Small bedrooms make a welcome site for guests

November 04, 2006|by CHRISTINE BRUN / Copley News Service

Wouldn't it be nice to have a guest room as inviting as your master suite? And wouldn't it be fun to customize your guest room for every single visitor? Whether your house guests are children, singles or seniors, wouldn't it be great to add different adornments to a room so that it seems tailor-made for that person's interests and needs?

Flexibility in guest bedroom decor is the wish of every gracious host, but pulling it off is a challenge when the room with which you are dealing is small. Still, there are ways to work a little magic and create a refuge for your company, even in the tiniest quarters.

A good place to start is with the headboard, and a good place to look for ideas is in European hotel rooms, which typically are much smaller than their counterparts in the United States. A small room in a Parisian boutique hotel features one fully upholstered wall in the room. The chosen fabric is a soft yellow toile - a fabric pattern featuring delicately drawn figures.


By selecting a traditional pattern, even though it is only applied to one of the walls in the room, the sense of the place is elegant. Remaining walls are all simply painted white. Because the upholstered wall has cotton batting behind it, the softness and dimension extends to the entire space. The wall could serve as a visual headboard; in this hotel, however, the actual headboard is upholstered in the same fabric.

One option is to have a custom fabric headboard made. These are generally no more than 3 inches deep, so they don't take up much space in cramped areas. If you use the same fabric on the bed or some version of a companion fabric, the wall and bed seem to blend together in a space-conscious illusion. Sometimes a wallcovering installer can upholster walls, but it's also possible to locate an expert in wall upholstery.

If you keep the room simple, it will be easier to tweak when company is about to arrive. At that point you can add pillows, coverlets and accessories that will make your guest feel welcome and right at home.

From Scandinavia comes a way to alter the character and mood of any room with very little time and space. In the photo shown here, a sturdy wooden dowel rod is anchored to the headboard wall. For a young guest, traditional plaid woolen throws act as background to vibrantly colored bed pillows. Bed sheets of Kelly green wrap over a whimsical pattern of white woolly mammoths marching over the brown coverlet.

You could easily change the feeling of such a bedroom by hanging a handmade quilt over the rod and using a more feminine bedding pattern or soft color. A Japanese kimono or a Balinese batik could be draped over the rod for an Asian ambience in the room.

Indian blankets might be the beginning of a cozy winter theme. This also provides a good way to use precious items such as an Indian blanket or a family heirloom quilt and not have to worry about damage to the piece.

What about antique children's clothing or doll clothes for a little girl who has come to visit or racing pennants for a little boy? School pennants or those belonging to sport teams also could provide color schemes for accent pillows.

Large tablecloths are another thematic source. Imagine a blue, white and yellow cloth from Aux-en-Provence behind a bed piled high with fine white bed linens. In the middle of summer, unhemmed yardage printed boldly with fish could be draped over the wooden rod. If you use plain sheets and pillows, you can let your imagination run free in the range of printed possibilities open to you.

Add a jug filled with your guests' favorite flowers, pile books and magazines about subjects that interest them on the bedside table and set a framed photo of someone they love on the dresser. They may never want to leave!

Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego-based interior designer and the author of "Big Ideas for Small Spaces." Send questions and comments to her by e-mail at or to Copley News Service, P.O. Box 120190, San Diego, CA 92112.

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