The last time we moved, I was adamant that we have a guest room in this house. Because after living in small apartments for so many years, and relying on air mattresses and sofas, I wanted to give guests their own space. The family thought this was crazy.
I should note that if you live in Orlando, you’ll have guests on a fairly regular basis. I have always wanted to run a small inn somewhere. Having a three-bedroom house 30 minutes from world-class attractions has made that dream come true.
The funniest thing is, this house had a fully functioning guest room before it had anything else. My Aunt was here visiting her son before he shipped out and ended up being our first guest. Like, the day we moved in. Luckily, the new guest room furniture I had bought was delivered before the rest of our stuff. So the very first thing to move into this house was the guest bed.
So, it is true. If you build it, they will come.
What a guest room needs
First off, it does not have to be a room! It just needs to be a dedicated place to sleep. So even if you only have a sofa (and not even one that folds out), you can still make your guests feel super comfortable.
You can buy a twin fitted sheet and tuck it around your sofa cushions after you remove the back cushions. Then add a flat sheet and a fluffy duvet, and you’ve got a guest room. It can be that simple.
There are four things to keep in mind, no matter if you’re using a sofa or a real bed:
SIMPLE TO MAKE:
If you have any hopes of your guests making their bed during their stay – KEEP IT SIMPLE! Duvet, top and flat sheet, two head pillows per person – one feather, one polyfill. Do not go overboard with layers of pillows, or complicated tucking. If you do (and I sometimes do, TBH – I love a dramatic first look), don’t expect them to make the bed. It’s your choice. But I usually lean on making it easy for them to make it look good.
ONE ACCENT PILLOW:
It’s one thing to have a bajillion decorative pillows on your bed, but for your guests? Just don’t do it. They’ll be on the floor constantly because they’re always in the way.
ADD A BLANKET:
Everybody sleeps at different temps. So add a lightweight blanket. You can put it to the side or at the foot of the bed. This way, people can choose their level of comfort.
KEEP IT COZY:
It may seem like this goes against “Simple to Make.” But it means to think about the luxury of what you’re buying. Think soft, fluffy & comforting. Test each fabric by rubbing it on your cheek – if it doesn’t irritate, it’s right. It doesn’t have to mean expensive, but you should buy the best quality you can afford.
Things that your guests will ask for during their stay
These are the basics for even a single-night stay. I would have these things even if I’m only making up the sofa, but especially if I’m dedicating an entire room to guests.
You want two per guest – kept in the guest room itself. This way, there is no question about which towels they should use. Here in Florida, I also have hooks in the room to hang to dry because humidity. #floridaproblems
Also, I have learned the hard way never to buy white guest towels. Go dark; they’re so much easier to keep clean long-term.
HANGERS AND SOMEWHERE TO HANG THEM
Because I feel that a dresser is a nice to have not a have to have (more on that later), you want to have hangers on hand, and a place to hang them. Having a dedicated guest room means also leaving the closet cleaned out enough for them to hang up their clothes. OR, simply install a hook over the back of the door.
Listen, this is really for you. It makes cleaning up after your guests leave SO MUCH EASIER if they have a place to put their trash. Get a can with a lid to keep any smells under control.
It felt very swank when I first added this. Like a real hotel! I then wondered why I had not had one in our apartment. It makes getting into your suitcase so much easier than kneeling on the floor! Having to keep your bag on the bed can be gross, while also being annoying. Splurge on the luggage rack – it’ll make you feel like you’re doing it right.
Things to make your guests feel truly special
Everything we’ve talked about so far is the bare minimum for having guests stay with you. But to make your guests feel SPECIAL, there are a few more things you can add:
A DRINK & A SNACK
I feel the water is a must-have. Hydration is key, friends! You can do a carafe or bottled (but do glass bottles!) Then a little crunchy nibble or sweet treat, ideally in a package that travels well so they can take it with them if they’d like. Snacks are the perfect area to customize to your guest, be it for preferences or allergies. Round it all up on a small tray to make it feel even more special and keep it organized.
WIFI & CHARGERS
Write your wifi name and password on a card and leave it near the bed, even if you do nothing else on this list. But having a multiple port charger and cords for either type of phone is such a nice add on. Especially if you have a situation like mine where the plug is behind the headboard. This way, it’s ready to go when they arrive. And cords often get forgotten when traveling!
Speaking of things that get forgotten, keep a small supply of everyday toiletries handy – all in travel size. Round everything up in a separate basket, big glass jar, or the tray with the water and snacks. While I wouldn’t buy anything I wouldn’t use myself, this is a great place to customize for your guests, too. What would they love? What would be fun to try on vacation? I love the new mini section at Target for these things, but Ulta is also great for this.
ROBE & SLIPPERS
Finally, to make you truly feel like you’re running a boutique hotel, add a long unisex robe and a simple pair of house slippers. Even if nobody ever wears them, the idea that you went to that level of detail will make your guests feel so special. But people WILL wear them, I promise. Because who packs a robe?
Laying out your guest room
The room you’ve chosen is probably the smallest bedroom in your house. It’s probably also filled with random furniture. Well, I’m here to help you figure it out, and suggest some great options for furniture.
Here’s how my guest room is laid out, and what pieces I’ve used:
A NOTE ABOUT DRESSERS
The first thing that you should notice is that there isn’t a dresser on that floor plan. Because spare bedrooms are usually so small, I think a chest is not a necessity and can be a detriment. It’ll just make your room feel even tighter, and really, who brings enough clothes with them to take up an entire dresser?
Okay, full disclosure, because our guests routinely stay for two weeks or more, I DO have a small three-drawer dresser in my guest room, but it’s in the closet. It doesn’t take up any floor space. For a routine weekend visit, though? Nobody is going to use anything more than a hanging rail and a luggage rack.
WHERE TO START
The best starting point is a bed & nightstands that complement each other. Don’t do matchy-matchy, though, please. You’re more stylish than that. Nightstands are a great place to add some drawers if you want to.
While I have an overhead light that isn’t terrible, I also make sure there are lamps on either side of the bed, and that you can operate them from a lying position with switches.
COMFORT & STORAGE
Add a comfy upholstered chair, for relaxing in the morning or at night, and to put on shoes on the way out. Everybody has a different sleep schedule, and this way they don’t feel like they are waking anybody else up. Keep it small in scale. Next up, two square storage ottomans, which, when pushed together, make a perfect bench for a drop zone for bags and clothes. You can move one over for a footrest to relax in the chair. I use the guest room storage ottomans to store all of my bedlinens for the entire house.
A CLEAR FLAT SURFACE
Lastly, I highly recommend a console table with a large round mirror over it. If this seems very specific, it is. Console tables are smaller in scale and tend to be more open in their design. Both of these things will make your room feel bigger and more gracious. A console gives space to layout daily necessities, and if it has lower shelves, it is a great place to store towels or things to read. I recommend a round mirror because bedroom furniture is by its nature very boxy. The round shape softens all those hard edges.
WHAT YOU DON’T NEED
Sooooo, also? I know this will be controversial but I don’t believe in TVs in guest rooms (or bedrooms, but that’s another matter). I think that if you give a reason for your guests to never leave their room, they’ll NEVER LEAVE THEIR ROOM. And I want to spend time WITH them. So TVs stay in the living room and the lounge.
Pulling the Guest Room Together
I’ve designed three different guest rooms using my layout to get you started. All of these products are from Wayfair to keep it easy to order and manage. And because they always seem to have a good sale going on.
Each of these schemes uses blue as its base. Cliches are cliches for a reason – and everyone liking blue is right. You can pick any color you want, though, it’s your space! Right now, my guest room uses olive green as its accents.
The key to an exciting, well-designed space is balance and juxtaposition. I know it would be so easy to buy a matching set, but that is just so, so dull. Mix and match, use the rule of three and keep the finishes balanced on each side of the room. If you get stuck or overwhelmed, I’m always here to help!
Guest room No. 2 – Traditional with a touch of modern
Nothing is cozier than an upholstered headboard, and this one has such a fun pattern — the juxtaposition of traditional and modern in this scheme is so exciting to me. For a headboard like this, you’ll also need a bed frame to hold the mattress & box spring (and can add some sneaky long-term storage with a bedskirt). Natural woods balance the contemporary shapes of the lamps and the console. And having all of the natural materials in the same grey color ties it all together. Lastly, the bedding is all-natural cotton and linen to keep it so cozy.
Here’s how I would make the bed:
Guest room No. 2 – Rustic with a touch of retro
Having been built in 1954, a touch of retro in my house makes sense for me. I also think that a guest room is where you can GO FOR IT, so yes, I would put a full canopy/four-poster bed in a guest room. The DRAMA!! This frame takes only the mattress and doesn’t need a box spring. I love the textures in the bedding – and am currently obsessed with dark-colored sheets. I’ll admit I’m getting tired of all-white everything. And this console table gives so many great opportunities for accessories, or just a stack of magazines, the guest towels, and a book or two.
Here’s how I would make bed number two:
Guest Room No. 3 – A balance of Masculine and Feminine
This scheme is the one that will make your room feel the largest because all of the pieces are so open to the floor. It starts with a rustic wood bed frame with metal accents. This frame only needs a mattress, no box spring. Instead of traditional nightstands, I’m using round side tables with a curvy spindle detail, and plug-in pin-up sconces over them to keep enough usable space on the table. The bedding is also pretty and soft, with a great modern toile and embroidered sheets. It’s anchored with a gorgeous knit blanket. The side chair is on the curvy side, too, but balanced with tailored storage ottomans. The modern console table had a lovely bow front with nailhead detail. And the modern industrial mirror ties everything together.
And lastly, here is how I would make bed three:
Now you know what I know! Having guests stay at my house brings me such joy. So I hope that this post helps you welcome your loved ones into your home in a relaxed and gracious way.