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How to Create a Guest Room When You Don’t Have One

With the holidays upon us, friends and family stop by and stay for a night or two.

And while TikTok and Pinterest are FILLED with incredibly helpful ideas to spruce up a designated guest room for the season, what are you supposed to do when you don’t have one?

When we remodeled our home a few years ago, I gave up a guest room so each of our girls could have their own space and privacy.

It was the best decision, considering we use every inch of the house, although I sometimes dream of a space I could keep lovely year-round for company.

Today, our four-bedroom home is filled bursting at the seams with kids and all their stuff.

But even if you have a guest room, it’s likely to serve double or triple duty.

I shared this last year when one of my best friends, Neen, told me she was flying in for a quick, less than 24-hour trip to visit me and the girls (her goddaughters).

It was the perfect opportunity to figure out what to do with guests other than throwing one of my kids out of their room.

I spent a ton of time researching (and sending back) so many items until I created a space and system we can use anytime we get to host someone, so I am sharing what I came up with here.

How to Create a Guest Room When You Don’t Have One

It’s been two years since I first shared this, and organizing this space has been a tremendous time saver.

Not only do I do this when “grown-ups” stay with us, but more often, I’m putting this together for the dozens of sleepovers we have during the year.

Yes, this post is different than what I usually do. Don’t panic; I’m not changing course, but your home can be Dressed, too, right?

It would be helpful to contribute something realistic, especially this time of year. This isn’t a sponsored post; it’s not meant to be”perfect,” and it’s certainly not staged.

And while it’s a re-post there are some great tips in both the article and the comments. 🙂

A gray couch in a basement | How to Create a Guest Room When You Don't Have One

This is our downstairs bonus room.

It’s a small space used exclusively by our kids.

They watch movies, play video games, and do crafts at the table.

The sofa, an old model from Ikea with a new slipcover, pullouts out to make a queen sized bed, and there is an entertainment center on the wall you can’t see.

A bed with white linens and a nightstand

I have two friends who have taught me so much about how to be a proper host, Neen and Maribeth.

I’ve stayed in both their homes multiple times and whenever I leave I can’t believe how rested and recharged I feel. 

Everything you could possibly need in their home is at your finger tips, you don’t ask for anything and it is comfortable

So I took inspiration from two of my favorite people in the world and thought, what would they do?

To start, I pulled the bed out and added this comfy pillow top cover.

It’s under $100 and is stain and water resistant.

Trust me when I tell you, this makes the bed 1000% better.

Then I put on crisp white sheets and a comforter I already had in our linen closet. 

I recently ordered this sheet set from Lands’ End because I read they were a favorite of Nancy Myers and I’m obsessed with her. They are almost always on sale so be sure to wait for a promo. Currently a Queen set us under $150.

Small Details Feel Like Home

A nightstand with flowers and a glass of water | How to Create a Guest Room When You Don't Have One

A small end table I wasn’t using (that I found on Wayfair ages ago) is next to the side of the bed.

I added a pitcher and cup set ($25), this sleek little gizmo that charges your iPhone and AirPods at the same time, lavender/chamomile sleep spray (under $20), an old lamp I bought at Target that has a plug on the side and some fresh, and inexpensive flowers from Trader Joe’s. 

Just like when you’re putting an outfit together, see what you have first before you buy. I was able to use so many things just sitting around the house. 

Hotel Extras

white towels and slippers

Then I set up a gold-tone garment rack I found on Amazon. I DO NOT recommend it at all, it was a mess to put together, but I got it to work after almost throwing it across the room.

Instead, I highly recommend this rack that might look familiar from some of my previous posts. I’m using it for something else right now, but it’s so sturdy, super cute …10/10 from me.

I hung a white robe, and placed a pair of disposable slippers, and new white towels (a whole set for under $30) on the bottom shelf.

Because it’s the holidays and I want to be extra, I left a silk sleep mask (under $15!).

Something Neen taught me is to keep things simple by creating a system.

Put the work in once and then you just follow the steps the next time. 

So to make my life easier, I put an empty Rubbermaid box aside so when I break this down; I can wash sheets, clean up and pack everything away for the next time. And THIS has been so helpful. I don’t have to run around looking for everything, it’s all in a box – Guest Room in a Box!

Guest Bath Touches

picture of a well-organized bathroom

Our guest bath is so, so small, though luckily it has a full size tub/shower combo. We have ZERO storage, except this self that sits over the toilet. 

I filled it with products I love and all the things I forget whenever I go on a trip. 

Aesop is a totally overpriced hand soap that is incredible. I splurge on it every holiday.

I also added the Nest Grapefruit Diffuser, long time readers know it’s one of my all time favorite scents for the home. The fresh grapefruit is especially nice in a small bath as it’s not too overwhelming.

These disposable hand towels (I have these on auto-delivery) in an acrylic holder seemed like a better idea than a decorative hand towel for everyone to use.

And you can tell I’m getting old when I got so genuinely excited when this toilet paper holder arrived – so much more civilized than having to yell for a new roll. 

Don’t forget a jar for Q-tips, tooth picks and hair ties. 

If she were staying longer, I’d include a hairdryer and put a small clothing steamer in her room, too. 

Don’t Ask For Anything

A basket of goodies for a guest

An assortment of everything you could need is in the basket on the top shelf. Including extra towels, a hair turban, shower cap, some face masks, tampons, toothpaste, and toothbrushes (these bamboo ones are great to have on hand).

I also like to put in all the extra samples I receive.

Shampoo, Conditioner, and Body Wash | How to Create a Guest Room When You Don't Have One

Finally, I’m a sucker for a container with an obvious label. These lightweight, refillable containers with a pump top come in a set of three with a variety of stickers and were a steal.

They fit perfectly into this rust-proof caddy that sticks to your shower wall. It comes in a set of two, I left one empty so guests can place their personal items on it. 

Think outside the box when it comes to setting up your guest space.

If you have an area that you can close off with a door, that’s ideal. Maybe it’s a pull out like we have, or you have to move your coffee table and set up in an air mattress in the living room. 

No matter the place, you can make it feel special and comfortable with a few thoughtful and inexpensive touches. 

Tell us in the comments, is there anything extra YOU do for guests this time of year? 

How to Create a Guest Room When You Don\'t Have One
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Megan Kristel

Megan Kristel is an entrepreneur, working mom, and former personal stylist. Tired of the one-dimensional portrayal of women online, she founded The Well Dressed Life as a resource for other professional women.

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LT

Saturday 10th of December 2022

This was such a great post! I do have a guest room, but you inspired me to up my game. I purchased a new clock, new pillows and the phone/watch/AirPod charger - I’m using it when we don’t have guests. For the bath, I put together a basket with a bunch of goodies so they should have everything they need and hopefully feel very pampered! Thanks for all you do!

Tammy

Sunday 4th of December 2022

I really loved this article and the one you did on setting up a gift wrapping station! Please continue to do these types of articles occasionally!

Jules

Saturday 3rd of December 2022

I have a fold up luggable rack with a bottom shelf. Handy for keeping luggable accessible.

Bonnie

Friday 2nd of December 2022

Hi Megan! I would love some suggestions on crisp, white sheets. I am not a fan of the super soft or micro-fibre styles. Do you have a go to brand?

Mindy

Friday 2nd of December 2022

Thank you so much for this!! So many great ideas I will be using!

Andrea

Friday 2nd of December 2022

I’m an uber organized neat freak. I used to live in a spacious one bed one bath apartment. Fortunately I had a very comfortable sofa. My family often stayed for one to two weeks. If Mum and Dad came I gave them my bedroom. If my sister came or my Mum on her own they got the sofa. I was working at the time. I had a beautiful, soft spare hotel robe in my closet for guests. I’m a fan of Rubbermaid containers. Guest stuff went in there. A really nice set of sheets, a blanket and beautiful towels. I hung a pretty travel type toiletries pocket container for a few special toiletries and for space for their own stuff over the bathroom door. It took a couple minutes to set up the bed and in the morning the sheets and blanket went back into the Rubbermaid tub. I kept a lavender sachet in the bottom of the tub. It wasn’t perfection, but they kept coming back so I think they were pretty comfy. My motto - where there’s a will there’s a way. Love your posts.

JEANNE

Friday 2nd of December 2022

Love this post - very helpful ideas!

LizC

Friday 2nd of December 2022

This is a great post with good timing - I've got my college freshman niece coming to stay in my small apartment for a few days later this month.

As someone who has often been a houseguest (visiting friends or family, housesitting etc.), what usually makes me feel uncomfortable and claustrophobic is when I'm given a room or space that is just packed with STUFF. I want to be able to feel like I have room to spread my things out just a little (and not have stacks of furniture or other items looming over my bed)! When someone makes an effort to declutter for me, it's really comforting.

Lots of food for thought here, as I try to figure out how I can best set up my space to welcome and accommodate another person.

JEANNE

Tuesday 29th of March 2022

(For many reasons - just reading this post about the guest room)..........What a lovely space you created, great ideas. Appreciate your thoughtful posts on non-fashion subjects as much as the fashion posts. Keep up the always inspirational information! Love having little glimpses into your life struggles and happy times - helps to know you are a REAL person too! Thanks!

Kari

Tuesday 21st of December 2021

This is a great post! Thanks for the ideas.

Kaethe Pittman

Saturday 11th of December 2021

Megan, this was a truly excellent and timely post. Our family visits in groups, so even two spare bedroom (empty nester) are not enough. Now I know how to make another room just as welcoming -- thank you!!

Tracy Gray

Wednesday 8th of December 2021

This is perfect. ‘We too are limited on space but we do have a smaller room that we use to put everything we can’t find a place for in that room. The double bed is buried. Since we are expecting some friends/out of town relatives to stay over during the upcoming holidays I’m going to fix it up using many of your suggestions so it is warm and welcoming and guests will fill comfortable and welcomed to our home.

Daniela Spallino

Wednesday 8th of December 2021

Great post, thank you Megan! I struggle with the details, and I love the idea of packing all in a box to put out the next time. I normally scour the house each time, which is so frustrating.

Kris

Wednesday 8th of December 2021

Wonderful ideas! I am fortunate to have a spare room, and it is set up for guests. Every now and then, I spend the night in the room and use the bathroom ~ it lets me know if something is broken, needs replacing, maybe needs a deep cleaning.

Dee

Tuesday 7th of December 2021

This post is fantastic! Your ideas are so helpful, creative and doable. I ordered that clothes rack and know it will be super useful even when we don’t have guests. Thank you!

Toni Kaminar

Tuesday 7th of December 2021

I absolutely love this post! A lot of great tips! Thank you!

carolyn b kendall

Tuesday 7th of December 2021

I LOVED this post! Thanks for sharing

Christine

Tuesday 7th of December 2021

3 kids, 4 bedrooms, no guest room here, either, so I get it. This looks beautiful, and you gave me some great little gift ideas in the post, too. Thanks!

Kim

Tuesday 7th of December 2021

We carry the "don't have to ask" theme over into our kitchen as well with a super stocked coffee/tea/hot chocolate station and a bar/beverage area and a breakfast/snack basket by the micro. That way, I don't need to serve and my guests know they can keep their regular hours (be it a night owl or an early riser) and help themselves without relying on/disturbing anyone. We keep it central so they can socialize if they want, or they can take things back to their "spaces."

Deanna

Wednesday 8th of December 2021

@Kim, these are great ideas - I will do this next time I have guests!

Deanna

Tuesday 7th of December 2021

What a great post for this time of year! I had 10 family members come stay in July for my Dad's 80th birthday celebration, and I made little baskets for each room with travel size shampoo, soap, razors, etc. I also included extra iPhone charging cables and reading glasses. I then printed out our home WIFI network and passcode on card stock with "We're so glad you're here!", and framed it in fancy 4 inch square frames, and set the frames next to each basket. My husband laughed at me, but those baskets and frames made a BIG impression on my guests! Oh, and I also put an assortment of books, a throw and a reading chair (from elsewhere in the house) in each room, in case my guests wanted some down time to read :)

Karen

Tuesday 21st of December 2021

@Deanna, Why is it that our husbands always laugh when we “go a little Pinterest “and try to make things special, not only for guests, but for every day? I swear, I am going to remove ALL the little extras he takes for granted, for a week, and see who’s laughing then!😂 You go, Girl! I appreciate the little extra effort you showed your guests and I know they did, as well! Great idea with the wi-fi password btw. I loved this post and your comment.

Daniela Spallino

Wednesday 8th of December 2021

@Deanna,

What great, ideas, Deanna! I am stealing for future. 😉 Thanks!

Megan Kristel

Tuesday 7th of December 2021

I think it's so fun to make things special and it's a much need distraction from how heavy everything always feels these days! It really makes a difference and your friends and family feel the love xxoo

Carol

Tuesday 7th of December 2021

I love this post! We have two spare bedrooms, (empty nesters), and neither one look as cute as your thoughtful, well prepared bonus room. I need to up my game! Thanks for the great ideas and inspiration, Megan.

Jennifer

Tuesday 7th of December 2021

This is a great post! Who doesn't struggle with this when beloved friends and family want to come by for a couple of days. But in a good-natured way I'm going to say you're cheating. You have a bonus room! A bonus room! Can do a second post pretending you do NOT have this room? How would you create all that hygge in your living room or dining room? This is much more realistic among everyone I know. :)

Christie

Friday 2nd of December 2022

@Jennifer, agree. A bonus room would be lovely. Sadly we need the “kids already share a bedroom and the downstairs is home to an incontinent elderly dog” guest room plan. Murphy bed? Switch our bedroom to the little one? Maybe realistic plan is just to not have anyone over right now. It does warm my heart to imagine inviting friends over to stay…someday, Somehow…

Megan Kristel

Tuesday 7th of December 2021

I hear ya on the bonus room, I think it sounds more significant that it is. Keep in mind this is just suppose to give a little inspiration, so you can take the tips and make them your own. You can replicate this and add thoughtful touches anywhere. And I've never considered putting an adult down here before, because, especially this time of year, it always a mess and has a group of kids in it lol. That's why I've always had one of my girls give up their room and bunk with their sister.