Hosting visitors for the first time in ages? Here's how to prep your guest room

Whether your guest room has doubled as an office, a classroom, or a storage space this last year, here's how to get it check-in ready once again.

guest bedroom refresh
(Image credit: Ruth Jackson)

After a year of forced vacancies, I’m determined that this is the year our long-languishing guest room becomes the cozy getaway destination for our dearest friends and family. During the last 12+ months, our guest room suffered further losses as it became a sometimes-classroom, playroom, and storage room. We added a desk for school and work, filled up the closets with unused luggage and off season clothing and the kiddos moved in Barbie and her Dreamhouse.  We used every square inch of our home to expand our living space once began spending all our time at home.

But now, I've got my sights set on reclaiming the space for it's original purpose. 

If you can relate, here are 10 of the guest bedroom ideas on my to-do list for the remainder of the year, with the anticipation of a house filled with with merry visitors this holiday season. I’m tackling one task and buying one item each month, in preparation. 

Clear out the clutter

My first order of business is cleaning out the closet and kicking Barbie and her friends out. I want my guests to have a spot for their luggage and the ability to unpack instead of living out of their suitcases. I plan to provide a few velvet hangers on the closet rod for those that like to hang up their travel wardrobes. Short on storage space? Adding a folding luggage rack is a great stand in for a dresser or closet space.

AmazonBasics velvet hanger| $24.90 at Amazon

AmazonBasics velvet hanger| $24.90 at Amazon

These non-slip hangers will hold anything from silk tank tops to oversized suit jackets, plus they're streamlined to make the most of a small closet space. 

Create a hotel-inspired coffee bar

Much of our family are early risers with a penchant for immediate java intake. I’m adding a little coffee bar, equipped with a one cup maker and a selection of pods. I’ll stock the bar with a few bottles of water and tasty snacks. I’d, also, love to add a mini fridge for my mom’s treasured half and half.

Keurig K-Mini Plus Coffee Maker | $99.99 at Amazon

Keurig K-Mini Plus Coffee Maker | $99.99 at Amazon

This mini coffee maker is perfect for a guest room: not only is it small enough to fit on top of a dresser or nightstand, it's easy to use, and the pod-style means it's basically mess free. 

Frigidaire 3.2 Cu Ft Retro Mini Fridge With Side Bottle Opener EFR376, Blue | Now $139 at Walmart

Frigidaire 3.2 Cu Ft Retro Mini Fridge With Side Bottle Opener EFR376, Blue | Now $139 at Walmart

If you're going to have an appliance in a guest room, it might as well be a cute one. This retro-inspired mini-fridge fits the bill. 

Stock up on fluffy towels

I strive to offer the fluffiest towels for our guests. Since they share our family bath, I leave a stack on the bed designated for their use. 

Liam Turkish Bath Towel | $19 at Peacock Alley

Liam Turkish Bath Towel | $19 at Peacock Alley

These luxury 600-gram weight towels will remind your guests of a five-star hotel. Stock up on a few for your own bathroom while you're at it, you won't regret it. 

Head to the sample aisle

I normally hoard all the hotel samples when we travel and pile them in a basket for guest use. Since this year has been light in the travel category, I plan to raid the sample section at Target. I find the most used items are toothbrushes and shampoo, followed by lotion.

Get crowd-pleasing pillows

Buying pillows can be more of an investment for something that preferences vary person to person. Lands End has the best pillows for every kind of sleeper. I plan to buy four universal style pillows, and a few specialty ones that I can store in the closet.

Pile on soft cotton sheets

I like to have two sets of sheets for each bed. Red Land Cotton sent me a set of their ticking stripe sheets and I’ve been hooked since. Cotton sheets wrinkle less than linen and these seem to get better with every wash.

Refresh the duvet

I plan to sort through all our bedding. Toss blankets past their prime and buy a fresh duvet cover to extend the life of your guest room duvet and give the space a style upgrade at the same time.

Priano Duvet Cover | $348 at Serena & Lily

Priano Duvet Cover | $348 at Serena & Lily

Good bedding makes all the difference. This duvet is a splurge, but one that's worthwhile. It's got plenty of serene style, and it's made from super-soft cotton sateen.

Pick up a fan

We live in an old house with inconsistent heating and cooling. I keep a fan available behind a drape for easy access and quick cooling. It can also double as white noise for guests who prefer it. 

Add in plush robes

I love when I stay at a hotel and I find robes in the closet. I’ve always dreamed of being the kind of hostess that offers this bit of luxury. These Lands End robes hold up to repeated washing.

Accommodate mini guests, too

Lastly, I’m planning for our smallest overnight guests. A pack-n-play, sound machine and blackout curtains are a good start. Eventually, I’ll swap out our guest room bed for something with a twin trundle for sweet tots staying with their parents.

Ruthie Jackson is an Iowa-based DIYer, furniture flipper, certified interior decorator, and lover of all things vintage. She's currently renovating her family's 1930s colonial home, which she documents on Instagram at @miracleonthirtyfourth.