The Headboard Has It
In a guest room, just as in a bedroom, the bed is the piece of furniture that is naturally poised to create the biggest impact, and set the tone for the entire room. However, purchasing a bed can cost a pretty penny, so a smart way to save a little money is to use only a headboard, instead of buying an entire bed. When paired with a mattress and boxspring on a standard frame (or base), a headboard can make just as much of an impression, regardless of style. Just be sure, if your headboard doesn't have legs, to hang it securely on the wall, with a French cleat or something similar. (That's not as fancy as it sounds.) Using only a headboard can work with any aesthetic, and there are so many options for sourcing: furniture retailers often sell headboards separately, old screens or doors can be turned sideways for a DIY approach, or a custom piece can be ordered from an upholsterer, which is what I did at the Periwinkle Inn. Use the money you save on the bed to buy yourself some champagne to toast your super smart spending.
Don't Forget Your Ceiling
The ceiling is, after all, the fifth wall in your room. Why is it so often forgotten? It shouldn't be! It's such a big element in every room, and addressing it will immediately take your space from normal to custom, complete, and design-savvy. It's as simple as a coat of paint, either solid in a similar color as your walls, or using a stencil or painter's tape to create a pattern, like the stripes in The Periwinkle guest room. Or, if you're even more industrious - and I love it - consider adding applied molding with a nail gun, 12" in from the outside edge of your ceiling, or hang wall paper only on the ceiling. (This is a smart way to include a more expensive wallpaper in your space without having to buy it for all four vertical walls. You only have to buy enough for one.) Regardless of the material or design, any element added to your ceiling will create interest and add architectural value to your room. So find a step stool and get up there!
Custom Cabinetry - Or Not?
Custom millwork, or built-in, wood-frame cabinetry can be very costly. So if you have existing standard built-ins that are in good shape, but you want an upgrade, talk to a carpenter about adding on to the existing pieces, instead of replacing them. This can create a look that is custom, without the custom price tag. In The Periwinkle kitchenette, there was a big gap between the top of the cabinets and the ceiling because the height of those standard cabinets wasn't enough to fill the space and still be at a level guests could reach. However, in order to stay on budget, I knew I couldn't replace them. Instead, I used the cabinets that were there, and simply added open shelves above them. That wood was then painted to match the color of the existing cabinets, so it all appeared to be part of one installation. And a lot more expensive than it actually was.