Creating and Furnishing a Guest Room

What's Necessary, Nice and Plain Practical

Posted by Sirena Rubinoff | Sep 01, 2009
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Do you remember the amazing feeling you had last time you left a truly great hotel? Well, not everyone can provide room service or 500 cable channels in their home's guest room, but you most certainly can give your guests a place to stay that will leave them feeling rested and invigorated in a much more personal way than any 5-star hotel room can do. The great part is that you don't have to pay hotel prices to get your guest room looking hotel-good. The most important thing to remember is that you want your guest room to be a comfortable and clean place for your guests to rest, and we can tell you where to go from there. So have a look at these tips, use them to be creative, and have fun when building and furnishing your home's guest room!

The Necessary Stuff

Less is more. If your guest room is not doubling as an office or other specified space, you should make sure that you only leave items that are absolutely necessary in the guest room. Such items will include: a bed, fresh linens, closet, desk, reading lamp, chair, trash bin, and window coverings. (Money-saver tip: You can get beautiful bamboo roll-up blinds from Home Depot for less than $25 that are an economic and practical solution for blocking light and providing privacy) Leave an extra pillow, blanket and set of linens in the closet, if you can. You also should try to provide a simple and inexpensive luggage rack like this $7 Canon rack from, especially if your guests are older and might have trouble bending down to the floor to get items out of a suitcase. (Space saver tip: If you're working with a small room, you can add a trunk that holds all of the extra linens inside and provides a flat space to store luggage on top. This works especially well in combination office/guestrooms since the trunk can serve as a coffee table or workspace near the couch during the day and a surface area for luggage storage at night.)

Next, be sure to clear out hanging space in the closet along with 6-8 hangers and shelf or drawer space so your guests have a place to put small items away. You can put in a dresser or nightstand if you have physical space and room in your budget, or use existing desk drawers or the closet. (Space and money saver tip: If you don't have room or money for a piece of furniture with shelves in it, you can put an Organize-It hanging shoe rack in the closet for only $11. Assuming your guest doesn't bring their entire shoe collection, there should be at least a few extra slots where they can put away smaller items like keys, wallet, cell phone, etc.) Lastly, be sure to give your guests an extra set of house keys so they feel comfortable letting themselves in and out of your home.

The Combo Room

If you don't have an extra room in your house to act solely as the guestroom, you can have your office double as a place to house guests. First, consider using a computer desk that can double as a personal surface area for your guest. This $153 O' Sullivan Corner Computer Workcenter is ideal because you can keep your work documents and office equipment organized in the built-in shelving to the left of the computer, while leaving plenty of surface area to the right of the computer. Clear out the drawer, add a comfortable chair, and attach a mirror to the wall and voila, you've created a dual office desk and make-up application space! This will make your guest feel more at home and less in your space while they are staying with you. A pullout sofa bed is another great addition to your home office because it provides a place for you to relax when working in the daytime, while simultaneously being a comfortable place for your guest to sleep in the nighttime. If your budget can't cover a new sofa bed, check out to see if anyone in your neighborhood is selling or giving their old sofa bed away or you can turn to a futon mattress as a less expensive alternative that also doubles as couch and bed. If you're really tight on space, keep an air mattress tucked neatly away in a trunk or closet for easy inflation at a moment's notice when receiving those last minute guests.

Themes Are Fun and Endearing

Give your room the pizzazz that your friends know and love about you! Choose a theme that speaks to you and use it to adorn your walls tastefully and sparingly. You can go with a favorite color scheme if you feel like being creative and breaking out some paint, or hang up some framed photos you've taken over the years. Place some throw pillows, like this one from Marimekko, on your guest room bed or couch to add an inexpensive splash of color. You can also use the guest room as a place to express the hobbies you love. Try adding movie posters if you're a movie buff or nature scenes if you love camping and the outdoors. Colorful scented candles add a subtle sense of romance and glamour without running up the bill. Feel free to use anything that speaks to you and gives character to the room without cluttering it. These personal touches will bring a smile to your guest's face and give them something to remember about your personal taste and style.

The Finishing Touch

A clock radio with built-in alarm, an extra house phone, box of tissues, and a pad of paper with pen are all great ways to add convenience for your guests. (Tip: If you have wireless internet, write your network password on the front of the note pad for your guest's convenience.) Leave a water bottle out for guests so they don't feel the need to navigate your house in the dark in case they need a drink after nightfall. If your guest will be traveling around town without you, it's always nice to provide them with an area map so they can find their way around. Add a more personal touch by marking off a few of your favorite restaurants and sightseeing spots on the map. Lastly, if you get the newspaper or favorite magazines delivered to your door, put them in a common area (living room, dining room, kitchen) and invite your guests to help themselves to some light reading and relaxing.

Last-Minute Tips

Before your guests arrive, give the room a dusting and remember to check that all of your electronics work (lights, fans, television, radio, etc). Open and close the bedroom and closet doors and windows to make sure they don't squeak - and if they do, spray them down with some WD-40 to remove that unwelcome sound. Finally, take a deep breath, put a smile on your face and welcome your guests warmly into your home.

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