Designing an Inviting Airbnb Guest Room

Recently, I designed a small guest bedroom in Brooklyn to be rented out on Airbnb. Instead of thinking of this as a purely residential decorating project, I approached it with hospitality design in mind. If you're not familiar with the term, hospitality design involves designing larger commercial spaces, such as hotels, restaurants, and bars. Since this was a new frontier for me, I wanted to share what I learned throughout the design process. It was a lot of fun, and many of the lessons can be used in residential and commercial spaces alike.

GUEST BEDROOM - BEFORE

Below are photos of the guest bedroom before the owner closed on the apartment. One thing I added to my client's punch list was to change the closet door from a swing-open to a sliding door. Since the closet would not be used very often - and the room was very small to begin with -  I thought the space-saving technique of using sliding doors made a lot of sense. Other than the closet and swapping out the very ordinary flushmount light, no other structural changes were made to the room.

 BEFORE PHOTOS

BEFORE PHOTOS

GATHERING INSPIRATION

I looked to boutique hotels for inspiration on how layout the furniture, and create a sense of fun and adventure for guests. Some of my favorite hotel chains for gathering inspiration are Surface HotelsAce Hotels, and Firmdale Hotels because they all have a very recognizable design aesthetic. The photos (below) from these hotels served as my launching point for designing the Airbnb guest room.

 BOUTIQUE HOTEL ROOM INSPIRATION

BOUTIQUE HOTEL ROOM INSPIRATION

Another major source of inspiration during this project was a photo of a Japanese tea house (Left) that I found on Instagram. I loved the idea of using this checkerboard pattern as a decorative paint finish behind the bed. I wanted to create a young, urban atmosphere, so I opted to do a painted focal wall instead of a traditional headboard. The two examples below (Right) demonstrate this concept.

 DECORATIVE PAINT INSPIRATION

DECORATIVE PAINT INSPIRATION

SPACE PLANNING

The next step was to create a furniture plan that would fit a full sized bed, nightstand, desk, and a small reading chair. I placed the desk and chair closest to the windows since that would be the most desirable place to sit during the day. I also took advantage of the small nook between the door and the closet to add a floating shelf that would serve as an entry table. The renderings beneath the floor plan show how I designed the checkerboard wall pattern to align perfectly with the layout of the bed and desk - no happy accident there! 

 FLOOR PLAN AND RENDERINGS

FLOOR PLAN AND RENDERINGS

Once the design was finalized, the first step was to create the focal wall using a decorative paint finish. I worked with a local decorative painter as this is not the sort of project you can DIY. Together we created several samples using different colors and drag techniques over the existing paint color, Benjamin Moore's Light Pewter. We decided on Benjamin Moore's Smokey Green for the decorative finish, which remains one of my favorite blueish green paint colors for modern spaces! Here you can see an image of the prep work using Frogtape masking tape.

 FOCAL WALL PAINT PREP

FOCAL WALL PAINT PREP

INSTALLING FURNISHINGS

Next on my list was installing the lighting and other furnishings in the room. I swapped out the very traditional flushmount light with an opal globe pendant. This type of hanging pendant light is used often in commercial spaces, and actually makes the room appear taller. For ambient light, I installed plug-in wall sconces above the bed. This not only saves space, as opposed to bedside lamps, but can be used as reading lights at night. These Mid Century inspired, black scones also add a fun, retro touch to the room.

 

For the desk area I mixed high and low with a very simple desk from Ikea and a chrome cantilever chair in the style of Marcel Breuer's iconic Cesca chair. I adore cantilever chairs because their open base reads as very light, which is great for small spaces. Not to mention they are super chic!

 DESK AS BEDSIDE TABLE

DESK AS BEDSIDE TABLE

Another space-saving trick I borrowed from hospitality design was placing a large mirror over the desk. This not only reflects light from the nearby window, helping to make the room appear larger and brighter, but also allows for the desk to be used as a vanity. 

 MIRROR ABOVE DESK EXAMPLE

MIRROR ABOVE DESK EXAMPLE

Adding an upholstered reading chair in the corner of the room creates a cozy, suite-like feel. I made sure to find a very small scale chair to fit with the scale of the room. This navy upholstered chair from Pottery Barn fit the bill perfectly and was surprisingly comfortable. 

 UPHOLSTERED CHAIR - POTTERY BARN, $299

UPHOLSTERED CHAIR - POTTERY BARN, $299

For the make-shift entry, I created a mini gallery wall above the floating shelf I had installed. I've held on to this inspiration image for several years now and was very excited to finally have the opportunity to design something similar! What I love about this example is that the floating shelf reads as very modern, while the art used in the gallery wall is more contemporary and eclectic. This was very consistent with my overall theme for the space.

 GALLERY WALL OVER FLOATING SHELF

GALLERY WALL OVER FLOATING SHELF

GUEST ROOM - AFTER

I had the most fun selecting the finishing touches for the room - art and accessories. I was inspired by moon art and decided to curate a space-age themed gallery wall above the floating shelf. The colorful prints in between the windows are actually concert posters that were purchased by the owner in San Francisco. Lastly, I added a black shaker peg rail so guests could hang their coats, bags, and towels during their stay. 

And voila, we have ourselves a sun-drenched Airbnb guest room!

 SUN DRENCHED AIRBNB GUEST ROOM

SUN DRENCHED AIRBNB GUEST ROOM

See more photos of the finished room in my portfolio

Cheers to fun travels ahead!

- Paula

Paula Guzman