6 Tips for Creating Welcoming Guest Spaces

Creating a welcoming guest space is all about the details. 

Whether you’re hosting an al fresco dinner with friends or welcoming extended family for a long weekend, one of the most gratifying elements of designing a home is to share it with others. Good design invites you in and greets you like a familiar hug, making a space and the moments experienced there meaningful and memorable – just as a good host does.  

As we look forward to gathering and traveling again, there’s no time like the present to get your home guest ready.  

This week, we were lucky to partner with Airbnb to support the IIDA Foundation, a philanthropic organization with a mission to drive innovation and advancements in the commercial interior design field. Today, we’re excited to share a few highlights from our online experience.  

Here are a few of Shea’s favorite tips for creating a wish list-worthy, guest-ready space. 

If these tips inspire you to start renting your own space, visit this link to get started! 

Tip No. 1: Less is more.  

When I’m a guest in an Airbnb, I always appreciate simplicity. It’s easy to get in over your head when designing and feel like every moment in a room should be the wow factor, but it can feel like a sensory overload as a guest.    

As a rule of thumb, I like to create one focal moment in each space to keep things feeling fresh and not over-designed.  

Whether it’s a welcoming entryway vignette with a mirror and a console table, a statement fireplace in the living room, or the light fixtures in the kitchen, it’s helpful to focus on bringing attention to your favorite element in the room and layering in subtle details in to surround it. Clean, simple and thoughtful should be your goal. 

6 Tips for Creating Welcoming Guest Spaces

A layered entryway look from The McGee Home.

6 Tips for Creating Welcoming Guest Spaces

Statement pendants in our Pine Brook Home.

Tip No. 2: Prioritize ample and flexible seating options.  

In a space suited for guests, seating is critical – but it doesn’t have to break the bank or crowd the room.  

In every home our team designs, we use ottomans or poufs to add an extra layer of seating. We love styling them in front of the fireplace or under a console table to accommodate more people for game night or conversation. Plus, extra seating is a great way to add more texture or tone to a design, double win! 

6 Tips for Creating Welcoming Guest Spaces
Layered seating in our Rye New York Project.

Tip No. 3: Create a cozy and inviting feel with pillows and throws.   

love pillows and throws for their function and as a design tool. Textiles are what make a room sing, and you can easily create a distinct look in your living room using a neutral, clean-lined sofa paired with statement pillows and throws.  

Baskets with blankets are also a great touch in homes we stay in and instantly make a room cozier. Just remember to wash them between guests, and consider blankets made of washable, man-made materials to make doing so easier. 

6 Tips for Creating Welcoming Guest Spaces

Cozy textiles in our Beckham Project.

6 Tips for Creating Welcoming Guest Spaces

Blanket storage in our Cliffside Netflix Remodel.

Tip No. 4: Trays are your best friend.  

We love incorporating trays in our designs, and they do it all – minimize clutter, protect furniture from drinks or food, and call guests’ attention to important items. If you’re hosting, try utilizing trays in the kitchen for a welcome note, bottle opener, and flowers, or for coasters and the remote in the living room. If you plan to create a welcome binder or guide for your guests, there’s no better place to store it than atop a tray.   

You can use trays of all shapes and sizes to clean up any space and add thoughtful touches – a tiny tray or bowl next to the bed is perfect for storing jewelry overnight (and will let your guest know that you thought of everything)! 

6 Tips for Creating Welcoming Guest Spaces

A nightstand moment from our Pine Brook Home.

6 Tips for Creating Welcoming Guest Spaces

Corralling objects in our Pine Brook Home.

Tip No. 5: Design a bedroom they’ll never want to leave. 

Setting up a luxurious and dreamy bedroom is a matter of thoughtful layering. In front of your sleeping pillows and shams, use decorative pillows (selectively) to add texture. 

One foolproof method is to follow the rule of threes with two 24″ pillows and one lumbar pillow that mix smooth fabrics with bolder textures and patterns. For a more modern, streamlined look, complete your bedding look with a single, long patterned lumbar pillow. 

Don’t forget to add a subtle scent! Fresh-smelling laundry detergent on your sheets helps guests rest easy knowing they’re clean, and an unlit candle or linen spray can add a bit of intrigue without overpowering the room.   

6 Tips for Creating Welcoming Guest Spaces

Finishing touches in in our Sunset House.

6 Tips for Creating Welcoming Guest Spaces

A foolproof bedding look from The McGee Home.

Tip No. 6: Know when to save, and when to splurge. 

No matter what your budget looks like, you always need to prioritize certain elements over others when designing a home.  

Since the living room is a focal point of any home, we recommend investing in a quality couch as the centerpiece for gatherings and relaxation. When it comes to upholstery, fabric quality is everything. Choosing a material with longevity that can be easily cleaned makes all the difference for high-traffic spaces.

Although we love rugs and artwork, this can be a great area to save when hosting. There are so many great options out there at a lower price point, and you can quickly transform your space without a high price tag. 

Another great place to save is on your countertops! Marble is beautiful, but you can get a similar look with more durable, guest-friendly materials like quartz or porcelain. 

6 Tips for Creating Welcoming Guest Spaces
A cozy lounge look from The Sunset House project.