anew gray master bedroom

Twelve Tips to Upgrade Your Guest Room so Your Guests Will Never Want to Leave

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Covid-19 has disrupted every facet of our lives. Even though we probably won’t be vacationing this year or any time soon, we may still travel to see family at the holidays. I can’t think of anything more comforting in these uncertain times than being surround by people I love and maintaining a sense of normalcy during the holiday season.

If you’re expecting overnight guests this holiday season, now would be a great time to spruce up your guest bedroom to ensure that they experience a comfortable and cozy visit. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming or cost a lot of money to add those extra little touches that show your guests you care. 

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I like to think about my favorite hotels and how they create a standout experience. It rarely has anything to do with how expensive or luxurious the hotel is. Often, it’s those thoughtful little touches like a free bottle of water, a soft duvet cover, or a place to charge my phone by the bed that stick in my mind after we’ve gone home. So, here are twelve ideas for your guest bedroom that you can tackle over the next several weeks to create a memorable stay for your guests.

Upgrade Your Guest Room Bed with High-Quality Bedding

waffle linen blanket on etsy
Waffle Linen Blanket by Magic Linen on Etsy

My goal for my guest bed is for it to be as comfortable (if not more so) than my guest’s bed at home. Comfy bedding does not have to break the bank. My favorite place to purchase sheets and blankets is actually Target. They are high quality and come in super cute patterns, which often go on sale.

The key to comfortable bedding is in the mix. Different people like different types of bedding. I start with a padded mattress cover and add super soft sheets and pillowcases. Then I layer on a light cotton blanket for summer. In winter, I might swap it out for a cozy fleece blanket. I add a light quilt to top it off and drape a folded duvet with cover to the end of the bed. If my guest gets hot, she can kick off the duvet, but she has plenty of options in case she gets cold.

Pull the BEd Away From the Wall

budget friendly guest room tips

If there’s any way at all you can pull the bed away from the wall, you should. It’s never fun for the person who has to sleep along the wall (usually me), especially if the bed is only a full size. You need a scant 24″ between the bed and wall, but even 18″ would do in a pinch.

Once you’ve moved the bed, make sure to add a surface and a light on each side. This could be as simple as a wall-mount shelf paired with a sconce in a tight space. Ideally, each side of the bed should have a light source and a surface for a glass of water.

Add a Chair or Bench - Somewhere to Sit Other than the Bed

Serena and Lily Bench

Consider adding a chair to a corner or bench at the foot of the bed if you have room. It’s the perfect spot to toss clothes at the end of the day, set down a purse or bag, or put on shoes. You can also place fresh towels or a welcome basket on the bench for your guests prior to their arrival.

Make Space in the Closet for their Clothes

Twelve Pack of Wooden Hangers

I use my guest room closet for overflow storage too, but I like to keep a little room with empty hangers so my guests can hang up clothes that are easily wrinkled as well as their outerwear. Leave the closet door a little ajar before they arrive, so they can see you’ve thought ahead.

Clear out a Drawer in The Dresser

West Elm Parker Dresser

If your guests are going to be staying for longer than a couple days, it’s nice for them to have a place to unpack their clothes. I like to pull everything out of my suitcase and repack it with dirty clothes as I wear them.

Set Up a Charging Station for Them to ReCharge their Phone & Devices

Have you ever stayed in someone’s guest room and not been able to find a single outlet to charge your phone? Or forgotten your phone charger at home? Both situations are totally frustrating. Make sure an outlet is visible for your guests and pick up a couple of cheap charging cords – one for Apple products and one for Android. If the most convenient outlet by the bed is behind the bed, run an extension cord to each nightstand. They are incredibly inexpensive, and your guests will really appreciate this small gesture.

conway electric usb plug

This Conway Electric extension cord with USB ports is a splurge that I’m considering for my bedroom, but its cool design means it can sit out on a table vs. being tucked under or behind furniture. Plus it comes in several fun color combos.

Help Your Guests Sleep Late With Blackout Curtains or Shades

Pottery Barn Linen Blackout Curtains

If your guest room currently lacks any sort of window treatment or the current shades are hard to operate or looking kind of sad, consider hanging some blackout draperies. IKEA sells inexpensive curtain rods and blackout panels (we have them in Ashton’s room) that you can hem with the included ironing tape. This is a quick weekend project that will make a world of difference for your guests’ ability to sleep well. Install the rod so that there are about six inches on either side of the window for the curtains to stack back and at a height where the bottom of the curtains just kiss the ground.

I like Target and World Market for inexpensive curtain panels, but they don’t have a great selection of blackouts. If you have a little more room in the budget, West Elm makes great blackout curtains. Not a fan of curtains in general? You can purchase woven wood shades with a blackout liner at Lowe’s that can be cut to size. We used one in the guest room of our last house with a set of simple IKEA curtain panels. It looked great and was super functional for both privacy and light control.

Add a Mirror or Two

Urban Outfitters Storage Mirror

Hang a full-length mirror on the back of the door or in an inconspicuous spot, so your guest can check her outfit without having to leave the room. It doesn’t need to be fancy.

Anthropologie Triptych Mirror

You could also add a wall mirror over the dresser or another surface so she can do her makeup without having to tie up the bathroom. This is critical if you only have one bathroom or your guests share a bathroom with your kids. Bonus points for adding an outlet or extension cord so she can dry her hair.

Upgrade the Lighting

Anthrpologie Wall Sconce

If your guest room suffers from poor lighting or even no lighting, consider adding some additional lamps. For example, you could place a small lamp on the dresser or a floor lamp in a corner.

If the ceiling lighting is particularly harsh, it’s usually fairly easy to install a dimmer switch. Make sure all of the lightbulbs in the room are 2700 kelvins for a warm inviting glow (you can find the kelvins on the back of the box). The higher the kelvins the cooler the light, and cooler light is less flattering and more disruptive to sleep.

Install a Row of Hooks

Rejuvenation Walnut Hook Rack

It drives me nuts when my husband throws his clothes on the floor at night. Hooks are an easy storage solution especially in smaller rooms that might not have room for a dresser or lack a true closet.

Install a Shaker style peg rack or a row of hooks so that your guests can easily hang up their clothes and jackets. Hooks that are sturdy enough to hold a purse or light bag (use wall anchors) can help keep the floor clear in a small room. We have a similar hook rack to the Rejuvenation one above in our tiny mudroom (three actually), and they hold a ton of coats and bags.

Provide those Little Extras that make all the Difference

Finally, assemble a small box or basket of items that your guests may have forgotten like toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, q-tips, shaving cream, etc. This is a great way to make use of sample size products you’ve snagged from hotels or received as a gift with purchase. Include a couple of bottles of water in case they forget to bring a glass to bed with them.

You might also add little packets of Tylenol and Tums in case everyone stayed up a little too late having cocktails. Place at least one box of tissues in the room and stash a small wastebasket somewhere. Print out a little card with the name of your wifi network and password for easy reference and place it on the dresser or nightstand.

Bonus Points for Going Above and BEyond

Create a little coffee station with an inexpensive pod coffee maker and a pitcher of water. Or an electric kettle with an assortment of tea including decaf varieties.

Arrange fresh flowers in a pretty vase on the dresser before they arrive.
Stock a drawer or basket with a folder full of takeout brochures for local attractions. Include a copy of the free local magazine so they can read up on what’s happening in your city.

Print up a list of nearby conveniences like gas stations, Starbucks, the grocery store, etc. If your guests get up early and want a snack or a latté, they won’t have to wait around for you to wake up.

By following even some of these tips, you can upgrade your guest bedroom and provide your guests with a comfortable and relaxing space to retire or escape during their visit with you. The best part is that most of them are inexpensive fixes that you can tackle over time.

Do you have a favorite friend or family member that you love to visit because they have an awesome guest room? What is it about that room that makes it feel special? My guess is that it’s nothing fancy or expensive, but the considerate little touches that make you feel at home.

PS. You can use all of these ideas to upgrade your master bedroom as well!

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Welcome!

Jillian Lare is a Des Moines based interior designer. She blogs about her current projects, interior design tips and tricks, and her life in Iowa with her young son, husband, and lovable Labrador.

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