It's that time of year! Time for folks to travel short and long distances to spend time with family. For many this means prepping the guest room. Whether you already have one, are setting one up for the first time, or don't actually have a room and are using an alternate space . . .I'm going to share a few tips to help your guests be as comfortable as possible.
This is a somewhat theoretical post as I don't actually have a guest room in my home. The room that would serve this purpose is home to Building 313 and while I am a bit busting at the seams and eagerly await the day we move into a commercial space that day is not today! So while I don't often stay in any one else's guest room, I have in my life stayed in a few here and there. This post is written from my viewpoint of setting up my imaginary/future guest room, but since this is a topic that may be helpful to others . . .here we are!
Guest rooms can take many shapes and forms. It might be an actual bedroom that is simply not used on a regular basis. Or it might be a shared space, like a craft room or office that also serves guests or simply a sleeper sofa in the living room. I'm going to be mostly talking about a situation where we have a dedicated bedroom, but many of the principles would apply to the other scenarios as well.
There are a few basic items that I have on my wishlist for my guest room. I think only one of these is a must. That would be a space for sleeping. However, additional ideas can go a long way to making guests feel comfortable during their stay. Things like having a nightstand, lamp, and a place for luggage are also very important.
Sleeping Space. This will ideally be a bed, but depending on your situation this might be a futon or sleeper sofa. A guest has to have a place to slumber. If you're fortunate enough to have an actual dedicated room, you probably have a bed. Let's talk size. The size of your room or your budget might dictate the size of bed allowable, but you also want to think about how many people will typically be staying with you. If you just need a sleeping spot for one person and don't have much space a twin sized bed might fit the bill. However, it's worth mentioning that in past decades, full (double) sized beds were considered an appropriate size for two people. It's 2018, and a full sized bed is now generally considered appropriate for one person. If you're buying a new bed for your guest room, have the space, and can afford it I strongly recommend going with at least a queen sized bed. Yeah, king would be lovely and while I'm sure they're out there I've never actually known anyone to have a king sized bed in a guest room. Just know that if you have two adults staying in this room for more than one night, they're very likely going to find a full sized bed to be uncomfortable, especially if they are tall. A queen sized bed has not only a little more width, it also has more length. Most people are going to be more comfortable with that extra space. So if I had my choice, I would certainly go with queen.
Linens. Different strokes for different folks. But linens make a huge difference. If you can afford to provide something nice, please do. Your guests will appreciate it. Cotton is better, no microfiber. My best tip to get the best bang for your buck when it comes to sheets, is to check out places like TJ Maxx and Tuesday Morning. Also, white. And I can't believe I'm typing this, but clean. YOU might be ok with sleeping on sheets that have already been slept on, but most people are not. I'm one of those germaphobes who is completely grossed out by the thought of sleeping on someone else's dirty sheets, and yes, we can tell. If someone sleeps in your guest bed just one night, wash those sheets. I would strip the bed and wash them right after their stay, but then if it happened to be an exceptionally long time before another guest comes to stay, go ahead and wash them again before the next guest's stay. Overkill? Maybe, but if I have someone sleep in a bed at Christmas time, and no one else sleeps in it until the following Thanksgiving? I'm going to freshen up that space simply b/c in that amount of time those sheets are going to smell stale and might be a little dusty, too. A little freshening up is never a bad thing! Bonus if you use white sheets? You can bleach them. I love white sheets and white towels. This is one half of the reason I love them. You can bleach those puppies. The other thing is they go with anything and they just look clean and fresh in any space.
Pillows. You don't need forty seven pillows for guests to have to move, but please include extra pillows. Some people need extra pillows to place between their knees to avoid back pain, or need extra pillows under their head to sleep slightly upright to help with breathing issues. If you can provide two types, that's even better. One soft, one firm for each person so they have a choice. I feel if you have two sleeping pillows for each person and two pillows in shams, you don't need any throw pillows. But if you do use them, use them sparingly. Or send a message . . .like one that says, "Welcome". If you have extra pillows that need to be removed from the bed at night, PLEASE make sure there is a space to put them! A chair works well . . .otherwise, they'll be going on the floor. You've been warned.
Comforter. People spend gobs of money on expensive comforters, and countless hours choosing just the right color or pattern. I, myself, am a fan of a simple, fluffy, white comforter. Down is often much more expensive than synthetics. I figured out many years ago, that while real down is nice and warm, no matter what you do, those tiny little feathers find their way into different chambers and your lovely comforter ends up with all the fluff down in the corners and flat in the center. The synthetic stuff is not only much more cost effective, it tends to stay put much better and for longer. It's also worth mentioning that some folks are allergic to goose down. Much better to opt for something hypoallergenic from the get go and your guests will thank you. A simple white comforter is also very versatile. You can dress it up in the winter with a simple quilt on top and/or a throw at the bottom of the bed. I love to offer options in anything. If someone is too warm they can always remove a layer. If they're too cold, it's lovely if you have an extra throw or something they can add for another layer of warmth.
Really, the key thing I would say to remember with bedding in a guest room is keep it clean and simple. And make it as comfortable as you possibly can.
Nightstands. I am a nighttime reader. I also wear glasses. I also have a cell phone. Where do these things go at night? They ideally go on a nightstand. Note, this doesn't have to be a large, expensive piece of furniture. Anything with a bit of flat, open surface at about the right height will do. I've personally used plant stands as nightstands before and I've seen everything under the sun used for them. Stacked up boxes or vintage suitcases? Really whatever you can create can work. It's just nice to be able to put your phone, glasses, and if you're like me . . .your book . . .within reach at night.
Lamps. I already said this, but I am a nighttime reader. And you can't read in the dark! And yes, I pretty much drag a book with me anywhere I am spending the night. I have an extremely overactive brain and it's part of my bedtime process to shut my mind down to actually be able to sleep at night. This isn't just for readers though. It's also for safety and comfort. If someone has to walk to the light switch at the door to turn off the light at night then walk back to the bed in the dark . . .it's a good opportunity for them to run into something, stub their toe, or worse . . .possibly fall. It's also not the best situation to wake up in the middle of the night in a space not your usual and have to go find the light to be able to see anything. So much better to have a lamp on a nightstand! If you are on a tight budget, you don't have to spend a lot. There's a decent little selection of small lamps at my local Dollar General for $7 each. Also a nice selection of inexpensive lamps at Wal-Mart. Want something bigger and need more bang for your buck? Try resale shops. You might be able to get a fabulous deal. If it works well, but it's super ugly? Remember, spray paint and other DIY options can give new life to something that might at first appear to be garbage. Just note when buying older lamps, they could have electrical shorts in them. Avoid buying if you can tell, or if you're DIY savvy, simply re-wire. Lamp re-wiring kits are sold at home improvement stores and aren't all that expensive. If you can't swing two lamps, one will do. The important thing is to get some light by the bedside for comfort and safety.
Luggage Rack. This doesn't have to be a luggage rack. It could be a low dresser or anything else of appropriate size and height. The important thing is that people have a place to put their open suitcase. Something that is low enough to lift a heavy suitcase onto, but high enough to get at the contents is ideal. If you don't have a piece of furniture for this use, can't afford one, or don't want something to permanently stay in that spot, then a luggage rack could be a good solution. You can find them easily online in a variety of styles and price ranges. The bonus is that when not in use they can simple be flattened and tucked in a closet. I found this one for $30.99 on Amazon. Bonus: It's Amazon Prime, so if you're like me . . .fast, free shipping? Yes, please!
Hanging Space. This really isn't a must, but it sure is a nice bonus. I've known a lot of folks over the years who will use the closet in their guest room to store off season clothing. Most newer homes have much larger closets, so if you live in a new home this probably isn't an issue. However, if you're storing anything in that closet at all, it's really great if you can leave a bit of hanging space open and available to your guests. Depending on who it is, how many guests, and how long they're staying might determine how much space they need if any. I will often travel with no hanging items at all, but if it's for a more formal occasion or it's winter, I will. If you can allow a foot or two of hanging space for your guests it will give them a place to hang their items that would otherwise have nowhere to go. If they're staying on a sleeper sofa in the living room or elsewhere, you could always give them a bit of space in a nearby coat closet if that's possible.
Drawers. This is at the bottom of this list for a reason. People don't generally need drawer space unless they're staying for more than a few days. However, if they're staying for more than several days it might be nice for them to actually unpack a bit. It's always nicer to live out of drawers instead of a suitcase. My best and favorite option for this is to do a low dresser with enough room to put an open suitcase on top. This gives your guest the choice to have easy access to their suitcase if they're just staying a night or two OR to be able to use those drawers and tuck the suitcase away in a closet if they're staying for a week or two.
Something like this would be wonderful for putting a suitcase on top if you only need minimal drawer space. This style is also very versatile and with goes with most spaces.
Ok, so you've taken care of all those basic and not so basic items, but really just want to take it a step further. These are things I would expect to find in a high end B&B. Those extra little touches that just really make you feel special and put a smile on your face.
Goody Basket. This is one of the things I look forward to providing the most in my guest room! Think of all the items you might possibly forget while traveling. The kinds of items hotels often offer complimentary for guests who may be missing something: toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, razor. And then I would take it a step further . . . I would love to provide the above, but also the following, all in travel size (if available): deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, nail files, nail clippers, mints, and I'm sure there are some other items I could include. Put a little note there, "If you've forgotten something . . .no worries! Please help yourself to any item you're in need of." These items can be offered up on the dresser in a nice basket or tucked inside cellophane bags and tied with a little piece of ribbon or jute twine. The wrapping makes it feel like a gift. Which in reality, someone taking the effort to provide something you may have forgotten really is a gift.
A few of my favorites . . .these little travel sized Beekman 1802 items are fabulous! They can be purchased in bulk on Amazon and would last a good long while OR order some to keep your guest room stocked and use some of the others as stocking stuffers or just to toss a lotion in your purse!
Treats. I think it would be a fabulous idea to have a few bottles of water in the room. If I had a dresser in the space, I would put a tray on it with several bottles of water with a nice little note saying "help yourself" or "drink me" if you love Alice like I do. A basket with some snacks is also never a bad idea. My family and I often purchase snack assortments from Amazon because we like being able to purchase something with that variety built in. This would be an ideal option in this instance. Purchase a $20 snack pack and tuck all of the items into a basket. If someone has a little midnight craving they can dig into chips, crackers, candy, or whatever else might be in there! Also, chocolates on the pillow might be a little cliche, but who ever saw an Andes candy on their pillow and didn't feel super special?! Not I! Of course, no one has ever left one on my pillow for me except for myself, but I have to say it still put a smile on my face. How very thoughtful of me to think to do that for myself! Hey, when you wake up in the morning you never know what you will face throughout the day, so might as well take a step in the morning to make sure the evening has an extra glimmer of happiness!
Need snack assortments? Hit up Amazon and you will not be disappointed!
In the end it's really up to you what you do to prep for guests and how comfortable you would like to make their stay. Your space available and your budget will often determine a lot. However, it doesn't have to all be done at once. I'm sure some of you out there don't want your guests too comfortable so as not to extend their stay longer than necessary! But for those of you who DO, I hope these tips help you out. I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and happy time for whatever other holidays you may be celebrating this time of year!!
As always . . . Devoted To Design,
- Megan :)