What to do with the spare room in your house that has slowly turned into a storage closet over time? With self-made promises to finally transform it into a proper guest room that you are proud to boast rather than shoo visitors away from, opt to do so without spending a fortune.
Alter the room of your choice to fit the needs of guests that will be traipsing throughout the holidays and beyond, from neutral colors and furniture alike to decor that can be used from season to season.
We spoke with Jessica Harris, Manager of Production Design at Living Spaces, and she had plenty of tips to share about how to rejuvenate and enhance the look of your future guest room.
How can I decorate my guest room without breaking the bank?
Harris’s key piece of advice is to reuse, especially if you have any furniture or decor items in your living room, dining room or other bedrooms that can be repurposed for your guest room.
“Many household items can function as stunning decor pieces with a bit of creativity,” Harris said. “For example, a decorative fruit bowl can make an amazing centerpiece for a nightstand or dresser, and an old stool can work as a unique side table after a layer of paint and some TLC. Setting a vase filled with flowers on your guest’s nightstand is another simple and budget-friendly way to decorate your guest room.”
During the holidays, opting for festive decor that can be brought out year after year is another budget-friendly way to incorporate new pieces into the space. Pieces such as Santa or dreidel statues, new pillow covers or accent pillows, or merry signs are all examples of how to redecorate and give your house a fresh feel without going over budget.
How do I decorate without buying new items for each guest?
Buying and sticking to a neutral color palette is one option for an effortless look and comfortable feel in the guest room.
“No matter what your guest’s favorite design style is, decorating your guest room in neutral colors will make the suite more versatile and is more likely to have a calming effect on your visitors as opposed to bright and bold shades,” Harris said.
Accessories and decor that can remain in the room no matter the season or color palette also serve as a way of only purchasing items once — and not each time you have a new guest visit.
“Items such as decorative mirrors and shelves filled with picture frames and books tend to be universally appreciated,” Harris said. “Scented candles and plants are also items that can boost any guest room, regardless of style.”
Accessories and decor for your guest room
The attention is in the details! While there are lots of ways to reuse decor from guest to guest and keep in the room year-round, there are also ways to add a personal touch to make your guests feel more at home.
“When thinking about decor for your guest room, pay special attention to the bed, as it tends to be the focal point of this space,” said Harris.
From blankets to punny candles, decor can bring a room together and elevate it to make your guest's stay more memorable.
Knit throw blanket
“A chunky, knit throw blanket is an amazing way to add dimension and texture to the bed while also giving your guest room a cozy feel that is perfect for the fall and winter months,” said Harris.
A more budget-friendly option, this blanket from Target provides a cozy option for nights when you need another layer. Choose from six colors to make matching other decor in the guest room a breeze.
This lightweight throw is perfect for lounging, no matter the season. Available in seven colors, drape this blanket option over an armchair, spread it out across a bed or fold and put in a wicker basket.
A classic blanket, this cream-colored option from Pottery Barn covers up to five feet, depending on the size purchased. Knit by hand, this blanket’s borders has “bobbles” that add flair and detail to an otherwise simple throw.
Available in three easy-to-match colors like forest green, ivory and terracotta, this blanket was made with a thick yarn, making you feel as though you’re laying on cloud nine.
Take the comfort of a chunky knit throw and add in the relaxation of a weighted blanket. “Overall, this is a high quality, decorative item,” one reviewer said. Another one added that it’s “soft, comfortable and I’m sleeping better than ever.”
A very affordable addition to any guest room, this miniature candle from Target will burn for up to 20 hours and costs only $5. Target's lifestyle brand, Opal House, has over over 200 options of candles, ranging from 10 to 20 ounces in size.
With four color options and two sizes to choose from, opt for a candle that will match any guest room perfectly. Whether it be silver, gold, pink or blue, the modern glass immediately gives this candle an elevated look compared to others.
Appropriately place this candle next to a coffee table book in your guest room. With hints of spices and oak moss, burn this while flipping through your favorite photo book.
If your guests scream for ice cream and have a constant hankering for the sweet treat, set out this candle that smells like waffle cones. With hints of vanilla, salted caramel and heavy cream, they might be asking to go to the local creamery afterwards.
Make your guest feel right at home with a candle that reminds them of their home state, city, their alma mater or a moment that makes them feel warm and fuzzy inside. With fresh snow scents to represent the state of Colorado and butter to show off the great state of Iowa, your guests will feel like they never left!
“Placing a decorative tray on the bed is another great way to elevate your guest room and make it look more sophisticated for visitors,” Harris said. “I always like to set a few of my guest’s favorite packaged snacks on the tray for them to discover when they arrive. This is a great way to make your guests feel welcome while also giving you the chance to show off your hosting skills.”
This simplistic tray can hold wine glasses, an assortment of snacks or a vase with flowers, all ample welcome gifts for your visitors. With over 150 five-star ratings, consumers love this tray because it’s “so versatile” and “very sturdy.”
Available in ash wood, whitewash or sage green, this tray can act as a catch-all for keys and coins, or can serve as a closed-in charcuterie board. With handles on the side, this portable tray can easily be transported from room to room within your house for a reusable decor piece.
This gold tray is “cute and well made,” according to reviewers. With rubber tabs on the bottom, this tray won’t scratch or scuff hard surfaces such as kitchen counters or dressers.
Another simple staple from H&M Home, this wooden breakfast tray has small handles on each side, so the first meal of the day can be brought to guests, or can be easily moved from room to room.
With over 8,500 verified five-star ratings and available in over 30 colors and textures like crocodile and lavender, this tray can fulfill the needs of any guest room design. “It is beautiful, sturdy and lightweight,” according to one reviewer.
Snacks, sweets and treats
When it comes to snacks, everyone has their preferences. From salty to sweet, meats and cheeses, finding ones that everyone will enjoy is a task in itself.
"I always like to set a few of my guest’s favorite packaged snacks on the tray for them to discover when they arrive," Harris said. "This is a great way to make your guests feel welcome while also giving you the chance to show off your hosting skills."
Chocolate-covered nut assortments are not only healthy, filling and delicious, you can also choose from six different chocolate coatings and nuts with this pack from Skinny Dipped. Stock in the fridge for a longer-lasting, refreshing treat on a warm day.
For guests who are of age and can’t wait to get the party started, opt for these Truly Seltzer-flavored gummy bears from Sugarfina. This party pack is only $20, making each individual case less than $3.50. Enjoy all of your favorite seltzer flavors in these bite-size portions, from mango to passionfruit and watermelon and kiwi.
Guests who want something a little more savory than sweet can turn to Sugarfina's Chocolate Lovers pack, which includes dark chocolate sea salt caramel, chocolate covered cookie dough and cold brew cordials. Presented in a box that can be wrapped or left alone due to its presentation, guests will be obsessed with these sweet treats.
This snack box variety comes with pretzels, Twizzlers, fruit snacks, Skinny Pop and other popular snacks to feed even the pickiest of eaters after a long travel day.
Large furniture items for your guest room
When starting with the blank slate of an empty room, large furniture items start to turn the vacancy into a lived-in space. Items such as a bed frame and bed, dresser, office desk and chair or armchairs, can help to make the room feel home-y for out of town guests.
Harris has the traveler in mind when she advises, “Living out of a suitcase can amplify the... stress your guests may already be experiencing, so having a dresser with a few empty drawers for them to place their clothes and other items in is a great way to make them feel more at home.”
A simple staple, this four-drawer dresser from Target is a budget-friendly option when outfitting a guest room. Reviewers called this option a “must buy” due to its sturdiness and high quality.
Available in five colors, this three-drawer dresser has earned over 5,000 five-star ratings and was described as “great for small spaces” by Wayfair. An added bonus is that reviewers noted it wasn’t hard to assemble and has enough room for those coming and going.
Standing atop four legs that make it taller than most dressers, this pick offers a modern take on dressers, elevating any guest room it stands tall in. “It looks elegant and works really well with other furniture around my house,” one reviewer said, proving this dresser’s versatility.
A refreshing and modern take on dressers, this one combines typical dresser drawers with the storage cubes we have all come to know and love. Purchase vinyl or wicker storage cubes to match your space, while your guests can unpack in the drawers. Reviewers love this dresser because it is “so cute and sturdy,” and warn you not to hesitate when purchasing-just do it!
Small office desk and chair
In a world where many have the option to work hybrid, reusing your guest room as an at-home office when it’s guest-free is another way to invest in pieces that can be used in the room year-round and have lots of uses.
Harris also points out that guests might have to work while traveling, so it can be used by those who occupy the room as well.
“Many have to work through the holidays, so having an office chair and desk for guests to take calls and write emails from will help them feel as comfortable as possible and will take your guest room to the next level,” Harris said.
Available in three colors, this stool and desk combo is perfect for the guest who needs to finish a project on their laptop or doesn’t require much desk space. “For the size and price I love it,” said one reviewer, with another one adding they “definitely recommend for anyone who wants a small desk.”
Another desk and stool combination, this one comes in a cool sage green color, meaning it alone can be the standout color piece in a guest room full of neutrals. “It is a nice set and the quality is awesome,” one reviewer said.
Available in either a light brown or black color, this writing desk is a “stylish” selection when looking for a small desk to add to a guest room. Another reviewer notes that despite its small size, it doesn’t compromise on functionality.
For that awkward corner you don’t know what to do with, put this aqua blue desk there! Or, choose from seven other colors to match the desk with the other colors of the room for a more cohesive look within the space. It’s “the perfect size for a minimalist desk setup,” according to one reviewer.
With an ergonomic seat designed to keep one comfortable for hours on end, according to the brand, this desk chair swivels and rolls, allowing you to easily redecorate and move this chair. "It was so easy to put together, it’s super comfy, the fabric is nice quality," said one reviewer.
For a more modern-looking chair, opt for this option from Amazon that comes in a periwinkle, light blue color. Reviewers rave about how easy it is to assemble, and appreciate that while it's an affordable chair, it is still sturdy and sophisticated.
With a mesh backing and a cushioned seat, this chair promises to be of absolute comfort while you type away. Easy to assemble, sturdy and comfortable enough to work for hours on end from according to reviewers, this chair is also budget-friendly and on sale for $26.