Spare bedrooms are so often an afterthought, furnished with leftover pieces from other areas of the house or used as dumping grounds for unwanted clutter. But with a little bit of effort, you can create a welcoming and comfortable space where guests want to spend time. Here’s how…
Treat it like your own bedroom
Start by thinking about what would make you feel at home and go from there. Blogger Ruthie Matthews of Design Soda says: “I would always recommend treating a spare bedroom as you would your own and giving it the same care and attention. In my case this means a comfortable and welcoming space accented by natural textures.”
Look for clever furniture solutions
Guest bedrooms often have to perform a dual purpose – ours, for example, doubles as my work space – so versatile furniture is a must. Ruthie recommends looking for streamlined, multi-purpose pieces that can be folded away when not in use, as does interior stylist Donna Howell: “Whether a spare room be a study, a dressing room or a studio, the first thing I always tell clients is to start by planning storage. The idea here is to be clever and have a place for everything so that the space easily converts.”
For example, if your guest bedroom also acts as a home office, then look for a desk with a pull-out computer shelf than can be pushed out of sight when not in use, and make sure files and paperwork are hidden away in drawers or cupboards. If you need to use the room for storage, invest in a divan bed with drawers in the base, or buy crates that you can slide underneath.
Keep things neutral
When it comes to colour, both Ruthie and Donna advise creating a neutral base. “I favour light grey,” says Ruthie, “as it’s a calming and non-controversial shade.” But that doesn’t mean the décor has to lack character, as you can incorporate interest and texture through cushions, artworks and other accessories. “Your guests know you well,” Ruthie adds, “so little pieces that represent you or tell a story about your past will help to create a feeling of easy welcome.”
Think about lighting
Lighting has a major impact on both the feel and functionality of a space, so make sure the bedroom incorporates task lighting for reading and dressing, as well as softer ambient lighting. Interior designer Mathilde Kubisiak of MK Design says: “Multiple, dimmable light sources will create a calming and nurturing atmosphere – an overhead pendant light and a few adjustable lamps are a great combination.”
If you don’t have enough space for nightstands with full bedside lamps, try fixing wall lights above the bed or look for clip-on reading lights that can be attached to the headboard.
Invest in high-quality bedding
Good bedding can make the difference between a great night’s sleep or an awful one. Donna advises: “Whether you have a permanent bed, a daybed or a sofabed, choose the best-quality bedding you can afford. My personal favourite is linen, as it’s warm in the winter months yet cool during summer; alternatively, go with high-thread-count Egyptian cotton.”
Layering the bed with a top sheet, a duvet and an extra blanket or throw is also a good idea, as it means guests can adapt it to their ideal sleeping temperature. And think about providing a choice of pillows – I have some friends and family who prefer feather pillows and others who like synthetic ones, so I put a set of each on the bed and let them choose.
Provide space to unpack
Give your guests somewhere to hang clothes so that they don’t have to live out of a suitcase. It doesn’t have to be a full wardrobe – Donna suggests installing a peg rail painted the same colour as the wall, but even a few hooks on the back of the door will help. It’s also worth adding a small rack or bench where people can store luggage, rather than tripping over things left on the floor. And if you have a chest of drawers or cupboard in the room, try to leave a bit of space free for guests to use.
Don’t forget the little things
Finally, make your guests feel pampered with little touches such as fresh flowers, a carafe of water and perhaps a few interesting books or magazines dotted here and there. You could even provide toiletries and other easily-forgotten essentials such as toothbrushes – perhaps build up a stock of hotel miniatures and leave them in a pretty basket so that guests can help themselves.
Other useful touches include a make-up mirror, a kettle for making tea and coffee, and a note with the WiFi password. Mathilde also likes to add comfy slippers and a relaxing scented candle, while Donna leaves out a linen spray that guests can take away as a gift. And, very importantly, make sure there’s easy access to a plug for phone chargers, hairdryers and the like – it’s very frustrating when the only sockets are hidden behind heavy furniture!
Thanks ladies for all of these great tips and ideas for making your spare room a sanctuary rather than a store room! For more interiors inspiration, head over to our Pinterest page.