December 2008 Issue
Be Our Guest
Create a sanctuary for out-of-town visitors by converting that extra bedroom into a private escape.
Guest rooms get neglected in the off-season. The extra space becomes handy storage, a drop spot behind closed doors for all that stuff you don’t want to look at but can’t seem to toss. Who knows when the sheets were last changed?
Then comes a call from family or friends to reserve the extra bedroom for an overnight stay.
It’s easy to transform your extra room into a private getaway for visitors with some preparation. The guest room should be an escape, especially during hectic holidays. “Giving guests time to themselves keeps people balanced,” says James Leet, general manager of Walden, a luxury inn and spa in Aurora.
Aside from privacy, the guest room should contain conveniences that allow visitors to settle in as they would at home. “Guest rooms need to allow the person visiting a way to be self-sufficient,” says Kimberly Gray, an interior design instructor at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland.
“The epitome of feeling welcome is when you feel like you’re at home,” Leet adds.
Here, we’ve thought of all the little things to help you quickly create a room that will impress and indulge your guests.
A Well-dressed Bed
An inviting bed is the focal point of a guest room. Invest in quality sheets and pillows — don’t scrounge up retired linens you wouldn’t put on your own bed. When making up the bed, think layers — lots of them, says Kelly Leonard, part owner of Glenlaurel Inn & Cottages in Logan. Beds at the inn are dressed with a waterproof mattress pad, followed by a padded cover for comfort. On top of that is a fitted sheet, flat sheet, and a blanket sandwiched by another flat sheet. The bed is topped with a down comforter and includes four pillows — two king-size and two standard — along with decorative throw pillows. A chenille lap blanket accommodates nappers.
Connie Turski, owner of Cleveland-based Connie Turski Interiors, suggests personalizing the bed with a meaningful throw pillow, perhaps one with a cat if your guests are animal lovers. Bedside chocolates are a treat, and for eco-conscious guests, include a note calling attention to the organic cotton sheets you might have chosen for the room. “That level of consciousness is impressive,” Turski says.
Leet reminds hosts to change bed linens — even if they haven’t been slept in since last laundered. “The smell of a fresh dryer sheet is comforting,” he adds.
Gray says a host’s first priority should be giving a house tour, whether that’s upon arrival or before bedtime. “The first night guests stay at my home, I put them to bed,” she says. “I take them around and make sure they know where everything is.”
Leonard welcomes guests with a small card on the bed and leaves a journal on the nightstand for guests to write down their memories. Stock some magazines that appeal to guests, or prepare a local-interest basket, filled with Ohio wine — don’t forget the glasses — or other Ohio-made treats to provide a taste of the region.
Clean and Clear
Clutter leaves little room for guests to unpack and feel at home. “Keep personal items out of guest rooms: artwork, knick-knacks, books and things you don’t want people to come across,” Leet says. “Guests should feel like they can open every drawer, look around and make it their own space.”
That said, clear off dresser and desk tops, clean out a couple of drawers and make room in the closet for guests to hang clothing (wooden or sturdy plastic hangers are best). Consider purchasing an inexpensive luggage rack so visitors can access suitcases, Gray suggests.
Appeal to the senses by preparing a dish of potpourri, an arrangement of scented candles — pine for the holidays smells crisp and natural — and a vase of flowers, either a seasonal selection or convenient, hand-picked greenery from outdoors. A little goes a long way. “You don’t want to overdose on anything,” Turski says.
Gray collects hydrangeas from her garden and douses the dried petals with floral sprays to add a pop of color. For the holidays, consider hanging a fresh wreath in the room. “Be sure that allergies are not an issue,” Gray reminds.
Cell phones, laptop computers, camera batteries — today’s conveniences require connections and electrical outlets. Inform guests how they can access the Internet if your home has wireless capabilities. Show visitors where outlets are located and add a power strip to the room if there aren’t enough plug-ins. Because many guests travel with an iPod or MP3 player, consider equipping the room with an inexpensive speaker dock so they can listen to their own music.
“Treats aren’t just for Santa Claus,” Gray says. She prepares a small tray of fruit or festive nibbles such as cookies or fudge. She culls decor from her collection and chooses a few items to display in the guest room, including collectible glass ornaments hung on a miniature tree.
Leonard suggests filling clear vases with ornament balls or placing greenery here and there. “It doesn’t take a lot to give a room a bit of color or sparkle to make guests feel special,” she says.