You’ve already started your holiday house cleaning and menu planning, and now it’s time for the exciting parts: decorating, and adding in all those fun little touches that make a home feel vibrant and comforting. Stick with us, because we’ve got all the tips you need for turning your guest room into a home-away-from-home haven for holiday travelers.
- Choose a streamlined, two- or three-color palette for your holiday guest room design. There’s nothing restful about a bedroom filled with multicolored twinkle lights and a bed that’s a crazy quilt of Christmas colors like red, green, gold, and silver. To give this room a seasonal yet sophisticated look, we went with a base of parchment and white popped with red. The duvet is made of substantial linen that’s perfect for a cozy night’s sleep, while the red matelassé coverlet can serve as an extra blanket or as a lightweight layer of its own, should the temperatures take a turn for the toasty. (Here’s to hoping.) For a lighthearted feel, we added in the cheeky bulldog pillow and the peppy indoor/outdoor rug featuring a cascade of ivory stars on a bright red background (bonus: it reverses to red stars on an ivory background, for two looks in one great, washable package). This guest room is clean and effortless, yet still feels festive.
- Don’t skimp on the bedding. If you haven’t changed up your guest bed in several years, it’s time to spring for new linens. Think layers, in a variety of textures and seasonal weights and colors. Since most people prefer a crisp cotton sheet for sleeping, we usually start with a 400-thread-count cotton sheet set with a hemstitch detail. But if you’re in a colder climate, Tencel sheets —which have exceptional drape and softness against the skin—are a terrific choice, as well.
Top the sheets with a cozy fleece blanket or a textured matelassé coverlet, and pair the best down- or down-alternative duvet insert you can afford with a pretty duvet cover. (Sure, you could easily use a quilt on the guest bed, but let’s face it: duvets have that plush, hotel-room feel that’s a true treat to sink into at the end of a long day of travel.) A bed skirt isn’t a necessity, especially if your bed frame has a nice pair of gams, but it makes for a more polished presentation.
- Stack up the shams. While guests won’t sleep on these, they not only make the bed look sumptuous and welcoming, but they also provide great back and neck support for reading or watching TV in bed. For just this purpose, we recommend putting a pair of decadently soft fleece Continental pillows across the back of the bed. But make sure guests have a place to store the shams—such as an armchair, storage bin, or trunk—when they’re ready to turn in, so they’re not scrambling for a spot to stack, or tossing your bedding on the floor.
- Double up on throws. This might seem redundant, but most guests (except maybe your 80-year-old great-aunt Freida) will be too polite to wake you in the middle of the night if they need an additional layer, so skirt the issue by giving them two throws to choose from—one folded at the foot of the bed, and one draped over an armchair or folded on a side table or bureau. For the chilly New England holidays, we favor a cuddle-worthy throw in the softest fleece known to man, and sweaterlike knit cotton throw that can be tossed over the shoulders as a shawl or used to warm the legs and feet while kicking back in an armchair.
- Hang a luxurious robe on the bathroom or closet door. Nobody likes to waste valuable suitcase real estate on a bulky robe, but who doesn’t love to get wrapped up before or after a shower, or open holiday gifts in the comfort of their pj’s? Fleece is a perennial favorite for robes, but you could also opt for plush linen chenille, or a lighter weight cotton robe for warmer climates. Choose a neutral color or a subdued solid, like juniper or burgundy, and a unisex silhouette, so the robe can be used by male or female guests.
- Station storage bins or a cute tote bag filled with incidentals, like freshly washed and fluffed bath towels, slippers, and even a cosmetic case filled with travel-size toiletries, by the bed or bathroom door. This way, your guests can easily carry the whole skin-pampering shebang to and from the bathroom.
You can also arrange those travel-size toiletries on a portable tray. We recommend providing the most frequently forgotten-at-home items: toothpaste (and one of the bazillion extra toothbrushes you’ve probably collected from the dentist’s office), shampoo and conditioner, hand and facial moisturizer, hair spray or frizz cream, cotton swabs, cotton pads, lip balm, and tissues.
- Entertain them. On each nightstand, arrange a stack of books—fiction and nonfiction—and magazines, plus the remote control for the TV, if there’s one in your guest room. Against the bedside lamp, prop up a pretty holiday notecard with your home network’s Wi-Fi name and password, so guests don’t have to track you down for the information when you’re in the middle of holiday food prep.
- Top it off with a few decorative flourishes. A sweet-smelling candle or two, some berry branches in a simple vase, a beautiful vintage snow globe, a pretty garland, or a handcrafted Advent calendar, like the adorable animal version shown here, all show that you’ve gone the distance to make your guest’s stay memorable, without cramming the space full of unnecessary, stress-promoting clutter.