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Creating a cozy guest room

A welcoming space tells visitors you care

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Flipside Sofa Bed by Gus Modern

Summer and Christmas are the two times of year you’re most likely to have houseguests. From the spot they’ll set down their suitcase to the pillows under their heads, here’s how to create a welcoming space.


Judith Makin owns Tuck, a furniture shop and interior-design firm in Saint John, N.B. She says your guest room should be beautiful, first and foremost. In addition to housing special guests, it’s part of your home and you want to enjoy it.

“Don’t make it a space full of throwaway things from other rooms,” cautions Makin. “It should be a special room.”

If you’re looking for a piece of furniture that does double duty, she recommends Gus Modern’s beautiful, clean-lined sofa that flips out into a queen-sized bed. It retails for about $2300.

“It works so well because a lot of people aren’t interested in dedicating an entire room of their home to the seven nights a year they might have company,” says Makin.

Tammy Clarke, owner of home décor boutique Madison Mackenzie Home in St. John’s and Grand Falls-Windsor, N.L., says storage is key, whether it’s a dresser, an armoire, or a closet with a hanging bar and shelves. In between visits, you can store extra bedding here.

“You should also have space for a suitcase to lay off the ground, and have ample room to open and close easily, without knocking over any of your bedroom decor,”says Clarke-Organ.

If you use hand-me-down furniture from another room, freshen it up with a few coats of chalk paint. Remember, this is your space too.


Even more important than the bed itself are the linens tucked around it. Clarke-Organ says high-quality linens and pillows are a worthwhile investment for a guest room because the bedding is something guests will remember most about their stay.

“Quality sheets, a firm and a soft pillow, and a fluffy duvet will make them feel the royal treatment,” says Clarke-Organ. “The quality of the linens and the presentation of the bedding and decor is what will make the room feel luxurious.”

Clarke-Organ suggests sticking with hypoallergenic duvets and pillows in case guests are allergic to down or feathers.


“Your guests are away from home, so they should have a place that feels inviting and comfortable during their stay,” says Clarke-Organ. “Your guest room is your way of showing your guests they are welcome in your home and you are so glad they are here.”

Clarke-Organ suggests a guest room have a cohesive look that’s not too feminine or too masculine, connecting with the style of the rest of your home.

Think about what you would like your guests to experience. A coastal getaway? Light colours and nautical or beach-themed decor. Rustic elegance? Natural woods and warm fabrics such as knits.


The small touches make a guest room welcoming.

Consider adding a soft rug to cushion your guests’ feet from a cool morning floor.

Clarke-Organ likes to use blackout draperies so her guests can sleep in, or take a nap to ease jet lag.

“I always try to have interesting reading material by the bedside, artwork by local artists, fresh water, and definitely plants,” says Makin. “I also put out nice bath salts, towels, and a fresh bar of soap so it feels like a spa experience.”

From a home management perspective, Makin says she’ll clean the guest room “the minute the guests have left.” She vacuums, changes the sheets and restocks the supplies so she doesn’t need to rush around before the next batch of company and so it’s ready in case of unexpected guests.

Finishing Touches

Take a spin around the room and try to see it from the perspective of a guest. Is there a convenient place to charge a phone? Are there extra blankets? Is the WiFi password available in case your guests forget to ask before bed?

Clarke-Organ suggests making sure at least a portion of the closet is cleared out so there’s room for guests to hang clothing.

Makin makes a point of keeping her pets out of the room at all times, in case future guests have allergies to pet dander.

When you’re finished, Makin says the ideal guest room should feel like a clean, elegant, and dreamy space that anyone would enjoy calling home for a few days.

Guest-room checklist

  1. High-quality pillows (one soft, one firm)
  2. Comfortable bedding
  3. Space to hang clothes and open suitcases off the floor
  4. Storage for clothes/jewellery/extra blankets
  5. A water glass and pitcher
  6. Fluffy towels and a face cloth
  7. Fresh soap and toiletries
  8. A small garbage can, tucked away
  9. Local art
  10. Reading material by the bed
East Coast Living