Before & After: Guest Retreat

Today I’m writing about another exciting Before & After project- our guest room! The family that lived here before us had 4 kids, so 2/3 bedrooms were for the little ones. We don’t have any little ones, so we use them as guest rooms! Hospitality is very important to me and to Ben. We have been immeasurably blessed with this home, and we want to use it to bless others. We don’t need all of this space for just the two of us, so we strive to make it as home-y and inviting as possible for our guests. I knew I wanted this specific room to be a peaceful retreat for anyone that may enter. I focused on neutral wall colors and bedding, with a few pops of color to keep things cozy.

Before I get carried away explaining my design vision, here are a few “before” shots. We used a bed frame from Ben’s parents (thanks!) and bought the blue end table from IKEA.

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For a few months, this room was the “leftover” room. Leftover bedding, leftover furniture, leftover music equipment and laundry baskets and rubbermaid tubs from our dorms. I hated going in there because it felt cluttered and hectic. I desperately wanted to paint and clean things up, but it took a while to get there. The paint and ceiling fan would be awesome in a kid’s room, but just weren’t my style or vision for a guest retreat. My childhood bedroom was turquoise, so years and years of this color made me very ready for a change. I considered spray painting the multicolored ceiling fan, but instead found a cheap pendant alternative at Target! (I also had that exact ceiling fan in my room at my grandma’s house!)

With neutral paint colors and a new light fixture in mind, I prepared this digital mockup of what the room would look like afterwards. With the power of Photoshop, I also included this exact vintage map of Germany that we found in a Louisville antique store!

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*In my dreams, we would take up the carpet to expose the wood floors underneath, but I heard that the carpet was put in just a few years ago to save on the heating bill. I decided that being good stewards of our home was more important than my design vision, so the carpet is a permanent fixture (that I don’t even mind anymore!)*

I went back and forth about the decision to paint a matte black accent wall. It seemed a little bold and risky, but I am so glad we went for it! Now that I’ve talked about the vision and the plan, here are some “after” photos!

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We painted three walls white and one accent wall matte black. Besides the paint and the new light fixture, the only new additions were some art and Target curtains. The biggest change in this room was not what I added, but what I took away. You don’t need a lot of “things” to create a relaxing, serene space. The only things you truly need are essentials and relentless determination to get rid of everything else! I got rid of the things in this room that aren’t essential to a guest room (we moved the piano the smaller guest room, and now use this room as the “main” guest space).

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While you only really need the essentials (a bed with linens and some kind of lighting), these are a few of my favorite things to keep in the guest room:

  • Two lamps (one on the nightstand and one on the other side of the room) for soft, cozy lighting in the evening.
  • A mirror (this one used to have lettering on it from our wedding! Instead of getting rid of it, I scraped the paint off with a razor and put it in here! This frame was $5 in a Joplin thrift store and I spray painted it gold.)
  • A basket with extra blankets.
  • A waste basket.
  • A soothing candle with matches.
  • Homemade lavender linen spray.
  • A cute little frame with wifi network information.
  • A few chocolates for a sweet treat. 🙂
  • A “just in case” basket with travel-size toiletries.

Again, these are by no means essentials, but I wanted to go the extra mile to make this space inviting and guest-centered.

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This rug was in my room at my parent’s house. Thanks, Mom, for letting me adopt it! 🙂 ❤

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Ben picked the wifi network and password. He chose “pneumatology” for the network name, which is the word for “study of the Holy Spirit”. He said that wifi is everywhere even though you can’t see it (like the Holy Spirit). He also loves telling guests what the password is when they ask. He’s a keeper 🙂

The blue bottle is full of lavender linen spray. I used equal parts water and witch hazel, with a few drops of pure lavender essential oil. It makes the whole room feel so fresh and relaxing! I spritz it on the bedding before guests arrive (and sometimes just because!).

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This watercolor paper is actually a recycled Anthropologie bag! I love to repurpose things- especially paper products 🙂

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I bought the curtains on sale a few months ago from Target’s website. They needed to be hemmed, but now work great in this room! We don’t have blinds, so curtains were a necessity. They also give the room a cozy warmth, and add such pretty light when the sun shines through their white and yellow fabric.

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This is my “just in case” basket full of travel-size toiletries. I don’t know if our guests have ever used these, but they are there “just in case!”.

I included:

  • Shampoo & Conditioner
  • Body Wash
  • Hand lotion
  • Lavender essential oil
  • Tissues
  • Nail Clippers
  • Floss
  • Hair Ties & Bobby Pins
  • Tiny bottle of perfume

I didn’t buy any of these specifically for the guest room, and some are actually the travel items I use on trips. I’ve got to store them somewhere, though! Might as well store them where they are available to guests. It’s the thought that counts, right?! 🙂 #keepinitreal

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Another repurposed wedding item. This chalkboard was at the communion table for our ceremony with our favorite verse written on it. “We love because He first loved us” 1st John 4:12. We want that verse to be at the center of every endeavor. If we seek to love our guests, it is because God loved us first. If we seek to invite people into our home, it is because God has invited us into His first. More than just a guest room, I hope that this room can be a peaceful retreat where guests can rest, recharge, and feel so loved. The way we interact with guests will make the difference between a peaceful stay and a hectic one, so an intentionally designed room is only part of the equation. There are things far more important than paint colors and bedding and linen sprays.

“The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell.
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell.

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.”

When we receive guests in our home, we want to love them with the deep love of God that is ours in Christ Jesus. I want that to be the lasting memory of our guest retreat. Not the bedding or the colors or the linen spray, however peaceful it all may try to be. None of these things can compare to the true soul-deep peace that comes from the Holy Spirit and from being loved by God. He is the source of lasting peace, rest, joy, and refreshment. It is my prayer that our guests may know God and His peace while they are here and as they go out from here.


That’s all for this Before+After! I’ll be sharing a post soon about my 5 tips for creating a cozy guest retreat. 

Do you have any special ways to make guests feel at home? I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Thanks for reading.

-With love

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9 thoughts on “Before & After: Guest Retreat

  1. So thoughtful and comfortable! Any guest should feel so welcomed and loved. Love your closing paragraph. It’s so true and we should be a reflection of God’s love to all.

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  2. This space turned out so well. The light color you used makes the room feel light and airy. I love all of the small home decor accents you added, especially those that are re-purposed. It makes your home unique.

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    1. Thank you so much, Charlotte! The room is already so full of light, which I love! The white walls just helped even more. Re-purposing is such a great way to save money and also add a one-of-a-kind touch to your home!

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  3. I was blessed to actually get to stay a couple of nights in this room. It really is so cute and comfortable. I’ve known Avery for a while now, and she really does have a gift for arranging and putting ordinary things together and turning them into something extrodinary. She sees beauty and design in things I would walk right past or throw away.

    She’s very talented, but her most important gift is the way she uses her abilities to show the love of Jesus to those around her. By sharing her home, her ideas, and her eye for design, she’s making new friends and relationships in a new community. She’s helping families around her create beautiful living spaces on the tiniest of budgets. She’s also showing, by example, what true hospitality looks like.

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    1. Hi! They are just white and black from walmart. I don’t know what the exact colors were. They are both matte finishes! I’m sorry I don’t have more information! We just picked the black and white swatches from walmart’s limited color swatches.

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