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Primer: A Well-Equipped Guest Room

Old-fashioned homemaking wisdom says that everyone should sleep in her own guest room at least once, to see how it feels and make improvements. (As the guest in many rooms over the years, I can safely say that most people do not do this.) Of course, if you live in a smallish apartment or house, you may not have a spare room, but that doesn't mean you should ignore your guests' needs, even if they're just crashing on the couch.

So I've put together a quick checklist that covers the basic essentials that any good guest room (or mere guest space) should have. To see if yours is up to par,


  • clean towels, perhaps laid out on the bed
  • a well-lighted mirror
  • a bedside table and reading lamp
  • a few well-chosen books and magazines
  • a wastebasket
  • paper and a nice pen
  • a closet with plenty of free hangers
  • an alarm clock
  • a night light, if the room is unusually dark

From there, whatever embellishments you want to add — from fresh flowers to maps of your city — are up to you. Think I'm missing a crucial accoutrement? Tell me below.

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Join The Conversation
4woodhillmanor 4woodhillmanor 9 years
I'm thinking of turning our garage into a spare room/studio space for my art work...I think it would be neat to combine the two uses and make the space twice as usable!
elephantheart elephantheart 10 years
This is perfect. I have guests coming in a week and a half and am busy getting things ready for them. This list is a life saver. There are tons of things I hadn't thought of yet!
kikidawn kikidawn 10 years
This is a great list! I can't wait to decorate a guest room, but first I have to buy a house... like in oh 5 years :) It'll be a while.
pargie pargie 10 years
Wow, you know what I haven't thought much about my guest room, and my husband and I actually have overnight guests over often. Suprisingly though, I have most of those covered--sans the closet space, towel, and alarm clock--which are probably the most important items of all. Thanks for the list, very helpful.
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 10 years
These are really great ideas. I hardly ever have guests at my house though.
beingtazim beingtazim 10 years
also do a water carafe and a small basket of toiletries like a toothbrush and such as well as a pair of slippers. I don't have a guest room but my sofa has a bed in it and i have a screen so i just sort of make a guest room when i have someone over.
tommi tommi 10 years
A place for them to put their dirty towel and bed linens before they leave. I always hate having to ask when I'm staying with someone where they want me to put my towel after my shower.
infamouspopee infamouspopee 10 years
I too stock my guest bathroom with hotel type supplies and fresh towels. Gotta make sure there is at least a tv in the bedroom (i also have a dvd player) because you never know your guests' sleeping habits. I also leave sheet spray on the nightstand, just a little something extra. btw, the thing ppl seem to always miss when I'm visiting is a wastebasket...
wiciltd wiciltd 10 years
I like to make little baskets from the dollar store, I'll grab some travel sized toothpaste/brushes and little odds and ends that someone might need Especially since my boyfriends friends are usually the ones crashing over night or the weekend and they are often forgetful of necessities
laurarose520 laurarose520 10 years
Great list. I love when I have people over and making where they stay have a little hotel vibe. I sometimes go as far as the candy on the pillow bit.
saraphilley saraphilley 10 years
I always put out a bottle of water and some hard candy or crackers in case they want a midnight snack or drink.
misslarue misslarue 10 years
*late night snack* i meant to type!
misslarue misslarue 10 years
When my MIL comes to visit I always prepare a basket and put it on the bed. I roll up towels, and wash cloths, and put in little snack items so she doesnt have to hunt thru the kitchen if a late snack snack attack hits her! I always put fresh flowers by the bed. She says it makes her feel so special and I love that!
tenndra5 tenndra5 10 years
good comforter/ sheets
PreppyDot PreppyDot 10 years
Love these tips! I have a guest room that also doubles as my home office/sewing room/inspiration room. Right now lacks inspiration. I could really use that West End Makeover!
gigglesss gigglesss 10 years
oo good tips.
ziggy ziggy 10 years
I also keep a basket of essentials in the bathroom of my guest room including: a couple of extra (still-sealed) toothbrushes; a new tube of toothpaste; some shaving razors; a small can of shaving cream; a couple of small bars of soap (different varieties); fullsize bottles of shampoo & conditioners (not my Graham Webb, but average stuff); new nail clippers and a new emery board. I also provide a stack of face/wash cloths since they're so easy to run through. I may alter the basket depending upon the guest(s) male/female/couple to suit their more specific needs. With the airlines cutting back on everything these are items that you really can't travel with easily anymore and nobody (imho) wants to get off a plane and run to a pharmacy later in the day.
Esagashi Esagashi 10 years
I like to make sure and keep a nightlight and stuffed animals in the room, in case my guests have kids (also a good place to keep the toy animals away from the real dogs!). I've changed my closet into a computer station (thankfully I don't normally have people staying for too long that the lack of a functional closet becomes an issue). Having the computer close by means that they can easily check their email or websites without worrying about whether they packed their own computer- although our house has wireless internet too. For an extra bonus, I have a water fountain in the room in case they prefer the white noise to help them sleep, a desk where they can sit and work or write, as well as two bookshelves with a variety of books for every age, reading level, and interest. I used to think this was all overkill until my boyfriends friends from all over the country (and the world) began to stop by for visits!
jmarc23 jmarc23 10 years
Wonderful tips!!! I just love this site!
smile3laugh8live smile3laugh8live 10 years
Great tips!
gruaig_rua gruaig_rua 10 years
Excellent tips ladies. I'm saving this in my favourites for when I eventually get my own home.
sofi sofi 10 years
Curious Alice- I hope you meant soap instead of soup -cute:)
Curious-Alice Curious-Alice 10 years
Fabulous ideas. I would also like to include a small basket with things like a toothbrush, soup, etc. the sort of things a guest might accidently forget to bring.
ashmelissa ashmelissa 10 years
These tips will really be helpful when I design my new guest room! Thanks!
kkdonald kkdonald 10 years
I always make sure the that bathroom is stocked with the same essentials that a hotel bathroom (or at least the hotel lobby) would have... extra toothbrush, q-tips, travel-sized toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, body soap, hairdryer, etc. You could either purchase these items or just pick them up at your hotel the next time that you stay overnight in a hotel. :)
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