Any time I can fit in a trip to Montreal is an exciting opportunity, but this fall I had an especially momentous reason to visit my old hometown: the launch of the brand new Breakfast Television Montreal, an extension of the City family that I have enjoyed working with for years. I hopped on a Porter flight -- always a fun and refined experience -- and headed to the studio bright and early the next morning to inspire viewers with ways to design for a happy home. (Readers outside Montreal can catch the segment here.)
Between this, some beautiful showroom visits and a few other Cityline shoots, the weekend was certainly packed -- design never sleeps! However, every trip away for me is also an opportunity to visit a new boutique hotel, and after visiting Le Germain Calgary earlier this year I was excited to take a look inside the Montreal edition of the growing boutique chain. Because hotel design is all about making guests feel welcome, here are my tips for how to make your guests feel welcome every day -- including the number one guest: you!
1. People often focus on making spaces feel as large as possible, but it's always important to have a space in your home that feels cozy. Le Germain's lobby uses warm, weighty materials like cement (facing out a wall), stone, rich carpets and deep espresso woods to create zones that envelope you.
TIP: Whether it's a bedroom, den, or even your own foyer space, don't be scared to embrace dark, luxurious finishes where you really want you and your guests to feel the most at home. Le Germain hotels are known for their deep gray ceilings -- paint yours Benjamin Moore's 2121-10 Gray for a more enclosed feeling.
2. The hotel's apartment suite uses a large bookcase instead of a media unit to house the television -- this make a perfect compromise for those who can't resist having a TV in the bedroom but don't want it to dominate.
TIP: Choose a tall, open unit with a mix of large and small shelves and drawers (or baskets), and you can house the TV, media equipment, and also display beautiful objects and books to create a total look (with space left over for guests to store their travel essentials).
3. Hotel designers know the power of clean, white surfaces: Le Germain uses a lot of deep rich woods in the bedrooms, but broken up with simple white walls, crisp white bedding and sleek free standing wardrobes in a metallic finish (a contrast from the wood built-ins) for visual breaks and a sense of lightness.
TIP: Switching to all white bedding is the fastest way to make a bedroom feel renewed (your guests especially will appreciate it). For a pure white wall colour free of yellow or blue undertones, I recommend Benjamin Moore's OC-65 Chantilly Lace.
4. A traditional style that Le Germain applies in a modern way is the use of beautiful wood shutters -- it's a more clean and architectural look than black-out drapery. Invest in a quality in-window system rather than inexpensive plastic versions and you'll have them for years.
TIP: To both filter and block light, layer sheer curtains in front of in-window shades and get the best of both worlds.
5. Like its sister hotels, Le Germain Montreal creates a design story from the moment you walk in that connects to each of the spaces. This is achieved by repeating materials (such as that espresso wood) and colour palettes in some way in each interior. Variety is important, but resist the urge to create overwhelming "themes" for bedrooms -- you want your guests to feel at home in your home, and not like they're sleeping in an amusement park.
TIP: When considering your design, look at both the big picture and the finishing touches, and carry your plan throughout. Everything you can see from the wall colour to the bedside alarm clock should add beauty -- eliminate or store everything else.
After a full few days, and another relaxing Porter flight to Toronto Island (enjoying the vintage flair of the attendants' tilted hats -- and the complimentary wine), I was right back to my design studio. To see all the great stories we filmed, keep up with Cityline, 9 a.m. weekdays on City. Until then, I hope you found some inspiration to keep your home welcoming every day -- for all your visitors, and yourself.