Ten Tips for Upping the Guest Room

Designport's Ideas for Making Visitors Feel Invited

If you’re like me, your guest room is threatening to become the “Island of Misfit Toys,” the landing spot for odds and ends, the large closet for off-season clothing, and where old throw pillows go to die. 

Before the holidays hit and your guests descend into this mess, take a minute to think about how you might restyle this space. Start by decluttering. General rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t find it in a hotel room, it doesn’t belong. Then what does?

As a semi-professional home stalker (Designport content creator), I’ve reflected on the many homes I’ve snooped around in recently and came up with ten tips for styling a great guest suite. Many of these can be accomplished at a local shop or with 1-click:


  1. Essential Greens: Is anything in the room alive (aside from the dust bunnies)?  A vibrant plant in a fun pot goes a long way to enliven a space, and lasts much longer than cut flowers. Think spider plants (easy to grow in indirect light, air purifying), bamboo (low maintenance, instant visual interest), or the well-named Thanksgiving cactus (fits on a shelf, adds a splash of color).

  2. Bedding Audit: Bring your hotel-quality bedding game into this room.  I love bedding that’s simple and relaxed, with a textured or patterned throw blanket and two oversized pretty pillows. Can you add a feather-bed mattress topper? How about a leather or wicker basket with extra blankets in the corner? Look for pillows with zippers so you can wash the covers and swap them out seasonally (I don’t do this, but you could).

  3. DIY Art: If an original painting isn't in the budget, don’t settle for a generic print from a big-box store. Enlarging and framing a photograph is easier and cheaper than you think. You can make a 24x36 black & white engineer print out of a favorite kid or landscape image at Staples for about $7. (Google instructions on how to adjust resolution for optimal results). Another easy DIY art idea: create a collage out of a collection. Shown here, a framed display of coffee bags. I’ve also seen it done on a smaller scale with vintage matchbooks and silk fans. 

  4. A Fluffy Floor: Have wall-to-wall carpet or bare floors? Add a soft Moroccan throw rug on top for a layered look. Etsy is a great place to shop for this. 

  5. Cave Vibes: This is not a quick fix, but if you are considering painting the room, or even just one wall, don’t be afraid to go dark to give your guest room a cozy feeling. For an easier update to a white room, consider warm paint on the trim. Or splurge on a patterned wallpaper for the entire space (we’ll need a separate article for this). Also a must-have, black-out curtains so your guests can hibernate.    


6. Nice Rack: Invest in a folding luggage rack, to keep them from having to bend down to pick up their socks. 

7. Snacks!: Call us crazy, but if you’ve got the nook, a mini-fridge will never upset anyone. To avoid #dormvibes, make it a cute one, like the colorful Smeg mini. Keep water, seltzers and chocolates in the fridge, and if you are ambitious, a basket with favorite snacks at the ready, so guests don’t have to skulk around your kitchen at midnight.  If a fridge doesn’t fit your room, repurpose a pretty tray and add a carafe for water.

8. Easy Reader: Stylish reading lamps are always an improvement over recessed lights. If the switches aren’t easy to access, I love the small touch-pad dimmer switches you can buy on Amazon and attach to any plug-in lamp. Add a stack of your favorite hardcover books to the nightstand, they’ll do double duty as decoration and a lending library.

9. Love Notes: While you’ll want to avoid “art with words” you can purchase a felt letter-board where you can spell out personalized welcome notes to prop up on the nightstand (or just spell out your wifi password for them). While you’re at it, supply a guest book for friends and family to sign their names and write about their visit. (If they leave a bad review, don’t invite them back).

10. The Five-Star Bath: In the guest bathroom, along with fluffy towels, a soft robe set is a welcome find, as are your favorite bath products, a high-powered hair dryer, and a curling iron, so your guests can give themselves a glow-up. 

And, if you do nothing else, remember: declutter.  Donate and recycle items and stick the rest in a storage bag in your attic. Just be mindful not to make your guest room too nice, or they may not leave. Happy holidays!

Jen Berniker is a freelance writer and the Editor of Designport, an on-line and social media platform for sharing home design inspiration and expert advice from homeowners and professionals in our area. Find them at MyDesignport.com, on Facebook, and on Instagram @my_designport

As a semi-professional home stalker (Designport content creator), I’ve reflected on the many homes I’ve snooped around in recently and came up with ten tips for styling a great guest suite.

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