I have long viewed the guest room as an invitation into the home – a place where one can welcome guests with warmth and friendliness. And while I was looking for guest room ideas to style the space, I wanted the end result to support that ethos. This train of thought led me back to a famous Maya Angelou quote: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” My goal is to live by the words of the prolific writer – and that includes how I envision my home.
Actions that end up in the heart are sustainable. From a smile on the subway to a reminder of a birthday, there are many ways to make an impact in the lives of others. And when it comes to our homes, simply opening them up is the best place to start. From there, we can create a place that would make someone feel so cozy and loved – and these guest room ideas do just that.
Featured image of Sanetra Nere Longno’s bedroom by Michelle Nash.
Before we start, it is worth mentioning the obstacle. Guest rooms, if we’re lucky enough to have one, tend to be on the smaller side. (Same goes for a couch or a nook for a guest.) But where space is lacking, interior design creativity reigns supreme. I gained insight from three interior designers, Jennifer Walter, owner and principal designer of Folding Chair Design Co.; Amy Youngblood from Amy Youngblood Interiors; and Susan Spath, Principal Designer of Susan Spath Interior Design and President of Kern & Company, for their insight. With each of their guest room ideas, these designers prove how much fun it can be to design that room—and how lasting an impact it can have on how your guests feel.
7 guest room ideas to create a warm and welcoming space
Image by Kate Zimmerman Turpin of her minimalist Sunday House
1: Treat the guest room as if it were your own room
Just because it’s some kind of “spare room” doesn’t mean it gets the spare treatment. Think your room, then your favorite hotel and merge the two. Pamper yourself with plush pillows and extra blankets. And luxurious linens are always key, believes Jennifer Walter. “We always order with convenience in mind,” she says.
#2: Prioritize the bed
“I believe that a guest room should really be a comfortable place to sleep for your guests,” says Amy Youngblood, who puts the emphasis on the bed. If a king folds, do it. They will always remember the sleep they had with you. Susan Spath loves to include a built-in headboard that extends behind small side tables, “which can make the space very tactile and create a cozy atmosphere.”
Image by Melissa Gidney for Jenni Kayne at Folded Hills Winery & Ranch
#3: Store the essentials
How many times have you forgotten to pack your toothpaste? Keep a bag of common toiletries on the bedside table, from cotton balls to mouthwash, to accommodate anything your guests might be missing. That says, I have you and it saves them awkward moments where they have to ask for another tube of toothpaste again.
#4: Offer comfort to the creature
In addition to forgotten toiletries, Walter is happy to include a basket with extra washcloths and slippers. “That way, the first guest can put them on and use them throughout their stay,” she says. “Most people forget to pack slippers, but tile and wood floors can get chilly.” Even if you’re hanging out in other rooms, it’s nice to wear something different when you visit.” Spath wants to go even further and provide guests with fluffy bathrobes and a favorite book on the bedside table.
Picture of Chanel Tarlo’s guest house by Molly Culver
#5: Keep it light
“I usually opt for a more neutral, lighter palette,” says Youngblood. Think cooler light blues, creamy whites and warm beige tones. In general, lighter tones appeal to more people, she says, “and it also gives the feeling of more space” when the room is smaller.
#6: Pay attention to the space
If you devote most of the room to the bed, pay attention to the size of other pieces of furniture. Walter says to make the bedside tables smaller. “As a guest, you don’t usually store that much in the side tables,” she says. “Often we make a side table on one side and a small round ottoman on the other. That way the ottoman serves as both storage and seating when things get tight.” Spath agrees, adding that hanging lights above bedside tables is a great way to avoid having a lamp take up all of the space . And Youngblood says you should consider a larger bedside table because it takes up less space.
Camille Styles master bedroom image by Michelle Nash
#7: Make it soothing
There is something about a magical scent that stays with you long after your visit. Walter and Spath recommend incorporating candles into the guest room, ideally something calming and a pampering body lotion. What’s better than candles? A fresh bouquet.