The Challenge to Decorating a Guest Room + 10 Essentials

Decorating a guest room: how to create a space that reflects your style and welcomes guests with open arms!

The challenge to decorating a guest room showing Katherine's newly renovated yellow and blue guest bedroom

What is the unique challenge of decorating a guest bedroom?

Creating a space that showcases your personal style and interior tastes while at the same time considering your guests' comfort and ease!

Hospitality is the name of the game when you have friends or family coming to stay. You want your guests to feel welcome and relaxed in your home and provide a guest room that is pleasant and cozy. The room should be a relaxing retreat that provides them with everything they might need, but still reflects your interior style.

If you are setting out to decorate a guest bedroom, you have the perfect opportunity to design the room with your guests' comfort in mind. As I decorated our newly renovated yellow and blue guest room, I was constantly thinking about my family and friends who would come to stay and use this space.

I asked myself a number of questions throughout the process:

  • What would make this room pleasant for them?
  • How would they move within and utilize the space?
  • How would they react to the decor?
  • Would it feel cozy and happy?

With each design and decorating decision I made, I considered those questions, and I think that greatly helped me create a happy Grandmillennial retreat perfect for my family and friends!

Vintage chintz bedding in yellow, pink, and blue gives those traditional but playful Grandmillennial vibes

A Cozy Yellow Guest Room

We finished our guest room renovation just in time for the holidays last year, and everyone who has come to stay has sung its praises. They love the yellow, and they love the furniture.

I took a bit of a risk decorating a guest bedroom in sunny yellow, but I carefully selected the paint color (BM Squish Squash) with warm gray undertones, so that it feels bright but not overwhelming. To further balance out the yellow walls, I used lots of cool blues and crisp whites. The neutral flooring also helps tone down the bold color.

Don't feel like you need to decorate a guest room in boring beige, especially if that is not your style. Go for color! Go for pattern! Just make sure the room is balanced by a healthy dose of neutrals and solids to give the eye a rest.

Decorating a guest bedroom - floral chintz bedding with block print pillow

The 10 Essentials of a Well Decorated Guest Room:

To truly make your guest room welcoming and functional, take some time to ponder these two considerations:

  • First, think about when you last stayed with someone else. What did you love about their guest room? What was missing?
  • Secondly, step outside your own preferences and habits. Think about your most frequent visitors (in our case it is our parents). What are their habits/needs going to bed? What are their habits/needs in the morning? How can the space function to make those habits pleasant?

As I thought about these two points, I came up with this list of 10 essentials for a well decorated guest room, and I hope they will help you make your guest space welcoming!

Detail view of layered comforter and quilt on this guest bed

No. 1 A Comfortable Place to Sleep

I know...I KNOW! This one is so obvious, but let me point out a few things.

  • Nightstands - you need two, especially if you frequently have couples to stay. Lots of us need water at night, a lamp, and a place to put a CPAP breathing machine.
  • Bedding - should be quality cotton with a mind to those with allergies. Avoid down as many people are allergic. If you can, keep a set of linens reserved for guests that way they are always clean and in good condition.
  • Pillows - provide several options thin and thick as well as pillows to prop up with.
  • Layering blankets - give guests several options for extra covers in case they are cold natured.

No. 2 Varied & Accessible Lighting

A good overhead light or focused task lights are a great way to provide bright lighting when guests need it. Lamps placed around the room with one easily accessed from the bed give a softer more ambient option.

Blue and white leaf curtains in our yellow guest room

No. 3 Curtains for Privacy & Light Filtering

You should provide your house guests with functional window treatments they can open and close that block light when needed and provide privacy. Consider the type of sunlight the room receives, and if it is bright morning light, choose something with a blackout lining.

No. 4 A Comfortable Place to Read & Work

If you have room, provide a desk/vanity in the room and a comfortable sitting chair. It's thoughtful to provide guests with a quiet, private space to work or entertain themselves while they are visiting.

Our yellow and blue guest bedroom reveal that turned a sad boring room in to a happy yellow Grandmillennial retreat!

No. 5 Necessities for Dressing

Consider what guests will need when dressing in the room, especially if there is not an en suite bathroom. Hang a full length mirror as a decorative piece or in the closet, and be sure guests have somewhere firm they can sit to put on their shoes.

No. 6 Space for Luggage & Clothes

Along with essential number five think through where guests can put their suitcases and store their clothing. I like to provide a luggage rack, leave a few drawers empty, and keep open space in the closet with a few empty hangers.

No. 7 Minimal Clutter

This is a hard one for me because I tend towards maximalism when it comes to decorative accessories. But leave plenty of open space on nightstands and dresser tops, so guests have space to place their belongings and don't feel like they are battling for space.

A stack of classic novels sits on this glass end table with a vase of yellow roses.

No. 8 Books

I love checking out the bookshelves of the friends and family I visit, seeing what they've read and getting ideas for my reading list. It is such a nice gesture when you place a few select books in a guest room, so guests have something to read at their fingertips during downtime.

No. 9 Cozy Carpeting or Rug

Is there anything worse than waking up in the morning and putting your nice warm feet on a cold floor? No! So make sure your guests have a mat, rug, or carpeting to avoid this.

No. 10 Soothing But Interesting Art

Choose appealing and inspiring art that complements your decor scheme. The guest room is not the space for political statements or controversial art. I know art is a very personal, subjective choice, but remember this room is supposed to be pleasant and welcoming, so choose pieces that are more universally appealing. Think landscapes and still life paintings.

Still life floral painting hangs above bed in our guest room

Thanks for stopping in! I hope I've helped you think about your guest spaces in a new way and given you some ideas for decorating a guest room that creates a welcoming, pleasant space!

The sources for our yellow and blue guest room and details about the renovation are in this blog post.


  1. Mary on February 25, 2023 at 8:41 pm

    Very timely for me!

    • Katherine on February 27, 2023 at 7:55 am

      I’m glad! Thanks for stopping in Mary!

I bet you've got something to say! Comment below!