How to Get Started in Designing Your New Guest Bedroom
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How to Get Started in Designing Your New Guest Bedroom

If you’re lucky enough to have a spare room to use as a guest bedroom, then you’re lucky enough to have a blank slate on which to create a masterpiece of interior design. The best thing about decorating a guest bedroom is that the room itself needs to be relatively sparse — so decorating it can be fairly inexpensive. A standard guest bedroom needs no more than a bed, a nightstand or two, a chair, some minimal shelving, and perhaps a television.

You want the vibe of your guest bedroom to be like a nice, boutique hotel — with a heavy dose of your own personal style. That being said, try going for a trendier, more updated look than you normally would. It would be optimal to start from scratch, but most of us have budget constraints--so recognize reusable elements: don’t ditch your old, worn-out comforter, it can be updated with an inexpensive duvet cover.  Lamp bases can be spray-painted and get new shades for a completely new look and to sync with the new theme. Picture frames, too, can be spray-painted all the same color to harmonize different styles into a similar look.  Scratched-up nightstands or a headboard (even a dresser) can be sanded and repainted.

Start by picking a cool theme to work around. Your theme can be anything from a time period (Mod, Art Nuevo), to a region (Moroccan, Caribbean), to a specific design motif (nautical, Americana).

Next think of a color palette to use, keeping your design theme in mind. For a Caribbean-inspired room you may want to work with bright tropical colors or pastel beach colors, the possibilities are nearly endless for whatever theme you choose. I would say to select three or four colors makes up an interesting palette.

Once you’ve got a theme and some colors in mind, now it’s time to go shopping. Depending on your budget, set out to an appropriately priced store and pick out new bed linens. If you hate shopping, having picked out the theme in advance will make this chore much easier. If you love shopping, your theme may change if something else in the store inspires you.

Ideally the bed linens you’ve picked out will contain one or two of the colors you initially selected. Use the colors of the linens to pick your wall color. White walls are boring, so punch it up a notch: brighter colors might seem scary at first, but even if you're intimidated at first, chances are it’ll grow on you.

Consider your furniture. If you’ve never really set out to decorate your guest bedroom, chances are the furnishings in your existing guest bedroom are a bit hodge-podge. Survey what you’ve got to see if anything will really work with your theme. You might want to get rid of any extra furniture you’ve accumulated in the room over the years. But before you get rid of anything, consider what can be used as-is, and what can be easily modified to fit your theme: An old set of nightstands have endless possibilities: they can be whitewashed to fit an Americana theme, stripped and stained mahogany to fit a Moroccan theme, painted a bright, shiny orange to go with a Mod theme.

Once you’ve decided what you’ll be using as-is or repurposing, figure out what you still need. The furniture doesn’t all need to match, but it should have some common element: Dark woods, white paint, wrought iron. Keep in mind what type of furniture will go best with your theme.

When you’ve got the room (and furniture) painted, arrange the furniture in the way you’d expect to see it set up in a hotel. Make the best use of the space. If you only have room for a single bed, put it against the wall with a nightstand on one side. If there’s plenty of room, select a double or queen, placed in the middle of one wall with a nightstand on either side. The last two elements can be placed anywhere. A standard dining chair can be used as a suitcase stand, place to put on shoes, or coat hanger. Paint the chair to match the rest of the bedroom furniture and recover the seat with fabric to match your theme.

Lastly you’ll want to add some shelving. Either a stand-alone shelf or some inexpensive ledge-type shelves, you can pick up either at Target or Lowe’s for next-to-nothing. Be sure to paint the shelves if they aren’t a perfect fit as-is. Shelves are important for holding accessories that tie the room colors together and showcase a few photos of you and your family to remind guests that this isn’t actually a hotel. But feel free to leave a mint on the pillow if you simply can’t resist.

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Comments (3)

Great advice. I am no good at this kind of thing.. I'm all thumbs. I'd be fine with sheets on the windows...lol! I would rather have a husband that was in to all the decorating and stuff.

I remember watching a show about COLOR.. they said that yellow was a color kids like but as you get older you like it less and less.. so they suggested painting a guest room yellow if you dont want them to stay too long. I thought that was funny!

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