During her years as Design Director of boutique hotel brand, Firmdale Hotels, Kit Kemp has designed hundreds of bedrooms and her room schemes are a good place to start if you are seeking inspiration for your own bedroom. Here she guides us through some of the key things to think about. 

Story by Kara O’Reilly

First things first: look at the aspect of the room and think about what you want to achieve with the space. It’s always a good idea to make a scrapbook of pictures of rooms that you love; once you put a few together, you will see they tell a story – whether it’s that you like Turkish rugs or that you prefer more architectural clean lines. Rooms should tell a story and look like they have been put together over time.

The walls: I like to fabric-line bedroom walls. It gives a tailored, yet more comforting feel than paint or wallpaper and actually lasts very well. You can paper-back nearly every fabric, or even get it padded behind.

Windows: you don’t want to take light away from a room, so I try to keep window treatments simple. Remember that most light in a bedroom comes in through the top of the window. I hate net curtains, so if you need privacy, use roller blinds which you can then team with curtains.

Lights etc: lighting is so important. I put everything on dimmer switches – you want bedrooms to feel cosy in the evenings. Try to choose lights and lampshades that allow a soft golden glow through them, it creates a much more romantic feel. I always have overhead lights – because there are times when you do want to check whether your tights are actually black or navy – however I don’t actually use them often, so I try to make them decorative pieces, such as a chandelier. When choosing table lights, try to think of them as sculptures, that way they will look good both off and on. Make sure you have enough sockets for everything, from bedside lights to hairdryers and phone chargers.


A bedroom in Firmdale Hotel’s New York outpost, Crosby Street Hotel. Have a similar oversized upholstered headboard made to order by

Storage: I like storage to disappear, so I tend to take mouldings off cupboard doors and cover them in the same fabric or paper as the rest of the room. It looks smart and prevents lots of doors dominating the room. I don’t like things on every surface, so plenty of deep drawers for putting away items such as hairdryers or make-up are essential. But I don’t like the whole space to look too modular, and my absolute no-no is those wrap-round built-in laminate storage systems that take over whole walls.

The bed: I like to make the most of the bed, so I tend to choose high beds that you have to climb into, teamed with a high headboard. It can take a bit of getting used to and you will need a deeper valance, but it has the benefit of being able to hide storage under or in the bed base if you are tight for room. There plenty of great companies now, such as The Dormy House, that will make upholstered headboards to order.

Comfort: Rooms should be well used, so make sure they work. Try to have a comfortable armchair with a good reading light beside it where you can read a newspaper or book – or even just throw your clothes. A footstool at the end of the bed is useful for sitting on to pull on socks and shoes.

Pattern: if you are not confident about colour or prints, a simple rule of thumb is to keep the outside of the room – the curtains and walls, for example – plainer and add in pattern with smaller items such as an upholstered chair or a few cushions.

Accessorise with white: white lamp bases and white picture frames freshen up a bedroom. They work particularly well if used as a contrast within a room that is very cosy or decorated with bold patterns. And there is nothing like gorgeous white bed linen – I love Frette, Volga Linen and Designers Guild.


A super stylish bedroom at Firmdale’s latest opening, Ham Yard Hotel

Quick fix: if you can only do one thing, change the carpet or rug. A lighter carpet instantly freshens up a room and the master bedroom is one of the few rooms in a house that you can use a lighter colour and a thicker pile. I go for a berber or loop-pile wool over velvet-pile. You can’t beat John Lewis for a good range.

Small things matter: the devil really is in the detail and it is the smallest things that capture the imagination and make a room interesting: the piping on a chair, the gathers in the curtains, the way the pictures are hung, the buttons on an ottoman being in a contrasting colour…

The latest Firmdale opening is Ham Yard Hotel, 1 Ham Yard, London W1D 7DT (020 3642 2000)

Most Read