We have a guest room! I mean, we’ve always had room for guests and one bedroom has been largely empty since we moved in and guests have stayed there multiple times, but now it’s actually a room that a guest would want to stay in.


I’m not quite sure how to dive into this post, actually. Should I start with the boring logistics or talk about design inspiration or maybe the impetus to finally tackle this room? Hmmmm…

Okay, going with the boring details first. See, what had happened was… when you have three bedrooms and you only need one for the humans of the household and you’ve already created an office out of the second room, then it’s easy to not do anything with the third, which is what happened here. Originally this room was my closet since our master didn’t have one and storage for things that didn’t quite have a place. We left plenty of space to be able to blow up an air mattress for guests. That was essentially the scenario for this room from when we moved in in January of last year to November of last year.

Last fall, when we solidified holiday plans and needed to get our act together for family coming to stay for several weeks, we started making moves. Those moves entailed calling California Closets to install a closet for us in the master so we could finally move all of our clothes and shoes into our room (I still haven’t blogged about that, but I will), moving everything that was being stored into the guest room into that room’s closet, and then painting the room and hallway Powdered Snow by Behr, which has become our go-to white. We needed to paint the room and hallway because the house had been painted this gross, dingy off white and we want to get rid of that color, but also this room and hallway were affected by the upstairs renovation and we just lived with portions of bare walls for eight months. The closet, movement of storage and painting were all done in one month, right before the family came for Christmas. It was the last room we had to paint for a long while and – you know how much we hate painting – we got through it by simply not talking to each other.

And then we stalled. Between November and the past month, the room accommodated guests via air mattress, held storage (again) and acted as my studio space for my sewing projects. But then in the beginning of July, Daniel said he wanted to get a bed for his dad to use while he stayed with us for a week in August. Even though we have a sleeper sofa in the living room, Daniel wanted to give his dad his own room.

Okay, I can get down with that. But when Daniel said that, I took it as we needed to do the entire guest room (which literally was a blank slate since we painted it bright white) in one month’s time. Please know that is not what he meant, but I took it there.

So, now that we’re past the boring details and impetus, let’s talk about the design inspiration for this room and how we put it together.

My first step was recognizing that this needed to be a flex room, to be used on occasion for guests but also easily turned into a workable sewing space. I already have a folding sewing table that I can use as long as there is space to put it. So for it to be a guest room and flex room that meant we couldn’t get a bed. We needed to buy a sleeper sofa, one that was small enough for that room but big enough for a tall person to lay on it and – very important – a very inexpensive one since this room is the least used in the entire house and not where we want to spend our money. Which meant one thing: another trip to Ikea.

This room gets the best light in the house. It has two East-facing windows and, since we painted it a bright white, I really wanted the decor to enhance how bright and sunny the room is. My mind went to a variety of white, cream, and camel neutrals perhaps with a slightly bohemian, breezy and beachy feel.

When we were at Ikea picking up a budget but not entirely uncomfortable (thank God for egg crates!) sleeper sofa, I mentioned my decor plan to Daniel and to say he balked at that idea is an understatement. Bland!, he scoffed. That will be so bland! We were perusing the curtain section at the time (holy moly, Ikea has some seriously cute and inexpensive decor options! Why have I never bought curtain rods there before?!) and he literally picked out every curtain that had any amount of color and pattern on it. Okay, I got the point.

While no curtains were bought that day, we did buy a cream-colored sleeper under $500. Score! It was too bulky to fit in our car so we had it delivered the next day, which meant less work for us. Score! It came in a few pieces and there were only, like, three steps to put it together. Score! Daniel said, “This looks easy.” Ruh-roh. Those were last words. An hour full of frustration at how holes didn’t line up and screws breaking off in said holes and many a scream about how we’re never buying Ikea furniture again, the “easy” sleeper was put together. That couch is going to die in that room. We won’t be able to break it down without an ax to get it out of there. Last words, indeed.

But, hey, the hardest part was done. Now it was time to design the rest of the room. I nixed the all-out neutrals idea, but stuck with the idea to go with a beachy feel. I decided that the colors should play nicely with the other colors upstairs, which are vibrant blues and greens, accented with wood and neutrals. Blue would be the main color, with some green accents, and then another pop of color. As blues and oranges worked well for our backyard, I thought it could work here.

The multicolored pillow is from Haus and Home LA on Etsy, the shag pillow is from Wayfair, the crocheted blanket is from Daniel’s childhood, the lamp is from West Elm.

As I’ve said before, rugs make a space. I found one by Safavieh on sale on Overstock. It’s large enough to bring in a lot of color and it fit the space for all of its flex needs. I love the texture of this rug. It’s essentially shredded denim fabrics in multiple colors woven together. And, even though it’s thin, it’s really soft.


Next were the curtains, which I found on sale at Urban Outfitters online. The lightweight, semi-sheer material and shibori pattern have both a bohemian and a beachy feel, in my opinion. They don’t block the sunlight too much and I like that the blue doesn’t match exactly with the rug.

Clearly, I have a type.

Since the room is small and needs to serve multiple purposes, we didn’t want to over populate it. That also meant that everything in there had to serve a purpose. Pretty is a purpose, by the way! I wanted to turn an unusable corner – that dang radiator! – into a usable one, so we installed a shelf from Ikea slightly over it. A guest can put daily necessities on this shelf if needed, otherwise it’s filled with pretty or quirky things that go with the room’s colors – blues, greens, oranges.

Shelfie with meaning: The cacti was a gift after I admired my step-mother-in-law’s succulent garden, the Aranciata bottle is a keepsake from a high school trip to Italy, the little orange dude and the fan Daniel has had for a while, the watercolor painting was a little extra gift that came with a watercolor painting Daniel got me for our first anniversary. And all of these items bring in the blues, greens and orange to go with the rest of the room.

The room has the possibility of having three types of spaces: 1. guest room, 2. sewing room, 3. dog’s umpteenth hangout space. In order to accommodate all of those spaces, we needed a coffee table that you could put your feet on, could easily be moved when I’m sewing and could serve as nightstands. I thought nesting tables would do the trick and would be a good way to bring in a bright pop of color. I found these orange, metal nesting tables on Wayfair and they work perfectly.

These nesting table can work as a coffee table…
…as nightstands…
…or can be moved out of the way easily when I turn the guest room into my studio.

In terms of storage, this small room actually has a large closet with a shelf, but it’s almost completely filled with fabric and other sewing needs. There is some space for a guest to hang or keep folded clothes but I thought the room could use a little extra storage space. The problem is that there is not any real space to put a dresser in the room AND have a sewing table. So size became a major criteria. The other criteria was that it be vintage. Why? Because the room was filling up with a bunch of new things from mass retailers, which was making my heart (and pride) hurt. So those were two criteria that are time intensive to find what you need and I only had a month. I only had time to go to one antique store and didn’t find what I was looking for but did find something else that I regret I didn’t buy because I’m still thinking about it! So I went to Etsy and thankfully rather quickly found a Mid-Century Modern nightstand sold by a New York City-based seller and I was able to pick it up that week. I decided it was worth the money since we could easily repurpose this nightstand for any other room no matter where we live. I decorated it with more items that fit the room’s color scheme, including marble coasters from Etsy, a small tray from Target to “collect” the items and serve as a landing spot for keys and other things, and a moss terrarium that Daniel’s mom sent him for his birthday.

Once again, greens and blues come together to tie into the rest of the room.

To finish off that corner, I searched for a mirror. I wanted a circular mirror because I didn’t want there to be yet another square or rectangular shape in the room (between the long shelf in the corner, the long couch, the long rug, the rectangular piece of art – more on that in a sec – and the nightstand, there were a lot of long horizontal lines in this room so we needed to add something to create a little bit more of a dynamic feel. I didn’t get exactly what I wanted since I didn’t have the time nor the budget nor the inclination to spend looking for the perfect mirror, but I found one I liked on Etsy. It has a wood frame, the Moroccan style gives it the appearance of a non-linear shape, and the coloring brings a little bit of oomph to that corner. The one issue is that, because it’s a small mirror over a nightstand, there is a lot of white space in between the two, but that’s a problem to tackle another day.

The far wall needs something else, right?!

And last, but not least, we needed art for the room. We went back and forth on ideas but Daniel had the brilliant idea of using a photo of us scuba diving in the Galapagos Islands. The theme and colors of the photo are obvious ties to the room. We ordered a poster-sized print from Mpix and a natural wood frame from Amazon and voila, insta art.

So now we have a budget flex space/guest room done under a month. We purposely didn’t overcrowd it so guests don’t feel too closed in by someone else’s stuff while they stay over, but it feels like something is missing here. Perhaps I’m just not used to an all-white room (search master, office, dining room and living room for proof)? Perhaps it needs more texture, more layers? Perhaps I’m not using the length of the walls enough? Sound off below!


14 thoughts on “Dear Guests, You’re Welcome!

  1. What if you used several mirrors on that back (?) wall to bounce the natural light back into the room? A long (cheap) rectangular one could go horizontally or vertically with the frame painted any color for pop and several more for variety, spontaneity and fun.


    1. I agree, some sort of mirror. It also helps for guests when getting dressed/hair/makeup if you don’t have a guest bedroom.
      But I love what you did. I’m tackling the same situation of guest/sewing room. Thanks for the warning on the IKEA sleeper sofa situation because that’s the direction I was heading.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Guest rooms and sewing rooms definitely need a decent full length mirror. (Not like the one you took to college). Your very nice artwork is hung a little too high. I love having and visiting a place with a real guest room. I’m too old to couch surf! Well thought out!

    Liked by 1 person

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