For many of us, the barrage of holiday houseguests has already kicked off with Thanksgiving company, and (much like the winter weather) it doesn’t show signs of stopping. If you’re expected to play a very merry host this season, start by freshening up the spot your mother-in-law will care about most: the guest room. Homepolish interior designer Jennifer Wallenstein has done her fair share of bedroom remodels and has all the tips you need to get yours looking like a winter wonderland for weary travelers (even if it’s usually an office-slash-home-gym-slash-storage-space).

1. Keep it cozy… but calm. One tricky thing about guest rooms is that your guests might not have the same sense of style as you. So toning it down is usually a smart move. “Keep it neutral,” advises Wallenstein. If you’re set on bringing the Christmas spirit to your guest room, do so in small ways and resist the urge to over-decorate. “Perhaps a fuzzy winter throw blanket, or a seasonal flower arrangement just to give a nod to the season,” she suggests.

2. It’s the little things that count. The quickest way to make your guests feel at home? Zoom in on the details. “Think about what makes a hotel stay special, which can be inexpensive ways to go the extra mile for your guests,” says Wallenstein. “A nice bottle of water, some sweets on the nightstand, a room free of clutter, and fresh towels go a long way. Throw in a candle and some flowers and your guest will feel well taken care of.” This ethos extends to the furniture too. “I try to design the space with the same level of thoughtfulness as my own bedroom,” she says. “The things that make me comfortable, such as a a place to sit and read other than in bed, a full-length mirror for getting ready in the morning, are the same things that will make a guest feel at home.”

3. Bedding is your best budget buy. Want to update your guest room without dipping into your holiday shopping funds? Get more bang for your buck by focusing on the room’s focal point: the bed. “New furniture and rugs can be a splurge, but there is great bedding out there that won’t break the bank,” says Wallenstein. “A well-made bed goes a long way.”

4. Nix the clutter. Many of us use our guest rooms as a bit of a dumping ground for odds and ends when we don’t have visitors. And while it may feel like just a box here and there to us, it’s really not the most welcoming. “Nothing is going to make a guest feel like they got put in the overflow room like, well, being amongst all your junk,” advises Wallenstein. Clear a small amount of space in the closet or dresser, but don’t feel the need to go overboard if they only have a few days worth of clothing. If you have random stuff stacked around the room, find a temporary home for it. “I often stack those boxes and miscellaneous items in my own bedroom when I’m in a pinch and can’t find closet or garage space,” she says. Wallenstein’s best space-saving tip: “Storage beds are a great way to hide any number of things, from clutter to seasonal clothing.”

5. Think outside the guest room. Sure, it’s important, but mentally confining your guests to one section of your home isn’t really indicative of how their visit will be. Instead, think about how they’ll interact with your entire house — especially the kitchen. “I usually send an email a few days ahead of time asking about food and drink preferences so that the kitchen is stocked with what they like,” says Wallenstein. “Even little things, like having the kind of milk they like for their coffee, are very thoughtful details.” Go a step further and make sure that these must-have items, like coffee or snacks, are corralled together and easy to spot so your guests can munch or sip without feeling like a nuisance.

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(Image via Amy Bartlam for Homepolish)