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Spruce Up the Guest Room

A Cozy, Welcoming Environment for the Holiday Visitor

December 13, 2019

Spruce Up the Guest Room

A Cozy, Welcoming Environment for the Holiday Visitor

December 13, 2019

In today's post, we're going to break down some guest room essentials: "How to Build a Better Guest Room," you might call it. What with the holidays here, it seems a great time to talk about it.

Maybe you already had visitors for Thanksgiving, maybe some folks are coming in for the holidays, maybe it would be a safer decision for some guests to spend the night on New Year's Eve. 

A guest room needs more than a little plumping of the pillows and a new throw blanket to be the welcoming retreat that makes visitors feel really cared for and thought of in advance.

Photographer: Shannon Weight Photography | Light: Heirloom by HVL

"How did you sleep?" is likely to be the first question on your lips the next morning. So, it's without a doubt that the bed is the most important piece of the room. 

You want to make sure you have the comfiest mattress, a bed big enough to accommodate at least two (larger if you've got friends or family who bedshare with their little ones), and sheets with a high thread count. One way to keep it fresh is to have different sets for different seasons, lightening the color palette and load of pillows in the warmer months and moving into darker hues and more pillows in the colder months. Come the winter, a set of flannel sheets are so welcome. Plaid ones by L.L. Bean are sterling standbys.

Thinner blankets on top of the duvet add layers and allow guests to choose how many layers will keep them comfortable.

A new duvet, a fresh pillowcase, additional pillows are all great ways to add decorative interest and comfort, varying size and textures, and changing them with the seasons.

Seasonal pillow fun! | Home: Ashlee of Miller, Myer & Me | Flush mount: Network by Troy

Homeowner: Tammy Groethe of Vintage White Farmhouse |  Flush mount: Geneva by HVL

For lighting, there are two main things to consider: an ambient source on a dimmer and some lighting near the bed. Depending on your design aesthetic and what the space allows, this could be low-hanging single-light pendants, sconces, or table lamps on the bedside tables.

If you choose pendants or sconces, make sure shade is about even with eye level. You want the light to be able to illuminate the pages of a book well, but you don't want possible glare from the light hitting their eyes. A light with a white glass diffuser will evenly distribute the light, while something with an industrial shade is going to sculpt the light on a certain area—just something to think about.


  • Whether table or floor lamp, position so the bottom of the shade is 42" from the floor.


  • Between 55-60" of space from floor to top of sconce is ideal.
  • For sconces with a switch or adjustable arms, keep within arm's reach from a sitting position.

One-light pendants

  • Hang the light so the shade is about even with the side of your head or slightly higher from an upright seated position.


Design: Ashley Cooper Design | Pendants: Haley by Mitzi

Design: Sam Design, Inc. | Pendant: Jasmine by Mitzi

Homeowners: Steve and Nikki Carlson of Cottage and Sea | Lights: Piper lamps by Mitzi

If you do have bedside tables, there are some other items you may want to include, leaving enough room for a glass of water, glasses, and other things.

While an alarm clock is probably old-fashioned, some sort of clock is not a bad idea. But the times they have a-changed. Today's guest likely has their smartphone or tablet near them and uses it to tell time and to wake up to, and probably to read and listen to any music they want, as well.

Toward that end, have some kind of card made up that has the wi-fi network name and password, so they don't have to ask, and keep a Bluetooth-linked sound device nearby or set of headphones in the drawer. They may have some music they want to unwind with, or a certain podcast or guided meditation they like to listen to before bed. Having a Bluetooth-linked speakers or headphones to pair to makes them feel at home. As with the wi-fi, just having the name of the device and instructions printed up and on the table is a thoughtful move.

To really spruce things up and make guests feel welcome, place fresh flowers near the bed. Ever dream of being a B&B-keeper? Now's your chance. A basket or tray with towels, a fresh bar of soap, any other bathroom essentials you can think of, crisply waiting for them in the guest room will not only make them feel so cared for, it will add a charming touch to the room. 


Homeowner: The Farmhouse Project | Light: Brasher by HVL

One thing an interior designer may really help out with is the window treatment. Often neglected or done in a bare-bones style by a homeowner, window treatments come in many styles and have thoughtfully layered components, including the shade, swag, curtains. Roman, cellular, roll-down, honeycomb, pleated, woven: there are so many different kinds of shades, which may provide an alluring decorative texture while helping the guest to customize how much light gets in. With curtains and perhaps a swag along top, they're in control of blocking not just morning light out but also any unwanted nearby exterior light. It also keeps the room warmer in the winter. If they like the light to come streaming in when the day breaks, they have that option, too. The important part is they have the option, and that their needs for sleep, comfort, and waking up have all been considered and attended to in a beautiful space that's a pleasure to be in.