The First Things People Notice About Your Guest Room, According to Experts

Make your visitors’ temporary home a place for pleasant memories.

Depending on the size of your home—and how many people share it—a guest room can be a double-duty office or den, or a sprawling suite fit for visiting royalty. Either way, your overnight guests are likely to be grateful for a private space. That said, your guest room will definitely make a first impression, and it's difficult to get an outsider's view of a space you see daily. To shed some light on the subject, we asked interior design pros to weigh in on what guests take note of the moment they arrive and set down their bags in your guest room. Read on to learn what they have to say.

READ THIS NEXT: The First Things Guests Notice When They Come Into Your Home, Experts Say.

1
The bed.

young black woman daydreaming in bed
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A common theme among designers is that a guest room should take its cues from the things that make us feel pampered in our favorite hotels.

"When guests are staying with you, they'll want to be comfortable and will notice if the bedding is too sparse for comfort (like a bed with just a flat sheet)," explains Yasmine El Sanyoura, home designer at real estate website Opendoor. "From fluffy throw pillows to warm duvets and comforters, investing in key pieces that will inspire a hotel-like at-home retreat will ensure guests will feel welcomed."

Another recommendation from Molly McGinness, owner of Molly McGinness Interior Design, is to keep additional blankets and different types of pillows (since people have various preferences for pillow firmness) in the closet.

2
The scent.

air freshener diffuser on table
New Africa / Shutterstock

"Scent is the strongest trigger of memory, so guests will immediately notice (and remember!) if the guest room smells fresh or has any foul odors," according to El Sanyoura. She suggests gender-neutral scents like sandalwood, fresh linen, or bamboo. "Try room sprays or diffusers instead of candles, and keep dryer sheets in cabinet drawers so clothes smell good, too."

READ THIS NEXT: The First Things Guests Notice About Your Bathroom, Experts Say.

3
Amenties and necessities.

Bed with Toiletries and Extra Towels
Diana Rui / Shutterstock

No matter how beautiful your guest room is, if people don't have what they need to be comfortable, it could leave a bad taste in their mouths.

"Since guests will want to make their room feel like their own during their stay, be sure there is ample storage space for their belongings—closet space for luggage and duffel bags, cabinet drawers for clothes, for example—that is clearly intended for their items," says El Sanyoura. "Leave out empty trays for beauty essentials or bedside table space for phones, chargers, magazines, and books."

Designers also agreed that one of the best practical and pretty additions to the guest room is a stack of fluffy towels. "I like to leave a small 'welcome!' note on top to make them feel right at home," El Sanyoura adds. "A basket works great here!"

Other amenities you can consider, according to McGinnes, are a carafe of water next to the bed, a luggage rack, extra hangers in the closet, and conveniently located wall hooks.

4
How you've worked with the size of the room.

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Bigger is not always better. "While a larger room can feel more luxurious, a smaller room will usually feel cozier and intimate and is usually the better option," shares Stefan Bucur, founder of Rhythm of the Home.

One pitfall is over-decorating a small room or filling it to the brim with furniture; in this case, it can feel claustrophobic for guests. Conversely, a large room that's sparsely furnished and has bare walls can come off as cold and uninviting.

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5
The decor and colors.

bed with red and black bedding in modern home
Shutterstock/Photographee.eu

A visitor's eye will definitely travel to a room's artwork, furniture, and decorative finishes—and the colors that frame those items.

"If the walls are a bright white, adding various shades of blue or green can help create a soothing atmosphere that encourages relaxation," suggests Chris Alexakis, interior designer and the founder of CabinetSelect.

In fact, in their Paint and Color Trends Report 2023, remodeling service Fixr found that "neutrals with pops of bold colors" is the year's most popular interior color palette. They also found that nearly half of the 62 interior design industry experts surveyed would add wallpaper to a bedroom, with botanical designs being their top pick.

Regarding furniture and decor, follow the same guidelines: Soft colors and cozy textures help create a welcoming environment for guests.

6
Lighting.

Bedroom
Svet_Feo/Shutterstock

Another important aspect that gets attention in a guest room is the lighting, as you want your guests to be able to work, read, relax, and get ready for their day in a well-lit space.

According to Bucur, using harsh, bright white bulbs can really kill the welcome vibe. He suggests choosing lamps "that are functional but also aesthetically pleasing and using a mix of ambient lights, task lighting, and accent lighting to create depth and comfort in the room."

7
Tidiness—or not.

young woman holding bucket of cleaning supplies
Shutterstock/PR Image Factory

Guests notice clutter right away, according to Zakhar Ivanisov, founder of design blog Soul & Lane, "especially if you use the guest room as a 'dump room' when you don't have guests." Tidy up and store items so they'll feel like they're in a bedroom, not a playroom or an attic.

In addition to banishing clutter and mess, make sure the floors are clean and surfaces are dust-free. This will make the room feel more inviting and relaxing.

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