How to create the perfect space for your weekend guests

Mar 22, 2014 at 3:49 a.m. ET

As travel season picks up, be sure to wow your guests with the perfect guest room.

Showcase your personality

Photo credit: Catherine Macfee Interior Design

Add a theme or distinguishing design element

Designing guest rooms with specific character gives your guest a sense of identity to where they are staying. Borrow ideas from your surrounding elements; do you live in the country surrounded by rolling grassy hills with lush trees? Maybe you bring some of those natural elements into the decor. Are you city dweller surrounded by an urban landscape? Balance some of those harsher industrial elements with softer touches. A great way to do this is with brighter bedding and great artwork that reflects the soul of the city. Pull inspiration from your surroundings.

Some examples could be a “coast side room” if you live by the coast that is more nautical themed, an "airy garden room" for your bright guest room in the country, or the “Swiss-inspired alpine room” in your mountain retreat. Have fun with it! Guest rooms are a chance to be a little more playful and adventurous with your decor.

Give them their space: Try to anticipate your guest's every need.

Some basic considerations

  • The worst thing when you are a guest is not having a proper place to keep your things nice and tidy. A well-designed space thinks about these details and helps the guest stay organized.
  • Make sure there is a free set of drawers for clothing, closet space for hanging garments and a bathroom shelf or counter space for toiletries.

Clean, simple bedding

  • Great sheeting creates instant luxury. A nice rule of thumb if you are trying to create this room on a budget: Invest in the best sheets you can afford, and the duvet or blanket can be very simple.
  • Extra blankets, especially in the winter, should be in the room or easily found in a spare cabinet nearby. People have different sleep habits, some like a warm environment and some like a cooler environment. It’s important to plan accordingly. There is nothing worse than a restless guest. It’s also important to adjust your bedding seasonally, maybe a lighter fill down comforter or coverlet in the summer season and an addition of a cashmere or wool throw for the winter.
  • Extra pillows of an array of firmness levels are nice to have on hand for the particular guest.

Accent furniture

  • A great side chair or desk makes for a great addition,assuming you have the space for it.
  • Working with a tight space? Benches are great way to add a little seating in a tight space. They work well at the end of the bed or in front of a window.

Great lighting

  • Floor lamps, table lamps, sconces, anything but overhead (especially fluorescent) lighting. Lighting in a room is a detail overlooked by many. A lot of interiors tend to be on the darker side, especially in the winter, so help your guest see the space with additional lighting. A bedside lamp is a must-have for the bedtime reader and helps to create a welcoming ambiance.

Towels: for both home and beach

  • Big, absorbent cotton towels are my favorite for the home. If your home is on the beach, don't forget to provide a beach towel. Always have extra towels available.


  • Soaps, shampoos, lotions, toothpaste, hair dryer, robe and sunscreen are great basics to have available for your guest. Some people are adamant about their certain product. Those guests will most likely bring their own, but you providing these is a good backup plan and it’s important not to assume anything.
  • A pleasant-smelling candle or room scent is a great touch.

A full-length mirror

  • Some people don’t think of this when designing their homes, not to mention designing their guest rooms, but this is one of the most important details to ensure a comfortable stay for your guests. How are your guests going to feel comfortable and confident on vacation if they can’t see what their ensemble looks like?

Basket or bag for dirty laundry

  • It’s a bit above and beyond to actually do their laundry, but having a place where your guest can separate clean clothes is a nice touch.

Bedside water or extra glasses for water in their room… being in a new house, it's sometimes awkward to roam around the house in the middle of the night in search of the kitchen. To avoid a Something's Gotta Give moment, a cute water carafe with accompanying water glasses will remind them to properly hydrate before bedtime.

Wi-Fi user name and password and even a little calling card with the home address and phone number helps your guest be a little self-sufficient.

Easy reading

Books and other reading material for the room are great bedside table accessories. I love providing books for my guests to read if they didn’t bring anything of their own. Shoot for an eclectic mix of novels, biographies and design books.

Easy Listening

Provide a little speaker hookup for your guests to listen to music in their room. This helps people really feel at home. Try something like the Jambox; it's wireless and connects to all devices. For a little more old-school approach, create a spot for a record player and a curated collection of your favorite records.

For more design tips visit Macfee Design.