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How to Prepare Your Spare Bedroom for Holiday Guests

The date seemed far away – at least it did a few months ago. Today you’re not sure what possessed you to agree to host the holidays. On top of that you felt good (at the time) when you invited Aunt Betty and Uncle Louie to stay through the holidays – since they’ll be driving in for your big Christmas celebration.

Now, as you’ve come to your senses, panic has set in.

Aunt Betty can be a bit on the finicky side (OK – if we’re being real, she can be a pain in the butt).

You’re scared. They’ll be staying in your spare bedroom. Can you say cluttered? Your queen-sized bed practically eats the room. Your reach in closet is a dumping grounds for everything you can’t find a place for. Dresses you haven’t worn in years. Toys and games used when the boys were little (do you actually think they’re going to ‘crank open Candy Land with their teenage friends anytime soon?). Suits your husband grew out of ages ago (which don’t have a snowballs chance of seeing the light of day ever again).

You’re also frightened they’ll be using the hall bathroom. Now a real sense of panic sets in. Isn’t this the same bathroom your son’s Ryan and Andrew – who you should have more aptly named ‘Sloppy’ and ‘Sloppier’ – use today?

You’ve put off dealing with these 2 eyesores for years and the day of reckoning is upon you. You need to get a game-plan for your spare bedroom and guest bathroom….and fast.

In this article I’ll focus on 5 steps to prepare your guest bedroom for your holiday guests (even if they aren’t as scary as Aunt Betty or Uncle Louie). In a companion post (on our News from the Block blog) we’ll dig into your guest bathroom disaster.

Let’s check out the 5 steps.

Step #1 – Develop a better plan vs. accepting ‘the bed which ate your room!’

Think about these 3 facts about your guest bedroom:

  • Fact 1) It’s the smallest bedroom in the house.
  • Fact 2) There is NO ROOM to walk around, since the bed chews up such a large percentage of the floor space.
  • Fact 3) It’s only used a few days out of the year

In most cases the biggest problem with guest bedrooms (of course including the clutter which is in your reach in closet) is…

THE BIG BED (in relation to the square footage of the room)

The guest bed is barely used, yet it ‘eats the room.’ You shouldn’t have to watch the movie “Honey, I Shrunk the Bed” (OK – as you’ve guessed there isn’t such a movie) to know there’s got to be a better way to have a comfortable bed for occasional guests, yet also shrink the bed so you (and your family) can get some use out of this often vacant room. Depending on your needs there are 3 product options to more effectively use this space:

  • Option 1) Use a futon.
  • Option 2) Use a sleeper sofa.
  • Option 3) Use a Murphy bed.

(note – if you want to dig into the pros and cons of these options read The Pros and Cons of a Murphy Wall Bed vs. a Sleeper Sofa).

For my money, I prefer the Murphy wall bed because it takes up less room (it folds into a 16” to 19” framework), it offers the best night sleep (because it uses a full 10” or thicker mattress) and can be designed to be a ‘multi-purpose’ piece of furniture with a desk, nightstands or shelving by the side.

Fold up wall bed for a multi purpose Columbus spare bedroom | Innovate Home Org | #ApartmentBedroom #SpareBedroom #FoldUpBed #WallBed

When you reduce the size of your bed, you’ll have space for a craft room, home office or workout or meditation area.

You can create a ‘larger purpose’ for this room and may not need the expensive room addition you’re considering.

Step #2 – Clean up, clean up, everyone does their share. Tackling your reach in closet

If you don’t want Aunt Betty letting EVERYONE in the family know the mess which is lurking inside your spare bedroom closet, you’ll have to ‘go in’ and do battle. Battle, that is, with your jamb-packed reach in closet.

If decluttering is a scary word (and difficult to do) for you, get help. Enroll a brutally honest ‘tell-it-like-it-is’ friend (who’ll push you to donate what doesn’t fit or won’t be used again). Hire a professional organizer. They’ll guide you through what you need to do, but don’t have the courage to tackle alone.  

You goal should be to make half the closet available for guest storage. If you invest in a professional closet system use double hanging space to get more ‘bang for your storage’ space and free up a place for guests to hang their clothes. If you want to get fancy add a luggage rack for their suitcase (just like a fancy hotel).

Columbus reach in closet with drawers and double hanging space | Innovate Home Org  | Columbus OH | #ReachInCloset #ClosetStorage #HanngingSpace #OrganizedCloset

Step #3 – Change the bed linens shortly before they arrive

It should go without saying, but you would cringe at the thought of staying in a hotel with linens which weren’t freshly laundered. Even if it is Aunt Betty (who gets on your nerves), all guest deserves a fresh place to sleep. Change the linens shortly before guests arrive.

Step #4 – Make your guest bedroom as comfortable as possible  

Would you be embarrassed to ask for the Wi-Fi password, or for extra towels or blankets (because you’re a ‘freeze-baby)? If you’re nodding your head yes, then here’s what you’ll want to do. Create a picture frame (like shown below) with the Wi-Fi password. Let your guests know where to find extra pillows and extra sheets (preferably in your newly organized closet).

WIFI password code framed print in a guest room give credit here | Innovate Home Org | Upper Arlington OH | #WIFIPassword #WelcomingGuests #SpareBedroom #GuestBedroom

No matter who you are, sleeping in someone else’s house is different. Make staying at your home as convenient and comfortable as possible.

Step #5 – Give your guest a luxury hotel experience (assuming you want them back again)  

OK – if Aunt Betty gets on your nerves you may want to skip this step. However, assuming that’s not the case here’s a few ideas to add a luxury hotel feeling to make sure guests know much you care:

  • Add a flower and fluffy towels. It’s usually the small things which make a room special. Maybe it’s a simple flower, or fluffy towels which show your thoughtfulness.

A flower and fluffy towels in a guest bedroom | Innovate Home Org | Columbus OH | #FreshTowels #GuestBedroom #ColumbusGuestBedroom

  • Include a snack basket – As an Italian, I can tell you ‘it’s all about the food’ (and I know I’m not the only one who thinks like this). Buy chocolate truffles, (OK – maybe not for Aunt Betty if she’s a diabetic though), gourmet pretzels or popcorn. Snacks are ALWAYS appreciated.


In short, while most people believe preparing a guest bedroom is all about the guests, I will (respectfully) disagree. Sure, you want to make your guest bedroom comfortable and enjoyable for occasional guests, but with a room which is only used 2% of the time by guests, you also deserve a space which works for YOU!

This requires being thoughtful about what type of bed you use and how your closet is designed to work for guests and for your everyday activities (like a home office, craft room or yoga or meditation space).

The holidays are not far off. Is your spare room prepared to work for their visit (and for you all year round)?

If you’re in Columbus or Cleveland Ohio and would like a Free 3D Murphy bed design or reach in closet estimate, we’d love to be there for you.

Please click the links and call the numbers below to let us know how we can help.  

How can I (or my team) help you with a Murphy Bed or home storage project?


Figuring out the right size and configuration for a Murphy Bed, wardrobe closet or home office system can be tough. I – and my team – would love to help. If you’d like a Free 3D design and see how a wall bed can fit into your suburban home, condominium or downtown loft call Innovate Home Org in Columbus at 614-545-6888 or in Cleveland at 216-658-1290.

If you’d like more information on home organization, Murphy beds, interior design or just some wacky stories follow me on LinkedIn @MikeFotiLinkedIn or on Twitter @Mike_Foti or my companies’ @InnovateBuild and @InnovateHomeOrg.


Mike Foti

Mike Foti is the President of Innovate Home Org, a division of Innovate Building Solutions. You can learn more about Mike here.

Mike Foti

Mike Foti is the President of Innovate Home Org, a division of Innovate Building Solutions. You can learn more about Mike here.

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