Be our guest: the ultimate guest room

A few towels and some clean sheets may do for some guest bedrooms, but going the extra mile in the design and setup of your spare room will pamper visitors and give them a hotel experience in a homely environment.

Delightful décor choices

Use color to create a calm space which appeals to the majority of people’s tastes. Unless it is a theme throughout your house, guest rooms are usually not the place to try out neon walls or busy designs. Save bold choices for accessories instead so it is not too overwhelming. Also, opt for lighter hues if the room is small or does not benefit from a lot of natural light.

If you have the freedom to choose the lighting for the room, ensure that guests can control the brightness levels, either by layering with overheads and bedside lamps, or with dimmer switches. Central ceiling-mounted fixtures may deliver too harsh a light for such a relaxing space – instead aim for ambient lighting of 2,000-4,000 lumens. Ensure there is ample light for bedtime reading with simple bedside lamps with a minimum of 500 lumens, or a for-purpose wall-mounted extendable light.

A good guest room is a home-away-from-home, with everything a visitor needs at their fingertips.

For when light is not required, consider putting up blackout curtains. Blackout curtains need not be the plain drapes of yesteryear, and can make a difference to your guests’ quality of sleep, especially if they have travelled from overseas. Remember: you don’t sleep in this room, so you might not be aware that morning light or nighttime streetlamps stream through the window. Either buy purpose-made blackout curtains, or add a thick second layer behind your existing window dressings.

Aside from soft linens on the bed – combed cotton sheets between 300-400 thread count are very nice – introduce texture into the room in other ways. If your guest room is not carpeted, an area rug under the bed, or one on either side, will create a softness underfoot when your guests gets into or out of bed. Throws draped on the bed or nearby chair bring added softness, and a few wicker or wood accessories bring further depth and contrast.

Accessorize wisely


Accessories can really dress up the space, and can be changed frequently making the room feel fresh and new. A few lightly scented candles dotted around the room always bring a little something extra to the space. Flowers, too, can brighten a room. If you are unsure whether your guest has allergies, choose silk flowers, or low allergen varieties such as hydrangea, daffodil or roses, or even opt for an on-trend succulent display.

Wall and shelf décor will transform a bland space into something more interesting and cozy, whether it’s framed family photos or art, or décor items such as sculptures, bowls or spheres. Don’t overdo the decorating, there is a fine line between cluttered and well-styled.

An oversized floor mirror also adds interest as well as making the space seem larger, and is especially useful if there is no en suite bathroom.

Hosting tips

shutterstock_422315245A good guest room is a home-away-from-home, with everything a visitor needs at their fingertips. A tray on the bed with a bottle of water and some non-perishable snacks is a nice touch, as is a basket with travel-size shampoo, toiletries and tissue in the bathroom (as well as ample supplies of TP and towels). If you will be at work while you have visitors you may even want to leave a spare key and the Wi-Fi password for them, plus a universal charger for out-of-town guests.

Provide your guests with things to do in their room when they want to retreat and relax. A few books or magazines on the nightstand, and even a TV will help them while away the hours. A comfy chair or end-of-bed bench allows for reclining. If space and budget do not allow, provide enough pillows on the bed for both sleeping and for propping up while reading; two firm and two soft will give guests an option.

Many of us use guest rooms for storage when we are visitor-free, but when guests arrive make sure they are the focus. Clear out space for their clothes in closets and drawers – or add over the door hanging space, and don’t forget to supply hangers.

If you can’t give guests access to the thermostat to control their room’s temperature, offer a variety of covers. Have a flat sheet under the duvet for if they get warm, and place throws or quilts in easily accessible areas if they need more layers.


Looking for some extra guest room inspiration? Check out InsideOut’s picks of the best guest room products here.