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Interior Design

Guest bedroom makeovers

One of the luxuries of homeownership is having a bit more space than you need so you can expand to fill it. One of the others is having a home large enough to entertain without having to leave home. Sometimes that means having people over for dinner or brunch; other times it means having out-of-town friends and family stay over.

Guest bedrooms, like cottage furnishings, often suffer from “not good enough to get rid of, not good enough to use every day” syndrome. If your guest bedroom looks like the not-quite-final resting place for the mismatched and ready-to-be-retired, here are a few bedroom interior design ideas for a makeover.

Create a bunk room in your attic

Since you’re probably going to be in your house for a while and your own and your friends’ families may be expanding, rather than designate a ground or second floor bedroom as a guest room, why not create a bunk room in your attic? That way you don’t need to worry about whether your guests can share a double or need a queen or king-sized bed. Buy as many twin beds as the room will easily fit or repurpose your children’s twin beds as they graduate to doubles and queens and an entire family (or two of your old college friends) can easily share a guest room.

This works particularly well with the sloping ceiling aesthetic of most attics. Choose similar (they don’t need to be matching) wrought iron bed frames at a flea market and paint them white (or black). Install wall-mounted lighting above each bed and the tiniest of bedside tables in between. Pick a color theme (blue and white, for instance) and use a different blue and white quilt on each bed. A bench or trunk at the end of each bed will give guests a place to store their suitcases. If the attic doesn’t have a closet, make sure you’ve got some hooks for guests to hang their clothes.

If your attic room does indeed have sloping ceilings, consider painting the ceiling and the walls the same color. That doesn’t mean white: even small rooms look bigger if there’s no contrast between ceiling and walls. If you choose a strong or dark color though, stick to neutrals or whites for your bed linens and pick up the wall color with throw cushions.

More than any other bedroom in your home, your guest bedroom is going to be used primarily for sleeping. Keep things bare but functional.

Accentuate the room’s function

If the only room you can spare for a guest bedroom is tiny, rather than try to cram too much into a small space or make it look bigger, adopt a Japanese sleeping pod/old time railway berth approach to decorating and center a four-poster bed (with or without curtains, but keep them sheer if the room is very small) in the room on the shortest wall.

An over-the door hook, small triangular corner shelves on both sides of the bed, and either a wall-mounted lamp at the head of the bed or two small ones on each shelf and you’re done. If you’ve got room for a storage ottoman at the end of the bed, you’ll have seating for your guests and a place to store the linens for the guest bedroom (including extra blankets, pillows, and throws).

Give your guests a powder room

If you can make the plumbing work, consider repurposing your spare room’s existing closet to create a tiny powder room in the guest room. Just a toilet and a sink will make all the difference in giving your guests a sense of privacy and make their stay less disruptive for the rest of the family. They’ll still have to share one of the main bathrooms for baths and showers during their stay, but at least they’ll be able to brush their teeth and splash some water on their faces before they join you for breakfast in their robes.

Repurpose a closet and add sliding barn doors with a stop as your guest powder room. Add some shelving above the sink and you’ll be able to store guest room towels and linens there. Bonus: seeing all the towels there will make them feel they’re staying in a luxury hotel suite. And if the room is big enough, consider adding a single-serve coffee machine so your guests are caffeinated by the time you see them. A little note on their pillow with the WiFi password and some light reading material, including copies of your local city or regional magazine and a thriller or two, should do the trick. For more design ideas, check out our Interior Design channel.