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Interior Design Masters - Episode 3 Hotels

Our second challenge on Interior Design Masters was to design a hotel room located in sunny Sussex! This week, the head judge was Michelle Ogundehin and the guest judge was ANOTHER global interiors icon, Kit Kemp!

Judge Michelle said:

"There's moments of real creative genius here, where we see the real Charlotte..."

Judge Kit said:

" There is a magic to the room"

The Sussex Hotel

The Brief

Some of what we were told....

A quintessentially English Manor House set in the heart of the Sussex countryside, offers exclusive hire for weddings, events and corporate functions. Built in 1884, this grand hotel has a rather austere, high baronial style, reputedly a replica in size and shape of the original manor, which was pulled down in 1800.

This imposing hotel set in beautiful grounds, primarily markets itself as wedding venue, where couples can have their wedding ceremony, and host the reception all under one roof. The hotel targets customers aged 25-34 years old with an average budget of £15,000 to £25,000. The venue caters to young couples, but also to their multi-generational wedding guests, who are looking for an occasion to remember.

Upstairs on the first floor, there are 19-ensuite bedrooms, including two bridal suites. Currently stuck in a time warp, the rooms are ripe for a makeover and are in dire need of a designer’s vision to lift them into the present day. The owners want these bedrooms to appeal to brides & grooms and their friends, as well as their parents and grandparents’ generation.

The final designs should consider practicality, maintenance and durability as the hotel is a busy commercial business.

Fire Regulations and Health & Safety.

  • Sofas, seating, bed bases, headboards with foam require the appropriate fire-retardant label.

  • All curtains and blind materials must be fire retardant.

  • Sheet material for bespoke furniture or wall-panelling does not have to fire retardant.

  • The fire heat sensor in each room needs to remain in its current position, unchanged and unaltered.

  • The fire notice and fire door sign need to remain on the back of each door.

Brief 1 - Subtle Glamour

The owners would like bedrooms with refined, elegant designs that evoke a sense of subtle

glamour and understated luxury. The final designs should consider practicality, maintenance and durability as the hotel is a busy commercial business.


  • Refined elegance

  • Subtle glamour

  • Classic interiors

  • Graceful decor

Brief 2 - Maximalist

The owners would like decadent Maximalist designs that evoke a sense of drama and opulence. The final designs should consider practicality, maintenance and durability; the hotel is a busy commercial business.


  • Decadent and opulent

  • Maximalist

  • Striking interiors

  • Contemporary chintz

Each designer was allocated one bedroom from either Brief 1 (Subtle Glamour) or Brief 2 (Maximalist). There were 2 bridal suites (one subtle glamour & one maximalist) and the rest of the rooms were aimed at wedding party guests - this could be anyone from mother of the bride through to your next door neighbour!

I was given the Bridal Suite from Brief 1!

The Bridal Suite

The Finished Room

Ta da!

Here is the final room! The bridal suite was a stonker of a size, and having the same budget as the others rooms made me feel the pressure to think outside of the box. But overall, I was really happy with what I achieved within the time and budget. My favourite comment was from one of the crew when they saw it finished... "Wow Charlotte! It's like Rapunzel's bedroom but in 2020!" - laughed my head off but I think she meant it as a massive compliment so I will take it :)

What did it look like before?

Very dated, and the walls weren't in great condition. Most of the designers chose to repair areas of the old wallpaper and then wallpaper over the top - mainly because if all of the walls crumbled due to the age of the building, there was no way it could have been repaired in two days!

The carpet was garish and extremely old, so I knew a chunk of the budget had to be allocated to replacing it!

Mood board

This was my original mood board for this scheme! I wanted a definite feeling of romance and luxury, but also calmness and serenity. The bridal suite is the hub for a lot of different scenarios, so I felt a responsibility as the designer to cater for everything; from the chaotic excitement of a bridal party's pre-wedding hair & make-up, through the afternoon sips of tea & evening's champagne, to a romantic oasis for the wedding night.

Colour Scheme

I wanted to use subtle tones but in a clever way. The blue colour (with a green tinge) was perfect for the wood work, and using it in this way made the space feel contemporary. It was also my 'something blue!' :) I didn't want the space to feel too 'girly' but wanted to incorporate pink; I used it in small details, such as the picture rail, so it wouldn't be overbearing. I LOVE a good buttery cream, especially combined with white, so I used this combo for the wallpaper and panelling.

Paint Colours:

These three main colours were central to my scheme!

My 'Something Blue' - Farrow and Blue - 'Dix Blue'

Farrow and Ball - 'Pink Ground'

Colour Courage - 'Sable De France'


I got all of my amazing fabrics from Ultimate Fabrics. I'm now based in London, but at the time I was living in Devon - so for any South West folk I would highly recommend! They were so accommodating as I had to select everything in one visit because of time restraints (and there was a LOT of fabric to buy for the look I was going for!).

The curtains were one of the biggest problems to solve. Due to the sheer scale of the window and dressings in the bridal suite, I would have needed around 25 metres of fabric just to make new curtains! The budget and time was so tight that I had to come up with a solution. I decided to keep the curtains, but give them a makeover! I got enough fabric to make multiple white voiles that would cover and soften the gold patterned curtains. I then bought some metallic sage coloured fabric to make dress curtains for either end to add an extra glamorous feel.

Sarah is the absolute best! I budgeted for her to hem all of my voiles and dress fabrics for me, as well as make my cushions and the bed skirt I designed (see later in the blog). I knew the task was MAMMOTH this week and I wouldn't have time to hem anything onsite, so this was 100% the right decision! Plus she makes the best chocolate cake in the world and fed a giant slice to me when I picked them up before heading to Sussex - chocolate cake is the way to my heart! :)


I finished the curtains with a combination of a peach crystal style tie back and oversized tassel!

It all draped beautifully and I am so happy with the result! I designed them to be extra long for a more opulent feel.


Whilst at Ultimate Fabrics the ladies showed me this gorgeous vintage remnant. I thought it would be perfect to use for some of the cushions, piping and upholstery to provide some romantic, William Morris vibes :)

I had these gorgeous cushions made to dress the bed. It's important to distribute print evenly if you are using it sparingly! I used it for the main cushions, piping on the plain cushions and upholstery of my foot stall.

I also bought a single piece of velvet to drape over the bed as an almost floating headboard. We weren't allowed to paint the bed or alter it in any way - the option was to keep as it is or buy a new one! Obviously to get a bed that was bridal suite standard on my budget was crazy, so I opted for dressing it as much as I could with gorgeous fabrics to cut through the dark brown of the wood!

I bought the below stool from a charity shop for £5. It was cream and broken, so I fixed, painted and reupholstered it with the vintage fabric - I think it came out ok! I didn't have time to paint all of the furniture so I replaced the handles with these pretty blue glass knobs.

Bedding Skirt

Of course I had to have a bit of frill! I used this gorgeous peach taffeta to design a contemporary bed skirt. The other designers said it reminded them of the dresses I wear, so I must be at the stage where you dress like your designs?! :)

Bespoke Elements:


The pelmet was my favourite part of my room and hopefully my new signature as I can't wait to design more - I would LOVE to do a whole boutique hotel! I am passionate about bespoke, curated interiors and didn't want to use a straight pelmet as I find them quite harsh. Instead, I drew out this design freehand, and my lovely carpenter cut it out for me - a truly unique shape and so organic, I love it! My decorator then wallpapered it in this soft fat stripe (I LOVE a fat stripe) to match the wall behind. This was the only wall I used the stripe wallpaper on, as I wanted the window to be a feature and frame the view, but soft at the same time.


I actually used wallpaper!

Due to the building being so old, I was terrified to strip the existing wallpaper (and for my room to fall down!) so I opted for a new sturdy Anaglypta paper to go on top. I had the panelling repainted in a rich cream as I love the contrast between whites and creams, rather than going for all of one. I painted most of my wood work and doors this gorgeous blue colour. The blue had a lot of green in it, so felt really calming and fresh in the space - not sickly sweet. The dark brown window frame out to the balcony got painted in this too, and I just think it framed the view perfectly.

Here you can see the two contrasting wallpapers: the anaglypta and stripe! I tied the space together with a soft, pink ground picture rail (in line with the top of the blue doors). I think it worked really well in using a slightly different colour to the panelling.

Decorative Elements

The existing wardrobe was dark brown mahogany, so I had this painted white and bought a selection of roses (shown above) from Orac (use code CharB15 to get 15%off!) to be nailed to the middle section. I think this idea helped tie this large piece of furniture in with the rest of the room and gave it a new lease of life! The hotel had sooo much brown furniture, I wanted to give the owner ideas of how to revamp existing pieces rather than send them all to landfill. It would definitely be worth while getting it all professionally sprayed!

Poem Artwork

I'm a really sentimental person and I try to bring that through into my interior design work. I love using heirlooms, whether thats furniture, glassware or artwork, as a starting point to my schemes.

It wasn't appropriate for me to create a large canvas for this week's 'bespoke artwork' element, but I knew the hotel would have a lot of interesting heritage for me to delve into for inspiration! After some initial research, I discovered that the hotel (Highley Manor) had once been the home of the revered, Romantic poet Percy Shelley in the early 19th Century. This was perfect. I loved reading about the property's history, and coupled with the romantic elements, it became a natural choice to incorporate one of Shelley's poems into the bridal suite. I chose 'Love's Philosophy' and designed the colours and border to match my scheme before framing the piece to hang above the dresser.

"...Nothing in the world is single;

All things by a law divine

In one spirit meet and mingle.

Why not I with thine? -"

Metal Roses

Part of the brief was to incorporate 'Instagrammable' areas within the room that would make great photo spots or interesting back drops for the wedding photographer. I had an idea of creating metal 'roses' and making a wall cluster of them for the bridal suite. I bought a bundle of cheap, metal lampshades in a corrugated-style to experiment with. My carpenters aided me in drawing and cutting around the edges with a power tool, before moulding or hammering them into an abstract petal shape. When moulding, I applied pressure from the opposite side of the metal using my stomach, and developed a few fine bruises along the way! I added paint to them and used the same decorative flowers that were on my wardrobe to finish them off. Upon completion, the roses had actually nearly finished ME off - I head butted them right at the end of install as I was rushing around and had to be assessed by the medic for concussion! It was all fine in the end, and we all sat down to enjoy the views outside :)

Painted Furniture

I had BIG plans to paint all of the furniture in the bridal suite, but the room ended up being so large that I had to forfeit some of my ideas. I refused to cancel all my painting plans however, so I managed to squeeze in a few key pieces!

Bespoke Shelf

I cut up and old piece of furniture from the hotel and designed this shaped shelf from it to hold tea and coffee. It was painted and styled with this beautiful tea set I bought from a charity shop!


I think I painted this full length mirror in about 5 minutes!!......


....and this dresser in about 3 minutes!!



I'm so proud of this chaise :) I bought it on Facebook marketplace for £20! I wanted a statement piece to sit at the bottom of the four poster so this shape was perfect. It was painted in Dix Blue (the same as my woodwork) and I reupholstered it on site with the same fabric as my dress curtains. I wouldn't have any of these upholstery skills if it wasn't for Micaela teaching me in offices week! I also reupholstered 2 chairs for the tea/champagne seating area and added the really pretty green trim (shown below).

All Dunelm Haberdashery!


Lighting is integral for the bridal suite. It has to be warm, romantic, grand, and eye catching, so let's face it - it's normally a chandelier! I wanted to create the same grandeur you would get from a chandelier, but with a modern twist. I selected a variety of ceiling roses from Orac Decor (use code CharB15 to get 15%off!) in a range of sizes, which went on really easily as they didn't require the centres to be removed for light fitting. I then bought a spider light as this was the most budget friendly light I could purchase for the desired look I was going for. My electrician this week was an absolute saint as I specifically wanted each bulb of the spider light to be placed within the gaps of the ceiling roses, and at different heights! He even spotted me whilst I plaited the top of the wires to tidy it up a bit - if you look really closely you can see a loose plait.

The only rose requiring adjusting was the large central one that needed to have the light fitting attached.


Flooring was another potentially massive hole in the budget, so in a similar way to the curtain strategy, I had to think outside of the box. We were told carpet fitters had to come out of our budget in addition to everything else, so my first thought can I avoid getting a carpet fitter and paying shipping costs?! Answer: I'll pick some carpet up and fit it myself - so thats what I set out to achieve!

I travelled down to Cornwall (as this was my last week in Devon before moving to London) and visited Trago Mills. I HAD to get a piece of carpet that was the right size, a suitable colour and would fit in the van, and I wasn't leaving until I got one!

After a lot of searching and thinking 'oh god this isn't going to work' I came across this soft, sage beauty! Luckily for me it wasn't a very popular colour, but I thought it would be perfect for the bridal suite as I wanted an alternative to light grey! I could only get it in a certain width (about 1m shy of the width of the bridal suite, so had to think of ideas for the edging and what would be exposed...

My plan was to pull up the carpet in the bridal suite and then ask my carpenter to sand around the edges of the room first thing, so that the edges could be re-stained dark brown to fit more suitably with the brown bits of furniture.

That was the plan for the floorboards, but I still had to solve the problem of the edging of the actual carpet as I couldn't leave it raw! I was inspired by my cushions, and thought there must be something that is the carpet equivalent of piping?! Thats when I discovered Easybind! It worked a treat and I was really pleased with the result. I used a dark green so it was a bit softer that black, but was still a noticably tidy edge!

Jeez that was a long one, congrats if you got to the end! :)

It has been so lovely to see that Highley Manor have kept my design and used it as inspiration around the hotel :) Here are some pictures from a recent shoot they have done all shot by Barry and Nicola Photography.

How exciting :)

See you in shops week!

Charlotte xoxo

What could have been.....

I hope you enjoyed the episode! If you are interested in my design for the Maximalist brief I could have been given...have a look below:

We had to create a board for both briefs as no one knew who would go home, and production had to keep a slight flexibility with the teams.

I really enjoyed designing the bridal suite as I love curating creative subtleties, alongside more bolder designs, but sadly we only got to deliver one of the briefs. I think most of us who received the subtle glamour brief would have loved to put our spin on the maximalist brief and vice versa!

My maximalist design involved classic leopard print carpet, illustrative details on a variety of objects and some good colour - obvs! :) Manifesting this room design for another hotel project! :)

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