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From Ill-Suited Spare Room to Five-Star Guest Suite in 7 Easy Tips

Words by Kate McGregor
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Design by And Studio; Photo by Nicole Franzen

Too often, the guest room becomes overrun with leftovers.

Worn-out bedding, the floor lamp that doesn’t quite fit in the living room, or a closet crammed with out-of-season clothes can make a space feel not-quite-put-together when overnight visitors finally show up at your doorstep.

Don’t get caught off guard with last-minute guests this holiday season. Simply having an extra spare key made, sneaking in a luggage rack in the room just in case, or adding a mirror to catch raccoon eyes before stepping out in the morning can make friends and family feel pampered. We asked seven designers to spill their guest room ideas, must-haves, and secrets on what can transform that spare room into a five-star stay.

Add a Chair to Curl Up In

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Design by McGrath II; Photo by Read McKendree

We all have that chair that houses our not-quite dirty laundry, current read, you name it—so shouldn’t your guests receive the same luxury? Susanne and Lauren of McGrath II say yes. “We try to make room for a comfortable chair to sit in,” the pair says. “Even just to read, talk on the phone, or collect one's thoughts.”

Have a Hydration Station

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Photo courtesy of Stephanie Sabbe

The one thing Stephanie Sabbe tries to avoid is having her loved ones navigate a foreign home in the dark in the hopes of quenching that middle-of-the-night thirst. “I love when a spare room has a pretty bottle of water with two vintage glass tumblers on a nightstand,” she says.

Set the Mood with Lighting

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Design by Beth Diana Smith; Photo by Mike Van Tassell

Soft, glowing light is the quickest way to set a relaxing mood in a bedroom. “Use it for nighttime reading, or as your visitor winds down and wants something less harsh,” says Beth Diana Smith. But not only that, the designer also suggests using a statement piece as a way to show off your personal style—play with shade patterns and base color combos for an extra impact.

Lay a Soft Foundation

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Design by And Studio; Photo by Nicole Franzen

Arianna de Gasperis of And Studio insists that the highest compliment a host can receive is when their guest gets a great night's sleep. “I love it when people ask me where the mattress and bedding are from after they stay over in my guest room,” the designer says.The key to success: a quality mattress and sheet set.

Offer Easy to Use Tech

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Photo courtesy of Katie Rosenfeld

In order to offer a five-star stay, Katie Rosenfeld suggests taking the guesswork out of every equation to really make your guests feel at home, whether that’s showing them how to achieve the perfect shower temp, or how to turn on the television. “Sleeping away is typically a challenge and I love my friends to really feel relaxed and taken care of,” she says. “Nothing drives me crazier than not knowing how to work the TV.”

Make Space to Call Their Own

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Photo courtesy of Kathryn M. Ireland

Whether your guests are staying for one night or five, storage to put one’s things can go a long way. “Space, just anywhere to put things away makes all the difference,” says Kathryn M. Ireland. Kathryn likes to keep it simple with a row of shaker hooks or a flea market nightstand with a shelf—but an empty closet, dresser, or luggage stand also fits the bill. No one likes to live out of their suitcase.

Try a Pillow Bar

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Photo courtesy of Alice Grace Interiors

Ensuring a good night’s rest goes far beyond a comfortable duvet. Alice Grace likes to offer a wide selection of pillows for her company to pick from. “Firm, soft, feather—everyone has their preference,” the designer says. Alice also applies the same rule to bath towels, having a selection of sizes (body, face, and hand) laid out will make your loved ones feel right at home.

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