Go Bold in the Guest Room

Houseguests will thank you for these easy but thoughtful touches of décor.


Photo by Christopher Stark, courtesy of IDF Studio

Tis the season for so much that is lovely: festive dinners, smiling children, and frequent houseguests. What, houseguests don’t top your list of favorite things? Perhaps the problem is your guest room. This oft-neglected space is a major decorating opportunity, not to mention a perfect vehicle for showing off your hosting skills. Here’s how to create a room that’s sure to impress.

If your guest room serves a single purpose—that is, to house guests only and does not double as a nursery, office, or workout spot—it’s an ideal area to try out some daring decor. Think deep, dramatic paint, or even some glitzy wallpaper. Or let it be a space to show off your favorite interest. One designer recently completed a guest room inspired by an antique firehouse, complete with faux brick and a tin ceiling. The point is: Go bold. A guest room doesn’t get play every day, so there’s no need to keep it tame. Have some fun.

There may be no musts when it comes to decor, but there are some when it comes to comfort. All guest rooms should have a cushy bed, at least a queen size, if the room can support it. The mattress doesn’t need to be absolutely top of the line—people aren’t sleeping on it every day, after all. But it should be decent. The same goes for your bedding. If you’re going to splurge somewhere, let it be on the sheets, since that’s what your guests will feel most. You can save on the duvet cover and throw pillows, but don’t skimp on the pillows themselves. You’ll want both sleeping pillows and Euro-sized ones, too. Those puffy 26-inch squares look great dressed in shams and provide the perfect back support for reading.

Speaking of reading, bedside lamps are a must, as are a box of tissues and a carafe of water. One additional nightstand necessity: a phone charger. Pick one up with multiple ends to cover a variety of different phone types, and plug it in before your guests arrive. No need to make them fumble around for an outlet late at night.

Some other thoughtful extras: dark colored washcloths, which won’t stain if a guest uses one to remove makeup. Your Wi-Fi code, displayed in a small frame on the dresser. A couple of luggage racks, so your guests won’t have to toss their bags on the floor. A fan, in case they sleep hot. Extra blankets, in case they run cold. A full-length mirror, so they can give themselves a glance before emerging in the morning. And if they’re staying a while, a set of keys, so they can come and go as they please.

Once your room is all set up, don’t forget to give it a spin. Not only will this allow you to work out the room’s kinks, you’ll get to enjoy a little staycation. And who couldn’t use that at this time of year?


Sarah Coombs is an interior designer based in Alameda.

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