Spare bedroom ideas - design experts show how to turn this into a loved and loveable part of the home

Spare bedroom ideas need to have many functions, and these wonderful designs are so much more than just a spot for friends to crash

spare bedroom ideas using green chest of drawers and tulip lamp
(Image credit: Natalie Papier)

Spare bedroom ideas are often left to last when it comes to home decor. They're not a priority...except by us. Making your home comfortable to others - as much as yourself - is what life is all about. A place for friends to relax in, a space for them to want to visit, is a wonderful luxury to be able to offer. We all want our guests to be welcomed into an elegant room with everything they need for a restful night’s sleep, so they can wake up refreshed and ready for the day ahead. 

It might also be nice to arrange a small seating area so they can have some private time if they are staying for a few days, somewhere to read or just relax.

“Even one night spent in your own guest room is enough to reveal some amenities that might be lacking, or a quirk or two that needs to be addressed,” says
Houzz contributor and sustainability consultant Shana Levy McCracken.  “I recommend you walk through each step your guests will face, from their arrival to their departure, to make sure all their needs will be met.”

Unlike when considering your own bedroom ideas, a spare room also needs to be versatile. Not everyone can keep a room just for guests, so think about what else it could be used for. A crafting room, perhaps, or a home office.

To help inspire you, look at some of the innovative and stylish ways top interior designers have dressed these spare rooms.

Spare bedroom ideas

1. Keep the decor simple with a twist

spare bedroom ideas using a green bed frame against a white wall and wood furniture

Design by A1000XBetter

(Image credit: Alex Zarour, Virtually Here Studios)

There is a lot to be said for keeping designs in a spare room simple. Guests are not accustomed to the  layout so are more prone to bump into things and trip over furniture, so think about a clear path from the bed to the bathroom. Also provide a choice of feather pillows and pillows with artificial fillings in case a guest is allergic to feathers.  Add fresh flowers on the day your guests arrive as a lovely welcome.

“This guest bedroom wasn’t a large room so I really wanted it to have some personality to make up for its lack of size,” says Kirsten Blazek of design studio A1000XBetter. What elevated this restful scheme into a more modern bedroom is the unexpected color of the bed frame. It's always good to include a twist to delight your guests.  “The bright green bed added charm and character to the space. I also incorporated great textiles throughout the room and an interesting light fixture, but I didn't want to overwhelm the space. We added built-in storage in the niche for practical reasons and this turned out to be a great place to display decorative objects.” 

2. Include twin beds for increased function

spare bedroom with two wrought iron bed and white walls

(Image credit: Michael Del Piero)

Twin beds are making a comeback. They are a classic choice for children’s rooms and guest bedrooms and are a practical, flexible solution for hosting a crowd. Twin beds create symmetry, and help to bring order to a spare bedroom. They give it the ability to host two children, or be pushed together a for couple. If the room is short of space, place a bedside table between the two beds rather than one on either side.

“We tend to keep spare room color palette’s quite neutral so that they feel serene and soothing,” says the interior designer Michael Del Piero, who created this scheme. “Adding textural elements like soft throws mixed with more sculptural pieces creates a space that feels streamlined yet earthy and inviting. Intriguing artwork and accessories with a mix of materials add personalization and layers that complete the look.”

3. Enliven with statement wallpaper

spare bedroom ideas using brown and orange patterned wallpaper

Design by A1000XBetter

(Image credit: Alex Zarour, Virtually Here Studios)

Remember that bedroom wallpaper you fell in love with but couldn’t find a place for? The spare room is the ideal spot. It might be overpowering in the main bedroom, but it’s ideal for a room that is only used occasionally. Keep the rest of the décor simple, with neutral colors and a simple headboard design.

“When designing a spare bedroom I like to include colors and patterns that make sense in the home as a whole, says Kirsten Blazek of design studio A1000XBetter. Pick a color you've used elsewhere in the home and include that in the pattern of the spare bedroom, so it doesn't jar. “I also make sure I think about functionality and comfort. I love using high-quality linen bedding and a mattress topper for extra comfort,” she adds.

4. Create a boutique hotel feel

spare bedroom ideas with wood panelling on the walls and white and grey pillows

(Image credit: Raili Clasen)

You see some great ideas when staying in boutique hotels, so consider incorporating some of them when you are designing your spare room at home. Wood panelling is so on-trend at the moment and instantly gives a modern vibe in a room. Add funky lighting and contemporary art to complete the look. An understated take on the luxury bedroom.

"Years ago, we treated spare bedrooms in our projects as secondary rooms, says the interior designer Raili Clasen, who created this scheme.  “That was the room we used our clients' past furnishings that they wanted to keep, and these rooms were not at all the shining stars of the home. We've completely changed our approach! Guest rooms should almost have a ‘you are special and this room reflects it’ moment. Quality mattresses and sheets, and then layer on the cool details. I love taking design chances in spare bedrooms so they almost feel ‘boutique hotel’ more than ‘sterile and un-imaginitive’."

5. Hang two mirrors to make a spare room seem bigger

spare bedroom ideas using blue and red statement headboard

(Image credit: Kelling Designs)

A bedroom doesn’t really look complete unless the bed has a headboard. Make it the focal point in the room and it will also act as an anchor for the overall design scheme. This shaped design in rich blue velvet with a contrasting border in berry red adds a dose of color. The shape is echoed in the vintage mirrors on either side of the bed, just out of shot.

“If you have the space, then a pair of matching bedside table on either side of the bed with matching lamps and shades flanked with matching mirrors behind will bring a symmetrical finish to the room”, says Emma Deterding of Kelling Designs. “The mirrors will help bounce light back into the room giving the illusion of space and brightness. As always, before splurging on new furniture, look at the pieces you have and make use of any antique or vintage pieces. You can always upcycle tired and dated pieces and give them a new lease of life, bringing character and charm to the room.”

6. Pair pale walls with bright furniture

spare bedroom ideas using bright blues and greens

(Image credit: Natalie Papier)

Introduce vintage pieces such as this cabinet which has been painted grass green for an eclectic feel, the gold handles add to it’s mid-century look. Bedroom color ideas can be full of personality when it's not a room you need to sleep in very often. The vintage stool makes a quirky side table, then add pattern in the bed throw and rug. More bold color is added in the unusual art works and the pillows. 

"Spare bedroom designs, in my opinion, should be both restful and functional," says Natalie Papier.  “I love a pale hue on the wall to create a feeling of serenity.  It also gives you an opportunity to let the artwork, decor and textile pattern-mixing a moment to shine!"

7. Wrap the room in pattern

spare bedroom with vibrant red patterned wallpaper

(Image credit: Vanderhurd)

Admittedly, we talked about keeping spare bedroom ideas simple earlier on. But isn't it tempting to go a little wild in such a low stakes room? You won't be in here too often, so why not have fun?

The starting point for this scheme is the joyful Stellar wallpaper in red, orange and pink tones from Vanderhurd. It’s a bold statement but, matched to the bedroom curtains creates a committed and cohesive look. 

The way to balance this is to tone down the colors of the furniture. The bed itself is paler, and the white pillows add a crispness to the whole scheme.

8. Remember the storage

spare bedroom with sliding door

Design by Francesca Grace Home

(Image credit: Sam Wadieh)

Make sure guests feel at home by offering plenty of bedroom storage space to put their clothes away, especially if they are staying for a few days, include a hanging rail and plenty of hangers. Make the room comfortable with cheerful cushions, a cozy throw and bedside tables where they can put their personal items including those all- important cell phone chargers.

“For me, staging a home is more than just putting furniture in a house, it’s about telling a story,“ says designer Francesca Grace. “It can be hard for buyers to envision how much furniture can fit in a room, especially when they are on the smaller side, which is why staging is so important. When planning out the designs for this home, I really wanted to show how much space can be utilized in a small spare bedroom. A neat trick is a sliding door on the wardrobe.”

9. Play with pattern around neutral shades

spare bedroom with blue velvet headboard and animal print footstool

Design by Lisa Gilmore

(Image credit: Image credit: Amy Lamb, Native House Photography)

Choosing soothing colors and subtle designs makes this spare room by Lisa Gilmore so calming. The wallpaper is neutral but with a clever design which gives it an almost 3D effect. Color is brought in with a sage green upholstered bed and the coral drapes. Then for a touch of fun, a black and white leopard print on the bench seat. An ensuite bathroom makes this guest room in a luxury waterfront condo in Tierra Verde, Florida, perfectly self-contained.

“One of the things I think are most important to include in a spare room are inviting and comfy linens”, says Lisa Gilmore. “The others are a spot for luggage to rest and be unpacked and books to spark curiosity while on vacation – preferably local to the area to introduce guests to the spot they are visiting.”

10. Or just be really bold!

spare bedroom with four poster bed and red walls

Design by Michelle Nussbaumer

(Image credit: Douglas Friedman)

A spare room is a good place to try out ideas that you may not be brave enough to have in the master bedroom (or can’t persuade the other half) so let your imagination run wild and choose decoration that you have always wanted to try. 

These spare bedroom ideas involved stencilled walls, a four poster bed with Indian textiles, teamed with old master-style pictures in gilt frames. It’s a favorite theme of designer Michelle Nussbaumer and she has employed it beautifully here in her holiday home in Mexico. This is a great way to display pieces you have picked up on your travels. 

“Spare bedrooms must always be functional, with the right mirror and lamps for reading on either side of the bed,” says Michelle Nussbaumer, of Michelle Nussbaumer Design. “And soft enough lamplight so one person can read and the other can sleep. It is necessary to take into account all these details of living.”

What color is best for a spare room?

“For a spare bedroom, create a serene space with calming, muted colors such as soft blues and taupes, says the interior designer Shalini Misra. “These colors promote serenity and are non-confrontational, encouraging a feeling of tranquility which is highly desirable in the home. Blue is also considered to be an affluent color and exudes a sense of luxury.  The skirting and cornices can be a darker color to add a design element without being overpowering. Add pattern through cushions and borders on the bedspread.”

Alison Davidson

Alison Davidson is well-respected British interiors journalist, who has been the Homes Editor of Woman and Home magazine, and the Interiors Editor for House Beautiful. She regularly contributes to Livingetc, and many other titles, and often writes about kitchens, extensions, and decor ideas. She is the go-to for information about green energy, sustainable home improvement and eco design ideas.