Question from reader Becka:
Q. Hi Jordan,
I enjoy many of your home tips on your blog. I’m also somewhat of a beginning homemaker and cook. I was wondering if you have suggestions about how to make my dresser drawers and their contents smell nice. I’ve tried placing soap bars and even dryer sheets in drawers, but there’s no noticeable scent. I’d like to do something that doesn’t involve chemicals. I’ve thought of sachets, but at least with lavender, the scent doesn’t last long at all.
Context: I’m cleaning and sprucing up our guest room for a friend and her husband visiting us from Japan (for the first time). My fiance and I are on a v. tight budget because I’m currently unemployed. Any creative or budget-conscious ideas for bringing life and warmth to a guest bedroom and bathroom (both rooms are pretty small), are welcome.
Thanks so much!
A. First, let’s talk lovely-smelling drawers. For a chemical-free, low-cost option, try making your own drawer liners and scenting them with homemade linen water. If you’re looking for a stronger scent, just add a few more drops of essential oil to your linen water, and re-spritz the drawer liners whenever you notice the scent starting to fade.
Now, your guest room. When it comes to hosting guests, you really don’t have to spend a ton: the most important thing is to offer little touches that instantly make them feel at home (tissues, bottled water and magazines by the bed, some fresh flowers, maybe a pretty soap set out just for them). Also, if a guest is staying for more than a couple of nights, I always make sure to give them their own set of keys, so that they can feel free to come and go as they please.
In terms of guest bedroom/bathroom decor, I’d go with a bright, warm color on one wall (try a sunny yellow or mint green), and then paler versions of the same color on the remaining three walls. Try adding lots of mirrors to make the rooms seem larger (you can find super-cheap mirrors in pretty much any thrift store, and then just stain or repaint the frames). Shabby chic is an easy decor theme if you’re looking to save money, because you can easily incorporate thrift-store finds: try adding cool drawer-pulls to vintage nightstands and piling quilts or merino throws on the bed for a relaxed, cozy look (layering blankets on the bed also makes it easy for your guests to adjust their temperature as needed).
Some more decor-on-a-budget ideas:
- If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you can save a ton of money on a duvet cover by making one yourself. Just buy a couple of inexpensive, cool-looking sheets and sew them together on three sides, adding a row of buttons along the fourth (if you’re using lower-thread-count fabric on the duvet, just be sure to layer a higher-quality sheet underneath so your guests are comfortable).
- If you have fabric scraps laying around after you make your duvet cover, try stretching them over wooden craft-store frames to create super-cheap artwork (like THIS), or fashion small matching curtains for the bathroom window.
- Add punch to inexpensive throw pillows by sewing on buttons or pieces of contrasting fabric, or by attaching a couple of neat-looking vintage pins (just be sure to warn your guests not to cuddle up with anything that might end up sticking them!).
- Reed diffusers can be pretty expensive, but you can easily make your own (I’d suggest using clean, subtle scents like cucumber; not everyone likes, for example, florals or spicy scents).
What not to scrimp on: any fabric (pillowcases, fitted sheets, and flat sheets) that comes in direct contact with your guests’ skin, mattresses, and pillows.
What it comes down to, though, is that your guests are coming to see you, not to check out your guest room amenities. The focus should be on comfort, not fuss.
Image via ApartmentTherapy.