Guest bathrooms tend to be multifunctional rooms. For the majority of the time, they are just another bathroom in the house but they quickly become dedicated to guests when they are staying overnight. They also have a tendency to become storage areas for overflow items that don’t fit in other bathrooms. With so many uses, guest baths can easily become cluttered and neglected in terms of decor. So how can you decorate a guest bath so that it reflects your personal style and is also both comfortable and functional?
The Do’s and Don’ts of Decorating a Guest Bath
Bright, Clean and Airy
For a bathroom, you really want to make sure that the space always feels fresh and clean. The first way to accomplish this is to…well…make sure the bathroom is actually clean! Remember, alone in the room with nothing else to look at, guests will look at the floor, the baseboards and in the corner behind the door, so make sure you clean thoroughly! Another way to give the illusion of a clean room is to pick lighter colors that make the room feel bright, open and airy. This is especially important if your guest bath is surrounded by interior walls and therefore, doesn’t have a window. Lastly, make sure the bathroom smells clean. Heavily perfumed potpourri and deodorizers always make it seem as though you are trying to mask a smell, so instead, look for something that is lighter and fresher, such as fresh linen or clean cotton.
Give them space
Guests bathrooms are often smaller than other bathrooms in the house and can begin to feel cluttered and confining if there are too many objects in the room. Remove any unnecessary items to ensure there is ample floor space to move around and plenty of space on the countertop. Also, for overnight guests, try to make some space underneath the sink and/or in the drawers so that they can store their toiletries in the bathroom. Giving guests space of their own allows them to put away their belongings when not in use and helps keep the bathroom looking tidier.
And speaking of cabinet and drawer space, don’t forget to clean these areas! Cabinetry, particular unfinished builder-grade cabinets, has a way of collecting debris. In this case, lining drawers with shelf paper makes them easier to keep clean (Chic Shelf Paper has some really beautiful designs). Underneath the cabinets, you can purchase inexpensive peel-and-stick vinyl tiles from home improvement stores that can easily be wiped clean and also help prevent water from soaking into the cabinetry in the event of a small leak under the sink.
To help ensure that your guests feel comfortable and welcome, it’s helpful to keep a small selection of essential items on hand in the event that an overnight guest forgets something. Travel sizes of soap, shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash, etc. are readily at most grocery and retail stores, or you can pick them up from hotels whenever you travel. A magnifying mirror is also helpful for older guests or those with poor eyesight. Ultimately, whatever items you provide they should be practical and not overly fancy or fussy. If you leave out a tray of small, decorative soaps and wonder why no one uses them, it’s probably because your guests think they are for decoration only!
For more information about preparing for guests, read 22 Items Necessary to Prepare Your Home for Guests.
Get Creative with Displays and Storage
It’s nice to decorate a bathroom so that it fits in with the style of the rest of the house and is comfortable for guests, but given limited space, you should prioritize how you decorate a bathroom, starting with the basics first. By this I mean use your toiletries as decorative items. For example, extra rolls of toilet paper don’t have to be left in the bag and placed under the sink. If you have space, find a cute basket and leave them out where guests can easily find them!
Your extra toiletries can be placed in an apothecary jar on the counter or in a basket as well.
Spare towels can be rolled up on shelves or hung from hooks.
One word of caution – stagers and model home designers love to hang two layers of towels on the towel bar and tie the top one with a decorative tieback. While this look can be beautiful and can help pull a color scheme together, it’s not practical in terms of being able to use the towels. Instead, look for solutions that are both decorative AND practical whenever possible.
Also, if you have the floor space, add extra storage by bringing in a small piece of furniture. Don’t limit yourself to only furniture intended for the bathroom but instead, look for any piece that is the right size and has the right function for what you need. Just remember that anything used in the bathroom will likely be exposed to water and steam, so take precautions.
Here, a ladder leaned against the wall provided extra storage for towels and bath items.
Also take advantage of wall space for extra storage. But unless your guest bathroom is huge, pick one or the other – either add a piece of furniture or build up – but not both to avoid the space looking too cluttered.
When decorating your guest bath, think about what you look for when you stay at a nice hotel or B&B and try to recreate that look and feel for your guests. A clean, comfortable and functional space goes a long way toward making your guests feel welcome.