We asked design experts how to put together the most inviting bedrooms for overnight guests. This is what they said.
Company’s coming for the holidays. Are you ready? Now that we’re gathering more with friends and family, you’ll want to be prepared to welcome them into your home. Whether they’re visiting for just a night or an extended stay, an inviting, comfortable guest room is an important part of the equation. Short on space, time, or resources? We’ve got you covered with savvy expert tips.
Where to start with guest room decor
Begin with a great bed, of course. To be clear, your guest bedroom isn’t where your old mattress should go to die after you’re done with it. “Treat your guest room like a room you’d find in a luxury hotel,” says Sarabeth Asaff South, a home design expert with fixr.com. “Make it a place your guests will want to retreat to at the end of each day. Invest in good quality sheets with a thread count of at least 400. You’ll also want to provide at least a few different types of pillows – opt for a couple of different firmness levels and sizes.”
Choose a new high-quality mattress that you’d want to sleep on. Then dress the bed in sumptuous cotton, linen or bamboo sheets with a high thread count, a fluffy duvet and a variety of pillows, including non-down options for those who might have feather allergies.
Build the space around the biggest bed you can comfortably accommodate. You should still have plenty of room to walk around it without bumping into anything.
How to make a guest room welcoming
She suggests putting a mini-coffee maker, some good quality mugs, coffee pods, tea bags and some good quality mugs in the guest rooms, so guests can help themselves in the mornings. You can also arrange for a small basket of their favorite fruit and snack foods (like protein bars and trail mix), so they can help themselves to a midnight snack instead of attempting to hunt their way through your kitchen.
South also recommends a basket of toiletries, anticipating what they may have forgotten at home – items like toothpaste, floss, hairdryer and even an extra phone charger. If you’ve been collecting toiletries and slippers from hotels in your travels, this is a great time to use them. Having their own mini bar of soap is a nice perk for guests.
Beyond just a comfy bed, what other furnishings should be in a guest room? It should have at least one bedside table with a reading lamp. It’s a good idea also to have a motion-activated night light to make those midnight trips to the bathroom safer for guests. Your visitors will come with suitcases and their own stuff, so you’ll need to have room for it in a dresser (with at least one empty drawer), closet or wardrobe. If that’s not possible, consider having a hotel-style luggage rack or a chair to store their luggage.
Make sure you include at least one mirror in the room too. It’s useful to your guests and creates the illusion of the room being larger than it is.
Why keeping it minimal in the guest room is also important
“Less is more in a guest room so be sure to declutter the room thoroughly and put away personal items,” says Richard Petrie, a design expert with U.K. décor retailer, Thomas Sanderson. “This will ensure that your guests have sufficient space in the room for their own belongings and feel more at home.”
Décor tastes are highly personal, so experts recommend using a neutral color palette (think off-white, grey and pastel shades) and keeping furniture, knick-knacks to a minimum.
If you don’t have a spare room in your home but want to create space for your guests, Petrie suggests investing in a sofa bed. “It’s a really good way to transition your living space into a bedroom for the evening – and they’re simple to set up and use. Alternatively, using a free-standing screen to divide an existing room into another is perfect to create additional rooms for multiple guests.”
What’s worth the splurge in a guest room?
Mark Cutler and Nichole Schulze, co-founders of cutlerschulze.com, an interior design firm, based in Los Angeles, agree that a comfy bed is the priority, but say that you can stretch your budget by skipping on a duvet and using a faux fur throw or chunky wool knit instead. “When deciding on what to splurge on for the guest room, think about what your guests are actually touching,” they say. “That includes the bedding, blankets and towels. Start there and you will be a long way toward success.”
- Scented candle
- White-noise machine to help those with sleep issues
- Reading materials, perhaps a guidebook or brochures with local highlights
- Drinking glasses with a carafe of water on the bedside table
- Fan or small heater depending on the time of year
And remember to leave a handwritten welcome note on the bed with instructions on how to access your home internet network and your cell number (if they don’t already have it) for emergencies.
For holiday guests, consider add a few seasonal decorations to amp up the festive spirit during their stay. Perhaps a garland, a mini Christmas tree, or stockings hung on the bedposts or fireplace.