10 Stylish Small Guest-Bedroom Ideas for Maximizing Spare Space

published Jul 7, 2023
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Accommodating visitors in a small guest bedroom can feel like a mixed bag of stress and joy — the former because there’s often pressure to host an amazing overnight experience, and the latter because there’s nothing better than friends and family feeling at peace in your home. While having luxury amenities and an en suite bathroom may seem like the ideal situation for welcoming out-of-towners, you can still make do with whatever spare space you have. As both a host and visitor, I’ve found it’s the small touches and extra thought you put into design decisions that truly make a stay comfortable and memorable. Below, I rounded up 10 small guest-bedroom ideas that prove you don’t need a ton of square footage to create a cozy, visitor-approved vibe — even if it’s a hybrid gym or home office area that’s pulling double duty when company comes. 

1. Say “yes” to more pillows.

People have distinct tastes in pillows: firm, soft, huggable, extra large, etc. Give your guests plenty of options to ensure they find the perfect fit for a good night’s rest. A few statement pillows thrown into the mix also add dimension and visual interest, as seen in this Scandinavian-inspired Michigan home where pillows have been piled on for good measure. Go the extra mile and give them a place to stash cushions overnight, too.

Credit: Erin Derby

2. Embrace multi-purpose spaces.

In this New York City condo, owned by Etsy’s head of product design, the guest bedroom doubles as an extra built-in closet. Because the homeowner’s belongings are artfully concealed, the room still maintains a serene, private, and minimalist feel that’s perfect for catching some zzzs after a long travel journey or flight. 

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

3. Add a spare chair — or two.

Even in a small guest bedroom, a corner chair is a welcome addition — just like the seat styled in this 650-square-foot Montreal rental. Setting out a chair invites visitors to rest and settle into the space. On top of carving out a spot to unwind, it’s also an extra surface for setting luggage down. 

Credit: Erin Derby

4. Choose a statement headboard.

A dramatic headboard can make a big impact in a small guest bedroom. Take a cue from this laid-back-meets-luxe Brooklyn rental, and keep your walls and linens simple to let the bed be the star of the show. Even if you’re working with less than 300 square feet, you’ve still got space to go bold! A headboard is never 100 percent just for looks, either. With a few pillows for cushioning, this piece of furniture guarantees that your guest or guests can comfortably prop themselves up in bed for reading or watching TV.

Credit: Carina Romano

5. Bring the outdoors in.

Is anything more inviting than a light-filled room budding with plants? Depending on the size of your space, add a houseplant (or seven!) to let your guests experience the many benefits of extra greenery. For styling inspiration, check out this South Philadelphia home, which has 100 plant babies!

6. Create a self-care zone.

Even if your “guest bedroom” is a blow-up mattress in the living room, creating a designated self-care area with lotion, an eye pillow, and aromatherapy oils lets your guests know that they’re free to unwind and replicate some version of their nighttime routine in your home. In Candace Molatore’s Portland home, decorative trays holding beautiful-looking products do just the trick on a nightstand, but you can create a mobile version of a self-care zone with a rolling cart or even just a simple basket. 

7. Set up a desk.

A desk in a guest bedroom gives visitors a place to charge their devices and reply to last-minute emails before they’re officially out of office. In fiber artist Erin Barrett’s Charleston home, it also pulls double duty as a small-space-friendly bedside table. Hosting tip: Have a charger plugged in nearby for a thoughtful touch. 

8. Don’t forget the art.

The right piece of art can elevate any room. Take, for example, the thoughtfully selected piece in this graphic Australian home. Choose styles that spark joy and show that the guest space is not a forgotten area, but a curated corner of your home. 

9. Provide ample sources of light. 

Whether you hang sconces or plug in a table lamp, it’s essential that a guest room has sufficient, easy-to-access lighting. Get inspired by the matching bedside fixtures in Artist Josie Azuma’s New Orleans home, which function as sleek-looking decor. 

Credit: Elissa Crowe

10. Stack a few books.

A pile of carefully selected books on a bedside table allows your guests to feel comfortable and at-home, as seen in this minimal, Scandinavian-inspired home. For out-of-town visitors, consider literature focused on local attractions or history. Or tap into their interests — if you know they love poetry, provide a few collections.