1. Home
  2. Blog
  3. How to Decorate
  4. 9 Must-Follow Rules for Decorating a Guest Bedroom
quilted grey bed linen flatlay with round side table in guest bedroom

9 Must-Follow Rules for Decorating a Guest Bedroom

The thought of decorating a guest bedroom has always excited me to no end. That’s what happens when you’re a decorating junkie; you dream endlessly about what you’ll do with the rooms of your forever home once you finally get it.

My guest bedroom has gone through a few changes since I moved into my current home about two years ago. And having styled it up in different ways has taught me a lot. So today I thought I’d share some of my learnings with you.

Don’t worry, it won’t be boring (‘learnings’ sounds so dry, doesn’t it?). This is more of a ‘things to include in your guest bedroom’ post. And of course, all my tips and tricks will be budget friendly. Because if you have some cash to play with, I say you should invest it in your own master suite, not the guest room. You deserve a pamper after all.

So let’s get all over decorating a guest bedroom right (and what you absolutely need to include). PS the gorgeous image above comes via Pottery Barn.

guest bedroom decorating ideas coastal bohemian kids bedroom with single kids bed and boho cushion

1. The Room Should Have a Style or Theme

This is a rule I suggest you follow for your entire home, and the style should definitely carry through into your guest bedroom.

The room itself needs a style or theme, otherwise it’l just feel like a forgotten zone you dump guests in. So have some fun making this space match the rest of your home.

It could be a coastal scheme with beach artworks and a subdued colour palette, for example. The image above from Mocka demonstrates this idea perfectly. Love the muted colour palette and bed styling. Even a single bed can be made to look stellar. As they say, it’s not about the size of the room – it’s what you do with it that counts! 

The theme you choose when decorating a guest bedroom doesn’t have to be super literal either. It could be a colour palette that you’ve pulled from other rooms in your home. The top image in this post – from Kmart – is an example of a white, sage and soft grey palette. Rather soothing and gorgeous, but not a literal ‘theme’.

ikea frihiten sofa bed review on the life creative

2. Choose Your Own Adventure: Bed or Sofa Bed

This one depends on how much space you have in your home. If you have a larger house with ample rooms, you’re likely to have a dedicated room for guests with a bed. But smaller homes might have a guest bedroom that doubles as a study, ironing room, or any other number of other purposes.

In my own home, I started off with a dedicated bed and then ended up moving to a sofa bed. We now use the room as a second living room when guests aren’t staying. It’s seen us use the space a lot more than we used to with the bed in it. And the sofa bed takes up less space. I have this sofa bed from IKEA and guests actually compliment me on it.

If you need to find a stylish fold out, click here to check out the best sofa bed options on the market right now. Sofa beds have come such a long way and are no longer the creaky and creepy pieces of furniture they used to be.

lorraine lea taya white bedding set with blush cushions and throws

3. Have Bedding with Multiple Layers on-Hand

If you’ve opted for a bed in your guest bedroom, this is where the fun really starts. You’ll be in your absolute element styling it up with oodles of pillows, cushions, duvets and throws. Honestly, the more the better too. I recommend at least 8 pillows in total at the head of the bed.

If you need tips on how to style a bed in new and exciting ways, this video I created has you covered.

But as a general rule for guests, have multiple layers like a top sheet, duvet and then throw. Some people are hot sleepers (like me), and others are freezing even in the peak of summer. It’s best to include a tonne of layers and let guests decide which ones to embrace and which to abandon.

Don’t feel like you have to spend a fortune on bedding either. A nice and affordable set on linen will do the trick. This post showcases some of my fave bed linen if you’re looking to shop for some.

black and white guest bedroom decorating ideas from mocka

4. Even the Smallest Rooms Need a Bedside

When I was decorating a guest bedroom in my own home, I opted for a lightweight round side table beside the sofa bed. The room isn’t big enough for a dedicated bedside either side, but I had to include a small round table.

I did this because guests will want somewhere to pop their things when the sofa bed is folded out. Even if it’s not directly bedside the ‘head’ of the bed. A light table means they can move it where they want it and have plenty of room to pop their phone, water bottle, glasses etc when they go to sleep.

The last thing you want to do is force guests to put all of that stuff on the floor. Not a cute look, especially when water spills all over your carpet or rug.

Small round side tables can be as cheap as chips too. Here’s a list of my fave affordable options.

lorraine lea nook white bedding in all white room with coastal bedside table lamp

5. Include a Lamp Somewhere in the Space

Guests often retire to bed but don’t go right to sleep. I do this all the time. I love a bit of time in bed with a book, mag, or scroll through social media before I start to snooze.

A lamp on a bedside, or even a floor lamp near the sofa bed is essential. It’s not only perfect from a functional point of view, but it also sets mood in a room like no other design element can.

It’s always nice to have the lamp on when showing guests to their room of a night. It sets such a nice ambience in the space.

maison blanche candles

6. Think about Scent: Candles are your Friend

The other mood setter in the room is scent, so for the love of the decor gods, please include a diffuser in your guest bedroom. I am utterly obsessed with candles, but they do come with a burn risk if you have kids staying over (or forgetful, clumsy adults), so a diffuser is a safe option.

Of course, it’s wise to choose a candle that’s not too overpowering. You don’t want your guests gagging and gasping for air. Nothing worse than sitting next to someone on public transport wearing litres of deodorant, right? Same principal applies to scent in a small bedroom. Opt for a diffuser with a lighter fragrance and you can’t go wrong.

A list of my fave candle and diffuser brands is here if you need it.

frosty forest artwork scandinavian style art from the print emporium

7. A TV or Artwork Across from the Bed is Key

I know, not everyone is as obsessed with TV as I am. I go to bed every night and fall asleep to the TV. For some reason, Forensic Files on Netflix sends me into a blissful sleep. And surprisingly, I don’t have any nightmares about homocide.

When decorating a guest bedroom (especially a small one), it’s nice to mount a small TV on the wall across from the bed or sofa bed. Guests then have the option go watching TV or not.

If you’re not a TV kinda household or you can’t afford a TV for the room, it’s nice to hang a piece of art across from the bed. Something scenic is nice, like a photograph of a beach or landscape. It gives guests something calm and interesting to take in as they drift off.

If you’re on the hunt for coastal artworks at great prices this post showcases the best of the best.

yellow and purple towels stacked with marble soap dispenser from lorraine lea

8. Include some Towels (Not Necessarily on the Bed)

Every time I stay at my mother in law’s house she always includes a towel on the end of the bed with a chocolate on it. It’s beyond cute and I love every minute of it. I joke that I’m going to give her a good rating on Trip Advisor. It’s become a thing. Create a similar thing with your guests. It’s a nice touch.

The towels don’t have to be stacked on the bed either. They can go anywhere in the room or in the bathroom if you have a dedicated one for visitors. You generally want people who stay to feel you’ve given them a hotel experience but with the chilled, family friend (and FREE) vibes.

speckled handmade vessel on stack of books in bed showroom

9. A Stack of Mags or Books Never goes Astray

Lastly, it’s nice to include some magazines or books on side tables in guest bedrooms. It’s not only a reflection of you and your own tastes when it comes to reading, but it also gives guests something to do when they do to bed or wake up.

The added bonus: it can make for a good convo if they read a book you have. It’s like Oprah’s book club taking place in your very own kitchen each morning. Who doesn’t want that!?

Are you Motivated to get Decorating your Guest Bedroom?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Do you have a spare room on your hands you might be able to transform into a killer guest bedroom suite? Let’s get you motivated to do it. Drop me any questions you might have!


Share on pinterest
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter

Chris Carroll

Outside of writing this blog, Chris is an interior designer, presenter and author. He’s also spent time on TV, on Channel 10’s Changing Rooms, as well presenting segments on Channel 7’s Sunrise and The Morning Show. If you’d like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

Related Posts​

10 Responses

  1. I also include a fan in our guest room–some people enjoy the extra circulation of air and others like the white noise which is calming when you are away from your familiar noises. etc.

  2. Could you please give some supplier details for the images – 1st with the lovely chunky throw, cushions, artwork etc…, the white quilt cover & lamp & the image over the entertainment unit?

    1. Hey Cathy, the throw image comes from Mocka, no idea if they stock all the items you’re after. A lot of the images feature Lorraine Lea products. The foresty print art is from Print Emporium.

  3. When staying elsewhere I also really appreciate a beside table with some concealed storage (if not a drawer then perhaps a small basket or box). Things like medications that need to be taken before bed or when you first wakeup you don’t necessarily want to leave on full display on the tabletop. (Maybe I’m falling into the trap of making the guest bedroom too comfortable lol!)
    Something that my mum always told me is how nice a touch it is to leave a small vase of fresh flowers on the bedside when guests are arriving too.

  4. Agree with the other commenters about adequate, accessible power points. Somewhere to hang clothes is really helpful, even if it’s just a couple of hooks. We don’t have room for a wardrobe in our guest bedroom (it doubles as a study), so have a coat/hat stand in there and it gets SO MUCH USE. Also making sure the lamp switch can be reached from the bed. Plus a small rubbish bin – I’m yet to stay in a (non-commercial) guest bedroom that has one and am always repurposing some bag I have on hand for tissues, make-up wipes etc.

  5. I love the simple white entertainment unit (with artwork above). Can you please let me know where I can purchase this.

  6. The two biggest bug bears when staying in a guest room are no mirror to get ready in the morning. We usually stay with multiple guests staying also, it’s so handy to be able to take a quick shower and then retreat to your room to do your hair and makeup without being a bathroom hog. Along with access to two power points near the bed or extension leads so two people can charge their phones overnight.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


I’m interior designer Chris Carroll, and at TLC Interiors we’re all about helping you create an amazing home without breaking the bank. It’s affordable designer style at its best, and we make the whole process easy and fun for clients & readers alike!

Latest Articles