Designing Saratoga

The Guest Room


It doesn't matter what time of year it is, or what the weather is like, at some point in your home you will have..... Guests! In fact I often hear people say when they are looking to buy a home "where will our guests sleep?" We want to make our lives and our guests lives as easy and comfortable as possible.


If you are fortunate enough to have a home with an extra room get the best use out of it that you can, make both your experience and your guests easy. Believe me you will feel much more relaxed when your doorbell rings and the suitcases and people start coming in.




Once you are "finished" decorating your house it is good time to move onto the guest room. I use the word finished lightly because most people are never really finished decorating however any unused items, such as pictures, frames, candles, pillows, etc. are great for putting in a guest room. It is a cost effective place to start.

I decorated our main guest bedroom with all the left over items from my previous bedroom. It was the best way to recycle lamps, pictures, pillows and furniture. I used to think of my old bedroom as having a Tommy Bahama theme to it and when we moved I was tired of the look, but all the items were still in great shape, so with a new bedspread and a few other items I essentially recreated the room for our guests.

Before decorating you should start with the walls. Picking a calm and neutral color is a good place to start. Any shade of white, gray, yellow, light blue, or brown are not only universal but can set the stage for some really nice decorating opportunities. You want your room to appeal to everyone that comes through your door and that includes your great grandmother all the way to your niece or nephew. When painting think of men and women, young and old, this will give you a good starting point as you browse the paint aisle.


yellow-gray-guest-room-l.jpgThis is a very similar palate to our second smaller guest bedroom. We chose light gray walls with a yellow and white bedspread. Simple yet warm and welcoming.

Once you have your neutral color picked out, next should be the bed or beds. You have so many options here. Twin beds are a great idea if you often have guests that would prefer to sleep alone, but don't mind sharing a room. This allows you additional sleeping space but within the same room. Twin beds are relatively inexpensive. If you look online you will always find someone that is trying to sell or give away twin frames or headboards. I recommend finding matching ones as it does make the room look uniform and neatly put together for your guests. Another option if desired by your guests is to push the twin beds together, either way you have options with twin beds.

Here are a few great examples from Coastal Living








 The headboards in these photos really give each room a pop of color against the neutral bedding and walls.

If you have the space for a dresser in the guest room, this would be ideal. It is a nice touch to give your guests the opportunity to take their clothes out of their suitcase. However if you don't have a dresser but still have room for a piece of furniture I would suggest a chair, bench or even a luggage rack in the room for your guests to put their suitcase on, it gets their clothes off the floor and at a more desirable level.



 Another option if there is no closet or dresser is a simple coat rack and/or hooks on the back of the door as seen below from Coastal Living. At least this way your guests can hang up a few items.



Another must have for a guest room is a mirror. A mirror gives your guests the chance to get ready in the room without monopolizing the bathroom. Guests, myself included, do not like to tie up the bathroom.

Next hang pictures on the walls. I'm not talking about your family photos, I'm talking about pictures of the beach or a vacation scene, it will remind your guests that they too are on vacation and that it is time to relax and enjoy the comforts of someone else's home. You can buy pictures at flea markets, garage sales or places like Target and Home Goods for very little money. Even better, frames a few scenes from your last vacation for an added personal touch. Pictures do make the room look more tied together and add a touch of warmth to a room that is not often lived in.

Finally the added touches. The best place to start is with flowers. To me nothing says "We've been expecting you," more than with a fresh bouquet of flowers next to the bed. They will not only make the room look nice, but smell good too.

Next I'm a big proponent of putting out towels before your guests arrive. Some guests bring their own towels but many do not and it is a nice touch to have them waiting so they don't have to ask. I bought a large basket with a chalkboard plate on the front that I labeled guests. I bought a different color set of towels for guest so they know that they are specifically for them to use. I put this basket right on the dresser so as soon as they walk in the room they will see it.


Candles; Candles smell and look good, but they are particularly useful in case the power goes out. It doesn't happen often but when it does there is no time to look for candles. If nothing else you want your guests to feel safe. Also a nice idea is a night light in the room. If you have small children you probably have a few lying around but if not they are great to stick in the guest bathroom and or in their room. It can be disorienting getting up in the middle of the night and not knowing where you are going. We don't want our guests running into doors nor stepping on the dog, now do we?!

If you have the luxury of a small TV in the room great, I could go either way on this one, some people like to fall asleep to the TV others will never turn it on. It does however give your guests the opportunity to hide away in the bedroom for a few hours to just relax. For those who don't have a TV in their bedroom it might be a nice added bonus.



Books, I highly recommend putting books and magazines in the room, not only can these be used as a part of your décor, but they will serve as a nice added feature for your guests. If it is a book you've already read, let your guest borrow the book or even better have them send a replacement book your way. This will keep your reading selection fresh.



Lastly, as you lay out the guest bathrobe and slippers take a good look around your guest bedroom and think if this is a place you'd like to sleep in. If the thought repulses you then maybe you should rethink what you've done with the room. After all it is still your home and you should be proud to have your guest stay over.

Until Next time, Happy Designing!

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Kimberlee Billok
From humble beginnings redecorating my childhood bedroom every few months much to my mother’s chagrin, to years of life as a military spouse making short-term stops our own, to finding myself in Saratoga Springs in a 90-year-old home in need of lots of TLC, I have always enjoyed honing my home decorating and design skills in pursuit of making a house a home for the most important people in my world, my husband Mike and our three children. In pursuit of this goal/obsession I have put my undergraduate studio art studies to work, as well as the unofficial HGTV degree I’ve earned under the tutelage of Vern Yip, Genevieve Gorder, Candace Olson, and the other pros who make us all feel as if we can create as they do. I’ve had the good fortune to have numerous colleagues, friends and family who have trusted me enough to allow me to design their spaces as well, and even redecorated the office of my children’s elementary school principal, which although intimidating, was quite a good time (think a juxtaposition of animal prints and sharpened pencils…luckily she loved it!).

Outside of the decorating/design realm I inhabit in my free time, I am fortunate to spend my days teaching 3 and 4 year old preschoolers here in Saratoga, who can’t help but inspire me to be creative on a regular basis. So since every part of life is an adventure, please join me on this one…combining form and function, design and real life, making each room feel beautiful, comfortable, classic, and personal. All wrapped up in a structure that has been in existence before the invention of spray paint (it’s true—I looked it up!). Here goes!!

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