Decorating your Guest Space

YAY! The fun part!  This is really where you get to design your BnB to reflect the geographical area in which you are hosting, as well as your own personal style and unique tastes. Keeping in mind that you are going for restful/peaceful and welcoming you’ll need art on the walls and a few knick-knacks that support your theme. BUT there is a line here… on one side of which is cluttered and busy (i.e. not peaceful) and on the other is stark and bleak (i.e. not welcoming). However, if you follow these 5 simple rules to decorating your BnB, you should find your space comfortably well within the center/ideal.

Decor Rule #1: Choose a Generic Theme

Why? Themes create a sense of cohesion, thoughtfulness, and uniqueness. They provide a bit of predictability, and when guests arrive and your space meets their expectations, you are already on track for consistently high reviews. What do we mean by generic? We mean NOT YOU. The theme you chose can reflect your interests and style, but it shouldn’t reflect you personally. Even if you use the space when it is not occupied by BnB guests, you ABSOLUTELY should remove your personal stuff, like photographs, clothes, toiletries, ect. We stayed in a BnB guest house that had the host’s first name as art on the wall in multiple rooms, his clothing in the closet, food in the cupboards and fridge, and a fully stocked medicine cabinet of his necessities – including a toothbrush.  Although the space was nice, and clean, we felt pretty uncomfortable — like we were invading his home, not guests in it.

Now that you’ve cleared out your personal stuff, what’s left may display a love for music, or movies, or animals. If it’s blank and you need to find a theme consider where you are hosting. Are you in a ski town? Try a vintage ski theme. By the beach? Mermaids and starfish theme. In a busy metropolis? Nighttime city skyline. Though what if you don’t want a theme based on your geography? Maybe your space is in LA, but you personally are not into Hollywood glam. Then consider why guests might be booking your space. Conveniently located to the airport? Travel theme. Close proximity to lake fishing? I think you get the idea. The potential reasons guests may book with you are as numerous as BnB listings themselves, yet they can direct you to a theme that will fit with your tastes nicely.

Decor Rule #2: Colors

Color is powerful to the unconscious mind, so to ensure your space “feels” restful we recommend you choose neutrals (whites, greys, tans/beiges, creams) as the base of your color palate and then add a few pops of color with your art, throw pillows, blankets, and knick-knacks. When we say “base of your color palate” that means wall paint, large furniture pieces, and flooring. Then your color-pops can be any colors you like! Additionally, the pops of color do not have to be the same throughout your space, say if you are listing an entire house. You could have greens and yellows in one bedroom and blues in another.

Too Dark Wall
With the dark kitchen cabinets and this dark wall paint, this part of the house feels like a dead-end.. Not Good!

Decor Rule #3: Rule of 1

This basically means 1 appropriately-sized art item, that reflects your theme, per wall. Look at each wall of your space independently. Maybe there is a window, or a window and a door, etc. If the wall looks appropriately occupied by those permanent installments, you may not need art on that wall at all, or maybe just something very small. However if your wall has a window to one side, and then is blank on the other half, you will need one art piece for that wall. The exception to this rule of 1: if you have a really large empty wall it may not be feasible to buy one very large art piece. In this case, a cohesive grouping of smaller art pieces that ‘feel like one’ could work well. I’ve seen many listings who’ve clearly ignored the walls and left them all blank -which does not foster a homey/welcoming feel. However on the flip side I’ve seen listings with far too many art pieces on the walls, as though their goal was to cover the walls entirely. Too much will feel busy and restless, cramped and cluttered, and/or too personal and guests may feel as though they are invading your private space. If you have a lot of fun and interesting pieces you really want to include in your guest space, and you have a living room -this will be the area to push the “rule of 1” past its limits. But by keeping the bedrooms clutter-free you will ensure a restful space.

Decor Rule #4: Less is More

On the heels of rule #3, this rule applies to knick-knacks. The surfaces (desks, tables) in your space should be ALMOST empty: Your guests have stuff, and they need space to set their stuff down. As clean as your space may be, the floor is not always an ideal option. So yes, have a themed/colorful statue, vase, clock or some other object on the dresser, but leave enough space to set down their small suitcase or lay out their belongings. If you have shelves that you decorate with knick-knacks think of those as art pieces and follow rule #3. (Pro tip* almost empty surfaces make for easy cleaning and dusting. Less to move around, plus less for you to worry about getting accidentally broken or damaged.)

Cluttered desk
Get rid of the junk!

Decor Rule #5: Limit the Words

Words and phrases are a very popular decorating trend right now, and with good reason! Words are powerful, and when used well, they can immediately tell your guests “welcome, this is your home away from home.” But again, there is a line here. Too many phrases on the walls or in the decor of your space will compete for your guests attention, causing eyes to shift from one phrase to another. As humans we are hardwired to immediately look at and read language. So if you have too many word pieces to look at it will be hard for your guests to stop reading! Keeping that in mind, don’t place words/phrase in prominent places. For example, don’t place them on walls with TVs or near windows that have a lovely view. Don’t place them in direct line of sight from the couch or the bed, as you wants guest to relax when they are in those spots. A nice word sign that is welcoming is great to have in direct line of sight when entering your space, but otherwise tucking them out of direct line of sight is ideal. Then when your guests do spot them, your words are like a surprise bit of extra fun and welcome.