The best guest rooms are comfortable, clutter-free, and feel at least a little bit like home. Ideally, they have all the creature comforts of the best hotels but with a warm, personalized touch. Too often people use them as a dumping ground for the things they don’t want to see or use every day but can’t bear to toss. Before you do that to your guest room (or yourself), check out Marie Kondo’s decluttering tips in her Netflix show and bestselling book so you can finally work up the urge to purge.
Once the room is free from baggage (perhaps quite literally), it’s time to turn it into an inviting, welcoming space that you’ll be tempted to use yourself. Below we deconstruct the essential makings of a great guest room, so you can show off your hospitality and your great design skills, too.
Start With a Comfy Bed
A good night’s sleep is paramount to a good visit, so don’t scrimp when it comes to choosing a bed for the guest room. Make sure the mattress is firm but comfortable, and invest in high-quality sheets and pillows, not the hand-me-downs from your primary bedroom of years past. It’s also a good idea to avoid bed frames that are too high or too low, such as platform beds. You want it to be easy for any guest to slide into bed, whether it’s your best friend from college or your great uncle who’s passing through. If your guest room is tight on space and you’re tempted to go the Murphy bed route, test it out to make sure it’s comfortable before selecting one, even if it means succumbing to a trial period with a money-back guarantee.
Add a Small Chest or Dresser With Open Drawer Space
The last part is key as too many homeowners stuff their guest room drawers and closets with overflow from other rooms and before long, there’s barely room for a toothbrush. Unless a guest is staying for a month or more, a couple of open drawers, preferably the top ones, should be plenty.
Make Room in the Closet
If you absolutely must hang your wedding and prom dresses in the guest room closet, keep them out of your guest’s immediate sight. Make sure there’s ample room for guests to hang their own clothes without disturbing yours. Having a variety of hangers is also a good idea, especially if your guest is in town for a formal event, such as a wedding or graduation. Having hangers for pants, dresses, and shirts is ideal. If you can make room, the guest room closet is the perfect hideaway spot for an iron and ironing board. It’s one of the amenities we take for granted at hotels that are almost always missing from guest rooms. Putting them in the guest room closet keeps them out of the way when it’s just the family at home but gives guests easy access so they don’t have to impose.
Create a Rest Area for Travel Gear
Every guest needs a place to put their luggage or weekend bag. This can be a sturdy luggage rack, a bench, even a side table, ottoman or pouf will do if they’re wide enough. Try to keep it to about knee or thigh height so it’s easy for guests to lift their heaviest items without straining their backs.
Invite Guests to Take a Seat
Every guest room needs a place for your guest to sit, and preferably not the bed. A comfy side chair, sometimes intentionally called an easy chair, provides guests a place to take a phone call or curl up with a book before bed. If you’re short on space, choose a chair with a slim, narrow profile and skip extras like ottomans.
Go Easy on Decor and Accessories
Like a good hotel suite, guest rooms should look and feel inviting but not lived in, which pretty much makes clutter the enemy. Too many throw pillows on the bed create a dilemma for guests who have to scramble for a place to put them when it’s time to go to sleep. Keep the tabletop decor restrained but not sparse. Try not to fill every surface with decor and pictures so your guests have ample room for items such as watches, phones, and books. If it looks good and serves a purpose, like a pretty ceramic dish that can double as a jewelry holder, that’s even better.
Provide Privacy and Light control
Like any bedroom, a guest room is easiest on the eyes when the light is layered. Lay the foundation with an overhead ceiling light connected to a dimmer switch, then add tabletop lighting next to the bed and task lighting over a small desk or reading nook. Pair this lighting trifecta with quality window treatments that provide privacy as well as control over natural light, and your guest room will be set up for everything from sleeping to reading. Natural shades and soft drapes are a can’t-go-wrong combination.
Layer On Creature Comforts
As important as it is not to overdo it with the decor, setting out a few indulgent essentials adds a personal touch. It’s what sets your guest room apart from the hotel room down the road. Splurge on cozy organic blankets, fluffy towels, and scented candles, and always make sure to provide more than you think your guests will need. Creature comforts aren’t all soft to the touch, however. Go the much-appreciated extra mile with an extra power charger and a card with your home’s WiFi network information. Fresh flowers are the finishing touch that says, “I’m really glad you’re here.”
Add a Splash of Fun
While the style of your guest room should feel welcoming to a variety of potential visitors, this is the perfect room in the house for a touch of whimsy. When it comes to selecting paint and textiles, patterns, and colors, start with a neutral palette for your base then add a bold piece of art on the wall, a beautiful ceiling light, or a pouf or footrest in a fun pattern. Even a single “wild card” will keep the guest room from feeling boring.
Follow these tips and before you know it you’ll want to move into the guest room whenever it’s vacant!
Ana Connery is former content director of Parenting, Babytalk, Pregnancy Planner and Conceive magazines as well as parenting.com.
While editor in chief of Florida Travel & Life magazine from 2006-2009, she covered the state’s real estate and home design market as well as travel destinations.
She’s held senior editorial positions at some of the country’s most celebrated magazines, including Latina, Fitness and Cooking Light, where she oversaw the brand’s “FitHouse” show home.
Ana’s expertise is frequently sought after for appearances on “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America” and CNN. She has interviewed the country’s top experts in a variety of fields, including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and First Lady Michelle Obama.