Meet the interior designer who worked his magic on The Bedford in Limerick
2019 08 07

We catch up with interior architect and designer Tullio Orlandi, who shares the design thinking behind the stylish rooms of The Bedford Townhouse and Café in Limerick City.



What was the brief from the client?

The brief was for a classic townhouse with a contemporary vibe that would ensure guests feel comfortable and at home.

What condition was the building in when you started? 

When I first came to the project, the building was your classic outdated, derelict building, as it had not been used or lived in for a number of years. It was an interior designer's nightmare with magnolia paint throughout!

I became involved after the planning and tendering process so there was an initial layout to the floors proposed. The upper floors of the townhouse were once apartments. They had not been occupied for many years so they weren't in good condition, but we knew the potential was there. From the initial walk through of the space it was clear that the only way to get the townhouse to a high standard was to completely gut the building and start again.


How did you work with owners Denise and Peter? 

They both had an idea of what direction they wanted to take the townhouse in, so it was up to me to make their vision a reality. Initially, the brief which was proposed was "Contemporary but with a homely, comfortable feel.” They wanted their guests to feel comfortable, relaxed and at ease in their surroundings, so I had to find that balance between a hotel interior and a homely interior.

Where did you start with the design process? 

We started the design process with case studies on different hotel interiors from around the world. From this meeting after listing all of their likes and dislikes, we started to zone in on what design direction we would take the townhouse in.

Clients can sometimes find it hard to describe what they are looking for, but Denise and Peter had a great vision for their beautiful building and gave good direction on the brief. Limerick City itself was a huge inspiration for the design. The Bedford Townhouse is part of a family business that has been part of the community in Limerick for many years., so when it came to picking the colour concepts for the space, I tried to keep my attention on the surrounding areas of the hotel.

The colour story for the townhouse's bedrooms was taken from the surroundings of the Shannon and how it looked during the summer months. The colour that matched this the best was Inchyra Blue from Farrow & Ball. The tones in this shade had the perfect resemblance of the water.

The history of The Bedford was important to both Denise and Peter and we knew that we had to honour that history. Denise did a lot of research into the history of The Bedford and our design developed from links back to the history of the building and its clothing factory heritage.

How did choose pieces for this project?

The layouts of the rooms were my biggest challenge, as all of the rooms are completely different in size. To get the best out of each room we eliminated all doors inside the rooms so there was always an open airy feel, with no visual obstructions. We used frosted sliding doors in the bathrooms instead of your standard door. This added a sense of space while also ensuring everyone has some privacy.

We removed all typical side hanging and instead I designed wardrobe units which have your hanging clothes facing you. This works well as a warm welcome into the room with The Bedford's bathrobes facing you.

I knew I wanted all of the finishes to add texture and movement to the rooms. We achieved this by zoning in on all fabrics and finishes to have their own visual identity. I worked closely with a local Limerick contract company Abbey Owney who took my vision and made it a reality. It was a long process but the finishes and standards they provided were impeccable.

What brands have you worked with on the lighting, furniture and fixtures for this space?

All of the bedroom fit-out was carried out by Abbey Owney who I worked very closely with. Lighting was an array of different brands – Astro wall lights are positioned either side of the beds with Made.com floor lamps filling the corners and adding a contemporary touch. All of the polished brass hardware on the fitted furniture was supplied by Buster + Punch, again adding a textured finish to the hardware.

I had custom rugs made to sit under each of the beds, these were supplied by LRK Flooring. The pattern is by Christian Lacroix, one of my favourite designers. LRK had these rugs made up to my specifications and bound in custom edging.


What are the key materials, textures and tones?

The concept for the rooms was to keep them calming and relaxing. The green and blue tones mixed with neutrals complement each other perfectly, giving you a subtle play on colour. We added bold pattern to the showers with busy monochromatic tiles and teamed these with textured wall tiles. I added pops of colour with the throw pillows and brass accents, that work well with the chosen wall colours All materials chosen are aqua sealed which give longevity to their life span, something that is particularly important for hospitality design.

What changes are you seeing in contemporary hotel design? 

I feel there is a huge shift in contemporary design. It always refers to being 'current' and sometimes it cannot stand the test of time. So with the design of The Bedford, yes, I wanted to lean towards a contemporary feel, but I also wanted to make sure that the rooms and  

their design could be easily adapted with subtle changes if ever needed.


I decided to keep some key items neutral such as the headboards and drapes. As these were a huge part of the budget I wanted to make sure Denise and Peter could get as many years as possible out of these items. I added boldness though smaller accents to the rooms, such as throw pillows, blankets, and floor and table lamps.


What makes The Bedford stand out from the pack?

The Bedford, to me, is not your typical hotel. A lot of time went into trying to create the right atmosphere and feel to each part of the townhouse. Gone is the antisocial hotel lobby and instead, there is a parlour room that resembles a living room. You are greeted with a bold entranceway with the main pattern being underfoot. Rather than cladding the walls, I wanted the floor to be the show stopper with the lighting above complementing its boldness.

Each floor has its own bold statement pop of colour, with paint finishes from Little Greene and Fleetwood Paints. The rooms have a home away from home feel and this was exactly what we wanted when designing, a room where you would be happy to stay in and relax.

Each room in the townhouse has also been given its own name which refers back to the history of Bedford House and Limerick City, a unique touch added by Denise. My favourite room in the hotel is The Park Room, 301. It's tucked away on the top floor and it has the most amazing feel to it. Denise and Peter were also very specific with getting the acoustics right and all the effort that went in to achieve that is evident in the rooms – silence is golden, after all.


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