How to decorate a guest room – 10 ways to create an inviting and memorable retreat for visitors

Turn your spare room into a cosy haven with our guide on how to decorate a guest room

Bedroom with floral small print wallpaper
(Image credit: Future PLC)

The most important part of learning how to decorate a guest room is to take your time and plan it well.

When it comes to guest bedroom ideas a pretty colour scheme and some practical yet stylish bedroom storage solutions will help enormously. 'When you have guests to stay this season, make sure they’re comfortable and cosy in the calming oasis of your ‘guest bedroom’ rather than squeezed into the busy clutter of a ‘spare room,' advise Emily and Jonathan Attwood, founders, Scooms

Although a guest bedroom needs to be functional, it can still be beautiful, and you can make your mark by decorating it in a way that is both memorable and has everything they may need in one perfectly thought-out space. 

How to decorate a guest room 

Achieve the ultimate guest room by enhancing the room with personal touches shares Fred Horlock, design director, Neptune. 'Table lamps either side of the bed for reading or a scented candle adds warmth and character to create a unique, homely and calming space.'

Below we take you through our expert guide on how to decorate a guest room, from choosing your scheme to those important finishing flourishes – we've got you covered! 

1. Choose your colour scheme

how to decorate a guest room, coral walls with bright green beading, stripe headboard, green bedspread, green lamp on modern side table, flowers

(Image credit: Benjamin Moore)

Guest rooms give you free rein to choose a bedroom colour scheme that you might not consider in the rest of the house – that hot pink shade or bright green beading as a picture rail for example. Another decision to make is whether you want to decorate a guest room so it flows with the rest of the house or for it to be a standalone scheme. 

'Don’t be shy when it comes to selecting colours,' advises Helen Shaw, director of marketing at Benjamin Moore. 'For example, pinks and greens produce a really pleasing aesthetic and there are many ways in which to create interplay between the shades. 

'Combine a fizzy light orange with peach undertones with an intense mint green – experiment with bobbin-shaped moulding and colourful accessories for a quirky look full of character, perfect for a guest bedroom.'

Helen Shaw headshot
Helen Shaw

Helen Shaw is part of Benjamin Moore's UK division. Colour expert and international marketing director, Helen and her husband Craig are founders of Shaw Paints, acquired by Benjamin Moore in 2020.

2. Consider a theme

how to decorate a guest bedroom, botanical bedroom with green bed, green and pale pink bedding, vintage side table, plants, trailing leaf wallpaper, wooden floor, rug

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Guest bedrooms work well with a theme, it could be nautical, bold with a mural wall or botanical. It's an opportunity to buy that wallpaper or those accessories you've yearned after that don't fit in your own bedroom.

Bedroom wallpaper ideas are transformative, and can turn a dull space into one that's got life and colour. For a guest room, you can get away with only papering one feature wall to keep costs down, choose the one behind the bed as a focal point. Then tie in the colours for cohesion, two or three linking shades will work wonders. 

3. Invest in good quality flooring

how to decorate a guest room, floating bed with blue headboard design, metal side table, artwork, carpet

(Image credit: Kersaint Cobb)

There's nothing lovelier than sinking your toes into a thick pile carpet when you get out of bed – the same goes for your guests. It's worth investing in a good quality carpet that's tough enough for wear and tear, but that's also neutral. It will give you longevity from a design point of view as you can update walls and schemes in various shades over the years, knowing that your carpet will fit in visually, this includes a subtle stripe. 

'With staying in fast becoming the new ‘going out’, chances are you’ll be opening your front door to more guests than usual,' says Jon Flannigan, product manager, Kersaint Cobb.

'This means it is now more important than ever to make guest bedrooms in the home supremely inviting, and what can shout ‘welcome’ any louder than a sumptuously soft wool carpet in the spare rooms. It is also the perfect area to make a statement either with colourful stripes or interesting textures.'

headshot of Jon Flannigan
Jon Flannigan

Jon Flannigan is the product manager at Kersaint Cobb. Established in 1988, Kersaint Cobb is a British natural flooring specialist that produces beautiful natural carpets made from the finest fibre sources across the globe, with the aim to bring comfort into the home with their traditional and modern floor coverings.

4. Double bed or twins?

Bedroom with neutral walls, blue curtains and double bed dressed with cosy throws

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

The size of the bed in your guest bedroom will depend on the size of your space. A double bed is the obvious choice as Fred Horlock, design director, Neptune explains, but make it special if you can:

'When designing a guest bedroom, focus on both comfort and style to make guests feel welcome and at ease. Introducing a focal point with a piece like the Wardley Four Poster Bed creates an inviting space for guests to sleep and unwind in.'

A grand four-poster will certainly set the scene, but there's also the consideration of twin beds. They both have their place and if you have couples staying it makes sense, but twin beds offer more flexibility if you have children sleeping over more often.  

headshot of Fred Horlock
Fred Horlock

Fred Horlock is the Design Director at Neptune. Fred is responsible for the Creative Direction from product concept, through content creation, to customer experience both in store and online.

5. Ensure you have enough storage

how to decorate a guest bedroom, four poster bed, small chest of drawers, grey walls, artwork

(Image credit: Neptune)

If you're tight on space then be clever with your secondary furniture choices. A small chest of drawers can do the job of a wardrobe if there's no space for one. It could be pulled close to the bedside to act as a side table, or invest in a small stool or slimline table that gives your guests enough room for a glass or water and a book. 

'A bedside table or small chest of drawers can fulfil many functions in a bedroom,' shares Patricia Gibbons, design team,

'Storage is the most desired function of a bedside table as a clutter free space should be a priority when looking at layouts. Soft closed doors make it easy to open at all times throughout the night ensuring no one is disturbed. With a wealth of finishes available from decorative hardwood to sleek and light marble and brass mixed materials, style need not be compromised above functionality.'

6. Dressing tables are a good investment

how to decorate a guest bedroom, neutral bedroom with dressing table/desk, brass wall light, white bedding, cream tongue and groove on walls

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Another decorating idea is to invest in a dressing table idea that can double as a desk. If your guests are staying for a few days it will give them extra space and a place to check emails in private. 

A design with a drawer or two will offer a little extra storage too, and don't worry if your guest room is small, there are plenty of slimline options to choose from including some that are wall-mounted. 

7. Treat your guests to the best bedding

how to decorate a guest bedroom, pale pink and pale grey bedroom, pale pink linen bedding, grey wall light, grey bed and curtains

(Image credit: Scooms)

Nothing beats sinking into a super cosy bed with sumptuous bedding does it? When looking where to buy bedding look out for linen. This bedding material is still top of the charts for delivering a decadent feel and is long-lasting. 

'You should always invest in the cosiest bedding,' say Emily and Jonathan Attwood, founders, Scooms. Make sure the duvet, pillows and bed linen on the guest bed is as comfortable as the bedding on your own bed, afterall, you don’t want your guests heading down to breakfast looking like they haven’t slept a wink.

'Take time to think about the extras, so leave some extra pillows and a throw in the guest room to ensure they have a restful night’s sleep.'

Emily and Jonathan Attwood
Emily and Jonathan Attwood

Emily and Jonathan Attwood are the husband and wife duo and co-founders of family-run, independent, luxury bedding and bath brand, scooms. Offering a simplified range of what they believe are the best pillows, duvets, bedding and towels on the market, scooms help make buying luxury and high-quality, natural bedding and towels easier.

8. Create ambience with practical yet stylish lighting

Bedroom with floral small print wallpaper

(Image credit: Future)

The key to guest bedroom lighting is subtlety. You need to provide enough for your visitors to be able to work or put on make-up, whilst ensuring they can create a relaxing feel when they want to chill out.

'Natural bone china is a great choice for all styles of guest bedroom, thanks to its delicate opacity and inherent warmth,' suggests Charlie Bowles, director, Original BTC. 'It creates a soft intimate glow when turned on, which is ideal for creating a cosy atmosphere to make you feel instantly comfortable and relaxed. 

Alternatively, rattan offers a lovely golden hue if you are short on space and want to use your lighting to add a bit of texture to the room, as well as lighting.

headshot of Charlie Bowles
Charlie Bowles

Charlie Bowles is the Director of British lighting manufacturer Original BTC after he took over from Peter Bowles his father and the company’s founder in 2012. With its New York showroom opening in 2017, Original BTC also have showrooms in London, Paris and Taiwan. Original BTC is very much an international business with sales to over 85 countries.

9. Add artwork for colour and pattern

how to decorate a guest bedroom, neutral bedroom with wood paneling on one side and tongue and groove on the other, rattan bed, artwork, plants

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Give your guest room additional colour and pattern with bedroom picture wall ideas. This could be favourite photos framed up from various holidays, landscapes or modern paintings from an artist you love. 

Choose designs that suit your scheme, so if you have neutral walls then a linear drawing will work well, or, if you love print and pattern then opt for something brighter and more painterly. 

10. Add the finishing touches

how to decorate a guest bedroom, bedroom with plaster walls, brown curtains and throw, aqua and pastel pink cushions, bench as a side table, table lamp and wall light, trays

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

Most of all, you want your guests to feel looked after and spoiled. So that means put out those extra delightful elements like a jug of pretty seasonal flowers. Victoria Fletcher, senior buyer at Garden Trading shares her top tips:

'Being prepared for the invited and sometimes unexpected guests, will take the stress out of any impromptu sleepover. For an easy transition make sure you have a fresh set of bed linen and towels set aside, ready to take out at a moment's notice. To enhance your guest's bedroom consider adding a tray with essentials like water carafes and glasses. Thoughtful touches like cosy throws, blankets, extra pillows and a bedside reading lamp can create a warm and welcoming atmosphere.'


How do you layout a small guest room?

'When it comes to guest rooms, a clutter free space should be a priority when looking at layouts,' advises Patricia. 'Your bedroom should be a cosy room designed for relaxation and winding down – avoid having too much furniture and make sure you have multifunctional pieces that work extra hard to keep the clutter at bay.'

How can I make my guest room look special?

'A bedside lamp and non-ticking clock are also useful additions to providing a comfortable space,' says Emily and Jonathan Attwood. 'Towels, toiletries and necessities will add that extra touch, so be sure to provide enough bath and hand towels and leave them where your guests will think to look. A hairdryer and some toiletries like toothpaste and shampoo will also add a thoughtful touch. 

'Finally, be sure to leave an empty drawer, space in the wardrobe and some hanging hooks on the door for storage. This will add to making an extended stay much more comfortable for your guests.'

Now the only problem left to deal with is that your guests may never want to leave!

Sophie Warren-Smith

Sophie has been an interior stylist and journalist for over 22 years and has worked for many of the main interior magazines during that time, both in-house and as a freelancer. On the side, as well as being the News Editor for indie magazine, 91, she trained to be a florist in 2019 and launched The Prettiest Posy where she curates beautiful flowers for modern weddings and events.