How to Transform Your Small Spare Bedroom Into an Inviting Reprieve

Use these pro tips to ensure this tiny space reaches max potential.

The smallest room in the house is often relegated to "spare bedroom" status. Like a junk drawer in need of organizing, it tends to be a sort of catch-all, a hodge-podge of a cramped space that remains relatively unused unless a visitor stays over.

Even if you intend to make your tiny spare bedroom a designated guest room, there are numerous ways to ensure it fully serves you and your home year-round. Our experts offer some pro tips to transform this space into an inviting reprieve—a room that can be both multifunctional and tidy.

01 of 05

Give It a Theme

Alexandra Gater Bedroom Makeover, light neutral color bedding with wooden bed frame
Photography by Carla Antonio

One of the biggest mistakes you can make for this room is turning it into a furniture graveyard—a destination for old furniture you've outgrown or hand-me-downs you couldn't say no to. Instead, donate unwanted items or sell them online.

"A small space actually requires more editing, strategic placement, and planning. Nothing is more 'low energy' than filling a room with furniture you don't love, so come up with a clever plan," says Christina Simon, senior designer for the Ashby Collective in Austin, Texas. "The best way to approach this is to give the room a theme or story, which inherently helps make it more cohesive."

For example, if you want to use this room for reading, playing music, making art, or even working, fill the space with items that reference or pertain to that theme. Hang a guitar on the wall, or make a handsome bookshelf and comfy chair the focal point. Bring in task and ambient lighting and add art or furniture that inspires you and leans into the theme.

02 of 05

Make the Bed Secondary

Dark blue home office with shelves and a burl wood desk
Dustin Peck

As Simon mentions, utilizing every inch of a small room is vital to making the most of your space. Making a bed the focal point of a spare bedroom may be the default design move, but consider your options before ordering that mattress.

"I recommend opting for a bed that can fold up, such as a sleeper sofa, [a day bed], or a murphy bed," says Alessandra Wood, vice president of style for Modsy. "This allows your guest room to have a daily personality. You don't have guests every night, so it doesn't make sense for the primary features of the space to cater to guests. Optimize your room for daily use with a bed that can be stored away."

03 of 05

Get Creative With Your Storage

Guest Bedroom With Green Bedding
Haris Kenjar

Clever storage solutions are game changers when it comes to designing a beautiful guest bedroom. Simon says to "think vertical" and to conceal when you can. A mounted bookshelf gets items off the floor and onto the wall, and a bedside, side, or coffee table with storage will make more use of the space. Another option is to incorporate furniture with a hidden storage compartment, such as a desk, chair, or bench.

"These items provide ample storage so that even with the limited space, the room will not appear cramped or cluttered," says Kate Rumson, interior designer, and Trane Residential partner. "The addition of chairs or benches for seating and storage, along with other crucial features and design touches, is really what makes the room comfortable for you and your guests."

04 of 05

Incorporate a Large Mirror

Bedroom with neutral bedding, white curtains, and shiplap ceiling
Orlando Soria

Adding a large mirror to a small room is one of the oldest interior design tricks in the book, but it's worth repeating. A mirror makes a room feel way bigger than its true square footage, and it's vital in a spare bedroom from a utilitarian perspective.

"I like either embedding a mirror in the wall as a large inset panel framed in molding or incorporating a large leaning mirror," says Lisa Queen, founder and principal designer of Los Angeles' Lisa Queen Design. "If you can find a great old piece with lots of character, all the better!"

05 of 05

Choose Pieces That Serve Multiple Needs

One Room Challenge, Pink Bedroom
Fariha Nasir

In the same way that it pays to get creative with your storage solutions, your tiny spare bedroom will benefit from multi-functional furniture. Wood says to "choose an upholstered ottoman that can double as a coffee table when a tray is placed on top of it" or to position your desk, so it doubles as a nightstand. You could also include a standard bedroom dresser and use that as home office storage. These clever furniture placements allow the room to serve you even when you don't have a guest staying over.

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