I'm currently designing my guest bedroom – here's why I'm making it the boldest room in the house

Make a statement in your guest bedroom with these design-led ways to create a bold and beautiful retreat

guest bedroom being the most bold bedroom in your home
(Image credit: Farrow & Ball / TROVE by Studio Duggan / DADO)

Most of the rooms in your home are 'essential' spaces. Ones you go into every day, use frequently and spend time sitting, cooking, sleeping, or bathing in them. The guest bedroom, however, is contrary to that rule.

If you're anything like me, the spare bedroom (or bedrooms) tends to get less airtime. And because of that, as part of my slow renovating journey, I'm setting my sights on some bigger and bolder bedroom ideas for my guest bedroom.

While my main bedroom is a dedicated space for sleep and relaxing, and has the color scheme and design style to follow suit, in the second bedroom of my home I'm considering not being quite so reserved. And it turns out, interior designers agree. So here's my case for making your guest bedroom the most showstopping room in your home, just because you can.

wallpapered guest bedroom with striped curtains and layered print and pattern

(Image credit: DADO)

With your guest bedroom, there's a unique opportunity to have a little more fun with your interior design style than in your main bedroom. The primary bedroom, aka your bedroom, needs to function as a space to unwind and relax every day, which often calls for a soothing scheme.

The guest bedroom, on the other hand, is typically used much less, with loved ones coming to stay ad-hoc, which opens up a world of opportunity for braver and more adventurous design choices.

Renowned interior designer Kathy Kuo agrees. 'Because you won't necessarily be using your guest room day in and day out, it's a great space to experiment with decorative ideas that might be a little incongruous with the rest of your home.'

'I don't mean that you should throw everything into the room and see what sticks, but more that it's a space you can be a little more free-spirited with or test new color combinations in because it doesn't have to serve as many functions as the rooms you're in every single day.'

yellow floral twin bedroom with rattan accessories

(Image credit: Joshua Smith Inc /Photography Read McKendree)

Rather than seeing this as a space to tear up the rulebook and design a hodge-podge space far removed from the style of the rest of your home, this is more about your guest bedroom being the perfect place to use those daring design elements you’ve always loved but were hesitant to try.

However, you still want this to feel like a space that blends in with your personal style and doesn't seem jarring against the rest of your rooms. So when considering bolder patterns, more vibrant colors, and eclectic furnishings to create a more memorable and exciting retreat for visitors, look to the red thread theory for guidance.

The red thread theory focuses on taking one or a few design elements like a color, shape, or pattern and repeating them, like an intertwining thread of cotton, in every room of your home to create familiarity. For example, I love decorating with blue, but I wasn't brave enough to color-drench my entire living room. So instead I settled for a navy couch with a more neutral setting – but in my guest bedroom, I might look to coat all 5 (yes, including the ceiling) walls with ocean blue hues.

It's bolder, but it still fits the theme.

blue and white wallpapered bedroom with a leopard print window blind and layered throw pillows

(Image credit: Cathy Nordström / Fanny Radvik)

A guest room should be a fun, energetic space that not only inspires and delights your guests but you too. For my spare room, as someone not typically drawn to maximalist spaces, I'm also considering leaning into this sensibility with wall-to-wall bedroom wallpaper.

I've always been drawn to wallpaper, but I have felt a little nervous about committing to a pattern in a way that feels so permanent and bold. But because my guest room a) benefits from a lot of natural light, and b) is the smallest bedroom in our home, it feels like the perfect space to create a cocooning, enveloping feeling with print.

'Colors and patterns in our homes have the power to shape our moods and transform our perceptions,' says Cathy Nordström, designer and founder of Cathy Nordström. 'By implementing color and wallpaper, your bedroom becomes a comforting zone. Like a blanket,' she explains.

grandmillennial floral english bedroom with vanity deck and small chair

(Image credit: TROVE by Studio Duggan)

I also think it is important to consider your guests' perspective. Since they're spending a small amount of time in the room, why not give them something to remember?

'Whilst in your own bedroom you might wish to give the space a calm and refined feel when it comes to design thoughts for the spare room, I think you should amp things up – you don’t want your guests to view you as dull or uninspiring,' says interior designer Benji Lewis. 'That’s not to say that you need disco lights and neon pink, but if florals are your thing then don’t just do a single pretty patterned cushion and a vase of cut flowers, go all out and finish the walls in flowery paper with matching drapes, for example,' suggests Benji.

It's all about balancing aesthetics with practicality, to ensure guests feel at home while being surrounded by thoughtful design. 'I love to really set a scene in guest bedrooms, aside from a comfortable bed made up with fresh sheets; don't forget the finishing touches like a bottle of water on a tray with a glass, candles, a cashmere throw, and a couple of plump throw pillows on the bed,' he adds.

Every element must be chosen to ensure the room is still an inviting space for anyone who enters. Here are a few things you can try.

3 Ways To Make A Statement In Your Guest Bedroom

1. Color drenching

blue color drenched bedroom with a built-in bed nook and pops of red

(Image credit: TROVE by Studio Duggan)

Whether you look to color-drench all your walls and woodwork in one tone or are tempted by an accent ceiling, color creates a striking impact. Especially in smaller bedrooms, which your guest bedroom tends to be.

'I like to embrace the smaller confines of a space with strong color, wallpaper, or a moodier vibe,' says Tiffany Duggan, founder of Studio Duggan. 'It’s often the juxtaposition between these saturated, smaller spaces and larger, brighter rooms which adds a certain drama and energy to a home.'

By embracing the technique of color drenching, you can create a bedroom scheme that is both bold and inviting for all visitors. Start by choosing a color that suits the mood you want to create in your guest bedroom and don’t be afraid to mix textures within the same color palette. Velvet, linen, and woven textures can all work together beautifully, adding layers of richness to the room.

2. Wallpaper and pattern

striped ceiling in a guest bedroom

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

From intricate patterns to vibrant colors, wallpaper can transform a plain room into a stunning and memorable space. ‘Guest bedrooms are a wonderful choice for embracing a wallpaper you love and building your scheme around it,' suggests Ruth Mottershead, creative director at Little Greene.

Whether you prefer a modern geometric design, a lush floral motif, or a dramatic mural, the key is to select a pattern that resonates with you and complements the overall aesthetic of your home.

'Wallpaper is naturally at home on all four walls in bedrooms where it provides a cocooning feel that feels cosy and familiar. But, if using wallpaper on all four walls feels a little overwhelming, or you would like to incorporate a particularly bold design, consider an accent wall or ceiling. This is the perfect place to be adventurous with color and pattern, as once guests are in bed, the view of your room will still feel calm and relaxing. Pick a highlight color from within the print and introduce the color to woodwork or painted furniture for a considered and coordinated look,' she adds.

Using a mix of textiles like curtains, rugs, bedding, throw pillows, and upholstery is one of the easiest ways to introduce patterns and textures into the space, too. These elements can come together to leave a lasting impression on your guests.

3. Dark and moody

dark wallpapered bedroom with light blue bedding and rattan bed

(Image credit: Little Greene)

While light and airy designs often dominate bedroom decor, a darker and moodier palette can add a sense of drama and intimacy. Dark hues can make a room feel incredibly cozy and enveloping.

Don't be afraid of dark colors. They can create a beautiful, cocoon-like environment that's perfect for a guest bedroom. The key is to balance the darkness with the right lighting and accents. 'I’m a massive fan of dark colors, and there’s no room better for them than the guest bedroom,' adds Benji Lewis. 'Just always ensure though that you have plenty of ambient light in place so that guests feel safe and cozy when they tuck themselves in.'

Use a mix of dimmable light sources like table lamps and wall sconces to add warmth and prevent the room from feeling too heavy. Choose furniture and decor that stand out against the dark backdrop, and bold art, mirrors, and unique accessories will add character and make the room feel thoughtfully curated.

Ultimately, designing a guest bedroom is a great opportunity for me to get more creative. It's a chance to step outside my comfort zone (hello, off-white!) and embrace design elements like bolder colors, patterns, and textures that might have felt too much for the main bedroom or living spaces.

By making thoughtful design choices and incorporating this expert advice, you too can look to create a staycation space that is both inviting and unique. After all, it’s about creating a space that guests will remember long after their stay.

Charlotte Olby
Style & Trends Editor

Charlotte is style and trends editor at Homes and Gardens, and has been with the team since Christmas 2023. Following a 5 year career in Fashion, she has worked at many women's glossy magazines including Grazia, Stylist, and Hello and most recently worked as Interiors Editor for British heritage department store Liberty. Her role at H&G fuses her love of style with her passion for interior design, and she is currently undergoing her second home renovation in Surrey - you can follow her journey over on @olbyhome