and cozy.


It’s these elements that make a house feel like home and that make a commercial space feel home-like as opposed to mass-produced.


Balancing minimalism with coziness

I believe that–whether it’s your home or a vacation property–a perfect retreat space strikes just the right balance between minimalism and coziness.

Design details like a sculptural lamp, fresh greenery, and a bedside water carafe make this resort guest room feel like home.
Who wouldn’t want to cozy up in a room that looks like this?! (Hacienda AltaGracia Costa Rica)

Most of us crave spaces with open surfaces for a clean and spare aesthetic, but we also want the layers of cozy textures and artifacts mentioned above to evoke a sense of warmth and comfort. Bringing both of these together in balance is the key to nailing the personal retreat aesthetic we’re talking about here.


By relying on elements of European and modern design–which emphasize clean lines, minimalism and organization–then layering in organic textures, textiles, and artisanal elements for added softness and personality, we can walk the tightrope effectively between the two contrasts.


Functionality without clutter

One thing that I think is so inspiring about traveling is simply staying in environments that are clean and uncluttered (without a packed closet in the mix!). It can leave us feeling mentally and emotionally lighter to take a break from all our stuff at home!


While we don’t necessarily need all the functionality of our regular daily lives when we’re on vacation, we do need to be able to get ready in the mornings, maybe get a little work done during the day, and get ready for bed efficiently. By incorporating closed storage and multifunctional furnishings, like cabinets or cupboards that can be opened up to reveal a desk or other workspace, into hospitality accommodations, we can get the functionality we need, then tuck our things away when we’re done.

Organic & artisanal elements

Take another look at the images here. Nothing about any of these spaces feels cookie-cutter, does it? That’s because the designers of these spaces have been very intentional about using handmade textiles, natural materials, and eclectic furnishings. These make any space–whether commercial or residential–feel individual and as if they’ve been collected over time, like a well-curated home.


The use of warm wood tones, cozy textiles, and inviting textures add a personal and curated feel to these spaces, as well. Organic elements like wood, stone, and plants (real or fake) bring in a biophilic note that take the design far out of the realm of mass-produced, depersonalized design.

A hotel room featuring a mix of furniture styles and artisanal elements as well as layers of textures like velvets, woods, and linens nails the trend of commercial hospitality design mirroring the warm, inviting feeling of private homes.
The Wildflower Farms Resort in the Hudson Valley shows the idea of hospitality design reflecting residential design so clearly. It truly looks like staying in someone’s home! So beautiful and cozy.

As the lines between commercial and residential design have become increasingly blurred, luxury travelers and homeowners alike are benefitting from more personal, welcoming retreat spaces both at home and away. No matter where it’s located, a personal retreat should offer us exactly what we need and want–the comforts of home, the functionality we need, and the space we crave to find renewal, relaxation, and rejuvenation.


Do you want your home’s design to look and feel like a vacation retreat? We can help! Contact us here

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