Shana Levy McCracken, Houzz
Houzz is the leading platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish.
We can all make a guest room look cute, but will your guests truly be comfortable in it? The only way to be sure is to stay there yourself.
Even one night spent in your own guest room is enough to reveal some amenities that might be lacking, or a quirk or two that needs to be addressed. I recommend you walk through each step your guests will face, from their arrival to their departure, to make sure all their needs will be met. Here are some things to keep in mind.
We all have baggage
Your guest will need a place to put his or her suitcase. Collapsible luggage racks are great, but a trunk or bench can work just as well. Besides being a convenience for your visitor, it also prevents grimy luggage from being placed on the bed. As an extra thoughtful touch, provide a plastic bag to hold your guests’ dirty clothes for the trip home. If they’re staying long enough for laundry to accumulate, you might offer to do it for them, or to let them use the washer themselves if you prefer.
Mind the gap
Leave space in the closet for guests to hang their more wrinkle-prone garments. In my house, every inch of hanging closet space is used, so I have to remember to move a few things from the guest closet to the master bedroom before visitors arrive.
If you have a dedicated guest room, you won’t have to go out of your way as much to make space for your visitors’ things. If your guest room doubles as an office or is regularly used for another purpose, you may have to do some clearing out before guests arrive. For longer stays, empty a drawer for your visitors and point it out to them. A chifforobe, which combines hanging and drawer or shelf space, is a clever solution for guest storage. There are some beautiful vintage ones out there.
No must, no fuss
No one likes a musty pillow, so make sure your guests have fresh ones, as well as fresh cases. If necessary, wash the pillows or air them out outside before guests arrive, or purchase new ones. I’ve heard of some people who make a habit of buying fresh pillows for their guests and then replacing their own when their visitors depart. That mindset — putting your guests first — is just what’s needed to make their stay memorable (in a good way).
Prevent popsicle toes
For those of us who are chronically cold, sufficient blankets are a must for a good night’s sleep. Make sure your guests have extras handy and visible, so they don’t have to ask. This windowed armoire is a fun way to display pretty blankets or heirloom quilts you may have.
Don’t be nose-y
Scented candles are a popular way to keep the air smelling pleasant. However, as someone who is sensitive to fragrances, I much prefer a room with no smell to a strongly perfumed one. I also appreciate having access to fresh air, and, depending on where you live, your guests might want to sleep with the windows open. Make sure the windows all work, and if any are particularly challenging to open and close, demonstrate their idiosyncrasies to your guests.
Something to drink
Provide a water glass for taking pills and quenching a midnight thirst. A small carafe filled with fresh water is also a nice touch.
Things that go bump in the night
Help your guests find the bathroom late at night without waking everyone in the house by leaving a nightlight on between the guest room and the bathroom.
And speaking of waking everyone in the house, one night spent in your guest room may reveal some quirks you didn’t know your house had.
One night my husband and I slept upstairs at our family’s lake house. We hadn’t realized that when someone used the main bathroom downstairs and turned on the fan, there was a loud roar upstairs, making it nearly impossible for those upstairs to sleep. Experiencing this firsthand made us more aware. Keep an ear open during your home guest room stay for noises that might also bother your visitors and that you’ll want to keep in mind during their visit.
Gratitude by the gigabyte
These days our devices are our lifelines, so providing your guests with a charging station will be greatly appreciated. If yours is cleverly stashed away, make sure your visitors know where to find it and have your Wi-Fi password.
Which reminds me to remind you to make sure your password is something you’re not embarrassed to share. My husband and I didn’t think of this when we used our favorite — and very goofy — pet name for each other as our Wi-Fi password. We literally blushed saying it out loud to our guests, who were kind enough not to razz us about it.
Provide a mirror, preferably full-length. Everyone likes to look good, even on vacation. Since a guest room is often one of the smaller spaces in the house, a mirror can also help make it feel larger.
If your guests will be showering in a lesser-used bathroom, use it yourself a few days before their arrival. This will give you time to fix any issues and clean some areas you might not have spotted earlier. It will also remind you of eccentricities your plumbing may have, like a faucet that needs to be finessed to set the water to a comfortable temperature.
Leave plenty of fresh towels out, including a washcloth and hand towel. If you’re sharing a bathroom, put the towels on the bed or chair in the guest room so your guests will know they’re for them. Then leave a towel bar or hook clear in the bathroom.
Tip: A little trick we use at our family’s lake house is to put personalized clothespins on our towels, with names written on in permanent marker. This helps us remember whose towel is whose, and it reduces the amount of laundry that needs to be done. When not in use, the clothespins live on a tree branch in one of the bathrooms, creating an interesting sculpture and a fun way to remember who has visited.
While supplies last
It’s easy to forget to keep a bathroom stocked with things like soap, shampoo, lotion and toilet paper if you don’t use the space much yourself.
A box of tissues and a wastebasket are also essentials that you might overlook if you’re focused more on aesthetics than practical matters. Make sure plenty of these items are available and easy to find. (There’s no reason such necessities can’t still be attractive.) It’s also nice to have some feminine products on hand for your female guests.
Good morning, sunshine!
A good night’s sleep is essential when you’re traveling, especially when jet lag is at play. So do your guests a favor by outfitting the room they’ll stay in with window coverings, preferably blackout versions. Even better: layers of window coverings, so they can make their own choices about what they need. This also allows for a light but private space during the day.