Thanks to a jet-setting dad, Patrick Sutton was exposed to luxurious hotels all over the world at a young age. Now he designs them himself. He shares some of his top tips for creating the best bedroom.
Patrick Sutton is a Baltimore-based interior designer of luxury hotels, world-class restaurants, and reimagined private homes. His inspiring book, “Storied Interiors: The Designs of Patrick Sutton and the Stories That Shaped Them,” reflects the influence of his father, Horace Sutton, a renowned travel writer who often took his family along with him on trips.
Patrick was steeped in the majesty of the world’s most beautiful and bewitching places from an early age. This luxe world travel as a child, created sensory memories that influenced and informed Patrick’s interior design aesthetic. Today his passion is guiding others toward creating beauty in our surroundings.
He shares his advice on how to create the best bedroom—with hotel-like luxury that invites incredible sleep in your home every night.
Sleep.com: So, how did you sleep last night?
Patrick Sutton: Very well. My wife and I live in a townhouse overlooking the harbor in Baltimore’s historic district, with dappled light on the water and the lights of the city. Our bedroom faces east, so there is no escaping the sunlight when it’s six in the morning.
Back when things were normal, we were getting up bright-eyed and bushy tailed. I’d shower and head off to the office. Now we’ve moved into our guest bedroom with a big, squishy bed and down feather pillows. It’s like a big hug.
We started sleeping there, since the sun doesn’t wake us up. I get up later and start work on my computer in my pajamas. I think one tends to look for a deeper, more quality sleep now to feel healthier and more energized. The idea of sanctuary has become more important than ever.
How can the rest of us get that kind of sleep?
I recommend shutting out the light in the bedroom. Believe it or not, it’s very distracting, even if you’re not light-sensitive. I use an app called Calm on a mini Bose player and put on nature sounds—the gentle babbling of a brook, distant thunderstorms, wind through the trees—which I find incredibly relaxing and soothing.
Tell us about your bed
What works for us is a firm mattress and two inches of pillowtop so you’re going to be supported and not waking up with a backache. The pillowtop acts as a negotiator between your body and your mattress.
There is nothing worse than buying a cheap mattress. We flip it around about once a year, but you still have to change your mattress from time to time when it starts to wear out and get lumps. It’s the same thing with your pillows. Some people are lying on flat pancakes and don’t change them for eight years. I’ve heard you can throw pillows in a dryer with tennis balls to re-fluff them, but I haven’t done that.
What kind of pillows do you look for?
I don’t like sleeping on contoured pillows. I feel like I’m being smothered. I like having something squishy on the bottom and one that’s a little firmer on top. The bottom pillow is faux down—the best synthetic you can get. Some people are allergic to feathers, but we like a feather pillow on top that’s softer and lighter and airier.
Is it true that your dad was the person who coined the term “jet lag?”
He did. My father was one of the pioneers in transatlantic travel journalism after World War II. As a little boy, my memories are of luxury rooms in the Hotel de Crillon in Paris and the Villa d’Este on Lake Como, just sinking into these beds that were so opulently layered with softness.
Have you been able to recreate that hotel experience in your home?
It’s funny. We designed the Sagamore Pendry Hotel in Baltimore in 2018, and for my wife’s birthday we did a staycation there. It’s pet-friendly so we brought our dog, and that bed was so unbelievable, with big, fluffy, down bedding. We slept until 9:30 in the morning, and even the dog didn’t want to get out of bed.
What they did was a mattress, pillowtop, sheeting, and a super-soft duvet in the same sheeting materials, multiple pillows you could stack behind your head, complete blackout, no light pollution whatsoever, so you have no idea what time it is when you wake up.
You sound like you’re in good spirits?
We’re quite busy with some high-profile design projects. People are looking around their homes and saying, “We’ve got to fix this.” They want to invest in the quality of their environments.
Although there’s an uneasiness about what’s going on in the world, there’s a certain beauty in the pause. The slowing down has hidden benefits. With all the unknowns and things you can’t control, you can create an environment in your bed chamber that touches on the comfort you felt as a child in your mother’s arms, taking you back to a place where you knew you were safe.
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