Design Notes Archive

Tales from the Dark Side

Tales from the Dark Side

Having stayed at a fair amount of hotels over the years, I've developed a love-hate relationship with dramatically dark bathrooms. Take Anouska Hempel's eternally chic Blakes Hotel in South Kensington or Jacques Garcia's sultry Bourg Tibourg in Paris’ arty Marais district. They are two of my favorite hotels and in the evening those dimly lit bathrooms are utterly divine, encouraging near Zen-like relaxation. But in the morning, as The Weeknd might say, I can't see my face. Trying to apply make-up or style one’s hair in the mirror of a dark bathroom is like painting a picture by candlelight - who knows what it'll look like in the light of day? That might work before a night out when the lighting will be equally subdued but not before lunch. Short of switching rooms and in the spirit of winter’s early nightfall, I thought it might be apropos to discuss decorating tips for the bath a noir

  1. Lighten up:The Bourg Tibourg loves a pretty tasseled sconce for emitting the softest glow of light but there are times when the full 120 watts would be nice. Dimmer switches are key for changing the mood from cozy to luminous when the need arises.

    2. Time for reflection:Not in the therapeutic sense but in the surfaces you choose. Think mirrors, high gloss paint, shiny wallpaper. Don't underestimate the power of bouncing what little light there is around the room. Every bit counts!Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.

    3. Window treatments: Unless you have a large space, most of us steer clear from curtains in the bathroom. Matchstick blinds are great for letting in a twinkle of light and we hear House & Garden's Rita Konig loves the selection at Joss Graham

    4. Go big or go home: If you're aiming for the dark and sultry vibe, commit to it. Create a cocoon by going dark on the floors and walls then use a variety of textures to give it depth. 

    5. On the contrary: Whether it’s gleaming polished nickel fittings or a glossy white bathtub plonked in the middle of a dark room, a little contrast goes a long way. Use it to create a focal point or simply to break up your line of sight in the shadowy lair. 

Monika, Editor, Design Notes

Photograph © Blakes Hotel, Bourg Tibourg