BY CAROLYN CAMILLERI
Now that people are travelling and visiting again, it’s time to consider your guest room. Is it welcoming and comfortable, fresh and joyful? Does it feel relaxing and safe?
Cindy Scott from KC Custom Designs says there are many ways to update a guest room with décor changes and minor renovations.
“When thinking about the décor and overall vibe for your guest room, a good rule of thumb is to play it safe with colours but be adventurous with textures,” she says. “This will help create a space that feels both peaceful and cozy.”
Sway towards a neutral palette — creams, beiges, browns, blacks, earth tones — for textiles, accents, paint colours, furniture and décor pieces. For textures, consider washed linen, waffle and muslin blankets, wool throw pillows, wicker baskets, stone vases and wood accents.
“To create dimension and intrigue, another tip is to think in layers — blankets, rugs, books, pillows, art pieces on a mantle — you can layer it all,” says Scott. “This combination of a neutral palette, natural textures and thoughtful layers will bring warmth and depth to your guest room, creating a relaxing place even you will want to escape to.”
Sound, temperature and lighting
Consider what is most disruptive to a good night’s sleep. Sound and temperature might top the list.
If you are able, Scott says to dedicate a space in your home for guests that is quieter and away from the busiest areas. “If this isn’t possible, a quick fix might be to have a white-noise machine available in the guest room.”
For temperature control, Scott loves HVAC — heating, ventilation and air conditioning — and recommends this to anyone in the process of building a home.
“For a smaller update or renovation, there are some incredibly beautiful, modern ceiling fans on the market that will provide the perfect breeze for your guests,” she says.
And don’t forget lighting, both letting it in and blocking it out.
“While an abundance of natural lighting and grand windows are preferable in every room, having the right curtains or window coverings is equally important,” says Scott, noting that high-quality, heavy curtains help to reduce noise. “Whatever you choose, ensure that it can black out the room, so your guests can get some quality sleep after a long day of travel.”
As an addition to the main lighting source, an upgrade Scott loves is bedside pendants or wall-mounted lighting to provide a softer ambience.
If your guest room does double duty for another purpose — craft or art studio, den or office, even a playroom — you can make the transition smoother. Scott says the key is effective storage.
“Built-ins are a great way to transition the space quickly and get rid of the clutter,” she says.
Keeping the décor simple also streamlines the transition.
“When a room is functioning as two different types of space, for example, a playroom and guest room, don’t favour one over the other when it comes to décor and design,” she says. “Veer towards neutral walls and furniture. Don’t overdo the décor; ensure everything has a place and be intentional with the items in the room.”
However, the most important factor in a multi-purpose room is comfort.
“Murphy beds are great because they give you more space when you aren’t hosting guests,” says Scott.
And thankfully, sofa beds have come a long way in recent years and there are so many beautiful options, she adds.
Holistic guest room décor
Cindy Davidson of Alchemy by Design is an artist, energy worker and designer who takes a holistic approach to achieve a balance between beauty, function and energy within a space. She has some wonderful tips for making guests feel comfortable.
Davidson says she generally knows her guests well enough to be able to choose a throw or pillowcase in their favourite colour to connect them in their space. For something soothing and restful, think soft blue, pink or grey or a navy blue that’s not too harsh.
If you are planning a décor change, stick to neutrals, then change up accent colours and accessories depending on who is visiting. For example, blues and greys for a more masculine feel or a faux sheepskin throw rug to make the room feel more feminine.
Ask guests if they have a favourite scent for misters or candles — something that will make them feel comfortable and sleep well.
Especially if your guest room is multi-purpose, there are a few key pieces that must be in place. Aside from the obvious bed, ensure there’s a bedside table, chair, desk or table, two lights — one on the desk and one beside the bed — and an extension cord so guests have options for plugging in devices.
Then there’s the all-important cozy chair, so guests have the option to relax away from the main area of the home without having to sit on the bed.
And check your window coverings if your guest room doubles as a workspace.
“When you’re in an office, you typically don’t worry about window coverings, and when you leave, you typically don’t pull the blinds — you just turn the light off,” she says. “Make sure there’s a way guests can keep the light and peering eyes out.”
Art that soothes
Davidson recommends keeping art basic, eye pleasing and local.
“A lot of people, when they visit places, like to see art or perhaps photography of areas of interest,” she says.
You can even frame an historic or current map. But stay away from family photos.
“It just makes people feel like they’re too much in your space, and they really don’t want to feel like that,” says Davidson.
Final touch: a couple of books on local subjects are a nice touch for people who may be interested in reading more about where they are visiting.
Fei Li, owner of Sweet Dreams Boutique, says bedding is an easy guest-room update.
“For guests, you need to be prepared with different weights: a summer-weight duvet, maybe one four-season duvet, then a thin blanket,” she says. “With those three, you can do some combinations.”
When it comes to sheets, Li says people often talk about thread count, which refers to the tightness of the weave. “But it’s really personal preference,” she says, explaining that lower thread count, as with percale cotton sheets, is more breathable and feels cooler and crisper. Higher thread count, as with sateen cotton, is silky smooth.
The raw materials determine quality.
“When it just says ‘cotton,’ you don’t know if it’s 100 per cent,” she says. “If it is mixed with synthetic fibre, you won’t feel comfortable. You can feel that it’s less breathable and not nice on your skin.”
For the best quality, choose 100 per cent Egyptian or pima cotton. “Egyptian cotton and pima cotton have longer fibres with better strength and make fewer knots in the fabric,” she says. “It’s silky, like luxury silk.”
White sheets are always a good choice, because they go with everything and can be washed with bleach. Add colour with throws, cushions and the duvet cover, and change them with the seasons: “Warmer tones in the wintertime and brighter, cooler tones in the summertime.”
For pillows, Li recommends a firmer pillow at the back and a softer pillow at the front — a minimum of four on a queen bed. If you choose down or feather, have an alternative on hand in case guests have allergies.
Li also suggests upping the comfort of the mattress with a wool fibre-covered shearling topper — one side is warmer wool fibre, and the other side is a cooler cotton. For more luxury, consider a feather bed topper or one using a feather alternative.
The guest bathroom
If you are craving a larger bathroom renovation, Scott says updating your shower or bathroom tile is really effective and can quickly give your bathroom a whole new look and feel.
“We love a neutral tile with lots of texture — it’s classic and timeless — but if that’s not your vibe, you’re in luck because there are so many different tile options out there: different materials, shapes, sizes, textures, and colours.”
Another idea, especially for smaller rooms, is playing with wallpaper, vertical shiplap and board and batten.
“These all have the capability of making a room feel larger when you play with direction and different styles and designs,” says Scott.
She also advises keeping bathroom décor to a minimum and focusing on must-haves — mirrors, lighting, towels, hardware, hand soaps, etc. — as well as towels and washcloths in
As a bonus tip, Scott suggests having a dedicated drawer or empty cabinet where guests can put away their toiletries for the duration of their stay.
The guest basket
Davidson asks every guest coming to her home which shampoos, soaps, toothpaste and lotions they use and buys them ahead of time so they can lighten their luggage. These products are the beginning of a personalized basket she prepares for each guest.
She then adds items like cotton pads, makeup remover, hand sanitizer, toothbrush, Tylenol, emery board and hair dryer, along with two large bath towels and a facecloth.
The baskets then can be set up in the guest bathroom. If the bathroom is shared with others in the home, Davidson says choose a basket that is easy to carry to and from the bathroom and provide a bathrobe.