The guest rooms in our homes can really make or break the experience for overnight visitors. So often, homeowners treat the spare room as a catch-all for old linens, exercise equipment, and hand-me-down pieces. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never felt at ease in a room with a treadmill staring me down first thing in the morning. Instead, we should treat our guest rooms as retreats for company, creating welcoming spaces that evoke comfort and ease the burdens of travel. I share my top 14 tips on how to set up a guest room your visitors will love so you can create the ideal space for your guests.
The Importance of Guest Rooms in the Home
We’ve all stayed in less than ideal accommodations when visiting friends and family. You crash on the couch or find there’s no clean towel in the bathroom after your shower. One of my first experiences with a truly fantastic guest room was in the early 1990s when I stayed with my friend at her family’s Beverly Hills home over Thanksgiving break. The cozy, well-lit room was spotless and stocked with fresh-cut flowers, a water jug, and midnight snacks. The ensuite bath had fluffy towels and even a robe hanging on the door. My stay was absolutely dreamy, and that room still serves as my inspiration when I set up for visitors and design guest suites for my clients.
How to Set Up an Inviting Guest Room in 14 Steps
When creating a guest room in your home, you need to design for comfort, treating the space as if it was your own retreat. I think the success of setting up a guest room lies in the light and sound quality of the room. It must be bright but not clinical. The textiles should be plush and sound-absorbing. And, of course, there needs to be a door! Additionally, it must smell fresh but not overwhelming, and your guests need a place to sit other than the foot of the bed. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves! Here are the 14 items you must include to set up a guest room to impress.
1. Splurge on a Comfortable Bed
Don’t just dump your old mattress in your guest room. Instead, treat it as a space you’d want to sleep in and spend time. Splurge on a comfortable bed so your guests can get a good night’s sleep and be well-rested for your planned activities.
2. Invest in High-quality Bedding
High-quality bedding is the next step. Model your guest bed after the finest hotels, selecting crisp white linens that feel luxurious to the touch. Also, clean and make the bed before your company arrives.
3. Stock the Linen Closet
Stock your linen or guest closet with extra bedding, towels, robes, and toiletries. Ensure the shelves are organized and all the items are easily accessible. You don’t want to make your guests search for things or feel uncomfortable poking around your personal items.
4. Clear Out the Clutter
Next, we’re going to do a little bit of spring cleaning. Your guest room is not your storage room. Eliminate clutter, and don’t try to use it as a multifunctional space for your home office, gym, or storage unit. Your guests don’t want to be woken up at 6:00 AM to the sound of you running on the treadmill next to their bed. Clean all the surfaces and clear out drawers and closets so your guests can unpack their suitcases and put away their clothes.
5. Embrace Bold and Whimsical Design Choices
Interior design affects our mood, so your guest room design choices will influence how your visitors feel when they stay at your home. (And, you want them to feel happy, especially when you’re all staying under one roof.) While you want the guest room to feel comfortable, you can also go with a bolder and more whimsical design than the rest of your home. After all, this isn’t a space you will use every day or grow tired of.
6. Make a Spot to Stow Luggage
Don’t make your guests crawl on the floor to access their luggage. Include a luggage rack, open shelving, window seat, or a small bench in your guest room to stow luggage and keep it off the floor.
7. Include a Workplace or Vanity
Add a small desk or vanity to give your guests a spot to catch up on their remote work or put on makeup for the day. Adding a mirror and place to easily plug-in devices will be especially appreciated.
8. Supply Modern Necessities Within Easy Reach
We live in a connected world, so don’t expect your guests to fully unplug on their visit. Keep chargers for their devices and the wifi password within easy reach. Also, don’t forget to include “not so” modern necessities in the guest room, like a wastebasket and house slippers.
8. Create a Sitting Nook for Private Relaxation
While your guests come to see you, we all need a little break from each other during the course of an extended visit. Create a private sitting nook in your guest room, so your visitors have a place to recline other than the bed.
10. Include Bedside and Other Necessary Lighting
Lighting significantly affects the function and mood of a room. Ensure you have necessary task lighting in your guest room, including vanity lighting and bedside lamps for late-night reading. Additionally, let in natural light to give the space a welcoming and fresh feel.
11. Help With Morning Coffee and Midnight Snacks
I don’t know about you, but I need my morning coffee before starting my day. I like to include coffee service in my guest rooms, placing a coffee pot and supplies near a water source. Additionally, it’s nice to include a small beverage fridge and a snack tray, so visitors don’t have to run to the kitchen in their skivvies. While creating a wet bar is nice, supplying the essentials is enough.
12. Provide Sightseeing Gear
Don’t make your guests feel dependent on you during their stay. After all, you may need to go about your workday routine while they take in some sightseeing. Give them access to a set of house keys and include a guest book of things to do in town and the house rules (like making sure the dog is brought in before leaving). Include a basket of bottled water, sunscreen, and other sightseeing gear.
13. Provide a Quiet and Private Escape
Distance makes the heart grow fonder. While you are excited to get one-on-one time with your guests, providing them with a quiet and private retreat at the end of the day is important. Ensure your guest room is finished with a heavy locking door and sound-absorbing textiles. Consider upholstering the walls or adding floor-to-ceiling drapes to help reduce sound.
14. Don’t Forget Your Manners
Finally, don’t forget your manners. Being a welcoming host will impact your guests’ stay the most. Don’t open the door to a messy house or overwhelm them with complicated rules. Provide them autonomy and allow them to settle in before demanding their time. Offer them a drink upon arrival and show them to their stunning guest room retreat to unpack and unwind.
Design to be the Host With the Most
Now, you have everything you need to create a guest room so welcoming that you may move in yourself. Set you and your guests up for a relaxed and fun visit. Design your space so you can be the host with the most!
Your guests will thank you for it.
Amity Worrel is an award-winning interior designer based in Austin, Texas. She has worked on high-end interior design projects for celebrities and tastemakers in NYC, LA, and the Bahamas. In 2008, Amity decided to bring her passion for diverse design back to her hometown of Austin. Her spaces pull from timeless design concepts ranging from coastal contemporary to cozy cottage to Austin eclectic. Emotional connections, functional flow, and a touch of humor remain central to every interior design scheme. Her work has been published in national and local publications, including The Wall Street Journal, House Beautiful, HGTV Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, and Austin Home. In her free time, she loves perusing estate sales and diving into design history. Learn more about Amity.