Turn Your Guest Room into a Destination

Big travel plans in your summer future? No? Chances are some relative of yours does… and they involve spending some time at your place!

Now, assuming that you’re enthusiastic about hosting (could there really be people who don’t enjoy hosting their third cousin twice removed’s nephew’s dogsitter’s friend?), you need to think about your accommodations. Namely, the guest room.

Yes, that guest room. The one that’s currently housing your old cassette-tape collection, a suitcase with a missing wheel (you have got to get around to fixing it already), and everyone’s assorted random junk that you’ve put there until you find the right place for it.

But no need to panic. (Okay, maybe just a little bit, depending on how much notice these guests have given you.) Here’s what you need to know to make your guests feel right at home in your home for the duration of their stay (while praying that said duration is short).

First, clean up.

Sorry, but you did need to sort through that teetering junk pile eventually. Nothing like guests to light a fire under you! Clean out the excess stuff and stow the rest of it away neatly, preferably in their proper destinations (but it’s okay to keep some things permanently in the guest room, as long as it can be stashed somewhere that won’t interfere with the accommodations).

If your “guest room” is part of a different room – say, the living room, kids’ room, or office – straighten up and move everything that you’ll need during your guests’ stay to an accessible location. Just because they’re happy staying on the pullout bed doesn’t mean you should be constantly barging in to get “one last thing” or work on your computer.

Bedroom by Sarah Fortescue Designs
Living Room by Crisp Architects
Next, wise up.

Spend a night in your own guest room. Seriously. Sleep in the bed, use the bathroom, get dressed and ready for your day. You may learn that a light bulb is out, the streetlight shines directly into your eyes through the cheapo window shades, the smoke detector needs new batteries, the pillow is lumpy, there’s nowhere to put your glasses, you can’t see yourself in the mirror, and the drawers are overstuffed. (Hopefully not all at once.)

Home Office by Tamalpais Construction Company
Kids’ Room by Sullivan Building & Design Group
Armed with a guest’s perspective of your guest room, you can move on to the next step:

Then stock up.

Now that you know what your guest room is lacking, you can get it into shape before the guests arrive. You want this room (or space, as it may be) to be comfortable and welcoming (so that Uncle Sid will talk about your hosting skills rather than complain about the musty smell of your duvet every time you see him for the next ten years.

Be sure your room and bathroom are stocked with the essentials in easy-to-find places:

  • Storage and hangers; empty and designate at least one drawer per person and a portion of the closet
  • A bed with clean sheets
  • Towels
  • Tissues and toilet paper
  • Bottled water
  • Toiletries; guests are likely to forget something, so supply the basics like shampoo, soap, and toothpaste
  • Trash can
  • Uncluttered surfaces for guest use (nightstand, dresser top)
  • Privacy! Even if your “guest room” is the living room couch or a Murphy bed in the office, give your guest(s) some space. Put up a screen or curtain and stay out as much as possible.
Living Room by Ana Williamson Architect
Bedroom by The Cottage Company
For a more luxe guest experience, add some nice touches:
  • Alarm clock
  • Fan or sound machine
  • Reading material
  • Bedside lamp or nightlight
  • Luggage rack (bonus: it keeps nasty suitcase germs off of your bed)
  • Sitting area
  • Snacks (if you allow eating in bedrooms)
  • Mirror
  • Pad and paper
  • Guidebooks
  • Flowers
  • Robe
  • Extra pillows in different sizes and degrees of firmness
  • Extra blankets
  • A fridge or minibar
Bedroom by Harrell Remodeling, Inc.
Photo by Erika Bierman Photography
Create a “guest room kit” with everything you need for guests (including designated linens or towels, when applicable) and store it out of sight so that you’ll always be ready for visitors, even those of the last-minute variety.
Photo by Alison Hodgson


Photo by Alison Hodgson
Now… wise up!

After all these preparations, the bigger question is… how to get them to leave?