Quick and easy guest room updates

In an ideal world, a Guest Bedroom delivers a luxury hotel-like experience for friends and family. In most UK homes, the reality is it’s a dumping ground crammed with rarely used household items  and bedding that’s decades old.  It’s a room that homeowners frantically try to get feeling fresh and ready for house guests in the run up to the festive period. 

In fact, according to a UK-wide consumer survey*:

  • 74% of Brits say their guest rooms get used (by guests) less than seven times a year and that Christmas is the time when they use it the most.
  • 77% said they weren’t really sure how old their guest room duvets were but would guess more than 10 years old
  • Only 39% said their room is currently fit for seasonal visitors

If tackling the guest room feels like an insurmountable task ahead of the chaos of Christmas, here is expert advice from four leading interior designers on easy and essential updates to transform a neglected guest room into a warm, inviting and on-trend space.

1. Start with the Bed

Helen Johnson from The Fine Bedding Company knows a thing or two about guest bed etiquette – with many of the brand’s popular ranges featuring in five-star hotels across the UK.  She offers the following advice on getting beds guest-ready.

“As research shows, many spare beds are never slept in throughout the course of the year. This can mean bedding can become musty and unwelcoming.

“Check the care labels on filled duvets and pillows to see if they can be home machine washed. Washing duvets and pillows can be an essential way of freshening a whole bed. Feather and down duvets need to be professionally cleaned. If there is no care label indicating that the fibre filled duvet or pillow can be washed, we would again recommend that it be professionally cleaned to avoid ruining the loft and feel of the product.

“Many of our hotel customers now opt for machine washable duvets, such as Spundown and Boutique Silk, so that guest room duvets and pillows can be regularly and easily washed. Afterall, you wouldn’t want to think you were sleeping under hotel duvets that never get washed! We recommend this for households too where washing at 60oC can not only leave a duvet feeling and smelling as new but it kills dustmites.

“Remember to give pillows and duvets a good shake before dressing the bed to even out the filling and return their plumpness.

“Many homeowners also have no idea how comfortable their spare bed is – so we advise giving it a road test to discover any lumps, bumps or comfort issues. Often guest room mattresses are ones that have been previously used in master bedrooms and passed on to the spare room, so can be old and uncomfortable.

“A new mattress enhancer or topper is a great investment; much cheaper than replacing the entire mattress but highly effective in delivering a new bed feel. Again opting for a machine washable topper and enhancer is a great idea – many of our products offer this feature.”

2. Cover a tired Guest Room carpet or floor with a Cosy Rug

Daniel Prendergast, Design Director at www.therugseller.co.uk offers this advice for guest room floor coverings.

“Leaving guests to get out of a cosy bed only for their feet to be met with cold floorboards is a definite no-no. Even in carpeted guest rooms it’s not uncommon for the carpet to have seen better days, but who has the spare money or time to re-carpet in the lead up to Christmas?

“Simply adding a cosy rug will provide comfort and warmth for guests, as well as protecting the carpet from spills and dirt or covering any existing stains.  There are so many options to choose from and many under £100 so a new rug shouldn’t eat into the Christmas budget. Some rugs are even washable for extra freshness and longevity. A thick pile or shaggy rug that’ll feel soft and luxurious underfoot is a popular choice that will help to stop draughts too.”

3. Wow with wallpaper

“Adding a feature wall is an affordable and easy update that will certainly deliver a boutique hotel feel,” says Alex Whitecroft from www.iwantwallpaper.co.uk.

“Wallpapering just one wall is often easier and quicker than people think – it can definitely be done in a day and there’s no worry about patterns not lining up at corners. Less paper also means less money!

“Because guests rooms need to make people feel welcome and appeal to varied tastes, choosing wallpapers that won’t overpower an overall design scheme is good advice. Metallics are a great option for guest rooms as it’s a look that goes with almost everything and is very opulent. A neutral colour scheme is unisex and offers widespread appeal.”

4. Rise and Shine – adding blinds and curtains for necessary light control 

Interiors expert, Lorna McAleer from made-to-measure blinds brand Style Studio suggests that ensuring windows are well covered can make guests feel welcome and cosy when tucked up, and they provide valuable light control. Window coverings are also essential for privacy.

She says:

“Our bodies are naturally encoded to respond to light and dark and sleeping with the rhythms of nature… but if guests have had a late night enjoying your hospitality, they might need some extra shut-eye even when the sun has come up.

“Blackout roller blinds offer excellent light control and are an affordable, easy update. Available in an array of colours and designs they will co-ordinate with the rest of the room’s scheme to look super stylish. Ever better – add a motorised blind to really deliver that ‘no expense spared’ home-tel impression – they can even link up to popular smart speaker systems so if guests want to open the blinds all they need do is ask.

“Thick luxurious curtains and Roman blinds also have room darkening and insulating qualities, plus they will give an instant hotel-feel.”

Extra ‘Home-tel Hacks’

Once a room’s décor has had a makeover with bedding, rugs, wallpaper and blinds – some simple touches can make all the difference in creating a hotel experience for house guests.

In a survey, these are the most wanted extra touches when away from home.

  1. Connect with guests: providing a spare mobile phone charger and the home Wi-Fi code is a welcoming touch.
  2. Give them space: Yes, metaphorically speaking it’s nice to give guests time alone to relax, but literally giving guests a space to unpack their bags and empty drawers and cupboards to house their clothes is much preferable to a room where every nook and cranny is stuffed with unwanted items.  Time for a pre-Christmas clearout!
  3. Forget me not: Have a “just in case” basket – a handy solution for those who forget essential items such as toothpaste or hairbrush!  Even label it …Please Help Yourself.
  4. Water, water everywhere: Fill a decorative water dispenser with iced water and glasses at the ready so guests don’t have to get up in the night in an unfamiliar space.
  5. Blooming marvelous idea: Fresh cut flowers instantly make someone feel special
  6. Give a home an aroma.  If the room isn’t regularly used make sure it is well aired and add a room fragrance, the scent of lavender or roses has a relaxing effect for guests before bedtime. It’s also useful to have a scented candle or fragrance spray in the room for a ‘just prior to arrival freshen up’.
  7. Heat-ometer: If guests are too hot or too cold under their duvets it can have a huge impact on their sleep. As a general rule, in the warm summer months a 4.5 tog duvet is the norm and then move up to either a 10.5 or 13.5 tog in winter. In addition to tog rating a great option is a synthetic duvet, The Fine Bedding Company has a wide range that, thanks to their clever ingredients, regulate a person’s temperature to their optimum throughout the night.
  8. Blowing hot and cold: We’re all different in terms of how warm we like rooms, so ensure guests can alter the room’s temperature – check windows still open, test radiators work and can be turned on and off (and that they don’t need bleeding) and provide a couple of additional blankets or spare lower weight duvets for those who like to be really toasty in bed.
  9. Looking goodDuring your guest room test make sure you even get dressed and ready in the room. You’re likely to need a mirror. If this is something you’ve overlooked even a temporary solution will do.
  10. A pile of clean towels (preferably that have been given 10 minutes in the tumble dryer that day to fluff and freshen them up) with a little ribbon tied around may be all that’s needed to create an inviting atmosphere.