The key to a beautiful guest room: Bold colours and distinctive patterns

Throw away the nice white sheets and washed out, floral wallpaper; designer Penny Morrison’s guest bedroom tips include jaunty accessories and unexpected vibrancy.

Jaunty accessories are a key tool when it comes to conjuring up decorative schemes, believes the interior designer Penny Morrison: ‘They offer the opportunity to make rooms feel instantly younger and fresher with minimal effort.’

This bedroom at her country house, just across the Welsh border, is a great example. Having underpinned the space with some classic elements – antique furniture, a half-tester bed and a backdrop of floral wallpaper – she then introduced unexpected splashes of colour and vibrancy with a few carefully chosen items. ‘Take these away and the room is returned to something more formal.’

All the fabrics are from her collection – she is a textile designer, as well as an antique dealer and decorator. The walls are covered in her double-width Begum wallpaper, which was inspired by an antique piece of embroidery and features detailed floral illustrations in a muted vegetable-dye-style colour palette.

‘A bedhead should be large or distinctive enough to be noticed, but not enough to overpower’

The half tester and bedhead are in the designer’s block-print style Killi fabric in duck-egg blue and the inside is lined with a plain silk. ‘For a lighter, more contemporary look, I’d recommend using a fine linen lawn, perhaps even with a smaller print in a contrasting colour.’

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Raising the profile of the bedhead so that it rises above the height of the pillows frames the bed; her mantra is that a bedhead should be large or distinctive enough to be noticed, but not enough to overpower.

The cushions are one-off pieces, made from her vast catalogue of vintage fabrics sourced from around the world, and the woven bedspread is backed in a pretty block print. The lamp bases are new to her collection and encrusted with shells; the lampshades are made from saris. ‘I like the mismatch of the table and the chest of drawers instead of a pair of nightstands in old country houses—it looks less balanced and more personal.’

For more information on and designs by Penny Morrison, visit

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