budget friendly guest room tips

Twelve Ideas to Update Your Guest Room before the Holidays

budget friendly guest room tips

Twelve easy budget friendly ideas to update your guest room before the holidays. - Jillian Lare

It’s the last week of October, which means the holidays are right around the corner! 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 bedding

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

Amber Interiors

This is not college, and your guest bed should not be pushed up against the wall unless there is literally no other option. It’s definitely not 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

Brady Tolbert Bedroom Makeover

Brady Tolbert via Emily Henderson

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

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.

Clean out a dresser drawer

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.

Provide a charging station

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.

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.

Hang 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 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.


West Elm Belgian Flax Linen Curtain

Add a mirror (or two)

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. You should 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.

Update the lighting

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

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.

Provide those little extras

Nord Architecture

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.

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!

Twelve easy budget friendly ideas to update your guest room before the holidays. - Jillian Lare

Master Bedroom & Bathroom Refresher

I recently completed a concept for a transitional and neutral master bedroom and bathroom refresh. My clients wanted to replace their hand-me-down furniture and update the look to their current taste but were torn between investing in this home or starting from scratch with a new-build.

When we met, they were already fairly settled on a paint scheme of warm grays and had selected a new carpet for the majority of their spaces including their master bedroom. They originally called me to give a second opinion on the paint selection and provide advice on what they should update if they were going to sell. Luckily for them, their kitchen cabinets were in fairly good shape with a neutral backsplash and dark granite countertops. I advised them to upgrade their basic builder grade lighting and some of their window treatments.

Then we moved into the master bedroom, and I immediately saw that it had real potential, which wasn’t readily apparent given their current decor.

A couple shots of the room before…


You can see the scale of the nightstands and table lamps is too diminutive for the size of the room.


The window treatments aren’t properly designed for the space and don’t take advantage of the 9′ ceilings. The TV feels awkward shoved into the corner and is a little low. It isn’t obvious from this perspective, but the dresser on the right is also too small for the space. The size of the furniture made sense in their last home but not in this room.

I asked them if they would consider updating their furniture, which they could always bring with them if they moved, and purchasing new window treatments. I could see that the room, which was generously sized, and very bright would be a huge asset if it were decorated properly. Happily, they agreed with me and also decided to paint out all of their maple trim to white.


I created a space plan that incorporated a king size bed instead of their current queen and oversized nightstands that could double as small dressers. The larger scale of these pieces works well with the size of the room and actually makes it feel more spacious.

Across from the bed, I placed a larger dresser to ground their flat screen television and an armchair next to it, which softens the corner and provides a convenient spot for tossing clothing at night or putting on shoes and socks.

Transitional Neutral Master Bedroom Concept

The wall color – Sherwin Williams False Creek Greige – is a deeper warm gray. I kept the upholstery and drapery lighter to provide contrast, while the nightstands and dresser are darker in tone to keep the room from feeling too feminine. The white, urn-style lamps are quite tall at 36.5″ and balance the wide nightstands and tall headboard.

Woven wood Roman shades layered with linen drapery panels, which will be hung on simple wrought iron rods, add depth and texture to the windows.

My clients also wanted to improve the aesthetics of their master bathroom without undergoing a full remodel. We had to work with the existing maple cabinetry and warm beige tile and still make the space feel cohesive with the master bedroom.

The current cabinetry…


And the tile…


I recommended switching out their cultured marble countertops to quartz with under-mount sinks and replacing their builder grade faucets. I also suggested trading the large wall-mounted mirror for two individual framed mirrors and centering the light fixtures on each sink.

Transitional Master Bathroom ConceptThey selected the craftsman inspired vanity lights from a number of options I provided, and I decided to play off the lines of the lights by selecting fixtures and accessories that were square rather than curvy. I recommended a warmer white, marble inspired quartz to coordinate with the existing tile. New, polished nickel bathroom accessories and hardware also help dress up the basic tile and cabinets.

I really enjoy quick projects like this, especially when the clients are open to my suggestions and interested in making changes. I know they’ve already demoed their bathroom counters and mirror, so they are well on their way to an updated space.

If you need help pulling together a room in your home, I’d love to help. It doesn’t matter where you live…I can work with you no matter your location. You can contact me via the website or email me at jillian@www.jillianlare.com.


Upholstered Headboard Inspiration from Houzz

The master bedroom seems to be one of those rooms that goes unfinished until the rest of the house has been taken care of and appropriately decorated. We have the basics in our bedroom right now – a platform bed frame that Keegan built, nightstands (that he also built), a large dresser with a mirror, lighting and sheer draperies. I have a little list of tweaks I want to make to this room, and I think I’m going to start with adding a headboard.
The space over the bed is currently empty. I thought about purposefully forgoing a headboard in favor of a large piece of art, but I’ve decided that I want to go the DIY upholstered headboard route and use it as another way to introduce a little softness into the room. I started an Ideabook on Houzz to gather inspiration for this little project. Here are a few of the great options that I found…

Contemporary Bedroom design by New York Media And Blogs Vendome Press

I don’t know what I like more about this room – the wallpaper or the bed. This room feels very elegant and traditional with the dark wood tones and symmetrical nightstands, but it still appears welcoming and cozy. I think the shape and color of this headboard is interesting, though I don’t care for the two little pieces that look like lamb’s ears. 

Contemporary Bedroom design by Orange County Interior Designer Domicile Interior Design

In this room, I like how the neutral headboard pops off the dark walls. A similar style would work well in our bedroom, which is painted Sherwin Williams Quiver Tan, a warm gray brown with green undertones.

Eclectic Bedroom design by New York Interior Designer TILTON FENWICK

This headboard is incredibly feminine with it’s elegant cuves, embellished with cording, and delicate pattern. The headboard interrupts the fabulous graphic floral wallpaper in a good way.

Contemporary Bedroom design by Boston Interior Designer Robin’s Nest

A generously tufted arched headboard in a dusty violet velvet is very dramatic and would be too formal for our house, but I appreciate the daring palette the designer applied in this room.

Contemporary Bedroom design by Toronto Interior Designer Meredith Heron

Here the designer uses the headboard as an opportunity to introduce color. I like how the rest of the elements in the room are fairly restrained  and that the red from the headboard is repeated in the patterned fabrics on the benches and the the throw pillows. This room feels both sophisticated and comfortable.

What do you think about upholstered headboards? Do you prefer arched or straight across? Patterned or solid? Tufted or flat? Embellished or plain? There are so many endless combinations and so many opportunities to create a completely custom look. You can view more upholstered head board ideas and the rest of my IdeaBook on Houzz.