Ideas to Freshen Your Guest Room on a Budget

Crisp linens, a bedside table and lamp, and a bit of greenery help make this guest space feel welcoming and luxurious. Photo © Colleen Coombe/
Any weary traveler will appreciate the thought and attention poured into a guest room but oftentimes the guest room is the most overlooked space in a house. Housing friends or family members, especially those who insist on arriving without advanced notice, is rarely convenient but it doesn’t take much time or money to provide a welcoming retreat. Our guest room ideas will help you quickly and inexpensively freshen your space.
  • Provide a Fresh Fragrance
  • Before guests arrive, spritz the bed linens, curtains and rugs with a softly fragranced linen spray
  • Potpourri in a seasonal fragrance looks nice in a bowl and will gently freshen a space better than harsh chemical fragrances.
  • Place scented soaps and a votive candle in a small basket. These will give off a light scent and freshen a space along with your guests.
  • Provide a Sparkling Look
  • Fresh flowers are always an inexpensive yet welcoming accessory in a room and potted plants will naturally cleanse the air and make the room appear cared for.
  • Set a nightstand or dresser with a carafe or bottle of fresh water. Don’t forget cups! Pretty, disposable cups and guest towels are inexpensive and easily available.
  • Don’t neglect to dust. Dust can settle in overnight and a quick dusting right before arrival will make the room appear fresh.
  • Provide Comfortable Lighting
  • Overhead lighting can be uncomfortable for a weary traveler. A bedside lamp or other small lamps scattered about the room are convenient and illuminate the space in a welcoming way.
  • Guests may need a way to navigate in the night. Provide a nightlight or place a small flashlight in the nightstand drawer. Make sure guests know that it is there.
  • If you don’t have much floor space, hang a plug-in lamp or attach bedside lighting to your wall.
  • Provide a Place to Sit
  • If you have the space, an inexpensive but comfortable chair will provide a place for guests to put on shoes, toss clothes or sit and read.
  • A padded bench at the end of the bed works great for suitcases or seating.
  • A storage ottoman can provide ample yet inexpensive seating and can also be useful for holding extra linens or travelers’ clothes.
  • Provide Useful Accessories
  • An end table with a small notepad, a pen, an alarm clock and a few current magazines or bestsellers will go a long way toward making a guest feel at ease.
  • Place a tray on the bed and fill with fresh towels and a few travel-sized items such as toothpaste and shampoo. A packet of pain reliever is also a good idea.
  • Extra blankets and pillows are a must. If you lack storage, underbed bins are easy for most guests to access and slide away when not in use.
Decorator Tip: The one place you should always splurge in your guest room is when choosing a mattress. Guests won’t notice the thrift store dresser or chair, but they will notice an out-of-shape or uncomfortable mattress. If you can’t afford a higher-end mattress, choose extra-soft bed linens and a pillow-top mattress pad to enhance comfort.