The Killer Guestroom

The Killer Guestroom

Maristella Bertram


When we have a dedicated guestroom, can we keep it ready to receive guests? It means keeping it empty of our stuff, decorated with a cozy atmosphere, and perhaps a couple of things to wow guests.

Maintaining our belongings out of the guestroom makes it easier to control our things. It simplifies everything. I can’t imagine the stress it would cause me to have random items in random places in my home, not knowing where’s what.

What The Guestroom Is Not

The guestroom should not be the dumpster for all the unwanted gifts you have received, your wedding dress or formal attire, gift-wrapping supplies, unpacked boxes from your last move, and old pictures in frames you’d rather avoid. Each of these things has a logical place — different from the guestroom.

If you’ve worked with My Space Reclaimed before, you know the logical place for each item in your home. But if you are still determining the best storage area for any of the stuff you want to store in your guestroom, I will be happy to point you in the right direction.

It is common for people to place random stuff wherever there’s space available. But this practice is incompatible with an organized home. So, for example, would you place canned food in a bathroom cabinet because it has some open space? (And if you answered yes, stop reading now — nothing here will make sense to you).

Keeping our belongings out of the guestroom also avoids the last-minute scramble to remove stuff from that space when guests come over. Or heaven forbids the need to make a little space for a guest or two so they can accommodate their things in the guestroom.

Please don’t do this. It might make your guests feel unwelcome. The message given is that they’re interrupting how you live. I would not feel at ease as a guest in such a situation. I’d hate to feel I’m causing my host inconvenience or additional work.

What Every Guestroom Should Have

So, now that we know what not to place in that guestroom let’s touch on what we should include.

Besides maintaining the room empty of our belongings, paying attention and intention to the guestroom makes total sense.

We want to ensure the place is comfortable, aesthetically pleasing, and inviting.

To achieve that, let’s use simple, neutral décor and cozy ambiance, anticipate our guests’ needs, and implement details that truly make a difference.

We must consider the following elements to create unforgettable experiences for our home guests.

The Bed

Choose a medium-firm mattress (in whatever size you need the bed to be). If the bed frame does not have a headboard, create one or buy a panel to install on the wall behind the bed. The headboard makes the bed feel warm and determines bed placement.

Select white, solid sheets and pillowcases of the same set. Get two additional pillowcases every time you buy a sheet set.

Invest in four firm pillows (two, if the bed is twin size), a mattress protector, and pillow protectors (waterproof but that don’t feel plastic). Use the bed recipe for that upscale look.

Minimalist Furniture

Include one nightstand for a twin bed or two nightstands for a double bed, queen, or king size. Add a full-length mirror, whether heavily framed, on the floor against the wall, or a simple long mirror installed inside the closet door or wall. And remember the dresser!

Window Dressings

Choose simple curtain panels and modern-looking hardware. When deciding on panel measurements, consider that those come in standard sizes and that the appropriate length for these is touching the floor and lightly pooling at the bottom. Choose darkening / temperature-regulating curtain panels for added convenience for your guests.

Temperature Control

The darkening / temperature-regulating curtain panels will help control the temperature in the room. Also, because chances are the guest bedroom does not have a separate thermostat, ensure that the room’s overhead lighting fixture includes a fan — the fewer items you need to add to the room, the better. Floor fans and space heaters do not contribute to an enticing look in a room.

Reading Area

Space permitting, include a comfy wingchair with a small ottoman, a mini side table, and a floor lamp with directional light behind the armchair. (That’s cozy on steroids!)

Wall Décor

Include limited wall décor that is simple, size-appropriate, and not about you, your family, politics, or religion.

Strategic Lighting

Lighting is crucial for ambiance and functionality. In bedrooms, warm (yellow) light is the way to go. Use warm light bulbs on all light fixtures in the room, including the ceiling fan fixture. Replace any burnout lightbulb at once and avoid mixing different kinds of lightbulbs (color or power).

Also, add a table lamp on each nightstand, plus another on the dresser.

A Well-Appointed Bathroom

Ensure the toilet, sink, and shower/bathtub work well without annoying leaks.

Place perfectly white (preferably new) bath towels on towel bars and hand towels on towel rings by the sink.

Add a size-appropriate shower mat or rug in front of the shower and the sink area. Avoid toilet covers or mats around the toilet!

Include a 3–8 gallon trashcan and line in with a transparent trash bag of the appropriate size.

If the bathroom has a shower, install a new liner for its shower curtain. Better yet, consider a hookless shower curtain (eliminating the need for hooks and including a removable, washable fabric liner). Choose a solid shower curtain in white, preferably.

Fit the countertop with a tissue box cover and a matching soap dispenser. Place a tissue box in the dispenser and fill the soap dispenser.

Selected Travel-Sized Toiletries

Your guests will probably bring their toiletries. However, it would help to be prepared for those impromptu stays and unforeseen mishaps.

Consider buying these items in travel size, and organizing them neatly in drawer inserts in one of the bathroom’s most accessible drawers.

  • Q-tips
  • cotton
  • toothpaste
  • toothbrush
  • mouthwash
  • deodorant
  • shampoo
  • conditioner
  • shower gel
  • disposable razor
  • hairspray
  • shaving cream
  • nail clipper
  • mini brush
  • mini comb
  • Body lotion
  • feminine supplies
  • wipes

Paper Supplies

Stock the bathroom cabinet over the toilet with extra rolls of paper (without the plastic wrapper!) and a couple of tissue boxes. If the bathroom does not have a cabinet over the toilet, use another cabinet area nearby.)

Available Closet

Include 10–12 wooden, sturdy hangers in the closet.

Add a skinny square or rectangular hamper that complements the room décor.

Include 1–2 additional pillows (with pillow protectors and corresponding pillowcases) and an extra blanket.


The bedroom, the closet, and the bathroom should be spotless. Look up to see that the fan and air vents are dust-free and pay attention to baseboards and crown moldings.

Please avoid keeping any cleaning products or equipment in your guest bedroom or bathroom. You don’t want your guests thinking they are expected to clean while staying at your place!

Electronics / Safety

Add a charger for your guest’s electronics on one or both nightstands. Include a small flashlight in the nightstand drawer if the power goes off. Use a plug-in nightlight in the bedroom and the bathroom and a couple of these in the hallway from the bedroom to the bathroom (when it’s not inside the room) and to the kitchen. Include a home automation device (such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home).

Coffee / Water / Snacks

Space permitting, place a coffee maker with a few hot-cold disposable cups, stirrers, and individual serving format coffee accessories (sweetener, cream pods). Add a small decorative box or basket with prepacked snacks (such as granola, cereal bars, and individual-size packs of almonds or peanuts) and two water bottles.

Final Details

Add a clear vase with fresh flowers (with a minimum of leaves) filled ¾ with water.

Include 1–2 unisex white or beige bathrobe and plush sandals in the closet.

To provide your guests with an unforgettable stay that could become the stuff of legend, pay close attention to those guestroom details and anticipate their needs.

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Maristella Bertram

Maristella Bertram, MBA, CPO, owner of My Space Reclaimed, LLC, is a Board-Certified Professional Organizer, Redesigner and Stager.