How to turn your spare room into an inviting retreat for guests

Guest bedroom
Jennifer Morgan,-Interiors Editor

Give your spare bedroom a little love and friends and family just won’t want to check out this Christmas

Transforming your spare bedroom – AKA the ‘dumping ground’ – into a space that’s not only fit for visitors but also scores high in the style stakes takes a little effort, but if guests wake up on Christmas morning refreshed, relaxed and ready to enjoy the festivities, then it’s time well spent. Try our top tips…

Guest bedroom

Go back to basics

Start with freshly washed bed linen. Go old school and use a flat sheet between the duvet and fitted bottom sheet – that way, you’ll just need to wash the pillowcases and two sheets rather than battle with changing the duvet cover to ‘flip the room’ if you have more guests staying over New Year.

Check the duvet has plenty of loft (meaning it feels well filled) and is warm enough, and pillows are nice and plump. Replace any that have seen better days, shopping for pillow and mattress protectors at the same time. ‘Make the bed with a warm duvet,’ says Penny Wilson, Partner & Assistant Buyer, Filled Bedding & Children’s Rooms. ‘A 10.5-tog duvet is generally a great year-round duvet, but a 13.5-tog one will provide additional warmth if it’s particularly cold this Christmas. If you’re looking to replace your guest duvet, then go all-seasons – it will provide three tog sizes in one, perfect if you have guests visiting all year round.’ Read our buyer's guide to choosing a duvet and pillow.

‘Dress the bed with four pillows,’ Penny adds, ‘using two medium and two soft pillows, so you cater for all body shapes and sleepers.’

Guest bedroom

Introduce a ‘look’

Give your spare bedroom a look or style, which will instantly take it from drab to fab. Think hotel chic or natural boho, and dress your bed with bed linen, cushions and a throw to suit.

Throws and blankets also allow guests to tailor their bedding so they are comfortable whatever the temperature. Choose a luxe bedspread and team with a lightweight throw. Rich colours such as teal, ink and emerald are a sophisticated update for all-white bed linen, while a hero cushion or two will also add to the wow factor.

Fold back the duvet cover and prop up the pillows (think of how much you loved that turndown service at your last hotel stay). Check there’s a bulb in the bedside lights. Is there enough room for a glass of water, a small Christmas gift and a scented candle? If the lamp dominates, then look at a sleeker design, like an on-trend exposed-bulb design.

Guest bedroom

Think smart for storage

If space is tight, look for compact pieces, like a freestanding mirror with storage behind. No bedside table? Then repurpose a stool, pouffe or a chair for the festive period. Make space in the wardrobe for guests to hang up clothes, kitting it out with a few wooden or padded coat hangers for Christmas Day party outfits. If a wall is looking a bit bland, then hang a set of wall shelves, giving space for guests to keep wash bags etc.

There’s no bigger indulgence than a leisurely lie-in, and while everyone will be up early on Christmas Day, the mornings post-Christmas are made for spoiling your guests with breakfast (or even just coffee) in bed. Leave out a stack of books or magazines, along with a scented candle or two. 

Guest bedroom

Pile up super-soft towels

Choose towels to match your guest-bedroom scheme and stack up in an inviting pile. Pre-wash any new ones and include a mix of sizes – from face cloths to bath sheets. A spare dressing gown and a pair of slippers makes a lovely hotel-style touch too, as do a few miniature beauty products popped in a small bowl or basket.

Guest bedroom

Make it fun for the kids

Plan ahead with sleeping bags, throws and cushions to the ready for those Christmas sleepovers. If there’s space, look at a fold-out bed, which can be stored in a garage for Christmases to come. Add plenty of accessories – quilted throws are made for snuggling under and watching Christmas movies, while baskets and toy tubs will keep excess toys under control while the kids share their bedrooms with visitors.

Guest bedroom

Avoid the tinsel temptation

Create a restful sleeping environment and guests will be back at yours for years to come; if they leave feeling they need a holiday, then that’s not good. Lisa Artis at The Sleep Council advises: ‘Your guest bedroom should be kept for rest and sleep – it’s all about creating a comfortable, peaceful setting, so I’d always say to keep the Christmas decorations to the other parts of your home.’

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