Shona Bates of HouseHow


Professional interior designer and home stager, Shona Bates is a consultant of HouseWow the UK’s leading property styling network of interior designers and property staging experts.

Covering the Dorset area for HouseWow, Shona handles interior (and exterior) renovations for residential properties and boutique hotels, including décor concepts and space planning.  She also styles and furnishes show homes and advises homeowners and commercial business on how to best present their properties for sale, to rent or to achieve market advantage.  

Here she provides us advice on how to best present bed & breakfast accommodation to maximise interest, add value and stand out.  .



B&B’s like any hotel accommodation need to present themselves in the best possible light to capture the consumers’ interest, secure bookings and command higher prices.  



Whether a B&B, country house hotel or large chain, the comfort and style of the bedrooms and bathrooms is critical.       

Most important is a very good quality bed and mattress.  Upholstered divan beds with matching upholstered headboards offer glamour and cosiness.   Zip and link beds allow for flexibility of guest accommodation although contemporary four posters (no fabric swags!) provide wow factor and are excellent for a room that may be marketed as a premium suite.  

Furniture should be smart and functional – no chipboard round tables with cloths over. Wardrobes are better built-in – with drawers and shelves within – unless they are attractive pieces of furniture in their own right with a matching chest of drawers and dressing table.

TVs look best wall mounted with cables recessed into the wall.  Mirror TV’s are a personal favourite of mine for their dual functionality.

Ideally rooms will include comfort seating – a boudoir chair, chaise or a table and two chairs if space allows. 



Each bedroom and bathroom requires task lighting, and accent lighting for ambience.  In bedrooms, bedside lights are best wall mounted, ideally with a flexible arm reading light. Wall lights should be situated each side of a dressing table mirror and built in wardrobes incorporate lighting within.  In bathrooms there needs to be lighting above the shower and WC, and either wall lights each side of the basin mirror or a spotlight directly above the basin.

Floor lamps, table lamps, wall lamps and pendant lighting should all be included in a lounge area, while dining rooms should feature wall lights and pendant lights.



Stay away from fashionable looks and finishes which will date.  Opt for neutral and calm colourways combined with a variety of textures for sophisticated boutique bedroom schemes.  The use of subtle darker shades can actually be very effective in creating a warm and cosy atmosphere, especially when combined with appropriate lighting.  Taupes, greys, stone colours and creams combined with one accent colour is ideal and I generally recommend adding a touch of black for drama and sophistication.   Ceilings look better if they complement the wall colour instead of being bright white.

Dramatic and distinctive patterns tend to date, so use different textures or classic patterns such as stripes to add interest.   Textured contemporary wallcoverings can be combined with window treatments in faux silks and upholstery in velvet for instance. 

Beds should be dressed – but not overdressed.  White Egyptian cotton sheets with a bed runner or bedspread, together with a couple of scatter cushions looks stylish, but not fussy. 

In the lounge and dining areas upholster chairs in two or three complementary fabrics.  Complement plain colour chairs with ones in a patterned fabric for instance.  

Appropriate window treatments depend largely on the style of property and the overall scheme – but generally roman blinds combined with full length dress curtains and a simple fabric covered pelmet offers both practicality and glamour, while a sleek chrome double track with an inner voile curtain and an outer dress curtain looks best for contemporary properties.   Blackout linings are recommended for bedrooms.

Jeff Sutheran who runs St Cuthbert’s House B&B in Seahouses, agrees : “we’re amazed at how many guests consider our sumptous window treatments with black out blinds extra-special – no light pouring in, in the morning.  These details make the difference between a great experience and a nearly-great-experience.”  

All upholstery and fabrics should be FR standard in line with fire safety regulations.



A bath is a luxury, but a shower is a necessity.   Whether a shower cubicle or shower over bath, the best showers will offer a fixed showerhead as well as a shower hose option.  Sanitary ware should be white, with fittings in a chrome finish. Definite no’s are white plastic shower heads or hoses, and shower curtains.  Bathrooms look best when tiled floor to ceiling in a neutral colour, but not in white as it can be stark and difficult to maintain the crisp look over time.  Instead consider more classic finishes such as marble or stone effect porcelain tiles. Large tiles give the impression of space.



Mirrors add glamour and create a feeling of space.  Use large mirrors in entrance halls/reception areas, dining rooms, lounges and bedrooms.  

Use a few, eyecatching accessories… a floor vase, floor standing candelabra, large artworks on the walls or a floral arrangement on the coffee table.  In the dining room – candle centrepieces on the table (in a hurricane vase for safety) add a nice touch as do white linen napkins and charger plates rather than placemats.  

For bedrooms add one or two large artworks above the bed.  Consider a local artist’s work or black and white photos of the local area.  A good quality artificial flower arrangement looks beautiful and requires no maintenance and tea and coffee making facilities should be accompanied by chinaware and a silver tray.  Fluffy bathrobes in the wardrobes are always appreciated as are quality wooden or fabric covered hangers.  

In bathrooms sumptuous fluffy white towels and good quality toiletries such as Molton Brown soaps and lotions are a luxury that guests will appreciate.  Bars of soap look nicer when wrapped in paper, not plastic.




  • Use large mirrors to create space and add glamour
  • Dress beds with white linens, a bedspread and a couple of scatter pillows
  • Keep to a neutral colour scheme
  • Keep large patterns and bold colours to a minimum
  • Beds and mattresses should be of the best quality possible
  • Use few, but distinctive, accessories
  • Keep everything clean and tidy
  • Have photographs taken by a professional interiors photographer


  • Don’t underestimate the importance of effective lighting and the need for good quality, up to date light fittings
  • don’t go crazy with accessories – clutter isn’t appealing
  • don’t use frills
  • don’t use shower curtains


If you are interested in an interior design report, please visit  


Photography was supplied by St Cuthbert’s House B&B,  Lime Wood Hotel and SMB Interior Design. – Bournemouth, Dorset – Seahouses, Northumberland – Lyndhurst, Hampshire



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About Oliver Mizen 333 Articles
Oliver is web editor, social media poster, search engine optimiser.