When we moved to the South, we looked for a home that had a room reserved for guests. We knew we’d be hosting family, friends, and pilgrims on their journey to Disney World. Our guest room is in the basement, and it was my job to fit it out in preparation of our first booking. I blocked a week off of my schedule, and hopped over to Restoration Hardware to purchase everything I would need.
Bwahahaha!. No. I had a budget of $0.00 and one week worth of naptimes to complete this project. If you are not familiar with Mom-time, this was between 0-10 hours.
This, like scrappy dinners, is my favorite kind of project: It takes creativity, ingenuity, and using what you have. I loved this challenge. And I must say, no one has complained. The best thing I had on my side for this was boxes of random pictures, knickknacks, and other accouterments of life tucked away. My dad has this axiom regarding “stuff”: When in Doubt, Throw it Out.
My axiom is: When in Doubt: Stuff it in a Box and Put it Away For Later.
If you don’t have boxes of stuff, use your imagination! Steal things from other rooms that are crowding or just don’t go. I’m sure you can fit out your guest space in a way that will make everyone proud.
A Place to Lay Your Head:
We had inherited an old king bed that I insisted on carting around with us from house to house. It quickly became our guest bed. When our old master-bedroom comforter tore and we wanted to buy a new one, I sewed it up, threw it in the washer, and up-cycled it as guest linen.
I did not have extra sham pillow inserts for the old bedding set, and buying new ones did not fit into my budget of $0.00. I did, however, have several old regular bed pillows. I stuffed them into the sham covers and wiggled and beat them until they looked respectable.
I also borrowed a few extra couch pillows that matched-ish to make the bed pretty.
I brainstormed what might be the barest of necessities I might enjoy while sleeping away from home. I came up with:
- A place to put my glasses and book
- A reading light
- A trash can
- A place to put my clothes
I decided our guest room would provide:
- Old, mis-matched lamps were spray-painted and put in appropriate places
- Side tables came in the form of one hand-me-down actual bedside table and an old, particle board couch side table from my husband’s bachelor apartment.
- An old dresser and a spare giant ottoman from a very old chair to use as suitcase holder.
Next I brainstormed what I might love in a fancy hotel:
- Room service
- A claw-foot tub
- Chocolates on my pillow
- Bottles of water
- Information about the place I was visiting
- Laundry service
- A Butler
Here’s what our guests will enjoy based on that list:
- Wouldn’t it be great?
- There are M&M’s in the cupboard. Go crazy.
- Yes!! In a wicker basket that I found in the basement and pulled some Christmas felt thing off of
- Back issues of Southern Living, our latest town newspaper, and any novels I have that are set in the South. With the water bottles in the wicker basket
- A laundry basket and a tutorial about how to use the washer/dryer
- Pull pictures and posters from your life and lay them all out on the living room floor. Cobble together a set that goes with your linens
- Take pictures of the native landscape or flowers. Print and frame them in your best 8×10, black, repaired with black Sharpie frames.
- Any little sign with welcoming words or blessings. You can always print and frame one! My favorite is the Irish Blessing:
May the roads rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And the rain fall soft upon your fields.
Until we meet again, my friend,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
If a bed is in the center of the room, everything looks better with a headboard or a giant picture. I do not have a spare headboard. I also did not have the budget to DIY a headboard out of plywood and stuffing like they do on HGTV. I didn’t even have a giant picture – all my big stuff was already in the main living space.
What I did have was a few yards of extra curtain material and a hideous print of geraniums in a pink plastic frame that was left behind at our old house. It was huge. It was ugly. I got a ton of grief from everyone because I insisted on dragging in across the country.
Boy am I glad I did! Here’s how I made my “Statement Piece”:
- Got out my kids’ finger paint and mixed until I got a nice brown.
- Used a dinosaur paint sponge to apply paint to ugly pink plastic frame
- Let frame dry
- Cut fabric to fit inside frame, leaving enough on the edges to “fold” so raw edges weren’t exposed
- Fit fabric inside of frame
- Hammered a few nails and stuck it on the wall.
If you have a big frame, or several smaller ones, fabric is cheap and very easy to work with. My only tip is never go to JoAnn’s without a coupon – there is always a coupon.
My guest room is a work in progress: projects down the line include paint and curtains made from old curtains. However, we’ve loved hosting guests in their own little space, and sharing with them a bit of our lives and the place we call home.
Truly, with some spare furniture, a budget of $0.00 and not a whole lot of time, you can make a cozy, welcoming space for your guests. This can apply if your guests are sleeping in guest suites or on air-mattresses in the office or on the couch. Let’s summarize:
- Sleeping surface
- Place for iPhone, book, glasses, etc
- Place to tuck away personal belongings and clothes
- Bottles of water or glasses and a carafe
- Extra iStuff cord and the WiFi password
- Reading material, especially pertaining to your slice of the Earth
- Trash Can
- Laundry Basket
- Place to hang anything they might need to hang
- A welcoming verse, poem, or picture
For extra fun, here’s scrappy dinner recipe to go with the scrappy guest-room. A few fridge ingredients are gussied up for a dinner that is lovely for guests or as a personal reward: