April Dixon, a stylist at Pillow Talk, reveals how to freshen up your spare room with a few smart, decorative touches.

The festive season is all about spending time with the people you love, which can mean opening up your home to a steady stream of overnight guests.

If your spare room is more dumping ground than inviting retreat, fear not. Here are some simple styling tricks to freshen up the space and welcome guests in style.

photo by Pillow Talk

Start with a thorough declutter
The first step is to make the space feel like an actual bedroom. Allocate an afternoon, a day, a weekend – however long it takes – to remove all those items that don’t belong in your spare room. Re-house objects you use on a regular or semi-regular basis and find them a new home where they’re used. For those things that are only brought once or twice a year or less, such as luggage or festive decorations, consider putting them in deep storage such as the garage or attic.

When it comes to items you no longer need or use, but are still in good condition, look to re-purpose, re-home or recycle them.

While you’re decluttering, take the opportunity to air out your spare bedroom and run bedding through the wash. When you have a bit more time, vacuum the floor, remove any cobwebs lurking in the corners of the ceiling (if the spare room hasn’t been used in a while), and wipe down the surfaces.

Create a stylish storage system
Despite your best decluttering efforts, chances are you’ll still need to store some items in your spare room. That’s not a problem. Look to clear the horizontal surfaces in the room – bedside table, desk and window sills – to create a serene feel and to give guests somewhere to pop a book, phone charger and other travel essentials. Then put some smart and practical systems in place that will keep your storage items neatly organised and tucked away when visitors arrive. 

Woven storage baskets are one of my favourite solutions for bedrooms. They’e affordable, come in all manner of different shapes and sizes, and are perfect for concealing items you wish to store out of view. They look stylish too, whether they’re arranged against the wall or along shelves.

Tip: For a chic and cohesive look, choose multiple baskets of the same shape, size and colour.

photo by Pillow Talk

If you don’t have a wardrobe for guests to hang their clothes, consider popping a bench at the foot of the bed where they can arrange clothes and personal items. Then, provide hanging storage with a freestanding clothes rack or two, and add several good-quality coat hangers (avoid wire ones that tend to destroy the shape of clothes – something your guests are unlikely to appreciate!).

Pull out the paintbrush
If your spare room is looking a little drab, there’s no faster or easier way to give it a fresh new feel than with a lick of paint. Light, natural tones on the walls will open up the room and make it feel bright and welcoming. Tones such as putty, pale grey and white also go with just about anything, allowing you to switch up the look with other colours and prints in bedlinen, cushions and decorative items down the track.

You can also use paint to breathe new life into tired accessories or furniture – re-paint a bedhead, an old bedside table or a group of vessels.

photo by Pillow Talk

Choose calming colours for soft furnishings
When choosing the colours of elements such as curtains, throws and rugs, opt for calm, neutral tones and soft textures that up the relaxation factor. Think soft, coastal-inspired blues, sand and slate in tactile, natural materials. These have a timeless appeal and look beautiful paired with greenery, flowers and neutral-toned walls. 

If you want to add a bit of punch to the spare room scheme, add in a few bold accents such as a few stylish, metallic accessories on the bedside, patterned cushions on the bed or armchair, or a bold artwork on the wall.

Spend wisely
Christmas is an expensive time of year, so the last thing you want to do is blow your budget decorating your spare room. The key is to spend on the items that matter, such as a comfortable mattress, pillows and bedding, all of which will help your guests get a good night’s sleep. You can then save on smaller, decorative items.

When it comes to bedding, seek out styles made from natural fibres such as cotton or linen. These will ‘breathe’ on those searing summer nights and help keep your guests comfortable. They’re also durable and become softer to the touch with every wash.

Tip: Not ready to splash out on a new mattress? If your mattress is uncomfortable, consider softening it with a mattress topper. It’s far cheaper than buying a new mattress and can also help extend the life of your existing one. 

Little decorative pieces, such as cushions, candles, side tables and pot plants can often be picked up for a song, and will really bring your spare room to life.

photo by thehomescence.nz

Add little touches of luxury
A few carefully considered additions to your spare room will make overnight guests feel truly special. These might include a neatly folded pile of soft towels in different sizes at the end of the bed (most guests will appreciate a generous bath sheet they can wrap themselves up in and a face washer), a posy of pretty flowers by the bedside, a scented candle (scents such as vanilla and allspice will create a cosy, warm atmosphere), a mobile phone charger, and a good book that you’ve read recently.

And don’t forget comfort; if your home gets cool at night, purchase a few extra blankets for the spare room. If you live in a warmer climate, leave out a pedestal and a table fan.

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