Guest Room Guide


I am excited. Expecting guests from my home country in the coming week, for a week.

This made me have a look at my guest room this weekend to make sure everything was in order. I want them to feel very welcome. (Read more 1.)

So, I decided to share with you my ideas on GUEST ROOMS as I applied it when I had put this room together a few years ago. I still love it everytime I walk in there and reason being that when I think GUEST room, I don’t think SPARE room, I think HOTEL room. That is where the secret lies ! Now that I have given you the golden rule – you might not want to read on..but if you only hear that today – that is also okay. Everything in that context will make more sense to you from this point forward in this post. (Read more 2.)

The idea is not to apply the exact same thing in your room…but to take the concept or the principle when you plan out your room and then modify it to your budget, your taste and your situation (Read more 3).

Not everybody has the luxury of having a guest room available at all times, but if ever you have one and could decorate it from scratch, you could come back here and refresh your memory. Or if you don’t have a room that you can dedicate fulltime to that purpose, you can apply some of these guidelines, to turn one of your current bedrooms into a “guest suite” for a few days when you want to make your guests feel welcome ! (Read more 4)

Since there is SO MUCH that I could say about guest rooms, I am going to try and do something different for this post.

I will give you a photo and a few lines to explain and then at the bottom of the post, I will do the  READ more on each of those. See the bottom of the post for all these READ MORE notes that you have by now started to wonder about! And please do go to the bottom of the post where I ask you an important question and contribution to my WORLD MAP !

Back to the Room:

Start with what you have. This will form the basics of the room and set the tone. (Read more 5.)

Once you have your basic elements, choose your ambience by picking a wall color and linen to match and pull the scheme together. (Read more 6.)

Have something right beside the bed where guests can put things down – like a book they are reading – some type of  “bedside stands” – even if they are not the traditional, as those can be very costly (Read more 7.)

Always have  2 sets of pillows to choose from as per guest preference (Read more 7).

Curtains can be costly. Think about getting away with a cheaper option. (Read more 8)

The basics are set – room furniture, walls, linen, color scheme, curtains – you have set the tone. Now to enhance the ambience and the overall experience. So you can take it up a notch with adding details (Read more 9)

Day One of putting your guest room together, you won’t have all the little nicknacks to go with your room, but I find that having a guest room in a set color scheme, gives me a great excuse to buy things that I see and love – especially on vacation (Read more 10 on where I found these) to add to your room later.

A bedside lamp and a few magazines are the perfect companions next to a guest bed to let them know you want them to lie back, enjoy some reading when they have time  and the pleasure of not having to get out of bed to go switch off the light when half asleep. That has happened to me so often staying over…. and that’s okay…but we are talking here about trying to give your guests the DELUXE package!

But WHATEVER you put on the bedside table – PLEASE let it blend in. Do not put a raspberry red chocolate bar here or a cranberry candle. Match, match, match your scheme or you will ruin your serenity in one go. I would have done this in a Read more, but I am so afraid you miss this point, that I have to put it here !

Now, don’t forget our golden rule in the beginning – put your HOTEL cap on by adding those things people don’t bring with them but would find annoying to go buy  – Stationery and a desk…and… (Read more 11).

But please do me a favour. And stick to your color scheme again. I know you just heard that. I am telling you again in case you missed that. You might have to choose your second favourite flavour for the linen spray or notebook, but it will match and that will make all the difference to take your guest room from good enough to glam !

And what do hotels usually provide you with? Empty closets or… (Read more 12)

If you have things in your house that are just lying around, you can think of using them in here for eg, these little perfume bottles I collected at some stage – who knows why?

I leave them for the guests to use in the closet. A nice touch but did not cost me any extra.

Do you have anything just lying around that you could perhaps incorporate into your guest room?

When you are an expat there is definitely one thing you have plenty of lying around. Those brochures and books you collect about your new destination when you first arrive. Put them to good use ! (Read more 13)

I can keep you busy for a whole ‘nother day on guest rooms, but I have little time before my guests come, so best we stop here for today.

If you have an en-suite bathroom..yes, you guess it – CONTINUE with the color scheme.

But the guest bathroom is a whole story on its own and will be continued in tomorrow’s post – with the added benefit of a blog giveaway. So, do check back on that !

And if you think you got the idea..or the picture..and want to skip the Read more – please do jump to the bottom of the post to answer my question and to send me your name and your country you live in !!

1. To make VERY sure that they know I want them to feel welcome – I have put block letters on the credenza that spells it out. You can have fun with these – buy some to always have at hand and then change the message appropriately for the different guests. It adds personality – so they know they are NOT in a hotel room, they just have the luxury feel of a hotel room with the hospitality of friends.

2. When you have guests, you have to realize they are away from home. We all love living in a hotel (well, I certainly do. And rather than feeling that we are invading someone’s space, when we stay with people at their homes, you need to create the feeling for you guests, that they are being “treated”…that it is much nicer here than any other place they would want to be right now.

3. For eg. on note 1 – think – what is your “welcome” factor – fresh flowers, a little card, a block message…. like you have the cheesy TV screen with your “Welcome mr and mrs O” in the hotels at the Resorts. I hate those..but yet, it does feel that they “prepared” for your stay. Make your guests feel like you “prepared” before they arrived. Welcome message them in one way or the other upon arrival.

4. If you have to use one of your current rooms, try to “strip down” that room..meaning take away ALL the clutter and things that you have to have there normally…but don’t need while they are there. DON’T leave it in the room (even throw it in a box or push it under your bed but get it out of the way, rather than making them feel that they are invading your space and overcrowding it.

5. I had these old pieces – these IKEA wardrobes from my previous house, sepia pictures of trees, a rusty garden vase and a chair from my parent’s house which I will not get rid of but which does not fit into any other room scheme. So, with those basic pieces I knew that this room will be dark wood as I had to accomodate these pieces here. Wood can be very boring, dark and depressing, so I needed to add a soft, subtle colour to make it more “dreamy” and well, hotel-like !

6. Pick the colour scheme from the basic undertone you have now set. Soft dove blue complimented the browns, especially taking my cue from the frosted glass doors of the wardrobes, but I had nothing in that colorscheme. Painting a wall is the quickest way to make a big impact on a low budget. The dark wood immediately told me that this room would not feel good with crispy red and green apple colours, although I was dying to use those colors for something fresh and bright. Sometimes you just have to go with what you have and not fight the elements !

7. I did not have bedside stands and did not want to invest, so an extra table and an old toy basket came in handy as side tables. Now the basket serves as storage space for extra pillows in case guests have preferences. But, at least you should have 2 sets of pillows on guest beds as you don’t want to ruin somebody with jetlag’s little sleep they get by giving them a flat or too stiff pillow that is very different from their usual.

8. As this room would be very seldomly used, I did not want to invest  a lot into curtains. So I made a DIY curtain with a sheer piece of fabric and just put in a few hooks attached to shower curtain rings to give effect. I hid the hooks with tossles to trim and voila! This window has a shutter that closes automatically on the outside, so I did not need to worry about having a full window cover, but if you don’t have that option, you might want to consider a block out blind – nothing like sun in your eyes when you try to sleep in on vacation.

9. Add things such as candles, some interesting artifacts from your home country perhaps, a guest book on an end table to get special messages from your guests, an extra blanket if too cold, his and her slippers…whatever comes to mind that are not neccessary, but nice !

10. What a great excuse to buy some momentos from holiday destinations and add them to your room as time goes on. Sometimes they end up as missfits on shelves in rooms that don’t compliment them and when added to a guest room, they sometimes get highlighted more and a talking point with guests as they “live” with them for a few days! They are certainly more memorable this way. I found these items on my travels –

* Oversized Wooden necklaces from Vietnam street market;

* Candle (can not tell you how amazing it smells !!!) – from North Shore, Hawaii;

* Wood Coasters – En Style, Parys, Free State, South Africa;

* Perfume Oil tray – Marrakesh, Morocco;

* Candy tins – Costco – ha-ha (my local grocery monthly travel destination !) – but let’s be honest, every guest is allowed a little sin in their room, so why not  leave them a treat if they feel a little lonely or up to something sweet even if they refused to take dessert because they were trying to be good and now they regret !

* Magazine stand – Kyobo, Seoul

11. Very few people carry stationery with them (I do – but I am a little OTT!). Think HOTEL now. You often need a little notebook to maybe record your expenses or something you saw etc. Or scissors. Or an envelope where you might want to leave a note behind or some money for a special helper. Other things you might add – some sleep spray for the linen for a good night sleep, tissues, a back scratcher, coffee mugs (I have a coffee maker in the room adjacent for the guests to use). Little treats. Little details.

12. DON’T let people put their clothes inbetween your kids’ dress up costumes, and squeeze in their shoes right next to your piled up sneakers that you pushed aside. Again – throw those in a trash bag for a day in the garage if you have to, but give them an empty shelve if you can at ALL manage that. Don’t put your pink and green plastic hangers here because those are your extras ! NO, put your best wooden hangers here and make do with the pink and green in your own closet – nobody is going to look there. And if you have no option but to leave some of your things in there – put them in these very easy to find IKEA storage bags so that it looks neat and tidy and again not leave them feeling like they are invading your linen closet. They are in a hotel remember, not in your storage space!

13. I put these books and brochures out since I don’t live in my home country. Many guests don’t do homework beforehand or only really get insight into what they want to do during their visit when they are already in the country. Let your guests browse in their own free time to spark ideas of what they wish to see. And off course – again… I had a good excuse to put to use the beautiful bath dish that I could not resist during my travels to Beijing which I had found at the Antique market and I had to convince my husband that I could really put it to use – somehow ! I had no idea for what at the time, but then finally it found a spot !!

One last thing…. this World Map that I have put down on this table, does not belong in this room, but I recently turned the gym into a toyroom and it simply won’t fit in anymore and it is SO HUGE that I had no place to go with it. It goes with the color scheme so I am thinking of keeping it here.

But, I have an idea – I am thinking of adding pins to it, showing the names of all our friends who live around the globe and hopefully they might make their way into our guest room one day and see their pin.

I thought it might give a different spin to the old scenario of pinning the places where we have travelled to?

I would love to know what you think of this idea of mine ! And if you want me to start by adding your name to my MAP, even if you live in the same town as me now – leave a comment down below with your country where you live currently – even if we have just met in the blogosphere. I would love to add you as a friend !

Take care and go glam up those GUEST BEDROOMS !!



10 responses to Guest Room Guide

  • Nikki says:

    Your guest room is nicer than my bedroom, I think I might take my next staycation there! Have a great visit, catch up soon xxx

    • Ilze says:

      Nikki – you would be most welcome for a “staycation” ! Same goes for my bedroom actually – not as nice as the guestroom !! But we can’t have our own rooms feeling hotel like…imagine how out of touch we would be with reality. And our husbands would not agree any longer to send us off on a little break.

  • Lisa says:

    Looks amazing, Ilze!! I better not show this to my guests… they might knock on your door instead…. ;-))!!

  • Mienie says:

    Wow, sowaar baie inspirend. Pragtige kamer. Enige gas sal sommer baie welkom voel.

  • Sue says:

    you are so clever the detail. I just finished our guest room and Sophie has moved in!!! She loves it more than her own room. I love the world map idea – it’s fantastic and yes, you can put a pin on Russia .. Just hope you will be able to move it soon though!!!
    You have inspired me to start up my blog again. I feel I need to capture all the positive experiences and moments I have here, so when I look back at this destination, I will feel it was an important part of my life journey. So thank you x

  • Candice says:

    Hi Ilze, I met you briefly in Moscow in November 2008 – you were just leaving and I had just arrived! I heard a lot about you from the other SA ladies – you were greatly missed. Have just started reading your blog and love it… you’re inspirational – really love your style. I try to make my guests comfy but you have certainly set the bar!
    We left Moscow in July, we’re now in Switzerland for a few years.
    Looking forward to reading more blog posts

  • Grethe says:

    Haven’t read in detail yet…..will come back for tips. Map looks very nice in this room. Sorry we haven’t seen our pin when we were there – hopefully will see it some day? Please move Korea 6 hours closer to us!

  • Lala says:

    Ilze, Look amazing! You are so artistic and always have brilliant ideas.
    Thanks for sharing those ideas. keep on writing, please!!!

  • Sam says:

    Sorry but after seeing your guest room you can never come and stay with me! BUT can I still win the bathroom set!!!

  • Brenda says:

    We plan to use that room soon …

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