The Versatile Guest Bedroom


The holidays and out of town guests are upon us.   Not everyone has dedicated guest bedrooms just waiting for company to arrive.  That would be awesome, though it’s not always practical.  When space is at a premium you have to get creative.   I don’t experience much out of town traffic, so keeping a bedroom exclusively for guests is not a smart use of my space.   My guest bedroom doubles as a home office most of the time.  A twin bed lined with decorative pillows serves as a sofa during “working hours”.   Trundle, sofa and murphy beds present viable options for tucked away guest sleeping.  Daybeds are the most versatile option.

Here are some stylish ways to make the most of living/sleeping areas.

Custom storage closets flank a daybed that doubles as a guest bed.  Love the creative use of antique maps.  Interiors by Design, Ros Byam Shaw


A cozy cottage incorporates storage under custom mattresses.  Recessed hardware on the drawers prevent painful shin knocks.  Swedish Country Interiors, Eleish


Vintage mid century furnishings in a casual beach house live/sleep space.  The horizontal lines of the furniture harmoniously offset the vertical lines of the wall paneling.  The Vintage Home, Wilson.


A circa 1965 studio apartment fitted with two twin beds double as sofas during the day.   Tailored coverings with decorative trim elevate the look.  Interior Decoration A to Z, Pepis,

For the gracious hosts who do have dedicated guest bedrooms, here are suggestions for maximum comfort.   Also, think about hotel rooms you’ve stayed in and what features you enjoyed about them.  And not the honor bar or room service.

A comfortable, firm bed, if you wouldn’t want to sleep there neither would your guests.   Your mattress height should not require a step stool to access it, especially for older guests.  Twin beds offer more versatility than a queen size.  You can sleep two people who otherwise wouldn’t share a bed, but would share a room.

Spare, sculptural, sumptuous.  The high ceilings of this design by Frank Babb Randolph make the space.

Clean, soft bedding, and pillows, down is luxurious, but hypo-allergenic is kinder to those with allergies.  White is timeless and crisp.  Freshen up linens before guest arrive.  When buying sheets remember thread count refers to the number of threads woven horizontally (weft) and vertically (warp) per square inch of the fabric, it does not connote softness of the fabric.  Feel before you buy.

A bedside table for an alarm clock, table lamp, and small belongings.

Electrical outlet, try to make one easily accessible so your guests don’t move your furniture around looking for one.   People want to plug their phones in and like to have them close by.  Also, make sure your outlets are working.

A luggage valet or ottoman will keep bags off the floor and protect wood floors from getting scratched.  I’ve found most guests, myself included, don’t use dresser drawers for short stays, but do hang clothes up, so provide plenty of empty hangers in the closet.

Instead of a chair or valet, an antique bench adds interest as well as function.  Janie Hirsch design

Towels, of course.   I just read throwing a tennis ball into the dryer will make towels fluffy. A small basket of toiletries in case your guests forget to bring their own.  Area rugs add softness and provide warmth on bare floors.  A comfy chair with a cotton or cashmere throw.  Window treatments that block morning light and provide privacy.

A full-length mirror hung on the back of a door, mirrors and art for the walls.

A large, focus art piece serves double duty as a headboard.


Restful color palette, comfortable bedding and classic touches by Michael Whale


When I was with  Jackie Naylor Interiors, a favorite client asked us to design a guest bedroom using her red throw as inspiration.  We created this dramatic black interior with a custom daybed sized for a comfortable nights sleep.  The black flannel drapery treatment along the back wall provides softness to what could be a severe space.

The guest room shouldn’t be over accessorized to the point where guests have no room to put their personal items.   Keep it simple.

Love the serene landscape painting over the antique headboard in this Mariette Himes Gomez bedroom.  Such a beautiful, unfussy room layered to perfection.

Too many colorful patterns in a bedroom are overstimulating.  Best to keep your color and pattern palette soothing.

I love the quiet, monastic feel of this room.  Christian Liaigre
Perfect balance of furnishings, art, and bedding for the guest room.  Danish Modern, Andrew Hollingsworth

Usually, I like to include historical, artistic images in my posts, but bedrooms are hard to locate.   Most oil paintings of bedrooms feature a lounging, bare breasted woman in post coital bliss.   I did find this watercolor and gouache in Charlotte Gere’s “Nineteenth Century Interiors, An Album of Watercolors”.

A Bedroom in the Castel Madrid, Paris, 1843 watercolor and gouache by Francois-Etienne Villeret.

The Villeret painting above is one of the earliest recorded of a guest room fitted with twin Biedermeier beds.   It wasn’t until after the 1870’s that twin beds appeared in publications.

Enjoy your guests!