organized guest bedroom has been decluttered for holiday guests with public storage moving boxes

How to Declutter Your Spare Room for Holiday Guests

If you have a spare room in your house, you may have good intentions for converting it into a beautiful 5-star-worthy guest room for visitors.

However, it's more likely this extra space has long been handy for miscellaneous storage or has doubled as a home office or craft room that can easily become overwhelmed with clutter. We can help with guest room ideas.

Because then comes the phone call. Guests are coming to town for vacation or the holidays and you need to get that space into shape, with no more excuses and no more shutting the door to hide the junk and other rarely-used items.

Professional organizer Julie Stobbe of Mind Over Clutter generously shares her tactics here for converting a cluttered spare room into a relaxing guest room—stat!

What to Remove First When Decluttering

The most important thing to keep in mind, Julie says, is to give your visitors space to put their things and to make sure the room is clean and the bed is made. “This sends the message you are glad they have come.”

For many, however, just getting started on any decluttering project can be intimidating, especially if stuff has been piling up for months, or even years.

Julie suggests keeping it simple to start. First, grab some boxes and designating them for recycling, throwing away and donating.

Then set up bins for what you’re keeping and categorize them - books, electronics, linens, etc.

“After everything is sorted, decide what is going to stay in the room and what should be stored in other places,” she says.

For items that are going to be donated, she suggests taking them straight to the car for removal or calling a charity to pick them up right away.

“Don’t leave it in the house; it may end up just sitting there.” If you have items you would like to sell on websites such as eBay or Craig’s List, this may take some extra time, and that thought may lead to procrastination.

Julie advises, “schedule a day to sit down and do it. If it’s not scheduled, it won’t get done.”

Mail and other piles of miscellaneous paper just waiting to be filed and stored away—some day!—are a sore spot for many. 

The stacks often get shuffled into the spare, aka “junk”, room to get them out of site.

Once you tackle these, Julie suggests keeping mail in check before it piles up again by going through it immediately.

“Go online and pay bills, recycle/shred the envelopes and ads, and do filing consistently, either as it comes in or by scheduling a regular time to do it. If you let it go and the pile gets big, you’ll start to avoid it,” she says.

In addition, little “notes to self” intended to promote efficiency can actually create their own mess. “People end up with notes all over the house!” Julie says from past experience working with clients. “Try using one pad of paper or use an app to put them in your smart phone. Just try to keep them all together. Then you can schedule a time to get to what’s in all those notes.”

Then there are those miscellaneous, little items that don’t have a specific place to be stored - knickknacks, souvenirs, etc. Julie suggests creating a memorabilia box to get them out of the way.

“This will help give it a home,” she says. This tactic is especially helpful for children’s things. “They can put anything in it they want to keep.” Then the box should be stored in their room.

The guest room closet needs to be organized to leave enough space for some of your items and for your guests to hang things. Julie suggest starting by emptying the closet.

“Most likely there are items in there that should be stored closer to where they will used,” she said. “Keep only items in there that need to be in that area of the house, leaving room for your guest’s clothes.”

How to Add Storage to Spare Room for Holiday Guests

Once the room is cleared out, it’s time to make it guest-ready. But how to add guest items without adding clutter?

Julie suggests a corner cabinet or an over-the-door hanger to neatly hold items for guests such as towels and personal care items.

If you still need more space in the room for storage, there are ways to hide it so it doesn’t interfere with your guest’s comfort.

“Hidden storage space can be found under the bed, by purchasing a dresser that can double as something your guest could put suitcase on top of, and in pretty filing cabinets that could be used as nightstands.

Don’t forget to use vertical space. There are lots of cupboards and bookcases that look lovely,” says Julie.

You may not be able to get around the spare room having to double as the home office or craft room, with items that will need to be accessed while guests are there.

For that, Julie says, make it easily portable.

“Have a laptop computer instead of a desktop, put files on a cart, and have a caddy to contain office supplies so they can be moved out of the room when you need to get your work done.”

And be sure to “declutter" your schedule so you have plenty of time to enjoy your guests while they’re in town!

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