The importance of a guest bedroom is often overlooked. It usually receives little to no design attention (or its the very last to receive attention!). It’s the dumping ground for the desk you just can’t let yourself get rid of, an ages old bedspread, and a bedside table that is missing its counterpart. These bedrooms feel hallow and a little cold. We have all slept in a guest bedroom like this, and if you have one like this- you know who you are!
A good and proper host offers the best of everything to their guest. It’s quite a nice thing to do when you offer up your home, feed a person and entertain them free of charge. And, its quite another thing when you do this with style and grace- two aspects many homes fall short of in the overnight hosting department.
The goal is to create a guest retreat, not merely a guest bedroom. A space so wonderful that it rivals a fine hotel. A room so wonderful your guests wouldn’t mind living in it full time. The intention is not to outdo your guest’s normal digs, but to provide for them a home away from home that is truly comfortable and full of details that illustrate hospitality and, most importantly, thoughtfulness.
In short, make the guest bedroom as wonderful as your own. If you would like more details, read on:
The Room: Blend the guest room with the rest of the home. Incorporate your home's color palette and use architectural details. The furnishings should coordinate, never a mish mash of leftovers and never “matchy-matchy”, (in other words, no 5-piece sets!). This is a picky thing, but ensure the door is hung correctly and there isn’t a huge gap at the bottom- sound travels through gaps just as air does. Also, a lock on the door- especially if you have children, can do a lot to ease a guest while dressing and grooming.
The Closet: Don’t fill the closet with stuff you have no room for. The guest room closet should have an assortment of empty hangers, a luggage rack if space permits, an extra blanket, a duvet, a throw blanket, two extra pillows, and a hanging cedar block. If you must use the guest closet for storage, ensure it’s organized, tidy and boxed up. Also, if you live in a warm climate- provide a fan. If you live in an arid climate- provide a humidifier.
The Lighting: Put the overhead lighting or other ambient lighting on dimmers (such as a pair of lamps). Provide bedside reading sconces on individual switches or a reading lamp and cozy chair.
The Bedding: Use the same quality (or better!) bedding as you do for your own room. Coordinating high quality natural fiber sheets are a must. Thread count, card and twist of the fibers are all equally important. Provide pillows- but not a truckload. Two back shams or Euros (oversized squares) and two sleeping pillows are all you really need. Put the down sleeping pillows on the bed and the down alternatives in the closet, in case a guest has allergies. Make sure the mattress is in good shape and comfortable enough to get a good nights sleep (testing it out once in awhile is a good idea!).
The Personal Touches: Stock reading material such as current and/or local magazines your guests might enjoy, your favorite books or a selection of current best sellers. Stock a few pencils and some notepaper. Stock bottles of water to prevent your guest from stumbling towards the kitchen or bathroom if they need a drink in the middle of the night. Provide a tasteful alarm clock- preferably a travel size (not the tech-y looking black-box sort). Stock earplugs in case of commotion, for whatever reason (lawn mower, crying baby, surround sound from the family room, plumbing noise- you are accustomed to your noise, guests aren't!). Put fresh flowers in a bud vase or small vessel at the bedside. Ensure blackout liner is used in the drapery backing.
Media: If you’re going to provide a television, provide a TV you would be happy to watch- don’t ditch the old goliath in this room. I am a fan of small to medium flat screens since you can literally put them anywhere due to their slim profile (wall mounted, on top of the dresser, etc.). Provide a DVD player, too. Stock a few of your favorite movies, some classics and a few new releases. If there are special instructions for how to work the media or the remote, print it out and have it laminated for guest reference. Media is nice to provide since everyone has different sleeping and waking habits- early risers have something to do until the rest of your house wakes up, and night owls can quietly watch while everyone else goes to sleep. There is seldom anything worse than being the only one wide-awake in a house that isn’t yours!
The Icing (for especially savvy hosts): Monogram your linens and towels. Provide stationary with your estate name and or family crest. Obtain four bedding palettes, one for each season (by the way, its okay to store the guest linens in the guest closet!). Prior to your guest arriving, create a gift box filled with little things you know they will love- a fancy bar soap, a pair of house slippers, a small candle, a map or guidebook of your area, an extra key to the house for them to use while staying with you…and don’t forget to enclose a note wishing them a wonderful stay and how happy you are to have them! Lastly, have on hand basic toiletries that one may forget to pack. Stash this “Just In Case” basket in the closet or bathroom cabinet and let your guests know they are welcome to the contents should they need them.