>When we entered the Inn business in 1999, the general consensus was that larger, pricier rooms booked first and the smaller rooms booked last. With the recession and these challenging economic times, that rule has been turned on its head. Many of you are telling us that your smaller, less expensive rooms are now booking FIRST.

In our last post, we diagrammed how we photographed and styled a small guest room to best effect. We thought we’d elaborate on the small room topic in this post with some decorating tips and best practices to make the most out of a small room.

Before we get to the tips, though, just one bit of advice: invest some money in your smaller rooms. Just because they are small, don’t make them DOUBLY unappealing with drab, uninspired decor and then clutter them up with the leftover, “nobody-wants-it-stuff” from the inn’s basement or attic…Small rooms can be challenging, but making them appealing and precious can really pay off.

1) Think Cruise Ship
Ever taken a cruise? If you notice how they approach laying out a small cabin you can learn a lot. Bedside tables double as dressers, shelves are open, and strategic lighting hidden away in alcoves and nooks. Those gargantuan dressers we encounter in many guest rooms are taking up valuable floor space and are just “storage overkill”. These guests are not living at your inn!

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One of the eco-friendly rooms in the earth-ensconced honeycomb rooms at Inn at Honey Run in Ohio.
Note the open shelves, lack of dressers and bedside tables.

2) Focus on the Bed
In a smaller room, the bed becomes more of a focus and is of utmost importance. Upholstered headboards (NO footboards) are one of our very favorite solutions for smaller guest rooms. They are generally more affordable than a traditional headboard/footboard, more comfortable and feel luxurious. Best of all, silhouettes and fabrics can be customized to your inn’s unique style. Splurge on quality bedding–not the “cast-offs” from your other more expensive rooms…Extra sleeping pillows and an enticing bed design (think sculpture) can make a small room feel luxurious.

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The white-on-white color scheme makes this room at The Inn at Sunrise Point look larger.
It’s even carried through to the upholstered headboard. 

3) Go light
As you see in the photo above, lighter colors can “open up” a small room. You can still use bold splashes of color to add character and interest. A room with a slanted ceiling (like the one above) also really benefits from a lack of contrast between the wall and ceiling. You don’t want to “feature” low ceilings. Dark carpet and a light color scheme on the ceiling and walls will really make the room feel tiny. Avoid extreme contrast between the floor, walls and ceiling.

4) Nooks…
Nothing says “country inn” more than an inviting window seat or reading nook.  They can fit into a place where furniture might not, and offer an opportunity to go for a custom feel. They really add color, pattern and interest to a “boxy” room. You can also use the space under the window seat for guests’ suitcases or other storage.

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Window Seat at Inn at Whitewing Farm in Pennsylvania’s Brandywine valley

5) Add a sense of DRAMA
Smaller rooms can be dull. Try using oversize artwork, dramatic headboard silhouettes, unique lighting or unusual ceiling treatments. Adding elements such as these takes the focus away from size and makes the space more appealing.  

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This lamp at The Hotel’ d’Paris in Sete, France added drama and interest. 
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Dramatic headboard at Mt Merino Manor in Hudson NY  livens up a smaller room
In Conclusion…Pulling It All Together
Guests need places to put their personal belongings. At Ledges Hotel in Hawley, PA, their smallest room (below) has plenty of surface space with the built-in side tables, the windowsill and the small desk (not pictured) for guests to use. The bold artwork, built-in furniture and lighting, simple window treatments and low-contrast color scheme all contribute to a perfectly-executed small guest room.
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This room at Ledges in Hawley PA is pretty small….but it works!

1 Comment

  1. Chloe Tuttle says:

    >Great ideas, you all. Thanks! Chloe from Big Mill Bed & Breakfast in NC