{decorating with style} How to Create an Inviting Guest Room

The countdown to the holidays is officially on, and for many people that means hosting out-of-town guests! To help you prepare, I thought I'd share some tips for creating a truly welcoming guest room by appealing to all five senses.

Making family and friends feel comfortable in your home is about more than simply creating a pretty room. A room that looks nice is certainly a good start - but the real question is, how does the space make guests feel

When visitors stay in our guest room, I want them to feel calm and relaxed, and I strive to evoke those emotions by appealing to the senses of sight, touch, smell, hearing, and taste.

Tips to decorate a guest room


Let's start with sight, since it's the sense that is the most obvious when it comes to designing an inviting guest room. Sight is all about colors, shapes, and light. I love to design pretty spaces, but when it came to our guest room, it was about more than just making it look nice. I wanted to create a certain feeling - or rather, I wanted to re-create a feeling...

On our honeymoon in Greece, Scott and I stayed at a hotel that was so relaxing that it literally made us cancel our plans for an entire day just so we could lounge around {and if you know us - that speaks volumes, because we are usually all about the go, go, go when we travel}.  

So when it came time to decorate our guest room, I drew upon the specific visual elements of that hotel, and of the islands in general, to create a space that would feel just as relaxing for our friends and family. {Read more about the inspiration for the guest room.}

I chose dark gray for the walls to give the room a cozy, enveloping vibe, but I chose all-white furniture for a calm and relaxing feel.

As I thought back on our time in the Greek Islands, I realized that we spent hours just staring out at the architecture and the sea views. Since the view from our guest room windows isn't quite as picturesque, I framed a collection of our favorite photos from the islands. I chose photos in similar color tones and used uniform frames to make the display very easy on the eyes.

TIP: Decide on the feeling you want your guest room to convey and choose visual elements and imagery accordingly.

Lighting is also an important element of any space. The builders-grade overhead light does a fine job of lighting the room for every day use, but we added a lamp on each side of the bed to provide softer light for reading. This "task lighting" also allows guests to control the level of light in the room.

And to really give the space that relaxing, honeymoon feel, we also added some very soft mood lighting in the form of a giant, backlit photo above the bed. The photo is one we took of a Santorini sunset, and when lit from behind, it really looks like the setting sun. Best of all, the backlit photo is on a dimmer with its own remote control!

TIP: Provide at least two different types of lighting in the guest room - general lighting and task lighting {like a reading light}. To make the room even more inviting, also add an element of accent lighting {ideally something with a dimmer}.


For a room to be inviting, it needs to be more than just beautiful; it needs to also feel comfortable. And this is where the sense of touch comes in. Touch is all about how things feel - when you sit down, lie down, or run your hand across them.

A bean bag chair is pretty unconventional seating for a guest room - but this is an idea we borrowed directly from the lounge of the hotel in Greece that inspired our guest room design. This giant white beanbag really invites you to plop down and relax, and once you do, it really embraces you! 

TIP: Provide a comfortable place for guests to sit other than on the bed.

Since a guest room is, after all, a place to sleep, we made sure to choose a very comfortable pillow-top mattress, and we make the bed with layers of pillows that vary in thickness and firmness so that guests have options and can choose what is most comfortable for them. 

In addition to putting a blanket or two on the bed {depending on the season}, I also fold up a couple of extra blankets in a basket. I especially love this gray blanket that is so soft that just touching it makes me want to wrap myself up in it and take a nap! 

TIP: Give guests pillow and blanket options, so that they can make themselves comfortable.


Disclosure: This portion of the post was sponsored by Unstopables through their partnership with POPSUGAR. While I was compensated by POPSUGAR to write a post about Unstopables, all opinions are my own.

The sense of smell is very closely tied to emotions {which is one reason that a particular scent can trigger a memory that you haven't thought of in years}. And the way a space smells can have a big impact on how you feel. When I think back on our honeymoon in the Greek Islands, the smell the fresh sea air and fragrant flowers definitely contributed to the overwhelming feeling of relaxation.

Since I'm trying to re-create that same feeling of relaxation in our guest room, engaging the sense of smell through "scent decor" is very important. Over the years, I've tired various plug in air fresheners throughout our home, and I've found the the scented oil warmer variety works the best and lasts the longest. I like to keep one plugged in to the outlet in the guest bathroom mirror, and I love the way it visually disappears behind my faux orchid plant {you might have to look twice to even notice that it's there}. 

I recently picked up a new Unstopables Scented Oil Warmer while shopping at Target, and it makes the room smell SO good {so good that I find myself wanting to hang out in there instead of in my own room}! I chose a scent called "Fresh," but it actually alternates between two complementary fragrances that are both light and vibrant. Since our brains start to essentially tune out smells after we've been exposed to them for a while, the alternating scents in this oil warmer are perfect because there's always something new to keep your nose and your brain recognizing it's goodness.

TIP: Plug in a scented oil warmer that alternates between two complementary scents to keep your guest room smelling amazing.

Adding a scent to your guest room immediately makes it feel more welcoming, but if you want it to feel even more luxurious, try layering your fragrances. Just like layering your decor - by adding various colors, patterns, and textures - you can up the ante by also bringing different scents into a room.

One of my favorite ways to add another layer of scent to our guest room is by making sure that the linens always smell amazing. I recently tried Unstopables In-Wash Scent Booster, which are scent beads that go right in the washer. I used the "Lush" scent, and our guest sheets and towels came out of the dryer infused with a combination of vanilla and lavender. Vanilla has always been one of my personal favorites {it's such a happy smell!}, and many people believe that the scent of lavender can help you sleep, so this seems to be the perfect mix of fragrances to layer into the guest room for that inviting and relaxing feeling I'm after!

TIP: Using an in-wash scent booster to infuse your linens with fabulous scent will make your guest room feel more luxurious, and it's an easy way to layer multiple scents into the room.

When I want to unwind, I love to light a fragrant candle and take a bath. Even though I don't get to do this as often as I would like in daily life, it's one of those luxuries that I always make time for when I'm on vacation. And I want our guests to feel the same way.

Since our boys' bathroom only has a shower, the guest room is where the kids' bath time always takes place. I hung a rail from that wall that typically holds baskets of bath tub toys, but before guests arrive I always put the toys away and use the rail for more sophisticated bath essentials. I also like to set out a candle - like the fruity and floral "Shimmer" scented candle from Unstopables - to invite guests to really relax and unwind!

TIP: Invite guests to relax and unwind by providing a scented candle, a bubble bath, and some magazines.

Once we have the guest room smelling fabulous, I want to make sure that the rest of our home smells just as good from the moment our guests come through the front door. But between the two little boys living in the house, and the fact that we are always cooking and trying to keep up with the dishes, there's no telling what our house might smell like at any moment. By keeping a can of Unstopables Air Refresher on hand, I can make sure that the entire house smells just as welcoming as the guest room!  

TIP: Make sure the entire house smells just as welcoming as the guest room! Keep a can of air refresher spray on hand to give the house a quick touch up before guests arrive.


We don't often associate the sense of hearing with the decor in our home, yet a lot of the decorating choices we make do affect the way the space sounds. Soft surfaces absorb sound, whereas hard surfaces, like stone, reflect sound and bounce it around the room.

As much as I would love to hardwood our upstairs hall and the guest bedroom at some point in time, when we do, we will need to be sure to purchase a large, soft rug for the guest room - not only to make it soft and warm underfoot for guests when they get out of bed, but also to keep the room from feeling echo-y. Echoes make a space feel big and cold, and the din can be quite distracting. Soft textures in the room, on the other hand, create a quieter and more peaceful space.

TIP: Choose soft textures that absorb sound - like rugs, pillows and throws - to keep a room with hard floors from sounding echo-y. 

The rug we currently have in the room is quite thin - which works well on top of our carpet - but if we had hard surface floors, this rug would need to be replaced with a softer and thicker rug to help absorb sound. 

TIP: If there are external sounds that are likely to be distracting to guests {like traffic or kids down the hall}, consider providing a fan or a white-noise machine to drown out the noise.

In addition to eliminating unwanted sounds from the guest room, make guests feel relaxed and at home by adding pleasant sounds. During our travels in Greece, we often slept with the windows open so we could enjoy the sounds of the sea. While our guest room in landlocked Colorado doesn't come with built-in seaside sounds, we do have a CD {so 1990s, I know!} of the relaxing sounds of the Greek Islands. 

In addition to our old-school radio/CD player technology, we also have an alarm clock on the nightstand that has an iPhone/iPod docking station.

TIP: Provide music to set a relaxing mood, and allow guests access to play their own music with a docking station or portable Bluetooth speakers.


Appealing to the sense of taste in decor can be as subtle as choosing an appetite-inducing color in a dining room {typically considered to be red and orange}, or placing a decorative bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter. But in the guest room, I actually like to be a bit more literal and welcome our guests with a treat.

While I wish I could continue the Greek theme by sharing some tastes of the islands with all of our guests, it's more practical to welcome them with a taste of Colorado. I love to stop by the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory to pick up a couple of snacks to welcome our out-of-town visitors.

I usually put the treats on the tray just inside the bedroom door where guests will see them as soon as they arrive.

TIP: Welcome guests with a tasty, local treat.

We are fortunate to live in a very walkable neighborhood surrounded by some of the best eats in town. During the spring, summer, and fall months, there is also a wonderful farmer's market just around the corner from our house every weekend, with amazing fruit and vegetable stands and a gathering of food trucks. To acquaint guests with the local food scene, I always keep a neighborhood restaurant and shopping guide as well as a Downtown Denver map and restaurant guide in the small desk next to the bed. Before guests arrive, I always set them out on the desktop.

Since we aren't really coffee drinkers and are unlikely to have a hot pot of coffee ready for guests in the morning, I also like to pick up a $10 gift card from the coffee shop right around the corner so that our guests can get their morning caffeine.

TIP: Provide guests with a neighborhood restaurant guide to introduce them to the local flavors. Consider also providing a small gift card for a local coffee shop, especially if you don't have coffee in the house every morning.

Now that I've shared my tips with you, I'd love to hear what other ways you are making your guests feel welcome! Leave me a comment here or on social media {using the links below my signature}.

Let's get social!   

Shared at Remodelaholic


  1. I love the idea of alternating scents! Since we have a big indoor dog, scented products are an important part of our decor too. And I've got to say, I'm shocked you ever get guests to leave, that room is perfection!

    1. Thanks so much, Melissa! I can imagine that a dog would make scent decor a must... similar to two little boys ;)

  2. soooo does this mean I can come visit Angela ???? I love the bedroom style, what paint color is that?

    1. We love visitors! :) The paint color is from Kwal, and it's AccuTone CL-3236A

  3. What a beautiful space! I'm sure your guests love experiencing everything about it! :)

  4. So neat that they have scents that can go in the washer, too!

  5. Okay, it's official I'm coming to Colorado to stay at Hotel BlueiStyle! This is such a great post, and reminder that a space is about so much more than aesthetics. I always have candles burning and music playing while I work as it helps relax me so I agree that our senses really do evoke emotions. Lavender is one of my faves when it comes to de-stressing so I'm absolutely going to have to try out that lavender in-wash scent booster!

    1. That's so true about music and scents making it easier to relax and focus on work! I should light a candle more often when I work!

  6. Off topic, but are those doors hollow core or solid? Where did you get them?

    1. The white doors are hallow core. They are pretty standard doors that our builder installed.

  7. I am doing a similar post about welcoming guests for the holidays. We have some similar ideas and some different ones. I love the idea of giving guests menus of local restaurants and to put particular scents in the linens. Your guest room looks great!

  8. Wow Angela! Love this post. You really considered the entire guest experience. Your guest room is divine!! Sharing and pinning!